LAHORE: Grab and go food culture has not really hit Pakistan. The concept of power lunches is still benign and inconsistent, and as far as Lahore is concerned, the only option most working people have is to grab a bakery sandwich from Coffee, Tea and Company or Kitchen Cuisine and, worse yet, a fast food chain. But here’s the good news: a conceptualised new eatery that focuses on quick grab and go items has opened its doors. In other words, Lahore opens up its very first deli: The Delicatessen.
Zahra Khan, daughter of Yasmin Khan, one of the owners of the popular Cosa Nostra, is running the show at The Delicatessen which is situated in Mall 1 on Main Boulevard.
“My mother has been after me to start contributing to Cosa but I have been hesitant,” says Zahra Khan, “Cosa Nostra is a family-run business between my mother and her siblings and they are going dynamically well because everyone knows what they are doing.”
The deli has been in business for almost two months and the eatery has been struggling with some issues of its own. Initially, the quality of the bread was not up to the mark; the baguette was dry and stiff, which made eating the sandwich extremely difficult. To this concern, Khan responds, “We are aware of this issue and we have rectified the problem. Initially we would place the bread straight into the chiller right after baking it and as a result it would get dry; now we wrap it up in its cling film so it retains the moisture.”
A client who was present at the eatery confirmed this. “I had a problem with the bread the last time I came because it was too hard. But today, the bread was actually really good and I enjoyed my sandwich.|”
While there still exists a need for a good creperie to open up in Lahore, The Delicatessen is trying hard to improve their crepes. Even though the crepe was a little doughy and thicker than it is supposed to be, the owners hope that the hand of the crepe-maker will get steadier as time goes on. “We are trying to make our crepes even better than before and ensuring that the consistency and the crispiness remain,” says Khan. The best item on the salad menu is the newest char-grilled sweet potato salad with balsamic dressing, pine nuts and onions. The sweetness of the potato with the tanginess of the vinegar creates a tantalising sensation.
Although the place is getting better acquainted in the market for its sandwiches and crepes, what is truly remarkable is its patisserie section. The tarts are beautifully made with fresh fruit and custard fillings that really set the bar for casual desserts higher.
The most unusual — and impressive — item on the menu is the Chili Chocolate with Black Currant cookie. If you have never been exposed to chili chocolate, The Delicatessen is the best place to go and take a nibble; the flavour of chocolate with an aftertaste of chili is fabulous.
From women buying loaves of bread and packing pesto sauce for take-away, to clueless customers mesmerised by the concept of the deli, Cosa Nostra’s new eatery is a place for everyone — not only for its different take on food but also because of its nominally-priced products.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2012.
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