The Brasserie is a cozy little space on level two of Mall 1 that offers exceptional service with an ostentatious ambiance. With a rustic brown and black décor, the restaurant gives off a homely feel. Danish Aslam, one of the three owners keeps a cautious eye on the presentation as he believes it is of utmost importance. The Brasserie has a patio sitting area that offers a view of the shop and dine surrounding outside the mall, it also has an indoor space which reflects more of a romantic aura. The Brasserie is doing exceptionally well considering it has only been functioning for over a year. Aslam shares his view on the country’s food scene; his struggles as well as strategies behind maintaining the quality while keeping the standard high for the eatery
What inspired you to establish The Brasserie?
My school friends and I, (there are three of us) wanted to start a business together and opening a restaurant seemed quite fitting. I have always wanted to have a restaurant in Lahore but initially I wanted it to have Pakistani cuisine but this area of Mall 1 doesn’t get many visitors who would prefer desi food so that is how we came up with The Brasserie.
What is the process of developing a new menu or new dishes at The Brasserie?
There is a whole lot of experimentation that goes into developing a new dish. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen myself, tweaking the menu, coming up with new sauces; the chef and I work together as a team to achieve maximum results. We experiment and see what sauce goes better with what dish, which sides would taste good with what entrée and things of sort. We try to come up with things that haven’t been introduced in Lahore yet. A few of these examples would be chicken in a coconut shell, chocolate overload and bruschetta. Apart from the taste, we spend a good amount of time on the presentation as well; at Brasserie we take presentation very seriously.
How is The Brasserie’s menu different from what other restaurants are offering?
Every weekend we come up with a new small menu so that the regular patrons can experience a variety of flavours instead of just sticking to the basics.
How has Pakistan changed in terms of spending and eating out?
Eating out has become more of a trend rather than just a celebration. Besides, in Lahore you don’t really have that many entertainment options, the best you can do is go to the movies or dine out. Even if you plan a day around activities like bowling or visiting the dying extreme sports arena that we have in Lahore, food is still going to be a part of it. Another reason could be modernisation. Kitty parties are the hot new trend, ladies want to go out more and brunches are in full swing these days so I think it’s a nice change as long as we all observe our boundaries.
In your opinion what differentiates Lahore and Karachi in terms of taste and food choice?
I would say Karachi is a step ahead of Lahore in the game, because they experiment with the food in a more creative manner. They use different recipes all together, not forgetting to mention they have better seafood. Apart from that, if I may be so bold, Karachi has better taste in comparison to Lahore. It could possibly be because it is an entirely different province or it may be because of the ancestral recipes and spices.
What trends do you see shaping the food and beverage market in 2018?
I think we are moving towards a healthier food era, especially with the diseases and complications of the day, I feel people are opting for healthier alternatives and organic food. At Brasserie we get more orders for healthier drinks than the fizzy ones. We have all the seasonal fresh juices. Last season we were offering kiwi and strawberry which were a house favourite. We have peach, watermelon and falsa this season that are really winning against the fizzy drinks.
What is the secret behind sustaining a restaurant?
The key to sustaining quality services is looking after your employees. If you take care of your team, they will take care of your business. Once you have their loyalty, you wouldn’t have to care about bringing in new staff and training them all over again. Most importantly if you change your chef over and over, it would cause an imbalance in the authentic taste of the restaurant which is basically the reason behind why people revisit.
What are some of the challenges of being a restaurateur?
There are so many restaurants opening up in this area so standing out was one of the main challenges. We had to observe everything very carefully in order keep the balance between the preparation cost and the price of the food items. We worked for a good 4-5 months on the menu before opening up. We always have to be watchful or any other restaurant could easily take the steal.
What continues to motivate or inspire you in coming up with a new idea for your restaurant?
The fact that patrons don’t give second chances. We have to make an impact in the first go. We try our best to offer and maintain high standards. Apart from that, my restaurant is my passion and I want The Brasserie to be one of the best restaurants in Lahore which is the reason why I simply can’t sit back.
What is your least favourite culinary trend?
Those stainless steel spoons with a slim round handle are the worse. They keep slipping; it’s a real struggle for me to look sophisticated using them.
How would you describe The Brasserie and its meals?
A great balance between quality and quantity; that is how I would describe The Brasserie.
What is in store for The Brasserie in the future?
We’re planning on adding Turkish cuisine to our menu for which we’re going to bring in a chef from London to train our staff. It’s going to be amazing.