Islamabad is definitely stepping up its game with restaurants, terrace cafes and shisha bars opening left, right and centre. However, they can’t all justify their high prices and dull food.
Twice during my trip to Islamabad this winter, I happened to stop over at Street 1 Café for lunch on one occasion and breakfast on the other. I have to mention, I am a huge caffeine addict and after having tried every other coffee house in London (not to mention my obsession with my Nespresso coffee machine), my taste buds have become accustomed to a good cappuccino or latte and Street 1 Café does the trick.
Street 1 Café opened in 2011 in one of Islamabad’s chicest districts, Kohsar Market, which is quite the place to go for people watching (or to be seen). It took me by surprise as it not only attracts all kinds of Isloo-ites but the food, coffee and modern art deco ambience all rate high on the comment card.
The place was buzzing at lunch time. I decided to go for the Beef Onion Steak and a latte. If you are not too hungry, I would suggest skipping the appetiser and ordering a main course; the selection of (complimentary) bread gets you going till your food arrives. I have to admit that I usually go for chicken steaks whenever I am out in Islamabad and this was the first beef steak I tried, it was wonderful. It was juicy, succulent and cooked perfectly from medium to well done. The steak came with a generous helping of fries and vegetables. However, the steak would have been more enjoyable if it was a sizzler and they could work more on presentation.
Finally, the most important thing, my coffee was delicious (though it took ages to cool down!) accompanied by a biscotti; perfect to kill the winter chill that hit Islamabad this time.
My next visit to Street 1 Café was for breakfast. My friend had been raving on about the Chocolate Pancakes so I decided to order those and of course, a coffee. You should expect a very generous and chocolatey helping of pancakes stacked and filled with melted chocolate. The overdose of chocolate and the latte definitely got me buzzing for the rest of the day. I would also suggest trying their omelets.
Both my visits to Street 1 Café have been delightful. The staff is attentive and the rest rooms are well kept (a rare quality in restaurants these days!). If you prefer to get some time to yourself, mornings are usually the time to go. If you are looking for a more buzzing atmosphere you should try the evenings. The seating is very comfy and the outdoor setting is ideal for sunny days. This is a café I will be going to very often during my visits to Islamabad!
Prices per head:
Breakfast: Rs350 to Rs500
Lunch/Dinner: Rs800 to Rs1000
The writer is a London School of Economics graduate, currently a sales and marketing professional in the luxury industry of London, who loves discovering hidden gems.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2013.
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