Striving to pack a desi punch

The Express Tribune takes a trip to Spice Bazaar to see if the food lives up to the hype surrounding it


MEHEK SAEED July 28, 2015

LAHORE:


Spice Bazaar is the newest addition to Lahore’s growing dining-out scene, located in the heart of city, just off MM Alam road. It’s owned by the team that introduced Chinese restaurant Yum and café English Tea House to Lahore and it seems they know how to cater to popular taste. Lahore sorely lacked an upscale Pakistani restaurant and Spice Bazaar attempts to fill that void. The space has roped in Chef Akhtar Rehman, who’s a well-known name in culinary circles along with architect Masood Ali Khan to design the restaurant. The Express Tribune took a trip to the restaurant to see if the food lives up to the hype surrounding it.

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Quality 3/5

The desi murgh yakhni soup, which was recommended by the chef, was bland and perhaps not palatable for a foodie, looking for food that packs a desi punch. The paneer tikka from the appetisers section was dry and chewy. The restaurant boasts a vast menu, out of which we ordered the tawa chicken, nihari, malai boti and palak paneer. The tawa chicken was anything but ordinary. Its aroma coupled with the hit of green chilies aptly puts the ‘spice’ in Spice Bazaar. The nihari and malai boti lacked in the flavour department. Their palak paneer, however, was outstanding – slow-cooked to perfection with a harmony of flavours. This paired with one of their many varieties of naan was a total knockout. They also had a ‘Qehwa khaana’, which had an assortment of teas one could indulge in after the meal. Their gulab jamans, another recommendation by the chef, are worth a special mention.

Atmosphere 4.5/5

The ambiance of the restaurant is visually striking, with alfresco dining and indoor seating in different sections. The middle of the restaurant area has a courtyard with a fountain, and their ‘Qehwa khana’ is placed in a cozy corner on the other end.

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Presentation 4/5

Spice Bazaar paid special attention to the presentation of food. Every item on the table was served in a different kind of serving platter or dish in accordance with its requirements. This added to the grandeur and beauty of the table.

Service 5/5

Although the food is above average, it’s the impeccable service that would, perhaps, drive us to visit the restaurant again. The staff at Spice Bazaar is well-trained, friendly and well-informed, going out of their way to ensure the customers’ comfort. They’re attentive and accommodating with enthusiasm, which adds to the overall experience of the meal.

Verdict: A welcome addition to Lahore’s desi dining scene, Spice Bazaar has a myriad of things to offer. Developing a menu this vast in just over a month into its initiation is worth lauding. Still in its nascent stage, the dishes are not as top-notch as one would expect them to be. Sustain their service and ambiance, and improving food quality could take them a long way.

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Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th,  2015.

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