Gosto: Conventional Heliopolis Café
Has anyone else noticed that Heliopolis has become Cairo café central? In the competition for hungry customers, Gosto – on the edge of Abul Monem Hafez Street – tries its best to stand out with a contemporary neon sign and bright lights. Behind the high walls and glass entrance, giant fans, lush greenery and decorative bamboo sticks border the large, outdoor seating area. There isn’t a non-smoking area, although the waiter attempted to justify this by mumbling something about bending the rules when the football is showing.
Despite the first page of the menu boasting ‘modern, carefully designed and stylish décor’, the interior is in fact fairly bland and themed using an interesting, albeit garish, palette of lime green and ruby red. The seating is also a little uncomfortable, with oversized armchairs and couches surrounding un-befittingly sized tables, which we felt like we were constantly reaching up to.
Like the furniture, the menus are also huge, with an extensive range of dishes, drinks and desserts to choose from. Even the shisha menu is diverse, sporting more unusual flavours such as coconut, lemon mint, Redbull and lemon. Out of pages upon pages of appetisers, soups, salads, meat, chicken and fish platters, pizzas, pastas and sandwiches, we settled on onion soup (19.99LE) and tomato soup (11.99LE) for our starters, followed by chicken mains in multiple forms; one chicken panini (32.99LE), a chicken alfredo pasta (36.99LE) and grilled chicken in a lemon sauce (56.99LE).
The drink options offered up a wide range of sodas, fresh juices, hot beverages, frappes, smoothies and cocktails. Our Coca Cola (11.99LE) was served at room temperature alongside a glass filled with ice, whilst our ‘Yellow Breeze’ cocktail (22.99LE) was a smooth, refreshing blend of pineapple and orange juice.
Although they weren’t terrible, both soups were a tad uninspiring, and had a suspicious likeness to packet soup. The small piece of bread floating in the onion soup was topped with tasty, stringy cheese but was let down by the charring of the edges.
Next, the chicken alfredo was a generously sized bowl of well-cooked pasta bows, swimming in a creamy, cheesy sauce topped with a disappointing number of chicken chunks. Our chicken panini arrived, with two sides of crispy fries and bitter pickles, and was toasted to a rich, golden brown with a plentiful filling of cheese melted over an average amount of bite-size chicken pieces. The chicken in lemon sauce was the best of the three, with large slices of juicy chicken, marinated in a creamy, citrus sauce alongside fries and a variety of crunchy vegetables.
For dessert, our sweet tooth called for one strawberry cheesecake (24.99LE), a molten chocolate cake (24.99LE) and a Mars tart (23.99LE). The strawberry cheesecake was soft and fresh, with a thin and crunchy biscuit base, and was very sweet. The Mars cake was also delicious; its crispy chocolate base was topped with cream, caramel and even more chocolate, as well as sticky Mars bar pieces. Unfortunately, the molten chocolate cake was a mound of dry sponge, but filled with rich and runny chocolate sauce.
Gosto presents a very relaxed place to enjoy some speedy, standard food, or some delectable desserts. The extensive menu means you’re likely to find something for everyone, even if it does affect the over-all quality of the dish.