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6th of October City, Cairo, Egypt.
Casper & Gambini's: Home-Delivered Fetar for Ramadan
In addition to their regular menu, Casper and Gambini’s have developed a special menu for Ramadan. With three different meals to choose from and a delectable variety of appetisers, soups and main dishes, their fetar option is delivery only so we ordered in and enjoyed a quiet meal at home.
All meals come with optional deli desserts and your choice of jallab, karkadeh or ammar el din, as well as a shisha/dessert coupon to be used in-house. For drinks, we ordered karkadeh, which was well brewed and thankfully light on sugar.
For our dishes, we opted for meals one and two. Meal one consists of lentil soup, deep-fried calamari and goat cheese, raspberry salad for starters. The main dish includes a mixed grill platter, roasted vegetables and saffron rice with mushroom gravy sauce. Meal two consists of chicken vegetable soup, Gambini’s fried mozzarella, and CG special salad. The main dish includes deep fried chicken escalope and creamy fettuccini pasta. All meals are priced at 120LE, but the portions are quite large and could have easily fed a third person.
Our vegetable soup was packed full of delicious freshly cut vegetables and noodles, although it need a bit of salt and lemon for flavour. The lentil soup came with celery and onions; watered down and hardly lentil at all, it lacked the grainy consistency and orange colour so characteristic of this soup.
The fried mozzarella served with a creamy island dip was was crispy and full; the fried calamari rings were a bit soggy after being packed and ended up as rubbery and tasteless.
Fresh, colourful and varied, the salads were definitely the highlight of this meal; while the rest of the dishes suffered from not being served hot and fresh in-house, the salads retained Casper & Gambini’s top-notch quality. The goat cheese and raspberry salad served with balsamic vinaigrette had cherry tomatoes, rocket, red lettuce, iceberg lettuce, and chopped hazelnuts and was crunchy, fresh and overall very tasty.
The CG Special salad came with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, corn and baby corn, heart of palm, beetroot, asparagus and a lemony Dijon dressing. The combination of flavours and the bite of the Dijon dressing made this salad a delight.
The creamy fettuccini pasta and fried chicken escalope came in sizable portions. The pasta’s creamy sauce sank to the bottom, but a quick stir revived the dish. Although it contained a generous portion of mushrooms, which we always appreciate, the pasta itself was far too greasy and very heavy. All we could manage was maybe a quarter of the portion after working our way through our starters, leaving a lot left over. Stuffed with cheese and turkey, the chicken was well seasoned and flavoursome.
The mixed grill with vegetables and saffron rice came with grilled tomato, zucchini and aubergine. The rice was distinctively yellow and well seasoned with the added sweetness of raisins. The mixed grill had beef tenderloin, tandoori chicken, and grilled beef bacon. We found the meat too greasy and rather on the heavy side, while the chicken on the other hand was delicious.
For dessert, we ordered the brownie with chocolate fudge sauce, which consists of small pieces of almond-stuffed brownie served with fudge sauce. The bite-sized pieces are convenient to avoid sugar overdose after fitar and were quite enjoyable.
While much of the food was too heavy, the portions are very generous and the variety is refreshing. Casper & Gambini have filled a void for those wanting something distinctively un-Ramadan.
Over the last year or so, new restaurants in Cairo have been introducing more and more exotic cuisines to the dining scene, be it Mongolian or even Peruvian with a Japanese twist, leaving classic favourites like Italian and Asian last week’s news. However, recently opened restaurant, Akli, has gone against the tide and specialises in not only one cuisine, but six, across everything from soups to desserts.
Located off Meccas Street in Dokki, Akli is divided into two zones; the ground floor, which has a exposed glass-wall baking room and shawerma station that wasn’t working at the time of our visit, is made for take-out orders, while the top floor is for dining-in. Besides the unfinished ceiling – which doesn’t seem like it will be finished because the AC duct has already been installed - the interior of the restaurant is on the classic side, with olive green, traditional panelled walls behind ruby buttoned couches. The setup of its tables is also pretty basic, but it actually has a cheerful view of a mini garden. If we were to compare it to another restaurant, Akli has the same spirit of everyone’s favourite, Bon Appetit.
Now let’s talk about the food. Our first flight was to Italy with Spicy Arancini Di Manzo (25LE). Starting from the spot-on creamy texture and the scrumptious golden brown crust, to the melted mozzarella cheese and minced beef, which was bursting with Italian herbs flavours, those four fried Italian rice balls were rather tasty.
Our second stop was at our beloved country with Sojouk (42LE). Lying on a bed of chopped parsley in true 90’s style, the grilled sausage was seasoned well, but it was a bit tough and dry. Overall, though, the appetiser seemed incomplete and needed some kind of a sauce or a dip with it.
Moving to the mains, we opted for the Greek Shrimp Saganaki (120LE). Made of perfectly cooked jumbo shrimp in tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese, the dish was a good one, but it wasn’t Saganaki. There was too little cheese to the flavour and the tomato sauce didn’t have any Greek flavours and tasted like Egyptian vegetable stew. One the other hand, the side of lemon rice added a good zesty flavour to the dish.
We also tried Adana Kebab (89LE) from the Turkish side of the menu. Two pieces of kofta laying on Lebanese bread and served with tahini dip and basmati rice topped with nuts, the dish didn’t capture anything particularly Turkish. Although the kofta was seasoned well and the rice was light and fluffy, the dish was overpriced – it’s almost exactly the same as Shawarmaister’s Kofta Halabi Platter which costs 45LE.
We finished our meal with the French Nougat Glace (27LE) for dessert; a rectangular slice of flawless vanilla ice cream filled with mini bits of pistachio and dried fruits. It was served with sour cherry syrup with a very sticky consistency, but the dessert as a whole was light and well executed.
There’s something about what Akli is trying to do that you can’t help but appreciate – but it’s not an easy job to perfect six different cuisines in one kitchen. The ambiance of the restaurant will take you back in time when you used to dine in a sporting club with the family and the food was, overall, good but there’s nothing remarkable about it.