Thursday, September 30, 2010

N'ecos Natural Store and Cafe, Phase 5, Defence

N'ecos Natural Store and Cafe has recently opened its doors along one of the lanes between main Khayaban-e-Shujaat and 16th Street off Khayaban-e-Muhafiz. Its in the same lane as the men's clothing store Naushemian

This picture of the map was downloaded from their now defunct website.

Since this store and cafe boasts organic and high-quality ingredients, the prices are on the high side.

They serve breakfast all day, which includes traditional desi as well as foreign fare. The "doorstep-thick" French Toast (pictured below in this post), is a unique attraction offered only by Necos's that is as yet unparalleled by other eateries.

Eggs are free-range, and you can choose wholegrain or white bread, and pick cheese that is hormone-free.

Their menu is more exotic than what you find in other cafes, e.g. they have a variety of flatbreads that are wholegrain.

The dessert menu

The cafe ambience is spacious yet cozy because of the abundance of woodwork, not to mention a tree in its center! 

Assorted things were hanging from the tree branches. Kudos to whoever designed the interior of this cafe-cum-deli-cum-store.

A blackboard displays the day's special menu and new store products on offer. I absolutely loved the ample use of thick wood throughout the cafe!

The woodwork added a very "countryside" touch to the ambience.

Behind the counter, an array of N'ecos original organic products on display. 

The deli has scrumptious-looking items, such as tarts, cookies, croissants, buns and other snacks on display.

Muffins, cupcakes, and a multitude of different breads can be bought here.

The store staff was very welcoming towards children, and provided them with colors and paper, which kept them occupied constructively.
The staff also offered my children two chocolate chip cookies, priced at Rs 15 each, on the house as soon as we entered the cafe.

Unlike other cafes, you can rest assured that whatever you order is prepared in a clean kitchen under high standards of hygiene. 

Customers can watch the food they order being prepared by chefs behind an open counter, and the final dishes are assembled before their eyes. 

The salad bowls are quite unique in shape, aren't they?

Mineral water is complimentary and is served in exquisite stemmed glasses (even to children!) as soon as you sit down to dine.  

Moroccan Chicken with pasta in creamy sauce, priced at Rs 499.

Homemade pasta with prawns in pesto, also priced at Rs 499. At N'ecos, they use their own pasta in their dishes!

Since breakfast is served all day, traditional Pakistani omelette, with onions and tomatoes but sans chillies, and paratha were ordered for the children, priced at Rs 399. This came with one cup of tea as well. 
Are you wincing at the price? Well, the quantity was more than enough for even one very hungry adult, plus they use their own whole wheat aata and free-range eggs!

Notice that N'ecos has its own distinct crockery.

Khageena with wholewheat paratha and one cup of tea - Rs 399

Hummus with mini-toasts - Rs 180
The hummus was spicy, glossy and really delicious!

Doorstep-thick French Toast with topping of maple syrup and seasonal fruit - Rs 329

Doorstep-thick French Toast with topping of apple, raisin and cinnamon compote - Rs 329

Cottage Chicken - Rs 569
The menu describes this as: "Chicken breast stuffed with layers of basil pesto, cottage cheese and tomatoes, along with Bearnaise sauce served with sauteed vegetables".
This was delicious; the only quibble I had with it was the small portion size. At this price, why are they being so stingy with the size of the chicken breast, sauteed veggies and sauce? It would not suffice for a very hungry adult.

Wholewheat Waffles with topping of seasonal fruit and maple syrup - Rs 300

The warm, syrup-drizzled waffles made a thoroughly enjoyable treat for the children! You can't get these at home, unless you have a waffle-maker.

Wholewheat pancakes with seasonal fruit and maple syrup - Rs 250
You will feel less guilty about having these pancakes, because they are wholewheat i.e. healthier. 

Blueberry-sauce topped New York Style cheesecake, priced at Rs 260. It was crusty around the edges, which indicated that it was not fresh, but its taste was nevertheless great!

A cup of tea accompanied the anda paratha breakfast i.e. it was included in its price. You can choose between teabag tea or doodh patti, and the sugar that comes with it is brown sugar or gurr that is of course one of the store's own original products. 

The bill includes Rs 198 as "Service charges" - yes, this cafe includes service charges as part of the bill, and there is no GST. 

The cafe and deli occupy the main floor but there is an entire, spacious organic products store in the basement as well, which I was unable to photograph. 

You can visit the N'ecos Facebook page for more information, product details and photos. Headed by the same entrepreneur who owns Hobnob Cafe (the past "Copper Kettle") and Hobnob Bakery chain, N'ecos with its product originality and wholesomeness of ingredients indeed seems to be here to stay!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nihari Inn, Boat Basin, Clifton

Doing good business since many years on the Boat Basin strip in Clifton is a moderately-priced restaurant called Nihari Inn.

On the night we paid it a visit, it had rained heavily, so the outer baithak's of tukhts and gao takya's that have become a landmark of this strip of eateries, had been wound up, with tents erected in their place, as is obvious from the picture above.

The restaurant has an open air terrace upstairs.

The menu is reasonably priced and offers all variety of typical, popular desi food.

As you can see, the economic rates of the restaurant food combined with sustained good quality gives Nihari Inn  an edge above its overpriced counterparts tucked away in remote corners of Defence.

This below was their single serving of sumptuous Mutton Kunna priced at Rs 170:

And this was a single serving of plain Beef Nihari, priced at Rs 160:

 More shots of the succulent Kunna and Nihari. The meat in both was extremely tender!

The serving size was huge. We had to get the leftover packed to take back home.

Fluffy, hot naans were the best accompaniment to the meat curries:

This Kulfi in a clay pot priced at Rs 30, on the other hand, was a complete disaster. Avoid it! :)

The kheer was great in taste.

All in all, dining at Nihari Inn is a pleasurable experience, because of the good quality of the food combined with economical rates. 

The Revolving Restaurant, Caesar's Tower, Shahrah-e-Faisal

I had only heard of The Revolving Restaurant and seen it from my car window as I peered upwards sometimes whilst passing by Caesar's Tower on main Shahrah-e-Faisal. I'd spot a round shape atop the tall building adorned by glittering, multi-colored lights, and wonder if it really did rotate as its name implied.

Finally, on one of the last nights of Ramadan, after the culmination of taraweeh, we decided to give this famed restaurant a try.

The entrance to Caesars Tower boasts of its 'crowning glory', so to speak.

From the entrance to the Caesars Tower building, we were guided to one of several elevators that would take us to the rooftop restaurant.

We seemed to be the only customers, and after entering the restaurant, we were told that indeed, business during Ramadan was very low.

This winding staircase took us to the entrance of the restaurant. I liked how Allah's name was printed on the welcoming placard!

The restaurant is circular, working somewhat like a disk. The seats and tables were on the rotating part of this disk, whilst the glass windows and the central portion, where the food platters are kept, remained fixed. 

This is the central, circular room that remains fixed as you revolve. The food platters are placed along its circular periphery.

The soup counter - there were two kinds of soup: Chicken Corn and Cream of Chicken Soup

The view of Karachi from the windows. The restaurant completes one full circle in an hour and a half, so that your view keeps discreetly changing.

Like I said, we were the only ones dining that night, a rare and unusual occurrence that we actually ended up enjoying because of the added privacy.  

All in all, the decor and ambience was nice.

The salad bar was mediocre - average fare you'll find at any regular wedding or restaurant.

The desserts were disappointingly stale and shoddy. Most of the items, though probably enjoyable when fresh, were either stale or so broken-down in appearance (due to being taken haphazardly) that I did not feel inclined to have anything except the ice cream.
What was on offer: fresh cream pineapple cake, creme caramel or caramel pudding, chocolate cake, jelly, fruit trifle, fruit chaat, chocolate mousse, sheer khurma, strawberry cake, and strawberry ice cream (not pictured).  

The dinner menu, on the other hand, was much better in quality and taste. This was the Mutton Kunna.

Whole fried batair.

Vegetable Chow Mien. This was very well-made and tasty. 

Chinese Chicken Szechuan 

Chinese vegetable fried rice.

Prawn Tempura and Pasta in Creamy White Sauce were also part of the menu, and is visible on this plate. In the middle is the Dry Beef with Chillies that was also on offer in the chinese fare.

Other dishes that were there, pictures of which I could not snap but which I can just quote from memory, were: Soup, Mutton Biryani, Chicken Shashlik, Chicken Tikka Boti, seekh kabab, Arabic paratha, Naan, and spicy Lahori fried fish. 

Doodh patti chai to finish off. 

All in all, I liked the experience, even though some of the items on offer were obviously not freshly prepared. The price per head came to Rs 600- Rs 700. There were extra charges for our soft drinks and tea. Our children, aged 5 and 3, were not charged.

Note: Some people might feel slightly dizzy when the restaurant revolves. Even though, most of the time, you cannot feel the movement, there are some points in its cycle when the floor wobbles more, at which point you definitely feel your stomach become a wee bit queasy. :)

Our children loved the novel, unusual experience of dining high in the sky in a restaurant that moves, with a spectacular view that keeps changing, so families with children might definitely enjoy dining here. The experience and food is worth the money, in my opinion. The staff was very friendly and welcoming of children, a point you can gauge by the fact that my son accidentally broke a glass and they all laughed it off and refused to charge us for it despite our insistence! :) *phew* The waiters, on the contrary, were too busy playing catch with our children to mind their naughtiness!

The Revolving Restaurant of Karachi has its own updated website. You can visit it here.