ISLAMABAD: At 9pm on a weeknight, the ground floor was packed and the first floor was filling up fast.
Salt ‘ n’ Pepper’s reputation precedes it. Already a popular and successful restaurant chain in Lahore, a franchise opened in Blue Area last week.
Salt ‘n’ Pepper is a great casual family restaurant. It’s comfortable, relaxed and spacious and there’s a separate play area for children. There’s an extensive menu with a selection of burgers, sandwiches, steaks and pizza, as well as Chinese and Pakistani dishes, so there’s something for everyone.
The first floor feels slightly more formal when you first walk up the stairs, past the small play area, and is done up in darker, warm shades of brown. But then you see that all the Rattan weave chairs and tables are quite clearly outdoor furniture, so it’s not really all that formal. The exterior and the ground floor are brighter and more colourful in shades of orange, yellow and green. There is some outdoor seating on the ground floor but most of the seating is indoors.
The service was excellent, the waiters and management were prompt and attentive, but that is to be expected of a restaurant that has been open only two weeks. The food arrived within 15 minutes. The barbeque items are spicy and succ0ulent. However, the Pakistani dishes, like the Chicken Handi, while not bad, are not great either.
Your best bet is the signature Salt ‘n’ Pepper entrée, the Stuffed Chicken Breast with Pineapple Sauce, a crumb-coated fried chicken breast stuffed with cheese and herbs, topped with a sweet pineapple sauce, served with a baked potato, coleslaw and a side of spinach.
They have a good salad bar too but steer clear of the desserts.
The evening hit a bit of a snag when a young girl came into the first floor dining room from the play area crying and saying something between sobs about having been bitten by a bug. Her father made a big fuss about the incident, but the restaurant was quick to take action. The play area was immediately closed off, resulting in some very disappointed children.
A member of the management said that there was a small yellow insect in the play area and that it would not be opened again until after it was fumigated.
Salt ‘n’ Pepper is one of those places where you can still get good food and a decent portion for a reasonable price. The menu is chicken-heavy though, so if you’re looking for beef or fish you’re in for disappointment.
(Salt ‘n’ Pepper, Plot 55, Shabbir Plaza, Blue Area, Islamabad. Meal for two costs approximately Rs1,200 to Rs1,500)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2012.
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