Here's two things that never tempt me to eat somewhere: a mall location, and an obviously made-up name. I mean, I'm sure there are people called Casper, and others called Gambini, but I'm just as certain that they aren't the people who founded this restaurant at Avenues Mall. However, there is very little point holding tight to these snobberies when you live in Oman. What am I going to do when I'm hungry, wander along the cobbled streets until I stumble upon an organic artisanal toastery? Anyway, Ben and Jerry were real people, and so was Burt, and he had real bees. Real people who founded innovative, inspirational brands, and what happened to them? They cashed in and handed over their booming babies to faceless corporations; yet their ice-cream and lip balms remain enjoyable. So it seems I should just get over myself. I need to eat. Besides, I heard this Casper and Gambini's is good.
It's a nice-looking place in an airy new mall. Lots of natural materials, softly industrial, not obviously franchisey. Welcoming staff, too, including a lovely Sri Lankan chef who speaks fluent Italian - speaks passionately about his food in fluent Italian, in fact. (I don't speak Italian - I can only understand food words, and recognise passion.) So, Casper and Gambini's is a Lebanese franchise serving food from around the world - the idea underpinning the menu being freshness and quality ingredients - that's very Italian, maybe that's why they put the 'Gambini' bit in? The internationality of the menu is a bit bewildering at first - can I really have a tomato and basil soup, then sushi? Perhaps this is another thing I need to get over, this suspicion of 'international cuisine'. It works in Eat Street, and it works here. Everything I had was super tasty. Restaurant tasty, not mall tasty. The sushi is just splendid, with classics and twisty options on the menu; I liked the mango one best. Good juicy sliders, from the extensive burger selection. The pain perdu was delicious. I suppose you can't soak brioche in custard and caramel sauce, add vanilla bean ice-cream, and not have something special happen.