Spectra: New Branch Opens in Zamalek
If there’s one thing that the Cairo restaurant scene is good for, it’s the wide variety of options, suitable for just about every taste and wallet size. Known for its big menu and bigger portions, Spectra continues to be a popular franchise in the city, despite all odds. Their newest branch sits on Mohamed Mazhar Street in Zamalek; decidedly indistinct, this branch fashions the familiar cosy, chalet-style decor, homely artwork and low lighting.
As with each of its counterparts, the mammoth menus offer a vast variety of international appetisers (14.99LE-74.99LE), soups (6.99E-12.99LE), salads (13.99LE-39.99LE), combination platters (68.99LE-279LE), pastas (16.99LE-49.99LE), burgers (24.99LE-44.99LE), risottos (19.50LE-44.50LE) and sandwiches (14.99LE-39.99LE), along with chicken, veal, beef and seafood mains (39.99L-99.99LE). There’s also a separate menu dedicated to juices, cocktails, smoothies and hot drinks (4.99LE-16.99LE) as well as desserts (8.99LE-29.90LE).
For our starters, we opted to share a platter of mini burgers (29.99LE), before moving on to a tuna nicoise salad (26.99LE) and grilled chicken (39.99LE) with penne bolognaise on the side. For drinks, we chose one, surprisingly fruity and flavourful Spectra cocktail (16.99LE), as well as a cherry temple (8.99LE) – a chilled can of Sprite with a generous addition of sweet cherry syrup.
In a fairly short amount of time, our mini burgers arrived, generously portioned to share between two or three people. Encased in small, soft, sesame seeded buns, the patties were thick, juicy and delicious, with crisp pieces of lettuce held in place with cocktail sticks.
Next, our salad was delivered, and we were far from impressed. Despite being made with crunchy greens and vegetables, the potato-mayonnaise was hard and uncooked, whilst the dollop of oily, fishy tuna was little larger than the size of a teaspoon. After our complaint, the dish was returned with more of the same unpalatable tuna, whilst the potato salad was removed completely.
Adding salt to the wound, our grilled chicken was served swimming in an unrequested – and cold – mushroom sauce. Once again, we sent the dish back to the kitchen, and two plain, quality chicken breasts were hastily redelivered. Although not exceptional, our side of bolognaise was surprisingly pleasant, with the al dente penne pasta rolled in the beef and tomato sauce.
For dessert, we ordered a large slice of strawberry cheesecake (19.99LE) which transpired to be thick and creamy, with a tasty topping of sweet strawberry sauce and canned strawberries. Although the biscuit base was practically non-existent, it managed to satisfy our after-meal sweet cravings.
And so in true Spectra fashion, the meals are hit and miss, generously sized and moderately priced.