Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lunch at Condetti

Today I had lunch at the best-kept secret in Maadi: Condetti Restaurant and Cafe (named after a street in Rome). I heard about it from the owners themselves, when they signed the contract to be a food vendor at the Christmas bazaar a few weeks ago. The two owners had to meet with Marge, who happened to be with Pam and myself at the time. So all five of us were there for the contract signing. During the conversation that day, the owners made it clear that they wanted to treat the three of us to lunch one day so that we could experience the food and service firsthand and tell all our friends about it, if it was good. And let me tell you: IT'S GOOD.

Pam drove Marge and me over. We had a little difficulty finding it, but that's primarily because none of us are familiar with the part of Maadi to the west of the metro tracks, where Condetti is located. Once we found Road 6, it was easy to spot the sign pointing to the side street (Road 82) on which the restaurant is located. We parked around the block and walked to the restaurant, as parking is not the most abundant commodity anywhere in Maadi.

As we walked onto the charming porch, the door opened as if by magic. Of course, we soon saw the exceptionally polite young man in the snazzy uniform who had opened said door, but we were distracted almost immediately. The inside of the restaurant was gorgeous. There were comfortable seats around unique tables--the tabletops were glass, but they covered different compartments in the dark tables. On our corner booth table, one section had brightly colored beads showing through the glass, while another had leaves. I'm not sure what was in the other two sections, but the overall effect was very classy and upscale. Shania Twain's song "That Don't Impress Me Much" was playing quietly over the speakers--loud enough to hear, but not so loud as to interfere with conversation at all. Although it was a good song, it did not reflect our current experience--we were very impressed.

Very shortly after our arrival, we were greeted by one of the owners. He took our orders personally and relayed them to the waiter, although he amplified the orders a bit. I had ordered a club sandwich; Marge ordered an onion soup and a spring roll appetizer; and Pam ordered pea soup and a seafood salad. By the time we left our table, we had had those things, plus a bread basket, an extra bread loaf, a chicken caesar salad, and lasagna.

The bread basket arrived first. It was filled with different sorts of bread; there's no way I can identify what kinds. I first took a small triangular roll, which was delicious; then I had a darker round one--also delicious. Then the owner requested specifically that we try the multigrain loaf, which is new (he's deciding whether or not to keep it). It was without doubt the best bread I've had in a long time, if ever. Then he also pointed out a round roll with seeds on it, which also is new and therefore a special priority for him. It was not as good as the loaf, but still tasty.

While we were enjoying the plethora of bread, the soups arrived. Both received raving reviews. Then the salads arrived. Pam ate seafood salad; Marge ate chicken caesar; I tried a little of both. Both were good, but the chicken caesar was outstanding. There was something unusual about the dressing; I can't put my finger on it, but it was delicious.

Then the entrees arrived: my sandwich and Marge's spring roll appetizer. At this point, we already were full--even though we hadn't finished the salads. Maybe half of each salad was gone, but we were stuffed. So Marge ate one or two spring rolls and I ate one of the four sections of my sandwich, as well as the huge black olive attached to it (I love olives). The sandwich was very good, and Marge also had good reports on the spring rolls.

Then the lasagna arrived. We each had just a bite or two of it, because we had eaten so much already but the owner wanted our feedback. It was amazingly good. Stuffed as I was, I could have finished off that lasagna just because it was so good. Marge saved me from gorging myself by asking to have the food boxed up to go. She won't be hungry tonight and therefore won't cook, so her husband gets the rest of the lasagna and the caesar salad for dinner. I brought home my sandwich. Pam brought home the seafood salad . . . and there was something else in her bag, too, maybe the rest of Marge's spring rolls. Or maybe Pam ended up with the lasagna and Marge got the spring rolls. I'm not sure.

Then someone said something about wanting a smoke. There were ash trays on the table, as there are in every restaurant in Egypt, but since Pam had mentioned that I don't smoke, the owner suggested we go outside on the patio where the breeze would help diffuse the smoke. The smokers would have coffee and a smoke; I would have creme brulee. I came off on the better end of that deal; although the smokers did end up sharing a creme brulee, I had my own. And I ate it, too, every bite. It was light and sweet and very yummy.

As you can tell, I was impressed with everything about the restaurant. I particularly was impressed with the generosity of the owner. When Marge asked about the possibility of us ordering multigrain bread loaves for an upcoming Maadi Women's Guild meeting, he readily agreed and even gave a discounted price. We promised to make sure everyone knows where the bread came from.

The owner also showed us a review from the Maadi Messenger that was done back in May, I think, after the restaurant opened in April. There was one negative thing said about the restaurant in the review--that the diner was charged for the bread basket even though it was brought to the table as if it were included--and the owner wanted to make sure we knew that he listened to that criticism and made changes accordingly. Now, the price of the bread basket is listed on the menu, and the bread isn't brought unless it's ordered. He practically begged us to criticize something so he could make it right, but none of us could find anything to criticize.

The food, the service, the atmosphere . . . it was all wonderful. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone living in or visiting the Maadi area. It's located at 10 Road 82, just off Road 6. According to the business card, there's also a Condetti in Dokki at 33 Oman Street. It's also on Otlob, if you prefer delivery to eating out. Oh, and while I was perusing the menu, I took a look at the prices as well. They're a little more than you would pay for Egyptian food, but this food is primarily Italian with a little bit of everything else available, too, so you would expect to pay a little more for this than for Egyptian. And the serving sizes were huge, even if we hadn't ended up with multiple entrees per person, so it's well worth it.


  1. OK. I'm ready to come back to Egypt just to eat

  2. Hi, we live just round the corner - 1 block away on road 6, so next time, you need to call in and have a coffee!

  3. Hey, this sounds nice! wondering how I never got around going to the place...must try it out after your reccomendation...


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