The White Owl: Simple is Beautiful at Maadi Pasta Specialist
17 Road 216/Road 206 intersection
10:00 - 01:00
While pasta is as common a food as any on Cairo’s restaurant scene, you could still probably count the number of true specialists on one hand. But this exclusive group has just got a new member, The White Owl, which lured us in with its promise of fresh, homemade pasta.
The Maadi restaurant is small with a cosy, calm and slightly rustic ambiance. The use of black and white with hints grey shades in their branding and interior gave the place simple and homely aesthetic. Granted, it’s simply white with wooden tables and black and white frames with generic messages like ‘stay hungry’; but then the exposed kitchen – a bold move in such small place – added a great element to the overall experience as we were watching the chefs working in peace.
The menu is divided into four categories; there are two soups, three salads, three starters and nine pasta dishes, alongside a few desserts and drinks. It’s certainly a vegetarian-friendly menu, but for meat eaters, the options are limited.
We kicked things off with Crispy Beets and Apple Salad (43LE) and a litre serving of Pink Lemonade (75LE). The salad came in the form of julienned apples and beetroots, alongside red onions, Italian soft cheese, orange slices and citrusy dressing. Despite the overall texture being closer to that of a slaw, we still loved the combination of sweet, tart and tangy flavours.
However, there was a point of concern; the salad also had peanuts in it, which wasn’t mentioned on the menu at the time of our visit. An allergy warning is an absolute must. Meanwhile, the pink lemonade was underwhelming. It lacked the refreshing citrus of the lemon and the pink berry puree added little more than colour to what was an overall watery drink.
Moving to the real deal, we decided to ignore the dessert this time and get three pasta dishes. We opted for the Smoked Duck and Mushrooms Duxelle Fettuccine (98LE), Beetroot Fettuccine (55LE) with extra Chicken (18LE) and Pink Cream and Vegetables Tagliatelle (70LE).
Despite the smoked duck pasta being slightly sticky, we absolutely loved the surprisingly light cream sauce with mini-bits of mushrooms, and the pasta itself was cooked to a perfect al dente. But then the thin slices of duck took what would have otherwise been no more than a decent dish to a whole new level of deliciousness with its intensely smoky flavours.
The beetroot fettuccine, however, didn’t fare well. The pasta had a slightly sweet flavour from the beetroot pesto and the chicken was grilled perfectly; but the dish just lacked flavours overall and was missing that one ingredient or a strong base flavour, maybe a kind of herb, garlic or anything else, to bring everything together. Even the chicken was a little bland.
We were far from excited to try the vegan pink cream tagliatelle, well because, it’s vegan, but it was actually our favourite dish of the day. The pasta was tossed in a coconut cream and tomato sauce that had sweet, rich and creamy flavours and when with the fresh cilantro and the spiciness of the thin chilli pepper slices, it wasn’t too dissimilar to frutti di mare pasta, just without the seafood. If vegan food tastes like that, where do we sign up?
All in all, The White Owl gets the thumbs-up. Despite the occasional small flaw in the food at the time of our visit, it’s a great, cosy, little place that shows the best side of simplicity, and the prices are quite reasonable compared to the big portions. We would definitely go back. We might even order that vegan thing again.