Right next to the China Grill counter in the Dolmen City Mall food court is Bistro 76, a new food station that offers a breather from regular fast food with its thin crust pizzas and juicy gourmet burgers.
Sarmad Shahbaz and Mustafa Iqbal — the owners of Café 76 in the Clifton area — have added items from the restaurant’s menu to the bistro, with a few tweaks here and there for a healthier, more wholesome meal. “We are giving restaurant food at a food court,” says Shahbaz, also pointing out that the seating area and ambience of the Bistro 76 stall is different from the others in the vicinity.
The menu offers everything from a variety of burgers and pasta to pizzas and tiramisu. The chicken stuffed potatoes appetiser — two baked potatoes stuffed with chicken strips, drizzled in piping hot mushroom sauce — is absolutely scrumptious. Another delicious item on the menu is the mushroom burger, a wholesome and fulfilling burger that will leave you licking your fingers. Strangely enough, when you open your box, you’ll be disappointed to see that there are no fries with your burger. Shahbaz explains that Bistro 76 does not serve fries at the food court in order to keep prices low. While some may be seriously disappointed by the absence of the world’s favourite comfort food, the burger — priced at Rs 425 — will surely satiate your appetite even sans fries.
When asked what prompted the restaurateurs to open up a bistro in a food court despite having a popular joint already, Shahbaz explains that the mall is the place to be. “Mall culture has hit Karachi,” he says. “Who wants to roam around on the streets in the sun in our hot climate when you have a nice, air-conditioned mall?”
He also adds that for Café 76 enthusiasts and others who want a hearty meal in the food court environment, the bistro offers focaccia and herbed breads along with chocolate walnut brownies and mousse for dessert. While the bistro’s prices are a tad bit steeper than its neighbours, Shahbaz points out that they are inclusive of tax and that no additional tip needs to be paid with the order. “My neighbours have pretty cheap prices,” he admits with a laugh. “I don’t know how they do it!”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2012.