ISLAMABAD: After ten successful years in Lahore, Polo Lounge opened its doors to Islamabad at the scenic Saidpur Village. The village, a brainchild of Kamran Lashari, attracted Asma Ramday after some initial scepticism. She bought the property two years ago, but waited for the area to fully develop before launching her eatery.
Specialising in steaks, lobster and prawn, the new fine dining venue has tantalised the taste buds of Islamabad’s residents.
One of the main reasons for its initial success is that Polo Lounge has upheld its quality throughout the years in Lahore and has now brought the same quality here.
“I have worked 16-17 hours a day for the past two months to set up this place. I have completely moved to Islamabad leaving my toddler in Lahore,” said a very tired Asma Ramday. In a culture where people generally want to take all the credit for successful endeavours, Ramday gives credit where it is due and very proudly shares her success with her general manager Arif Iqbal and head chef Ghulam Mehdi. “Polo Lounge would not be what it is today without the efforts of these people,” said Ramday.
Being a food enthusiast herself, Ramday strives to provide an ideal evening to all her guests. From privacy to what eventually makes it onto the platters, she is personally involved in ensuring that her guests are well sought after. When questioned as to why Polo Lounge took so long to launch in Islamabad, Ramday explained how more than anything else it was important for her to be sure that her kitchen staff was ready.
“I did not want to hire new people and that is why I am very grateful to my head chef Ghulam Mehdi who has uprooted himself from Lahore and devoted himself to the Islamabad branch,” she said.
CDA had promised electricity and natural gas to the restaurant but failed to deliver and Ramday’s staff had to make do with LPG.
After crossing the initial kitchen related hurdles, the real calamity struck when the lower portions got flooded with five feet of rain water, destroying the interior and wiping away all stored food items . After incurring heavy losses both financially and structurally, Ramday continued working hard to make sure that the quality of food was not compromised in any way. With the terrace area and an indoor private dining room operational, Ramday is very satisfied with the way things are running.
She takes pride in hand picking the vegetables, meat and seafood and supplying the best food in town. “It’s not about making money for me; as long as the standard of food satisfies me I am happy. It is a very tough business to be in. With the prices of raw materials sky-rocketing, it is hard to make money unless you cut corners,” she said. “As a rule I have instilled it in my staff that there is no room for cutting corners,” added Ramday.
With such high work ethics and remarkable passion for food, Ramday has survived the vicious restaurant market with her head held high.
With a beautiful view in its lap, and a cold winter approaching, nothing sounds better than a hot bowl of soup and a delectable steak to keep the body warm.
With an exceptional staff at hand and a keen eye for art work, Polo Lounge takes fine dining to the next level in Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2010.