Identity can either be the cause of success or downfall of a restaurant. Promising to offer 'country cuisine', while also using words such as 'American' and 'traditional' to describe its menu, Versal's concept and identity are as vague as any - though it does show potential.
Located in the New Patio complex in New Cairo, Versal boasts a two floor venue with a terrace. With a dominant white theme, the atmosphere imposes a relaxing feel, with a classic touch – but we were here for the food.
From, burgers and chicken masala, to spicy rigatoni and fondue; Versal's menu doesn't have an obvious direction and might be considered 'international'.
Undeterred, however, We started things off with Swiss Cheese Fondue (74LE), which came in the form of a small fondue pot filled with melted Swiss cheese and three small plates of potato wedges, sautéed mushrooms and pieces of Fino bread.
The cheese had a smooth texture, though it was a bit watered down, which was apparent in both the taste and the consistency. The mushrooms were perfectly made and had an amazing salty aftertaste which was enhanced with the tanginess of the cheese, while the potato wedges also made for a perfect canvas for the cheese.
We then opted for two house specialities; Country Chicken (74LE) with an additional Pasta side dish (10LE) and Signature Fillet (112LE) which both came in generous portions almost fifteen minutes later.
Smothered in white gravy – also known as country gravy in southern American cuisine - the two breaded chicken breasts had a strong shell and crust which didn't crumble as we sliced it and inside was well-cooked and retained good seasoning, while the gravy gave an extra punch which overall made it a well-rounded dish. Drenched in rich and savoury white sauce, the pasta was delicious and well-cooked.
The two pieces of beef fillet in the other dish, meanwhile, were almost hidden under a mountain of toppings - parmesan white sauce, bacon bits and sliced cherry tomatoes - giving it a bit of a messy presentation. The thin fillets were well-cooked, though, and had a great 'premium meat' taste to them, while all the toppings complimented the meat, with the bacon bits giving a smoky aftertaste which worked well with the tanginess of the cherry tomatoes.
Served with the fillets, was very well-seasoned white basmati rice, while the mashed potatoes were a bit lumpy, but was covered in gravy and delivered in terms of flavour.
We watered our meals with the humorously named Bob Marley (28LE) and Root Beer Float (32LE) that wasn't really a root beer float. A mixture of mango, strawberries, honey and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the Bob Marley cocktail was refreshing, with the vanilla overpowering other flavours and giving an overly sweet taste.
The Root Beer Float, on the other hand, was essentially Coke with a pinch of mint and, though the scoop of vanilla ice cream made for a great visual the cocktail was far from a root beer float.
We ended the night with a recommended homemade Cheesecake, with our choice of strawberry, blueberry or Nutella sauces. Brought externally from local brand, Krem Gram, the cheesecake comes layered in individual jars and is by far one of the best cheesecakes we've had in a long time; smooth, creamy, with just the right amount of sweetness and a delightful crunchy biscuit base.
And so while Versal's mishmash menu had us worried, credit is due for the quality of its dishes, which were delicious, wholesome and well-executed. But what is 'country' about its cuisine? The dishes are wholesome, generous and homely. Now it's a matter of maintaining that quality.
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