February 22, 2013 Hamra & Verdun Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Casper & Gambini's Verdun... Calling For Attention
Casual Dining

2.9 out of 5 based on 1 professional review.

RATING:58/100

Welcoming: 4/5

Food Temperature: 8/10

Ambiance / Music: 7.5/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 12/30

Architecture / Interior: 8/10

Food presentation: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Value for money: Soon

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How about having some Sushi on a Friday to welcome the week-end? Why not...  I drove down to Verdun to taste the latest creations by Casper&Gambini's. Sushi at Casper&Gambini's. Yes, Casper&Gambini's, our favorite cafe/restaurant now serves Japanese cuisine, adding that extra flare to their international menu.

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We arrived to Verdun to sadly discover that Casper&Gambini's, who have already started their sushi marketing campaign, don't serve those rolls I'm craving for, at least not yet in this branch. It was a bit confused and disappointed. I was not too happy to tell you the truth, first because I was craving for sushi, second, I really wanted to try their new added specialty - but I had to stay and settle for something else. I thought why not their low-call items?

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The menu sections and possibilities at Casper&Gambini's:

  • Morning & Brunch
  • Appetizers & starters
  • Warm & soothing
  • Fresh & Healthy
  • Low-cal Fresh & Healthy
  • Burgers & Sandwiches
  • Low-cal Burgers & Sandwiches
  • Pizzas & Pastas
  • Crave & Comfort
  • Desserts & Sweets
  • Mini & Indulgent
  • Coffee & Latte
  • Blends & Teas
  • Wines & More

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We ordered:

  • Halloumi & Tomato (grilled halloumi, cherry tomato, pesto-mayo dip)
  • Strawberry Mozzarella Salad (fresh baby mozzarella, rocca, strawberry, pine-nuts, honey-balsamic dressing)
  • Cobb Salad (mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, boiled egg, fresh avocado, chicken breast, blue cheese and bacon with low fat yogurt dressing)
  • Whole wheat goat cheese pizza (goat cheese, light mozzarella, roasted vegetables, sun-dried tomato, tomato sauce, basil, oregano)

While waiting for the food to be delivered, you can't but appreciate the fine architecture this place has to offer. Its very high ceiling, grey tiles and finish, grey wooden tables, leather chairs and sofas all under an arcade of wooden works. The restaurant is divided into four distinctive sections; the bar, the main dining area, the cozy sofas (what used to be the cigar lounge) and the terrace over viewing Verdun's busy street.

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The food was served:

  • The Cobb Salad is good, generous and fresh
  • The strawberry mozzarella salad is a good idea but the chef decided to change the sauce. On the menu, it's clearly written: (Fresh baby mozzarella, rocca, strawberry, pine-nuts, and honey-balsamic dressing). We received a salad covered with pesto sauce. I was surprised especially that during the order of another dish, I clearly informed the waiter that I do not and cannot eat garlic. Pesto sauce contains garlic. The manger came to our table and made sure to send us a new order as the menu states. A strawberry salad with honey-balsamic dressing.
  • As for the pizza, we had to change it as the goat cheese also contains pesto. The new order is: Whole Wheat Smoked Salmon (Smoked salmon, mozzarella, cream cheese, red onions, capers, basil, oregano, lemon). Is this an onion pizza or a salmon pizza? There are more onion rings on the dough than the other ingredients mentioned above. Salmon, mozzarella, cream cheese and capers -these are the only ingredients I felt - but these ingredients were only layered in the middle and not spread on the entire dough. A three centimeters circumference has only bread. For this onion pizza, we paid a hefty 30,000L.L. Very expensive. I wouldn't recommend Pizza at Casper...at least the brown dough one.

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The pluses:

  • A very nice decoration
  • A cozy and warm ambiance
  • A rich and varied menu
  • An understanding manager, who went out of his way on many occasions to repair a few incidents and make us happy

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The minuses:

  • The staff became a bit aloof after we mentioned the pesto incident. Their answers were not right in a situation like this. No matter what, the customer is always king.
  • One of the waiters, who nominated himself the mayor of Casper&Gambini's, decided to forbid me from taking pictures. I laughed as he claimed the management doesn't allow it. If so, I ask the esteemed management to reconsider this silly law and be proud of receiving a free exposure over the Internet from NGNO and anyone who wants to take pictures and share with friends on FB, Instagram, Twitter among others.I would like to drop a line here and invite all restaurants to smile each time they see a camera. If only, you know what super high-end restaurants in Europe do when they see me take pictures.
  • A pizza that definitely needs to be reconsidered. It looks unappealing with its stinking onions that cover the nice salmon aromas.
  • Please, next time you want to start a marketing campaign, make sure you are ready for it. I received the flyer on the 18th of February.
  • Casper & Gambini's has become too expensive. We paid $90foran entree, two salads, a pizza and one dessert

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How about I try some desserts:

  • Casper's Trio Cheesecake (mixed berry, caramel, strawberry sauce)
  • Pain-Perdu (Creme Anglaise, brioche sautee, caramel sauce, homemade chocolate ice cream)
  • Cafe Latte

When served, the manager felt that I didn't like the Pain-Perdu. He ran and made sure to send me another portion as quickly as possible. The first one had a thick sticky layer of caramel that was unpleasant to eat and chew, the second was over watery and undercooked. What the hell is happening to my favorite piece of dessert that previously deserved an article? As for the cheese cake bites, they are very average. Nothing special and memorable to write about. I was sadened as well as I didn't feel the same taste I usually do when I have their Cafe Latte. Its way too bitter, not creamy as it usually is. Something is off!

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Let us talk about this photography issue:

During all of this, the waiter asked me not to take pictures and afterwards the manager made sure I don't shoot their secret menu. Come on! How silly!

I must remind you: 

  • Nowadays everyone has a phone with a camera, taking pictures is now a habbit and a trend
  • 90% of the restaurants publish their menus online
  • Share pictures of a restaurant on social media is a free advertisement
  • You can never ever refuse a customer's request even if he feels like taking pictures
  • A restaurant is a public space. If you want it to keep it secret, please close

I didn't like the attitude, I didn't like the pizza, I didn't find anything special about the salads, its way too expensive and the desserts are not tasty, and on top of it all the issue at taking pictures... The only thing I enjoyed today is writing this article.

Suitable For: Casual Dining

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