Saturday, March 27, 2010

Arizona Grill, Zamzama

Located on main Zamzama Boulevard in Defence Phase 5, Arizona Grill is a popular restaurant, going strong among the die-hard foodie Karachiites since a decade now. The reception has a bar and waiting area.

On a national holiday at 2 p.m, we had to wait to get a table, along with other families and groups.

Despite being housed inside a basement, and only at that underground level, its popularity has not diminished.

The restaurant is very child friendly and accommodating. That is, they won't give you dirty looks if your child climbs on the upholstery with his shoes on, or drops cutlery on the floor, making loud clanking sounds!

The food station from where the waiters get the prepared food from the kitchen.

The lighting is dim and multi-colored.

As you can see from their menu, a main course entree will cost one person between Rs 400 and Rs 500.

Burgers and sandwiches fall between Rs 300 and Rs 400.

Starter: deep-fried, crumbed Mozzarella Sticks with salsa. The hot Mozzarella cheese oozes out when these are cut open. :)

Chicken Cordon Blue Burger costs Rs 345. It is accompanied by a generous helping of piping hot French Fries and cole slaw; absolutely enough in quantity to fill up one person!
I think these burgers fare much better in comparison, both in quality of taste and quantity, to the equally-priced burger deals at some international fast food franchises.

Chicken Lasagne for ~ Rs 375. Very filling and delicious, served piping hot from the oven with oodles of melted Cheddar cheese on top!

Arizona Fire Steak - the steaks at Arizona Grill are extremely popular - offered medium-rare and well-done. Choices of potatoes to have with the steak include mashed potatoes (pictured), baked potato, or French Fries. A steak is priced on average between Rs 400 and Rs 500, as I mentioned before.

Verdict: Arizona Grill boasts high-quality dining at the same rates as other expensive restaurants. While I prefer eating in a brighter ambience with windows letting in natural light, I think the food makes up for it. They also have commendable dessert, beverage and coffee offerings on the menu.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Nando's, Clifton

Situated in Clifton near Schon Circle, right opposite Dunkin' Donuts, is Nando's, which is famous for its Portugese-style, flame-grilled chicken. Their trademark is this red-and-black chicken logo.

The restaurant is on two levels.

The counter downstairs that handles their takeaway orders. They perhaps need a new podium! :)

Upstairs, the dining area is divided into 2 sections: smoking and non-smoking.

The types of diners include housewives, families, office executives, school-going teenagers, groups of girlfriends, elderly and couples.

Each table has a set of sauces for the diners to try with their Portugese grilled chicken.

Here are the four Peri sauces, in addition to the standard ketchup bottle. Tip: stay with the Wild Herb and Hot Peri-Peri sauces; the Extra Hot Peri-Peri is not for everyone! :)

The management keeps coming up with such new quirky messages every few weeks months.

Half chicken with 2 sidelines: French fries and Peri Rice (pictured below) for Rs 490.
Yes - its a tad steep.

The cole slaw was the sideline which came with the Chicken Steak (below).

Chicken Steak with one sideline - Rs 370. Sidelines include French fries, Peri dip, Cole Slaw, Peri rice, and Spicy Wedges.

Kids' Meal - Rs 280
My children didn't particularly enjoy this meal. Not to mention, the portion size of the fries was severely lacking, even for one child. Pass.

Fresh Lime - Rs 80

Nando's Chocolate Cake is one-of-a-kind: rich, gooey, and not available anywhere else! Despite being priced at Rs 150 per slice, it has a dedicated fan following that keeps coming back for more. They also have other desserts on the menu, but I always opt to have this not-to-be-missed, yummy cake whenever I go. :)

Like I said, the dark-chocolate cake is rich and sticky.

Like other "smart" foreign franchises, Nando's too, knows that in order to keep their customers, they have to appease the little ones. So both my kids, aged 4.5 and 2.5, got complimentary fun books and color pencils after we placed the order. The books had puzzles, games, and stickers. Also, on the way out, kids can take complimentary balloons from the balloon-stand kept next to the door.

Our whole meal cost Rs. 1480, with Rs. 200 of that going for GST. A bit steep, but the unique experience is worth it, especially since two adults and two kids ate to their full, and you don't get the Peri-flavored grilled chicken anywhere else in the city (the Peri sauces are available in most supermarkets now, though).
We should remember that it takes only Rs. 200 to buy a sack of flour that can feed a poor family for days!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BBQ Tonite, Clifton

BBQ Tonite is one of the most popular, vintage, smoothly-run and booming restaurants in Karachi. 

As this picture reveals, its been going strong for over 2 decades now.

More than a decade ago, they were running only from the ground floor of this building. Now, they have occupied the whole three floors of it, in addition to the rooftop.

This barbecue and grill station just outside the entrance of the restaurant, amidst the sprawling parking area,  shows the chefs in action.

Originally, BBQ Tonite (as the name suggests) was open only for dinner. They now also serve lunch and Sunday breakfast. Also, they have added many items to their previously next-to-nothing dessert menu.
This place is obviously growing by leaps and bounds each year.

The restaurant has four seating levels, all of which are full to capacity on most nights, with significant turnover (viz. a table fills up as soon as it is vacated). A long queue of families exists at the entrance, waiting their turn.

We opt for the secluded corner tables on the rooftop side terrace, which enable us to enjoy the cool sea breeze under the night sky whilst dining "alfresco". :)

It is in no way easy on the wallet to dine here. However, BBQ Tonite's steep prices never deter their customers.

Their steaks are quite good, and cost as much as in other restaurants.

"Special" Hot 'n Sour soup.

It had tofu, prawns and mushrooms in it, in addition to the usual ingredients. It was very delicious!

Chicken Tikka's, Puri Paratha's and Garlic Naan.

Chicken Steak for Rs 400, with Fresh Lime. Two generous chicken breast fillets topped with a slice of cheddar cheese and oodles of barbecue sauce, served with one baked potato and boiled vegetables on the side.

A glass of traditional sugar cane juice for Rs 75

BBQ Special Platter - Rs 5000

The view of the Clifton roundabout from the rooftop terrace, where we sat.

South City Hospital is visible in the distance.

Recently, BBQ Tonite has started a breakfast buffet on Sundays. 
This sumptuous, all-inclusive breakfast buffet can be enjoyed only on Sundays from 8 a.m to noon, for Rs 525 per head (taxes inclusive). 
Update: The breakfast price is now Rs 650 per head.

It is fun to eat out early on Sunday mornings, once in a while, and enjoy mouth-watering omelets (custom-made for you live by chefs) bursting with olives, mushrooms, vegetables and cheddar cheese, accompanied by hot tawa paratha's and freshly squeezed orange juice. 
You don' get all of that at home, unless meticulous preparation is done in advance.

What more is on offer at the buffet: the entire variety of halwa puri, channa, aalo bhujia, nihari, paye, mutton mince (qeema), naans (flatbreads); a variety of breads and cereals, freshly prepared eggs, bowls of fresh seasonal and tinned fruit, salad, boiled eggs, sarson ka saag with makai (corn) ki roti (pictured above), chicken sausages, hash browns (looking more like potato cutlets, as shown in the picture above), pasta in white sauce, French toast and unlimited orange/grapefruit juice, lassi, tea and coffee.

The cute little pancakes. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised how well these were made: very fluffy and golden brown on both sides. 

A coffee machine was available for ordering fresh, hot cappuccino. It was great!
You could ask for black coffee, regular coffee, or cappuccino.

 Another shot of pancakes with maple syrup. The children loved having them!

Penne pasta in white sauce was also part of the menu. Scrumptious and creamy.

Brownies, croissants, fruitcake, bran and white toasted bread, canned and fresh fruit (apples, figs, apricots and melons) were also available.

Verdict: The food is high-quality, as is everything else at BBQ Tonite. The waiters wear gloves whilst handling the crockery, so you can imagine the kind of quality control in place. 

Tip: if you want a seating arrangement of your choice for dinner, arrive early (before 9 p.m), otherwise parking your vehicle and acquiring a good table could prove to be a test of your patience.

The Sunday breakfast/brunch buffet was thoroughly enjoyed by our family. Our children aged 5.5 and 3.5, were not charged. I recommend that whoever wants to have this buffet arrive early i.e. before 10 a.m. If you arrive after 11 a.m, you'll have to face a lot of crowds in front of the food platters and long lines before the fresh fruit juice and egg-frying stations. Also, you'll be dealing with more frazzled waiters and have less choice of good sitting places. 

To see the official promotional video of the Sunday breakfast buffet, please click here.