Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Garden Terrace Restaurant, Beach Luxury Hotel, M.T Khan Road, Lalazar

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Last year, our family discovered one of the better-kept dining secrets of Karachi.

But first, let me ask you one thing: how many places are there in the city, where you can enjoy a quiet atmosphere; stroll outdoors on lush green grass under tall coconut-palm trees; feel strong gusts of sea breeze without the pinch of sand in the eyes; sit next to a large natural-water body and enjoy the sound of lapping water, as well as eat a clean, tasty meal without being overwhelmed by boisterous crowds, urban city noise, and traffic smog?

True, there are no such places in the city where you can get all of these pleasures simultaneously, unless you count exclusive private clubs such as Defence Authority Golf and Country Club, or the Airmen Golf Course.

However, there is one such comparatively peaceful and undiscovered place where you can find a natural body of water, lush green lawns, sea breeze, cooing seagulls, and good food, all in one place - and that is the Garden Terrace Restaurant at Beach Luxury Hotel - the 'secret' that we discovered by chance.

Pictured in the above shot are the tall coconut palms on the lawns of the hotel, which are almost constantly encircled by birds, which are a joy to behold at any time of day.

At one the edge of these sprawling lawns, at the end of a floating jetty, is located another restaurant called "Seafront BBQ/Rendezvous", the review of which will be the topic of a separate blog post, insha'Allah.

The coconut palms look especially majestic when the sun is high.

We love sitting on these benches to enjoy moments of peace and quiet away from Karachi's fast-paced urban living.
We also get to watch speedboats with passengers that come from the nearby Port Grand, and rarer still, kayaks with rowers, whizzing by on the water surface.
The best part is that, most of the time, the lawns of Beach Luxury Hotel are not crowded with visitors. A welcome break!

The water is not clean, but it still offers a pretty good view, especially when the sun is setting.
And at least it doesn't stink like the notorious "Nehr-e-Khayam" in Clifton (gag). :P

As you enter the hotel lobby, the first thing you come across is the verandah housing the Garden Terrace Restaurant.
You can see the entrance of the other restaurant that lies right adjacent to it, called Casbah. It is an open-air seafood joint.

On the right side of the restaurant is located the kiosk where coffees, tea, juices and milkshakes are prepared.

A closeup shot of the juice/chai/coffee kiosk.

You can see the outdoor tables of Casbah Restaurant behind the wooden lattice.

The Garden Terrace Restaurant has big, comfy, cushioned chairs situated around smaller tables.

There are a few sofas thrown in for good measure as well.

One side of Garden Terrace Restaurant paves the way towards the lawns and outer halls of Beach Luxury Hotel.

There is plenty of space and fresh air.
The good news: Wifi is also available for free, and it works really well throughout the hotel, half way across the lawns as well!

Behind this comfy couch, on the far right side of the restaurant, in front of the juice kiosk, a doorway opens on to the path leading to the swimming pools:

That is the pool area you can see in the distance. The pools are partially covered and very clean:

This is the adults' pool, in which anyone can swim from 8:00 a.m to 8:00 p.m for charges of ~Rs 1100 per person per day (for the full day).
The children's pool is located right next to it (not pictured).

The lawns begin before one enters the pool area.
I always love the sight of this lush green grass and shady trees.

Now on to the menu:

Garden Terrace Restaurant's food service can also be availed at the tables by the poolside, i.e. the waiters will serve you there as well.
However, I must warn you, that the crows in the overhead trees will make your life miserable as soon as your food arrives on the table near the pools. They are not scared of humans at all, and try to grab at the food in your plates even if you are seated right there shooing them away.
So eat next to the pool at your own risk - you have been forewarned!

The back of the menu lists all the four restaurants that are in business at Beach Luxury Hotel.

The prices are the same as those at any other high-end restaurants of the city.
They are quoted here exclusive of 17% tax.

Eggs are served all day, and are quite good! Especially the omelets.

The best part about ordering "2 Eggs any Style" (besides their economical rates) is that you can have them customized to your preference e.g. plain cheese omelets with no spices work well as a meal for kids at any time of the day.

A shot of "2 Eggs, Any Style" - Pakistani Omelet with Cheese
It comes with 3 toasted slices of bread.

A closeup shot of the omelet. The chef clearly does it to perfection.
Oodles of melted cheddar ooze out as you eat this omelet!

The menu offers a pretty eclectic, although limited, range of continental and local dishes. 

Apple Pie with ice cream - Rs 235

This one is our favorite! We consider it to be the best, most authentic apple pie we have had in Karachi so far.
They serve the pie slice warmed in the microwave, without request.
You must try it, if you like apple pie! But eat fast during summer, as the ice cream melts like there's no tomorrow.

Creme Caramel - Rs 160
Again, not from a packet! You can taste and smell the eggs in this pudding, which is evidence that it is made from scratch. 

A shot of both desserts. 
A picture that truly tantalizes the taste buds, eh?

Mango Milkshake - Rs 160

Strawberry Milkshake - Rs 160

This was awesome! It carried the zest and crunch of pureed strawberries in every thick slurp. 

Vegetable Spring Rolls - Rs 195, and French Fries - Rs 100

The spring rolls were freshly fried and very crunchy, and the way their vegetable contents had been sliced thinly, in long strands, gave away the professionalism of the chef who prepared them.
They weren't frozen rolls taken out of a boxed packet, that's for sure. 

Chai (tea) - Rs 90
The tea is made with teabags in a traditional teapot, served with hot liquid milk in a milk dispenser.
Brings back memories of the 80's, when my grandmother had her daily evening chai this way. The only thing missing is the "tea cosy". :) 

Mulligatawny Soup, with accompaniments of buns, bread-sticks and butter - Rs 160

I love this soup! Shredded chicken and rice abound in every spoon of the steaming concoction.
Whenever I have had this soup, the buns and bread sticks that come with it (consumed eagerly by all my 3 children) have been fresh.

Fish Finger - Rs 360
The fish is so fresh, it flakes easily. Although the outside of the fried finger fish is crispy, its insides are soft and tender. 
We almost always have this whenever we dine here.

A portion of tartar sauce accompanies the Fish Finger.

Chicken Chow Mien - Rs 300

I am sure you can see the way the vegetables have been sliced, like I mentioned above?
The noodles, veggies and shredded chicken are clearly fried separately for this Chow Mien and tossed together by the chef at the end, that much is obvious. And that is the way Chow Mien should be made!
So yes, this Chow Mien gets a big thumbs up from me!

Crispy Chicken Burger - Rs 300, with cheese - Rs 60

The burger patty was a normal chicken patty, not crispy.
Nevertheless, this is the way the burger was served to us on its plate, like an open-faced sandwich.
The taste was a bit old school, like Mr Burger. 

Another glass of Mango Milkshake, from another visit - notice the straw standing in the middle because of the thickness of the shake? :)
No complains.

A view of the lawns and palm trees at night. Warning: if you sit under these trees after sunset, you stand at risk of being pelted by bird droppings. :P
I am pretty sure that any average Karachi dweller has attended at least one wedding on these lawns.

The lights of Port Grand are clearly visible in the horizon at a distance after nightfall.

It is wonderful to spot the full moon at night under the open sky, flanked by the leaves of the palm trees.

The lawns are well-lit by garden lights.

The rooms in the hotel building are visible from the gardens.

Verdict: Need I say more? A must visit, please do go to this restaurant at Beach Luxury Hotel even if it is just to have your evening chai, then take a stroll along the lawns, and enjoy the sea breeze under the stars. The food is clearly professionally prepared and served, and always very fresh!

Note: there is a masjid in a spacious room outside the hotel where men can pray in congregation, and for ladies, they willingly open one of their conference rooms and provide a prayer rug as well (even though I have prayed more than once on the grass in the lawns too, without any issues). The washrooms of the hotel are always very clean (otherwise I wouldn't be returning here for repeated visits, that's for sure!)

The staff of the hotel is very courteous, helpful and polite. No one will ask you what you are doing there (either with their facial expression or with their tone of voice), even if you come just to hang out by sitting on the benches next to the creek overlooking the mangroves.