COMING BACK TO AN OLD FAVOURITE

(A note written in 2010, posted in I cannot remember where or did it even get posted?)

EVERYTHING WAS POSITIVELY familiar. Comfortably familiar, actually. The façade, the hard wood staircase, the steel banisters. The high-ceiling industrial-themed sleek modern décor in an unfussy interior concept that we have always admired every time we enter this all-day restaurant-café along Andalus Street. I was back. After what, two? three? years. I was back at this old favourite.

EXACTLY THE SAME feeling as when I first entered Casper & Gambini’s doors way back in 2004 – where a good friend gave a treat on his birthday – rushed back to me last night as I walked into the singles’ section. Earlier on, to my utter yet pleasant surprise I found myself thinking ‘yes, why not Casper & Gambini’s? It has been a while I haven’t graced the place. Partly because I have moved farther north a few years back. So there, me and my friend, Chui, were balmily seated.

BACK IN THE day when wi-fi was the rarest and the ravest contrivance of technology, Casper & Gambini’s was among a very select few that boast of this internet revolution feature in a restaurant or café in Jeddah. And they offered it for a measly USD 2.50 per hour back then and just very soon after for free since I can remember. And I even thought it has always been free. Or that was just because of excellent service. Where you could not entertain the thought you feebly paid for something… all because you have always been awash with delight.

SAME COURTESY, SAME smiling faces (some old and familiar), same relaxing atmosphere that gets the nerves out of the hay after a long day in the office, same generally good service from the time we were being seated at the right spot on my usual table in the smoking section to the time we were scrounging for some notes for the wait person’s tip. All was still in place plus many other positively happy looking customers on the flanking tables.

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I BARELY REALIZED they slightly tweaked the look and feel of the entire place from the old muted gray-ish and brown shades to a refreshingly eye-pleasing pale turquoise evident on the re-designed version of the menu and the wall tiling. Rightly apt so it would be of note that this ‘old’ favourite has indeed seen better days as visibly apparent on some chipped off portions of the repainted, I must say in good taste though, walls and surfaces.

A LITE LATTE, a café mocha, the perfect chocolate fondant with hot melted chocolate sauce inside served with vanilla ice cream, some cold drinks, and a whole lot of hearty talk and genial laughter over wi-fi later, we were contentedly asking for the check.

YES Casper & Gambini’s is an old favourite. And I will always come back.

(2015 Addendum)

Sadly though the old place is for some three years now a different restaurant, Uptown 966 not in anyway connected to the C&G franchise. The place still serves the same culinary repertoire of intercontinental and Mediterranean fusion.

Since 2013 Casper & Gambini’s has a new location along Thalia St., Jeddah that I have yet to visit – a gesture of loyalty to an old favourite.

Cover image: Ahmad Beyh for Outlook AUB

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