Tag Archives: caked Alaska

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.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 5 Oktober 2011

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

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.

Once Upon A Time At Arizona Grill

Arizona Grill was one of the early brands to jump on the bandwagon jumpstarted by Copper Kettle. Pre-CK era, Chinese restaurants ruled the roost. Then came CK and the café-esque culture with bizarre names and menus chalked on blackboards came into vogue.

While many restaurants and cafes that emulated this style crashed and burned, Arizona Grill is going steady after almost a decade of existence. Arizona Grill was a me-too brand that started out fixated with CK, so much so that it even copied some of the menu items, including the famed Continue reading Once Upon A Time At Arizona Grill