It’s every foodies dream to find that perfect place with mouthwatering food, savory aroma and a cozy yet enticing environment. My hunt for such places will always take me to different stops. One of which this week was ‘Chaaye Khana’. 

Chaaye Khana is found on the road of the restaurants; M. M. Alam. The restaurant offers valet parking, so hop out of your car and go straight to the fourth floor of the building. To be honest I’ve been to this restaurant once before, the experience then was not so pleasant. But like all Lahoris, I decided to give it another go, for the sake of the ‘Chaaye Khana’ in Islamabad.  

The restaurant manager and the team were a bit startled at the idea that I came there for a review, even though I think I gave them a fair chance by informing them of my visit soon. 

Since I have mentioned that this was not the first time I dined at ‘Chaaye Khana’. Let me tell you my first impression. The space has been nicely used, some of the tables feel private and secluded whereas some feel open and public. Just the way I like it.  

Ambiance: 

The place has a modern yet retro vibe to it. With the vintage-like movie posters of Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Gone With The Wind, hanging down the wall, you do feel the magic of the classical cinema. The décor does do it justice, with the chess wooden tables, small library shelf and dim yellow hanging lamps. There was a corner that I particularly liked and named ‘the friend’s corner’. 

I actually preferred the place after the sun went down, the daylight doesn’t flatter the décor or the scheme of colors. 

The food: 

I was told that Chaaye Khana’s menu is completely decided by the Chef and most of the items on the menu are kept in harmony with Islamabad’s Chaaye Khana. The restaurant has serving that is ample enough for a single person. 

Menu: 

The menu was in coherent with the theme. It is divided among the sections of  

Breakfast Menu 

Salads and Soups 

Sandwiches Menu 

Specials Menu 

Snacks Menu 

Bakery and Desserts Menu 

Beverages Menu 

Starters:  

For starters we had chicken strips. From the strangely sweet to dry meat, it's apparently hard to get chicken strips right. But when they're good, they're some of the best comfort food out there. The golden chicken strips were served in a not-so-appetizing basket, we would have preferred them in a flat rectangular plate but the taste-buds have no eyes so we decided to jump right in. The strips were served with regular ketchup with no innovative sauce to compliment the chicken tenders. The strips on the other hand were well-cooked, a bit bland but there was a subtle balance between texture, spiciness and meat quality. Overall, the chicken wings were decent. To our surprise, the basket had French fries underneath the chicken strips. I could not see the purpose of hiding the good’ol fries. 

Tea

We tried out their regular black tea. 

The tea was enjoyable, here let me quote what Chaaye Khana has to say about tea, “Pakistan is a country where tea is not just a beverage. It is a thirst quencher, a reason for a friendly get-together, a day-starter, a peace-offering, a relaxant, a snack, a meal, a deal-breaker, a tradition. We are people that will conduct a multi-million rupee deal over a cup of tea. It is an essential ingredient of our social fabric, had at all formal and casual occasions and at all levels of our social strata.”  

Drinks

Among the beverages we tried Mint Magic, it was served in a cocktail flute glass, with a lemon on the side. The drink was the right amount of mint to tingle your senses and make you feel fresh. I give it an A. 

Main Course: 

We ordered the neat Swiss Polo Chicken. The Swiss polo chicken was served with a dipping on the side with a sauce and some stir fried veggies. The chicken was well-cooked. The chef had done a commendable job with the Swiss Polo Chicken. It was all the right things at that moment. The cheese, sauce and chicken complimented each other completely. If anyone is planning to visit ‘Chaaye Khana’ do try their Swiss Polo Chicken. It is recommended. 

Dessert: 

The Molten Lava Cake was served in a creamy oval plate, with vanilla ice-cream on the side. The ice-cream melted before it could have been served to us, but, the cake was perfectly sweet and the center of the cake was full of molten chocolate. 

Overall Experience: 

Overall the restaurant has a unique aura to it. The place is sociable and the food is decent.  

Rating: 

6.5/10