Category Archives: DHA

Johnny Rockets Ramadan Blast

Johnny Rockets has been around in Karachi for just a year, and in that time it has managed to attract a decent following. Mind you, Johnny Rockets couldn’t have launched at a worse time than this, when all the burger walas both local and foreign are locked in a cutthroat battle to dominate the scene.

If Johnny Rockets had launched just a couple of years ago, it would have definitely garnered far more followers in half the time because there weren’t that many burger brands to begin with. But now with the advent of Hardee’s, Fatburger and Burger King, not to mention the local gourmet burger brands, the competition is intense.

Due to all this, Johnny Rockets did not have a good response at the launch. I checked it out just a day after the launch and although Johnny Rockets appeared to be doing brisk business, it was nowhere the response that Hardee’s or even Fatburger. People had to stand in queues just to enter Hardee’s for at least two weeks after the launch.

So it hasn’t been easy going for Johnny Rockets. But to tilt the odds in its favor, Johnny Rockets has come up with a tantalizing Ramadan deal for the iftar.

The deal may not have been so lucrative had the other burger franchises including Burger King, Hardees and McDonads come up with ‘bigger bang for the buck’ deals. As things stand, none of the foreign franchises has come up with anything to write home about and Johnny Rockets has been able to run away with the prom queen.

So what’s so special about Johnny Rockets iftar deal that others can’t match it?

The great thing about Johnny Rockets Iftar Deal

Johnny Rockets has been able to pull off what Pizza Hut did so well for almost a decade before losing their mind and dropping the deal. Pizza Hut plugged into Pakistani consumer insights that they like to be run loose on food without any constraints, and that they’re given the license to wolf down the food with unlimited drinks. This Pizza Hut deal was a runaway success and was emulated by so many not only local pizza parlors but other restaurants as well.

Johnny Rockets iftar deal is not exactly an ‘all you can eat’ offering but it does include unlimited drinks. What’s more the food offered is enough to satiate the appetite of the fattest of us. Most restaurants in Pakistan both local and foreign underestimate the importance of unlimited drinks. Soft drinks are the cheapest aspect of any restaurant’s offering, and by giving unlimited drink option to their customers, not only are they limiting the eating capacity of the customers thereby saving on the more expensive food, they’re fulfilling the craving of the Pakistani consumer for fizzy drinks, more so since this Ramadan has come in summer.

But Johnny Rockets leveraged this insight to the hilt. And maybe because of this, their food offering appeared to be more fulfilling than it actually was. That’s a brilliant strategy.

So what exactly is Johnny Rockets offering as far as the food is concerned?

Johnny Rockets Karachi Pakistan
Johnny Rockets Karachi Pakistan

A salad bowl, chicken tenders, burgers [choice of three flavors] and ice cream all for Rs. 800 + tax or simply Rs.928 per head. It may look pricey but when take it into perspective of the other deals in town which will set you back by as much as Rs.1500-2000, this is actually a bargain.

Johnny Rockets salad
Johnny Rockets salad
Johnny Rockets chicken tender
Johnny Rockets chicken tender
Johnny Rockets salad
Johnny Rockets salad
Johnny Rockets chicken tender
Johnny Rockets chicken tender
Johnny Rockets salad
Johnny Rockets salad

On the face of it, this may not sound sufficient but believe me, when you get down to eating it, it’s enough to make your stomach bloat like a balloon.

Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger

Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger comprises of a beef patty topped with beef bacon strip, crispy onion ring and cheddar cheese and smeared with the ‘smoke house’ sauce.

 

Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger
Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger
Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger
Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger is pretty much the same as smoke house burger minus the crispy onion rings. For all we know, this may have been a mistake by the cook because they both tasted remarkably similar.

 

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

 

Johnny Rockets St.Louis Burger

Johnny Rockets St.Louise Burger was the one markedly different from both smoke house and beef bacon. It comprised of the standard beef patty, swiss cheese, grilled onions, iceberg lettuce, pickles and some special ‘St Louise’ sauce.

Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger

Whether it was the sauce or the combination of different ingredients, the St. louse burger resonated with my taste buds more than the other two. In any case, it was nearer in taste to the classic hamburger with the patty appearing to be juicier as well.

Johnny Rockets Ice cream

There wasn’t any choice of flavors. You could only have vanilla. And the vanilla tasted pretty much like the vanillas of the branded ice cream walas like Wall’s and Omore instead of the taste of a homemade or in-house ice cream as claimed by Johnny Rockets. Hardly their forte if they indeed are making the ice cream on their own.

Johnny Rockets vanilla ice cream
Johnny Rockets vanilla ice cream
Johnny Rockets vanilla ice cream
Johnny Rockets vanilla ice cream

The bad thing about Johnny Rockets Iftar Deal

  1. The biggest shortcoming of the Johnny Rockets iftar deal is that it is limited to either four or six person. Any other number and it would cease to be a bargain deal.
  2. The second shortcoming was the actual size of the burgers for the deal. This wasn’t the same burger I had couple of months ago at Johnny Rockets. Those were humungous burgers that Johnny Rockets was offering at the start of its venture in Karachi.

         Now either Johnny Rockets has reduced the size of its burgers altogether, or it has come up with a shrunken burger tailor made for this Ramadan deal.

 

  1. The chili fries were a bit of a disappointment. It was claimed in the ad that the fries would be topped with cheddar cheese. Instead they were topped with some black ‘garam masala’ wala sauce that was not palatable.

All in all Johnny Rockets iftar deal is a must-try this Ramadan, but only if you can come up with four or six people.

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The Patio Iftar Dinner Deal

The Patio Iftar Dinner Deal is one of the most basic deals available in the market as far as Ramadan deals go. Only you order two main dishes at the Patio, you’ll be given an Iftar platter comprising of the following:

The Patio Iftar Platter:

  1. Dahi bara
  2. Fish fingers
  3. Qeema samosa
  4. Aaloo chana chaat

THE PATIO Clifton
F-50/1, Block 4, Clifton Karachi, Pakistan.
Karachi , Pakistan   View Map

Phone: (92-213) 530-9871

The Patio Iftar Dinner
The Patio Iftar Dinner

Salt’ n Pepper Village Restaurant Ramadan Deal

Salt’ n Pepper Village Restaurant Ramadan Deal  is a bit on the expensive side at Rs.1391.  What’s more Salt’ n Pepper Village hasn’t even mentioned whether this is inclusive of tax or tax is additional.  Nor have they listed the menu items in their Ramadan deal.

Compared to other desi buffet dinner deals pertaining to Ramadan, Salt’ n Pepper Village’s deal looks like middle of the road.

Salt’ n Pepper Village Iftar Dinner Buffet

Salt' n Pepper Village Restaurant Ramadan Deal
Salt’ n Pepper Village Restaurant Ramadan Deal

Burger King Iftar Deal

Burger King is offering two different iftar deals this Ramadan, both of which are a bit vague in that they haven’t mentioned the specifics of it unless you can make out what is what from the visual.

Burger King is relatively new in the Pakistani market and in fact this is Burger King’s very first Ramadan in Pakistan. It remains to be see how Burger King competes with the likes of Hardee’s and Johnny Rockets as far as Ramadan deals go.

Burger King Ramadan Deal

Burger King Karachi

Phone Number: (021) 111 112 525
Address: 1.Opp. Boat Basin, 2. Dolmen city, 3.Near Metric Board Office, Karachi, Pakistan
Website: http://www.burgerking.com.pk
burger king ramadan deal
burger king ramadan deal

Sajjad Restaurant Iftar Buffet Dinner

Sajjad Restaurant is one of the lesser known restaurant chains in Pakistan dwarfed by the likes of Lal Qila abd BBQ tonight. In spite of the stiff competition, Sajjad has been able to carve out a niche for itself. It started out as one of the highway restaurants like Al- Habib but since then has spawned to include two more outlets, one at Do Darya beach avenue and the other in Sukkur.

Sajjad Restaurant is offering Iftar buffer dinner deal at its do darya outlet for Rs.1295. It hasn’t specified the number of dishes or even the type of dishes it’s offering or whether the tax is included in this Ramadan deal or not.

 

sajjad iftar buffet dinner
sajjad iftar buffet dinner

Sajjad Restaurant

Phone Number: 021-8267330, 03018229808, 03018290958
Address: Beach view Road, Do Darya, Phase VIII, DHA, Karachi, Pakistan

 

Daily Dubai Restaurant Iftar Buffet Dinner

Daily Dubai Restaurant located at main Badar Commercial Area in DHA Phase 6, Karachi is offering an interesting iftar buffet dinner at Rs.850 + tax. The following is the Daily Dubai restaurant menu as part of its Ramadan deal:

Daily Dubai Restaurant Iftar Menu:

  1. Fruit salad
  2. Green Salad
  3. Chicken spring roll
  4. Chana chaat
  5. Qeema samosa
  6. Hummus
  7. Juices, Rooh Afza

Daily Dubai Restaurant Buffet Menu:

  1. Mutton ribs
  2. Malai tikka boti
  3. Mutton qeema hari mirch
  4. Reshmi Kabab
  5. Chicken Karahi
  6. Mutton Paye
  7. Nihari
  8. Chicken biryani
  9. Afghani Pulao
  10. Mix sbazi
  11. Special daal
  12. Steam rice
  13. Kheer
  14. Custard & Jelly
daily dubai iftar dinner buffet
daily dubai iftar dinner buffet

Daily Dubai Restaurant Karachi DHA
Badar Commercial Street 10, DHA Phase 5 Defence
Karachi , Pakistan

Phone: 021-35244018

Cafe Downtown Ramadan Iftar Deal

Cafe Downtown located at the emerging food street on Khayaban-e-Seher, DHA Karachi offers an Iftar deal at Rs.1800 [good enough for two] which is quite limited in its choice of meals. This Ramadan deal offers the following items:

Cafe Downtown Iftar Deal for Two:

  1. Chana chaat
  2. Fruit chaat
  3. Lemonade & Rooh afza
  4. Any choice of chicken burger from menu
  5. Schezwan or stir fried vegetable chicken
  6. Downtown special brownie or chocolate mousse
  7. 2 soft drinks

Cafe Aylanto Iftar Buffet Dinner

Cafe Aylanto is one of Karachi’s fine dining restaurants that offers primarily Mediterranean cuisine. Every year Cafe Aylanto offers Iftar buffer dinner during Ramadan the specifics of which change from year to year. Cafe Aylanto’s Ramadan deal this year is one of the most expensive in Karachi this year at Rs.1895+ tax and this does not even include the soft drinks. The choice of items are limited too.

Here’s what Cafe Aylanto is offering:

Cafe Aylanto Iftar:

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  • Fish n chips
  • Mini chicken drumsticks
  • Potato sliders
  • Mini chicken n vegetable sandwiches
  • Fruit chat
  • Dahi phulki
  • Chicken Wanton
  • Filafel
  • Choice of mint lemonade or sherbet

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Cafe Aylanto Buffet Dinner:

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  • Assorted bread
  • Caesar salad
  • Turkish Topkapi
  • Cold Mediterranean pasta
  • Spicy Penny pasta
  • Beef kobedeh
  • Sole Mediterranean
  • Chicken Mandhi
  • Chicken Morrocan
  • Chatteaurbriand
  • Brown Rice
  • Assorted vegetables
  • Rosemary roasted potatos
  • Mini chocolate fudge cake
  • Warm bread pudding
  • Fruit Tartlets
  • Profiteroles

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cafe aylanto iftari buffet
cafe aylanto iftari buffet

Pizza Point Takes on Pizza Hut

Pizza Point is yet another clone of Pizza Hut that has been on Karachi’s foodscape for over a year now but only recently got in the limelight with it’s special deals which it is promoting through scrolls as part of cable TV advertising.

It seems Pizza Point is confident of making it big in the cutthroat food service industry of Karachi, as is evident from the fact that it has already churned out three outlets at strategic locations: Gulshane Iqbal, North Nazimabad and DHA.

The location of the North Nazimabad outlet is by far the best, situated on the Donisl and Cool 90s food street in Block H. The Gulshan joint is the most subdued, an open-air cafesque joint on the road leading to Gulshan chowrangi coming from Mukka chowk –Aisha Manzil.

We visited the North Nazimabad outlet sometime back before they hit the cable TV circuit and we were most impressed by it. Not only is the outlet enormous in size, with two floors and a private dining room unheard of in this part of town, the attention to detail is exquisite. While the interior is not exactly baroque, having the usual pizza parlor arrangement, they’ve made an effort to project an aura of an upscale pizza joint with its elaborate designs.

At the time we visited, Pizza Point was offering the ‘Buy one Large pizza and get a regular for Rs.99’ only through coupons printed in the Homexpress magazine. Either the penetration of Homexpress isn’t much or people have stopped reading it altogether because there weren’t many customers when we visited it.

Pizza Point is yet another clone of Pizza Hut that has been on Karachi’s foodscape for over a year now but only recently got in the limelight with it’s special deals

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 22 Januari 2012

Now they’ve made that deal open to all devoid of any coupon requirements and promoting it through cable TV scroll along with its Triple Damaka offer as part of its Anniversary celebrations.

Now two deals at the same time is not the most effective option. For one, it gives the impression that the brand is desperate to lure customers in and is coming up with all sort of deals because the product itself is maybe not good enough. Secondly, you cannot measure the impact of the individual deals, which one was effective and which one wasn’t.

We opted for their buy one get one for Rs.99 deal and chose their Super Max and Arabic Green Pizza.

The Arabic Green, although not Arabic by any stretch of the imagination but rather more Mexican, was a combination of supposedly Arabic chicken, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, jalapenos and of course mozzarella cheese. What’s more, it was a delight in every way. Not only was the crust oozing with loads of topping, the taste as well was out of this world. Was the extra rich flavor a result of the garlic mayo sauce on top or a combination of the ingredients, we’re not sure, but the outcome was smashing.

Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan
Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan

One thing though, it was spicy as hell. Although there were jalapenos there, but we feel this was a result of local spices added for good measure. So if you’re looking for a unique ‘unpizza’, you can’t have it better than Arabic Green at Pizza Point.

Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan
Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan

In contrast, Pizza Point’s Super Max equivalent to Pizza Hut’s Super Supreme was a disappointment. It wouldn’t have been had they named it something else or branded a pizza Super Max which was worthy of this name, things wouldn’t be so bad. That’s because a Super Max or a Super Supreme is supposed to be an embodiment of a perfect pizza which has all the ingredients.

Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan
Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan

This wasn’t it. Pizza Point’s Super Max was supposed to comprise of smoked chicken, chicken sausages, pepperoni, beef, smoked veal, mushrooms, green peppers, olives and mozzarella cheese. Just look at the images. Although you’ll see the rudimentary ingredients, not all were there. Even if you ignore their absence, the sparse topping as is evident from the pics is inexcusable.

One of the problems Pizza Hut has been having lately is the lack of covering near the corners. Pizza Point has an excellent opportunity to cover those ends as well with the topping and then promote this as a USP over Pizza Hut.

Taste-wise, Pizza Point is quite similar to Pizza Hut, but not as much as Penny Pizza. We feel the confidence Pizza Point is projecting with its huge set-up and  investment is probably because it has Pizza Hut ex-staff on its team who knows how Pizza Hut make its version, plus it is also banking on the fact that the Pakistani consumer is still enamored by the Pizza Hut’s version of pizza.

Price-wise Pizza Point is quite expensive, almost at par with Pizza Hut. A regular pizza for Rs.620 is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. At this price, why would you go to Pizza Point when you can have the same thing at Pizza Hut?

Maybe this was the reason Pizza Point hasn’t really gone through the roof as yet in spite of good pizzas and maybe this is the reason they’ve introduced these cost-effective deals which have been going on for quite sometime. The question is, will the customer continue to return in the absence of deals and at the actual price?

Pizza Point would also do well to introduce some deals to promote their other products like lasagna, pasta and the sandwiches.

All in all Pizza Point is a good place to devour a Pizza Hut like pizza in an upscale ambience.

Papa John’s Pizza Resurrected

Papa John’s has come up with a new outlet on Rashid Minhas Road and some new deals akin to Pizza Hut to revive its fluctuating fortunes.

Papa John’s opened up with much fanfare 8 years ago at the Do Talwar intersection Clifton. Unfortunately for them, Pizza Hut had already seeped into the psyche of the Pakistani consumer so much so that Papa John’s brand of pizza was rejected largely by the populace.

Unable to afford the exorbitant cost of real estate at Do Talwar, Papa John’s moved into an obscure location on Khayabane Rahat where it gradually carved out a niche for itself.

Recently Papa John’s has shifted gears, opening up a new outlet on the happening Rashid Minhas Road almost adjacent to Pizza Hut, in addition to coming up with a slurry of promotional deals to match Pizza Hut, not to mention a buy one get one free coupons in the Homexpress magazine.

Papa John’s has come up with a new outlet on Rashid Minhas Road and some new deals akin to Pizza Hut to revive its fluctuating fortunes.

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Although the location is good, the exact position is not the greatest, in fact quite amusing. Papa John’s is housed on the 1st floor of a building, and ironically sandwiched between two ominous organizations: Agha Khan Laboratory and Metlife Insurance.

We tested the facility on a Saturday night, a time which is a rough barometer of the success of a food joint.

The place, although not completely deserted, wasn’t bustling with activity either. This could mean one of three things:

1. the target market is not yet aware of its deals,

2. the deal itself is not that lucrative, or

3. consumers still don’t like Papa John’s version.

The last point is gradually losing steam. There are four types of pizzas en vogue in Karachi: the bakery type, the Pizza Hut, Papa John’s and Domino’s. All the rest are clones of these types, with Pizza Hut being cloned the most, and is thus losing its allure.

People want something different, and Papa John’s and Domino’s are the shining knights in armour offering that change. And to ensure that, both Papa John’s and Domino’s are furiously emulating Pizza Hut’s strategy of deals and stuff to capture a substantial chunk of the consumer’s heart.

Major differentiating factor between Papa John’s and Pizza Hut is the dough. While Pizza Hut’s crust is all fluffed up courtesy generous use of baking soda, Papa John’s seems to be completely devoid. It is more like the desi roti which comprises of two layers. The topping is more or less similar to Pizza Hut’s.

The promotional deal Papa John’s is offering right now has a couple of shortcomings, the biggest being you cannot choose of their star pizzas like Super Papa, All Meat and Little Italy with that deal. It’s a bad strategy because if you’re not going to allow your potential customers a trial of your best offerings (which is the real purpose of any deal), how are you going to make them fall in love with your brand for life?

Secondly, the scheme has been going on for too long now. The longer it lasts, the more people will come to take it for granted and refrain from trying out the real menu at the actual prices.

Coming back to our epicurean expedition, we opted for their special deal ‘Papa Choice 2’ which comprises of two regular pizzas (9”), two garlic sauce cups, a pitcher of soft drink, and four peperrocini peppers at a price of Rs.892 inclusive of tax.

For the two regular pizzas, due to deal restrictions we chose Pepperoni Pizzaz which is supposed to be loaded with pepperoni and extra mozzarella cheese, and New Orleans Jazz which comprises of fajita chicken, green peppers, onions, garlic sauce and red pepper sprinkled on top.

Papa John Karachi
Papa John Karachi

The garlic sauce wasn’t really a garlic sauce. It was melted butter with garlic essence. Although it wasn’t bad, it was extremely rich as you would expect butter to be and not for the faint of heart. Sauce would have been a far better option. Peppers were good.

We also tasted their salad bar not part of this deal at Rs.173. It was the usual, the same type you are used to at pizza hut or any other pizza parlour, right down to the sauces, but taste-wise Papa John fared better than pizza hut.

Finally the pizzas. If you look at the complete picture of the pizzas, it will appear that the topping is scarce. Now look at the images of the individual slices and you’ll see the topping is sufficient. Yes, the ends of the crust could have been covered easily with topping. At least then Papa John could have claimed to be one league above Pizza Hut in the toppings department.

Now the taste. The Pepperoni was a bit of a disappointment. One reason was that the pepperoni was razor-thin unlike any we’ve seen or tasted so far, and it didn’t taste fresh enough. Papa John would do well to slice fatter pieces. Secondly the description claimed that the mozzarella was extra but we didn’t detect any generous topping of it compared to our other pizza.

The Jazz fared better than the Pepperoni, although we didn’t detect the garlic sauce essence claimed in the description.

Papa John has a distinct taste which should appeal to the palette of our ‘ever searching for the new culinary experience’ public. Although it has finally realized the potential of marketing its brand, it would do well to market its distinctiveness more aggressively if it is to compete with the likes of Pizza hut and Domino’s.

Will Latte Lounge become the next Copper Kettle?

Latte Lounge Rustic Café and Bakeshop is a  ‘CK-esque’ type café that serves you an amalgam of sheesha, burgers, pastas and steak while doubling as a bakery as well.

The fact that it has remained below the radar for so long and yet continues to exist says something about its resilience. Located at the obscure Nishat Commercial Area with not an eatery in sight, Latte Lounge couldn’t have chosen a worse place to open shop. At night, the whole street gives the aura of a ghost town. Grillers in the Mist is the only other restaurant nearby and even that has opened up only recently, while Latte Lounge has been around for about five years.

We visited the place in the evening on the 2nd day of Eid and the place was doing brisk business at that time. The three-in-one strategy (Sheesha/bakery/diner) is working great for the place.

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Although from a branding point of view, this is a bad ploy – offering everything under the sun – given the location of Latte Lounge, it’s actually working to its advantage.

Latte Lounge is a strange little place. There’s no proper layout to the place. You’ve got the sofas, chairs-tables and the couches, not to mention a ‘takht’ as well, all arranged haphazardly around the joint. There’s nothing baroque about the décor. What Latte Lounge has tried to do is emulate the typical American home – the use of bricks, predominance of wood especially the floor panels – all this and more reek of the American Dream.

What we particularly liked about the place was the dim lighting. Most of the cafes have the tendency to literally flood their joint with lights. Not Latte Lounge. And no it’s not pitch dark either a la Purple Haze.

We tested three of their offerings: Smothered Steak Burger Rs.395, Chicken bbq panini Rs. 460, Jalapeno cheese burger Rs.385.

Jalapeno cheese burger was scrumptious. However, the patty didn’t taste all that fresh. Tasted like it had been frozen for a couple of days before seeing the fire of the grill. It goes to their advantage that they still managed to pull it off loaded with jalapenos, cheese and a fat juicy patty.

Chicken bbq panini was good but a disappointment compared to the other two. For one, it was too small compared to the other two and almost a hundred rupees costlier. On top of that there was no coleslaw. And if that wasn’t enough, fries were replaced by onion rings.

It would have been better if they had used onion rings with the burgers, if they had to be used at all. The advantage with fries is that they have a universal appeal as well as the ability to satiate your appetite at no great cost.

At the very least, the option of fries ought to be offered with the panini.

We considered testing one of their desserts as well but when we found out that the ice creams used in the dessert was Igloo instead of one of their homemade ones, we decided against it.

No use spending a couple of hundred bucks on a branded ice cream you can have for less than Rs.50 in the market.

They really need to come up with their own versions of ice creams if they want their dessert section to have the ability to lure the crowd. Copper Kettle’s success had a lot to do with the enigmatic Caked Alaska with its sumptuous ice cream than any other single factor.

One good thing worth mentioning about Latte Lounge is that the GST is included in the menu prices, what this means is that the value for money is far better than any place on Zamzama or even the emerging food street of Shahbaz.

Another tempting feature is the offer of free ice cream with any of the main entrées, although a scoop of Igloo doesn’t sound very tempting.

In fact that’s not the only special deal on offer. You buy two appetizers and get the third one free. Brilliant marketing tactic.

Latte Lounge is always in the thick of things – offering something or the other- ensuring that the brand is in a constant state of motion. When it rained, they turned even that disastrous event into an opportunity, offering a deal tailor-made for the rainy season.

And all these deals are intimated through their Facebook page, which is yet another success story. Having an astounding 28,000+ fans, Latte Lounge is fully capitalizing on the power of social media.

Its Facebook page is created with pagemodo and has all the bells and whistles, making use of such varied apps as goso and autobudder to create birthday packages, loyalty cards, graffiti option for the fans, and a whole host of other options to engage and involve the target audience.

The page is always abuzz with some news, mostly announcements of viewing of English Premier League matches. The page also carries numerous superb pictures of customized cakes and cupcakes that Latte Lounge offers.

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In short, Latte Lounge has left no stone unturned in keeping its customers engrossed, whether through screening of sports events, special deals or customized desserts.

One thing that becomes clear from all the people active on the facebook page as well as those frequenting the joint is that Latte Lounge is geared towards the youth.

As such it wouldn’t be a great idea to land at the place with your family. Just go there when you want to have a good time with your friends.

In spite of its shortcomings, we did like Latte Lounge and are definitely going to test its main entrées the next time around.

As to the million-dollar question about Latte Lounge filling the void left behind Copper Kettle, there are too many nostalgic moments associated with CK especially for the generation that grew up in the 90s to be able to do that.  Then there are too many cafés vying for a share of the market for any single one to be able to hold his own. Copper Kettle had the competitive advantage of being the first and the only one for a long time that it was able to firmly etch itself in the prospect’s mind.

However, Latte Lounge is fast endearing itself to a niche community of youngsters and if it continues to follow this strategy to the hilt, very soon it would have cultivated a crop of brand evangelists that could take it to the brand pinnacle.

Location
Hours
Mon – Thu: 11:00 am 12:00 pm
Fri – Sun: 11:00 am 1:00 am
Email
[email protected]
Phone
021-35350877,021-35348631, 0321- 2434406
Website

Gourmet Burger Company Forays into Karachi Dine-in Scene

Gourmet Burger Company now lovingly christened GBC is the new kid on the burger block in Karachi’s foodscape.

 

Gourmet Burger Company started off as a delivery-only joint about a year ago and recently GBC opened its dine-in outlet in Khadda Market DHA phase 5.

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Ever since Gun Smoke catalyzed the gourmet burger mania back in early 2000, there has been a rat race to jump onto this bandwagon. Every fine-dining restaurant is compelled to offer at least one type of burger as if its very survival depended on it. Okra and Olivetto are just two examples to boot.

 

Pre-Gun Smoke, the burgeoning café-sque restaurants, viz Copper Kettle and Arizona Grill did offer the proverbial hamburger, but there was no real focus on the category.

 

When Gun Smoke came all guns blazing (no pun intended), all of a sudden everyone wanted to cash in on the craze, so much so that even premium ice cream parlors like Hot Spot and Gelato Affair wanted to have a piece of the action. And in the wake of this competition, the pioneer of the category Mr. Burger, suffered big time, more so because of its own lethargy to step up to the competition.

So why is everyone rushing to come up with his own burger joint?

 

Because everyone thinks they’ve got the recipe for the ultimate gourmet burger, the likes of which have never been seen in Karachi and as such they can dominate the premium burger scene in spite of the cutthroat competition.

 

At least that’s what Gourmet Burger Company’s owner Mr. Zahid Usman believes. Having lived in the US for six years, he said he couldn’t find the genuine hamburger anywhere in Karachi and his yearning for the real thing led him to launch GBC.

 

Asked why start out with a delivery service instead of going the full monty, he replied that he had been burnt once with a restaurant on Khayaban-e-Sehar and he wanted to test the waters with a small set-up before expanding the operation.

 

We asked him why the delivery service was limited to just DHA, Clifton and the adjoining areas (as stated by the staff before he arrived), Zahid Usman negated the statement, saying that delivery was confined to those areas only initially and that now almost the entire Karachi is covered, provided that the order is minimum Rs.1000 and a delivery charge of Rs.50 will be added to the bill.

 

Delivery service aside, it’s a good thing GBC has opened a diner. Although it’s one of the tiniest diners you’ll ever find in Karachi, with a very Spartan décor, the main benefit is that location, smack in the middle of Khadda market just adjacent to the popular Red Chili with OPTP just around the corner. What this will do is propel the brand from being just a niche brand known and endeared to just a select group of people to diverse segments of the market.

 

GBC owes much of its fame to a Facebook Group called SWOT where GBC has been talked about and recommended as well quite a lot. However not all of its reviews on that forum are raving like the one below written by the group owner Nezihe Hussain:

“Well so we SWOTTED Gourmet Burger Company – new dine-in facility. Nice cozy diner atmosphere…the tables not made for us with legs…long one I mean and it needed a little more chilling (AR and NK gave suggestions to improve that so we move on) – the service first – since attended by Adeel (the owner) it was obviously top grade. The food – we ordered 1 Classic GBC burger, 1 Classic GBC burger with wasabi (special addition) and jalapenoes, 1 Chili Cheese Burger, 1 Chili Hot Dog, 1 masala fries, 1 starter of chicken strips (yes before someone says it – we manage to eat quite a bit) the verdict – ever thing was very nice fresh and tasted good. The problem is that its not Gourmet Burgers…they are better than fast food chains but wish they had not set the standard that high by calling it “Gourmet”.”

This is in fact one of the less critical reviews on that SWOT group. Initially when GBC came out with the dine-in option, social media was abuzz with either their appalling service or the quality of their buns.

We didn’t face any of these lapses – service was quick and prompt and the buns were alright, although nothing extraordinary about them. They could really tinker with their buns, differentiate them in some way to support their gourmet claim.

One thing we did feel or lack thereof, the ‘piping hot’ factor. Yes, burgers are not supposed to be served that way but when you’re griling a burger patty, shouldn’t the heat within last a little longer until the customer has had bitten into it? Of course, in the case of delivery that feeling cannot be replicated, but when you’re serving right then and there….

To cut a long story short, we felt our burgers were a little on the cold side and that the taste could have been enhanced if they hadn’t been that way.

GBC is very much conscious of its minimal dine-in option and to make it as accommodating as possible, they’ve put a hand sanitizer on the table along with the sauces and all. Now it may not be a big deal, but the concern GBC shows for the hygiene of its customers will only add to the brand goodwill especially since we haven’t come across a single restaurant or fast food joint that shows this much concern.

 

Another little differentiation is the use of imported Heinz ketchup. Again not a big deal, but with Knorr and other local brands being used by even the most popular fast food joints, this little consideration surely adds to the brand equity.

 

Although the brand essence of the place by virtue of its very name is that of a burger, surprisingly there are only six varieties of burgers on offer, out of which a mere two are beef.

 

Apart from them, they offer the usual items that are typical of a café – from pastas to quesadillas to fajitas to crepes to flavored fries and what not.

 

We strongly suggest cutting down on any item that does not add to the core competency and put its entire weight behind the brand’s forte – gourmet burger.

 

Extending the brand essence just dilutes the brand – no matter at what stage of its PLC the brand is. And GBC is still in its infancy stage – all the more reason for it to be hammering on its true essence.

 

Yes, in the short run it does help to offer everything under the sun, but brand-building is a long term endeavor and it pays rich dividends if you stick to the basics.

 

Although you do see mega brands extending their essence like hell, they attained this stature by sticking to what they did best, and now are being sucked dry by aspiring brand managers trying to make a name for themselves.

 

Okay maybe matching Gun Smoke’s plethora of burger varieties maybe taking things a bit too far, but something definitely needs to be done with the current burger varieties which are just too few.

 

We tried three of their offerings, both the beef burgers and a chicken burger.

 

 

The Italian Grilled Chicken Burger priced Rs.395 comprises of a flame grilled chicken breast marinated in Italian spices and topped with creamy Italian dressing, lettuce, tomato and onion.

Italian grilled chicken burger
Italian grilled chicken burger

We’ve no idea what these Italian spices were, but the result was one hell of a scrumptious burger. We did feel that the chicken breast was from the starved plains of Africa – it was that thin – and we let Mr. Zahid know as much.

 

The Gourmet Chili Burger on the other hand had the fattiest patty of the three burgers. It also happened to be the most expensive item on the menu at Rs.400, more so than even the pastas.

Gourmet chili burger
Gourmet chili burger

It comprised of flame grilled prime ground beef coupled with chili con carne and loaded with the usual condiments – cheddar cheese, mustard, mayo and the salad.

 

Chili Con Carne is a one of those strange dishes whose origin is disputed. The dish derives its name from the Spanish chile con carne, “chili pepper with meat” and is basically a sort of spicy stew comprising of ground beef, tomato and beans.

 

The Gourmet Classic Burger priced Rs.350 is pretty much the same as the chili version, the only change is the type of patty used. It’s your standard hamburger.

Gourmet classic burger uncut
Gourmet classic burger uncut

Incredibly, none of the burgers have jalapenos or even the option of adding them.

 

What about the size and value for money?

 

The size of the two beef burgers were your standard size, not humungous but enough to satiate your appetite, although the size of gourmet chili’s patty made it more than fulfilling. If quantity is what you’re after, in this price range you can get a better deal at Latte Lounge which we recently tested which offers coleslaw.

 

Gourmet Burger Company has no sidelines in the offing other than a generous helping of fries. When we pointed out this fact to Mr. Usman Zahid suggesting the inclusion of either coleslaw or garlic sauce, he was adamant that the gourmet burger anywhere in the world apart from Pakistan is not served with any such sideline. And if someone is indeed interested in them, they can buy the sauce separately. However, we didn’t find either any sauce or coleslaw on the menu.

 

So where GBC’s burger stand in the comity of burgers? GBC’s burger stands apart from the lot and your appreciation of its offering would depend upon which of the two ‘burger’ schools of thought do you subscribe to. And here by burger we mean the hamburger.

 

The first school holds sacred the beef patty that is firm and succulent so that when you bite into it, the juice oozes out tantalizing your taste buds. And the firmness of the patty ensures that your jaws have to work at it.

 

The second school of thought preaches the virtues of a patty that is made from ground beef loosely held together so that when you bite into it, it literally melts in your mouth- more of a minced meat version.

 

GBC follows the second school of thought, and if this is what catches your fancy, then it’s gonna be “Love at First Bite”.

Gourmet Burger Company
Gourmet Burger Company

Gourmet Burger Company

Opp. Bombay Store

Khadda Market DHA 5

3524-8666

3524-8665

0332-3268440

www.gbco.pk

Grillers in the Mist

Grillers in the Mist is yet another upscale restaurant of Karachi located in Nishat Commercial Area DHA phase 6.

Grillers in the Mist has been receiving some good reviews in the mainstream media as well as the social media. There was a review of Grillers in the Mist published in Dawn magazine. Then it has come up in the discussions on the facebook group SWOT as well.

[slickr-flickr tag=”grillers mist”]

Location is the biggest impediment for Grillers in the Mist as it is for any business, especially one in the food service industry. The only other restaurant in the area is Latte Lounge and even that is at the other end of Nishat.

At least Latte Lounge is on the main road of Nishat Commercial. Grillers in the Mist doesn’t have even that advantage. You are unlikely to find it unless you’re really looking for it. And this problem was evident from the fact that the place was deserted on a Saturday night.

This does not augur well for a restaurant. Not on any day. And on a weekend night it’s criminal. Although both Grillers in the Mist and Latte Lounge are similar with respect to their offerings, there’s actually a world of difference between their brand essence.

Although both have dual floors, Grillers in the Mist a basement, and Latte Lounge a first floor; Grillers in the Mist has contrasting ambience on its two floors. While the basement is geared towards a younger clientele with dingy dark interior and huge cushion sofas with a bar at one end serving Sheesha, the ground floor has a picture perfect ambience meant for fine-dining with your standard chair-table arrangement.

And with the place deserted most of the time, you’ve the entire place to yourself, an ideal place for you to take that special someone to have a quiet private dinner. They could definitely do with the dimming of the light on the fine-dining floor  a bit as it is a bit too bright, especially when compared to the dark interior down below.

 

One thing worth mentioning about the basement is that one of the walls is adorned with pictures of Pakistani film and TV stars of yesteryears. Whether these pictures are exclusive is not known, but the reason for this addition to the décor is the father of the restaurant’s owner who was a stalwart of the film industry. Latte Lounge on the other hand has a laid-back ambience through and through. Apart from a sheesha lounge it also doubles up as a bakery.

When it comes to menu, Grillers in the Mist has a far more extensive offering than Latte Lounge, offering numerous varieties of pastas, burgers, steaks other similar stuff. Yes, Latte Lounge does all of these things, but the varieties are less. We tried two of their offerings:

Fettucine Alfredo, one of the most popular pastas especially in this part of the world  Rs.495 was good but not great.

It’s biggest drawback was lack of adequate salt. Now salt may be the most underestimated ingredient if there ever is one. Overdo it, and you spoil the whole dish, underdo it, and the inherent taste of the entrée just doesn’t come forth. It doesn’t matter if you sprinkle salt on top. It just cannot compensate for the salt added whilst cooking. At Rs.495, it had sufficient value for money as far as the overall quantity and the quantity of star ingredients is concerned.

Chicken Stroganoff at Rs.500 was palatable with adequate quantity but again the flavor was not strong enough. It would be premature to pass judgment on Grillers in the Mist based just on these two dishes considering the fact that it scored pretty well on other fronts including the service. We felt we should have gone at least for one of the grilled items especially when the name of the restaurant carries the word grill.

The dawn review for instance lavished praise on the chicken with tarragon sauce and one of the beef steaks. Having said that, there’s no doubt that these two dishes are not the specialty of Grillers in the Mist as many of the other restaurants in this category make better versions of them.

What Grillers in the Mist ought to do now is how to overcome its shortcoming of an obscure location by offering unbeatable offers, the likes of which have never been seen in the fine-dining category of Karachi.

Hobnob Cafe Iftar Dinner Buffet

Hobnob Café has risen from the ashes of Copper Kettle and straight away plunged into the Ramadan Iftar mania. Hobnob Café iftar deals which costs Rs.1200 includes all taxes and is more or less an emulation of Copper Kettle’s Ramadan deal offers the following:

  1. Chana Chaat
  2. Fruit Chaat
  3. Dahi phulki
  4. Chicken sandwich
  5. Aaloo Samosa
  6. Spring Roll
  7. Chicken corn soup
  8. Chicken wings
  9. Chicken crust
  10. Manchurian chicken
  11. Ginger chicken
  12. Egg fried rice
  13. Italian steak
  14. Bbq mix
  15. Fettuccine
  16. Beef chili dry
  17. Grilled fish olives and capers sauce
  18. Henny penny
  19. Beef and prawn sauce
  20. Mini-tarts
  21. Caramel Custard
  22. Chocolate cheesecake
  23. strawberry cheesecake
  24. Caked Alaska

 

One thing Hobnob Café has done tremendously well over its competitors is the use of soft drinks. While almost all its competitors offer a miserly glass of sherbet, or even if they do offer soft drink, it’s just a solitary glass, Hobnob offers an entire 1 litre bottle to each table in addition to a bottle of home-made lemonade. In fact they’re offering unlimited refills of soft drinks.

[slickr-flickr tag=”hobnob”]

And yes, there’s the option of hot beverage at the end of the meal as well. Now these three drinks wouldn’t put a dent in Hobnob’s pocket but the goodwill it generates is tremendous. If anything, this simple gesture won us over.

 

Although the service was generally good, we felt that the waiters were a bit late in identifying the empty plates on the tables and picking them up. This was evident even at Necos, the sister brand of Hobnob. The reason is that  both restaurants are a la carte, Ramadan being the only time they offer buffet meals. Therefore the staff is not that well-versed in the art of buffet.

 

Although both brands are owned by the same entrepreneur and serve pretty much the same categories of continental cuisines, you could clearly see the distinct demographics at each restaurant. While Necos had the A-listers frequenting it, Hobnob Café had an amalgam of SEC (Socio-economic class) A and B. Even Nilofer Saeed is well aware of this fact, hence her presence at Necos instead of Hobnob Café.

 

Overall there’s more diversity and depth in menu at Hobnob café compared to Necos.

 

The crusted chicken was an awesome experience. Akin to Arizona Grill’s chicken with mushroom, Hobnob’s version had the same feel to it but more generous pieces of mushrooms and an eclectic creamy cheese feel to it.

 

Fettuccine was a peculiar dish, eons away from its authenticity. By definition, Fettuccine is a type of pasta in the form of narrow ribbons. Here the pasta was nowhere to be found, unless the chef had shredded the pasta into pieces. All you could find was the sauce with all the frills. But without the main attraction, the frills all but fizzled out.

 

The egg fried rice was the standard  affair. So was Beef chili dry.

 

There’s something wrong with the recipe of chicken wings and drumsticks being used both at Necos and Hobnob Café. Not only was the taste awful, the chicken actually stunk!

 

The chicken sandwich was a pleasant surprise. Not many restaurants put much effort into getting their sandwiches right, but Hobnob Café came up with something that was truly scrumptious. The fact that it was served hot also enhanced the flavor.

 

We didn’t try most of the traditional items, but judging  by the taste of samosa and roll we did try, they weren’t anything to write home about.

 

Grilled fish olives and capers sauce was a no-frills affair. If you like your fish to be least tampered with; you’re going to love this. Generous fillet with no rich condiments.

 

Beef and prawn sauce had an overwhelming taste that pervaded your olfactory buds.

 

If you loved Copper Kettle’s Henny Penny, then you’re going to be disappointed with Hobnob Version. We don’t know what went wrong, but the magic just wasn’t there.

 

The Italian steak was a mixed bag. Just like Karachi’s ethnic wars on top of gas and electricity shortage, it had too much going at the same time. We felt the benign presence of pepperoni, then there was this larger slab of beef that wasn’t so benign. Sometimes you felt it wasn’t a steak but lasagna. They could definitely do with simplifying matters here.

 

The bbq mix was an assortment of bbq chicken pieces and seekh kabab. While the chicken pieces were sumptuous, the seekh kababs were pretty ordinary. It was a strange dish, completely out of line with the rest of the menu, and probably put there to add another dimension to this iftar deal.

 

And it was a hit with the customers as the dish was finished quite soon and wasn’t refilled.

 

Chicken Manchurian and chicken ginger didn’t look very inviting, probably put there as a filler material to up the number of dishes. Besides, there was enough attraction in the rest of the menu that you could afford to leave these two items. Therefore we didn’t test them.

 

We also skipped the chicken corn soup.

 

In the dessert section, you had a plethora of standard items including assorted mini-tarts, chocolate and strawberry cheese cake, caramel custard and pudding. And to trump it all, Caked Alaska in all its glory. Okay, maybe not in all its glory as the brownie tasted a bit out of character especially the freshness factor. It wasn’t on the buffet table and was served when you asked for it.

 

Contrary to Necos, most of the dessert items were fresh. In fact the chocolate cheese cake was finished by the time we had advanced to the desserts. And it wasn’t refilled. In a way that’s both good and bad. Bad in the way that the customer gets pissed off when he can’t get his hands on something that others had. And good in the way that nothing is left over to be used to piss off the customers the next day.

 

 

Compared to Necos, Hobnob Café offers more bang for the buck. Not only is the menu more diverse, it also offers soft drinks and the deal costs almost Rs.150 less than Necos. The difference between the two brands is that of demographics as well as the method of preparing the food. While Hobnob’s dishes are oozing with creamy concoctions with a bit of desi touch, Necos focuses on sparing use of artery clogging concoctions as well as sticking to the authentic recipes instead of introducing the desi dimension.

 

 

Of the deals we’ve tried in the last three years, Hobnob Café offers the most value for money in the category of Continental Iftar buffet. Maybe the reason is that this is the first year of Hobnob Café after the demise of Copper Kettle. Having a point to prove, they’re doing that extra bit to exceed the customer expectations.

 

In any case, if you’re looking to stuff yourself silly this Ramadan for just once with something other than desi and bbq items, we recommend you do it at Hobnob Café. Just ensure you make prior reservations.

 

You can have a look at the buffet table pictures posted on Hobnob Café Facebook page to help you nail your decision.

N’eco’s Natural Store & Café Iftar Deal

N’eco’s Iftar Deal Rs.1343 inclusive of tax and service charges.

8-C- Lane 1, Bukhari Commercial Area

Phase 6, D.H.A.

Karachi, Pakistan.

Tel: (92-21) 3-584-4517 | E-mail: [email protected]

N’eco’s Iftar Buffet Menu:

  • Aaloo Samosa
  • Aaloo Roll
  • Pizza
  • Dahi pulki
  • Chana chaat
  • Fruit chaat
  • Chicken sandwich
  • Pepper Steak
  • Pasta in Tomato Sauce
  • Cumin Chicken
  • Beef in oyster sauce
  • Chicken wings in bbq sauce
  • Mexican chicken
  • Necos fish
  • Seafood Al-Forno
  • Plain rice
  • Tiramisu
  • Chocolate cake
  • Cup cakes
  • Chocolate mousse
  • Kheer
  • French Toast
  • Custard
  • Lassi
  • Imli Juice
  • Lemon lime
  • Cucumber detox drink

N’eco’s Natural Store and Café is a novel concept in Karachi’s foodscape. Nestled in the midst of pimp habitat and infamous spas in the obscure Bukhari commercial area (DHA phase VI), Necos is an ultra-niche café fixated on natural and organic products. It won’t appeal to everyone’s olfactory sense and it hasn’t tried very hard to do that. Until now.

It’s a fairly small café with hardly enough accommodation for roughly 30-35 people.

Although Necos is only a year old, with chips broken from wall edges, it seems that the place was being used for some other purpose and that it wasn’t renovated properly when Necos management took over.

Necos Iftar deal will not be able to hold a candle to the likes of Roasters, Arizona Grill or even Lal Qila and Village both in terms of variety and value for money, but it does offer unique varieties worth having a go at.

Nilofer Saeed, the owner not only of Necos but also Hobnob Café and Hobnob bakery, was seen schmoozing around right off the bat, playing the proverbial hostess. It looked as if she knew pretty much everyone present. It also points towards the fact that Necos has a very specific clientele who return and keep the café running. Obama needs to take a leaf from her book if he stands any chance of getting re-elected.

What’s more, contrary to other restaurateurs, Nilofer Saeed was happily devouring her own delicacies along with the others, showing by example that she herself is the biggest brand evangelist of Necos.

[slickr-flickr tag=”necos”]

One of the biggest flaws we found with Necos Iftar deal was also one of the simplest. For a café having the brand essence of being in line with nature and then going ahead and serving lemonade made from the packaged Limopani is definitely not on.

How much would have real lemons cost Necos? It’s all the more ironic because they also served one of their fresh detox juices which was flavored with herbs and cucumber.

The Imli juice tasted more like vinegar drink and didn’t appeal to our senses. Then there was the chilled lassi as well. All in all the drinks section was covered pretty well contrary to Necos’ contemporaries who are content with serving a miserly glass of lal sherbet.

The chicken mozzarella pizza was delectable. The thing commendable about it was that the entire crust was loaded with mozzarella with the chicken pieces interspersed in just the right balance instead of being stuffed. Nilofer Saeed had also done well to keep the  pizza coming in small quantities right from the oven as well as keeping the plate on a small burner to ensure the ‘Al Forno’ effect.

The beef steak with pepper sauce had to be the best of the lot. But it’s no wonder considering Nilofer Saeed’s prior expertise with steaks at Copper Kettle. Of course those who prefer the rare or well-done steaks are going to be disappointed, because the pepper steak was just about medium but the beef tender enough.

Cumin chicken was sumptuous, a concoction where the herbal condiments of Necos were felt in all their glory.  It comprised of grilled chicken breast topped with roasted cumin sauce. Cumin (Zeera) actually is a small plant of the parsley family whose aromatic seeds are used for flavoring purpose. Strangely enough, the true taste of zeera didn’t come through, which was a good thing.

The chicken wings were the worst of the lot. The crime? Stale foul-smelling chicken. In fact the smell was so strong that even the strong sauce couldn’t stop it from pervading your senses.

Lesson: It’s better to serve one item less if that item has the potential to be your undoing.

Necos fish seemed to be another entrée accentuated with herbs and stuff to the extent that the real taste of the fish was lost in between. It comprised of fillet of sole, pan-fried and served in an Asian style yellow-curry sauce. Maybe a bit toned-down version would do the trick. Not that the entrée wasn’t palatable.

Seafood Al Forno was an interesting concoction of shrimps and fish. In cooking, al forno is an Italian phrase describing food that is “at/from the oven”. What’s more, it is usually used for pizza, bread and pasta.

In this case Al Forno phrase didn’t make much sense as the entrée didn’t appear to be ‘straight from the oven’ by any stretch of the imagination.

Mexican chicken, a sort of a chicken chilli was remarkably mediocre and looked like to be a filler item rather than any worthwhile entrée. Here again grilled chicken breast was used immersed in what they claimed to be spicy Mexican-style sauce.

Pasta with chicken and tomato sauce may not compete with the high-end pasta varieties but surprisingly scrumptious.

Beef in oyster sauce had the most peculiar of tastes, with the beef coming across as if it had been overcooked.

Desserts overall were disappointing. And the major reason for that wasn’t just the lack of variety but the lack of fresh products on offer.

To begin with, both varieties of cupcakes although appealing to the eyes were downright stale beneath the façade. Same goes for the humungous chocolate fudge cake with cream sandwiched in between that you could just devour with your eyes. Unfortunately not with your mouth, because your taste buds instantaneously told you that the cake had seen better days.

We didn’t try the Tiramisu but have a feeling it wouldn’t have fared any better than its chocolate sibling.

The saving grace was the chocolate mousse and the French toast with whipped cream and banana.  Their forte was their freshness which came out refreshingly in each bite.

We tried neither kheer nor custard.

Although a total of 48 dishes were being advertised by Necos, 26 dishes were on offer for the deal.

We feel Necos could do a whole lot better by offering more specialties from their main menu in the Iftar deal. One particular entrée conspicuous by its absence was the crepe. Crepe are not only cost-effective but they would add another dimension to this iftar deal.

We also feel that Fettuccine Alfredo would serve much better than the simple pasta with the tomato sauce, adding prestige to the buffet menu.

Also Crispy Fish which is deep-fried fish fillet and comes with sautéed vegetables and tartar sauce is a much better choice than Ne’cos fish.

The second improvement needed is that of freshness, especially that of the desserts. If any of the items is not fresh, it’s far better to avoid serving it, even if that means curtailing the menu. By now they should have a fairly good idea of what customers love and thus adjust the quantity of each item accordingly.

All in all Necos iftar deal is fair enough viewed in the context of their normal menu prices.  Go for it only if you’re looking for something different from the mainstream buffet bandwagon and are not concerned about the number of dishes or the value for money.

However, if you fancy a buffet loaded with artery-clogging concoctions, this is not the place for you.

Necos is finally spreading its wings, aggressively promoting itself on KarachiSnob. However, it’s torn between focusing on its organic retail products and its café offerings. It would do well to divide them into two different sections, placing emphasis on each one at a time. In short a rethinking of their branding strategy.