We’ve been seeing billboards all around the city for a while now. Gaby’s has certainly built up the hype for itself so we paid a visit to find out whether it’s worth the trouble they went through. The new restaurant is located in City Star’s ground floor — next to the new cinemas — and offers an interesting menu of international cuisine.
Albeit with an international menu and creative offerings, Gaby’s isn’t exactly trying to be affordable; you can expect to pay a lot more here than you would at a place like Crave.
In fact, Gaby’s greatest letdown is not how good the food is, but how good it is relative to its pricing. A EGP 70 pasta dish shouldn’t just be good, it should be great.
As we walked in, we noticed the place’s pleasant ambience, bright colours and sophisticated feel. Perhaps because it offers international cuisine, Gaby’s does not have a very consistent image, with influences from all over — for now, this is neither good nor bad and may work for the restaurant’s image as versatile.
One thing Gaby’s clearly puts a lot of emphasis on is presentation: the dishes all look good and the restaurant makes an effort to offer different variations and creative recipes on the menu. Additionally, Gaby’s offers hookah in the downstairs seating area, though it definitely won’t win any points for not having a non-smoking section in 2014.
We started with two appetiser dishes, crispy bon bons (EGP 45) and sausage pepper sambousak (EGP 45). The bon bons were essentially potatoes stuffed with spinach and cheese. The potatoes were bland but the filling and the dip were both quite tasty. The sausage sambousak was an interesting twist on a popular dish and both appetisers came with their own sauce and a separate dip.
For our main dishes, we ordered the chicken portobello roll (EGP 95), a halloumi and eggplant sandwich (EGP 55) and a USDA beef fillet (EGP 140).
The generous serving of chicken portobello rolls were stuffed with mushrooms and smothered in sauce, alongside potato cubes and a large roasted tomato. One of the issues with the food at Gaby’s is that your taste buds are under attack from different generic sauces, making it difficult to accurately assess the other components of the dish by masking the more mediocre ones.
The halloumi sandwich, less elaborate than the chicken roll, was an improvement as was the beef fillet, but by far the biggest problem with Gaby’s food was that it had obviously been pre-cooked. Though none of it came cold, the chicken rolls were all different degrees of hot, presumably because it is harder to heat something that is stuffed. It did not help our reservations, despite good service and a nice waiter, that the food arrived in a suspiciously short while.
While we appreciate speedy service and do not expect every food item to be made from scratch, these are problems you encounter in places like Spectra’s (which incidentally also drowns everything in sauce) – not a place that charges this much.
In short, Gaby’s is simply too expensive to be making these mistakes. The food is certainly not bad, but one cannot be expected to pay this much for dishes that range from good to mediocre. For this price range, you’re better off at Casper’s or Paul’s.