Monday, 30 April 2012

Once upon a Thyme

Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce

I happen to visit this little cute restaurant tucked away at Zamzama. This reputable and established restaurant run my non other then Haider Ghulam Hussain, a well known restauranteur from Karachi. This tiny family run place stores a wealth of flavours and tastes in the wide range of dishes they serve here for lunch and dinner.  Haider with his over twenty two years of experience in hotel and restaurant business in Pakistan, and middle east have been creating genuine Continental and Mediterranean cuisines. The Mediterranean creations carry a hint of Italian and French culinary traditions as well.

The menu contains an impressive selection of Meat, Seafood and Pasta dishes. The selections keep changing frequently with Chefs Special appearing weekly.

  As a food photographer my eyes usually goes first to the way food is plated in any restaurant. One cannot undermine importance of plating food, it is the first impressions, and the way the meal is presented can determine whether it's considered mere grub or totally gourmet. The plating of food at Thyme are  fascinating and  glamorous, extraordinarily pleasing to eyes with clean, controlled distribution and artistic final presentation. I started my lunch with the first course of a plate of beautiful salad; a colorful, fresh and delightful bouquet. Fresh greens including rocket and iceberg, chunks of bell peppers tossed with fetta cheese and olives drizzled with simple lemon, pepper vinegrette. Delicious, healthy and a great perlude to the main course. The salad selection on the menu is exhaustive, however, they dont have much to choose from in soups, offering only 3-4 soups.

Sesame Crusted Fish With Spicy Sesame Oil

The main course includes the sesame coated red snapper served with steamed rice. This is a big fillet of fresh red snapper coated on one side with sesame seed and pan seared covered in a spicy cillie lemon grass sauce. A sheer bliss biting the nutty, crispy coating with teeth sinking straight through the superbly marinated, palatable fillet of snapper.

Tuscan Steak With Blue Cheese Sauce

The pièce de résistance on the table turned out to be non other then their signature Tuscany Roast Fillet of Beef with Blue Cheese Sauce, served with buttery risotto topped with shaved parmesan!!!  
Tuscan style herb marinated slow oven roasted medium rare undercut of beef, crusty from outside, tender and juicy from inside. Carries a unique taste unlike most steaks around. I am a big time fan of blue cheese and very few restaurant do steaks sauces with them. This one is definitely a great creation with creamy rich and strong flavoured sauce carrying the assertive blue cheese flavour paired perfectly with the subtle and delicately marinated beef, delicious every bit. To make the culinary experience all the more adventurous, the side includes superbly prepared rissoto, herb, cheese and butter flavoured, rice "al dente”, just the way I love it. 

Crabmeat Stuffed Baked Chicken

Stuffed Chicken with Crab meat was another delicious and palatable entree. A succulent marinated chicken breast was filled with herbed crabmeat, baked and topped with a luscious sauce made with mustard basil, and thyme cream. It was styled over a bed of crispy hasbrowns.

For the desert we had bread pudding, my all time favourite served by almost all restaurants that I frequent. This one stood out in taste and texture by its toffee caramel sauce making it  a delightful selection to close an overall great meal. The restaurant appear to be overall very selective in their menu ingredients which are all high quality, prime and best available. I found the drinks selection a bit on the weaker side with no fresh juices, all they had are sodas and mocktails.

Thyme has been around for quiet a few years, well known, trusted and have done a great job of maintaining the standard, and quality of food. Since it is a family run place, they don’t rely on hired chef, Haider and his brother rule the kitchen, recipes, and cooking. The quality does not fluctuate with changing chefs or cooking staff. The place is small 20-25 person sitting capacity, but very elegant, quiet and classy ambience. Great for lunchtime business meetings or cosy intimate family dinners. 

The staff give personalized service, they are willing to listen to customers, ready to recommend and adjust taste and flavours as per request. Interesting to note that they make a serious effort to even create a dish if not on their menu specially with families who come with children. 

The prices on the menu are all inclusive and amazingly affordable for this kind of full course menu, one can think about frequenting the place. 

The restaurant also provides a classy catering service for small home based parties to elaborate banquettes and massive dinner events, their rates and menu are extremely competitive and service is professional.

Thyme is completely qualified to provide a very well prepared, artistically plated, professionally served 5-7 course meal, and we would leave spontaneously saying 'that was really good'.

Blog write up: Farah Kamal
Photography: Farah Kamal and Shahrukh Mughal
 Thyme Restaurant

Friday, 20 April 2012

Delicacies from the Seafood Harvest-BOTs

BBQ Jumbo Prawns in Spicy Masala the same can be ordered in milder masala

A true novelty constituting the best of the seafood harvest from coasts of Karachi

BOTS and SARA are the two most talked about abbreviations among the good food lovers these days. The rave is about the Biryani of the Seas (BOTs), a seafood roadside restaurant owned and run by the very young, and dynamic entrepreneur Syed Ali Raza Abidi (SARA). A business graduate from Boston also CEO of the Ikhlaq Enterprises, one of the leading fish exporters of Pakistan. 

Goan Shrimp Curry

Prawn Chillis Dry
With the access to all the prime export quality seafood and the love of cooking, Ali ventured into providing good quality seafood cuisines at a very affordable price. There was a time when sea food entrée like lobster tail, fish steak, bbq prawns, fish steaks, calamari etc. are available either in Chinese restaurants or elite fine dining restaurants, pretty much out of the reach of an average income family or office goers. Ali mastered the art of cooking during his six years with the multicultural crowd in the dorms in Boston learning various traditions, styles and recipes. He started Biryani of the Seas in 2010, primarily serving fish and prawn biryani out of a small dhaba style roadside establishment at Clifton available for home delivery, rake away and dine in. Over the two years this restaurant has grown to offer extensive seafood Chinese, Italian, Pakistani, South Indian and Goan dishes. The menu has a fabulous selection of curries, karahis, bun kebabs, soups, bar b que, pasta, steaks, rolls, dossa, rice and many more cooked in prawns and fish both as well as chicken.
The Authentic Shah Daula's Tawa Chicken

Goan Fish Curry

 If one wants to enjoy high quality BBQ fish and prawns, just catch SARA himself standing out on his BBQ pit fanning some juicy, spicy or mildly marinated jumbo prawns and huge steaks of snappers, leather jacket or panguses. Yes that is the secret of success with BOTs, Ali cooks himself whenever possible, he creates all the recepies himself, trains and teaches his cooks, work with them until a creation is perfected.  He is always eager and open to take customers feedback, criticism, ideas on taste, presentation, menu and all very  positively with a great smile. 

BBQ Steak of Red Snapper

There is a big demand for service from this restaurant, which is overwhelming with the limited roadside sitting arrangement for dinners. Often people complain of late delivery, the good news is that in a month’s time they are coming up with a two floor dining area next to the existing outlet and another upscale restaurant coming up in Defense area. Also, once the expansion happens the restaurant might think of adding at least a few deserts and some fresh juices which at present is missing from the menu.
SARA uses nothing but the top most export quality seafood brought every day from his factory at the fisheries. Here one can enjoy prime quality dishes created with giant prawns, the prime steaks of red snapper, surmai, lobster tails or squid rings at a very affordable cost. The servings are generous and filling, a dinner with sea food entrée for two, would never cost more then Rs.700-800 here. A true novelty constituting the best of the seafood harvest from our coasts.
Prawn Dossa

 Blog and photographs by Farah S. Kamal

Check out the BOTs menu

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Welcome back Ciao!!

A great place for family lunches dinners or unwinding after a long day with friends

 It was a pleasant surprise as we entered Ciao one spring evening, completely stunned by its very light and cool summery interiors with soft and romantic jazz music in the background. I started to unwind sinking into the comfy sofa in the lounge like setting. Just what I needed after a long work day. This is the new look of the Ciao, completely revamped by the new owners who took it over in December 2011.

French Onion Soup
As I started shuffling through the menu, Owais the restaurant owner walked in and I grabbed the opportunity to bombard him with a lot of questions. His enthusiasm, love for deliciously presented food, and presenting the same with great service to his customers is highly appreciable. He ventured into the Ciao with his partner Shahzad Tareen, the brain behind the Elbow Room, made Ciao a true gourmet treat for people.

Owais and his highly trained executive chef offered a selection from their menu which were all at present under test before presenting to customers. It was a delicious learning experience as I carried on with shooting these beautifully styled innovations, and discussed the taste, texture, aroma, flavour and blend of each one of these with Owais and the Chef.
Oily, Cheesy, Tomato-y, Spicy Penne Arabiata
Grilled Wings
The new starters include the French Onion Soup, my favoruite dish to look for in any menu beside Chowder. A deliciously rich and smooth slow cooked broth, with caramelized onion in it. Served with croutons  topped with molten cheese. The improvement point here is to lessen the amount of onions which were a little too much in quantity. The Grilled Chicken Wings were a smart creation served on skewer and the chicken wings are midly tasting, grilled just enough so to retain its taste and juices. 
 The main courses that are being perfected by the chef includes a tasteful and artistically presented selection of grilled and or pan seared steaks. The Grilled Red Snapper with Shrimps was the winner for me among all, a super fine creation of lightly herbed and grilled generous portion of fish steak that is succulent and full of flavour. It is served with a selection of fresh lightly sauted vegetable in a crunchy cup. The beef steak was a tad tough and needs some modification before it can be added. The Grilled Chicken Steaks with Mushrooms was equally sumptuous, served on a bed of mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and sauted veggies in the signature crispy cup, altogether made a satisfying meal. The presentation of most of the dishes was very artistic and somewhat towering which can be a little daunting for some people since they appear unstable.

Mexx Wrap
Fresh Fruit Crepe
Strawberry Smoothie

The  restaurant have a fully stocked bar that creates hot and cold beverages. It was one of the first café in town, and even after changing hands it prides itself in serving best Italian coffee.  Ciao offers a very extensive range of cuisine to people looking for a good place for lunch, dinner, grabbing a bite on the way to office or just hanging out with friends for a good cup of coffee and chat.

The kitchen team at Ciao regularly comes up with new recipes and work on it until it is perfected to present as chef’s special. If these dishes appeal to customers taste buds then they are made a regular item in the menu. At present one can find many of these dishes either the Ciao menu or as Chefs special.

Strawberry Lemonade
The price tags are fairly affordable for the clientele it targets, a four course meal costs
Rs-1200-Rs1400. Ciao follows long hours of operations, from 8:00am-1:00pm, with a seating capacity of 54, it is a great place and is available for business meetings, and medium sized parties.

Blog write up: Farah Kamal
Photography: Farah Kamal and Shahrukh Mughal

Leave a comment on this blog please!!

Friday, 13 April 2012

With love from-GBC

GBC Mushroom Burger
Enjoy these images from the Gourmet Burger Company. We had a great time shooting these new finger licking mouth water items from their new menu.


GBC Classic Burger- A hearty quarter pounder


Chilli Cheese Fries

Crispy Chicken Burger

Chicken Burger

Chicken Wings
Hot Dog


Great Italian and Mexican Tastes

Spicy Arabiata Pasta

Spaghetti Bolognese

Fettuccini Alfredo

  GBC Club Sandwich


   Cheese Cake

Strawberry Crepe                                                                                        

Photpgraphy by:

Farah S. Kamal and
Shahrukh Mughal

Gourmet Burger Company Menu

Thursday, 12 April 2012

“World’s Best Cinnamon Roll”

It is not uncommon to drool over the whiff of cinnamon mixed aroma of hot buttery Cinnabons, as one strolls in the Malls or rush to catch trains at Subways around US. This American chain, famous as a brand that operates in malls has been an straight hit with Karachiites since it is opened in Dolmen Mall-Clifton earlier this year. Many witnessed the non ending lines and hundreds of people outside the Cinnabon kiosk.
 Talking at a bloggers meet to Yasir Khawaja, the very friendly and pleasant owner of this franchise shared his passion to bring something different to Pakistani food scene as his starting point to venture into bringing Cinnabon in Lahore two years back as a bakery café. Now a Cinnabon in Clifton and another one inaugurated in Atrium Mall on 11th April. Educated in US, with business experience in Dubai , UK and South Africa, Yasir is very particular about maintaining quality, he provided extensive training of each of his staff to roll, bake, manage and serve at these Cinnabon kiosks. 
Rich and Greg Komen’s mission was to pioneer the “world’s best cinnamon roll.” To accomplish this, they hired a local food connoisseur, Jerilyn Brusseau. After many months, hundreds of kitchen experiments, and numerous trips to Indonesia to find the best, most flavorful most flavorful cinnamon. After perfecting their Cinnabon recipe, they opened the first Cinnabon bakery on Dec. 4, 1985 at Sea Tac Mall in Seattle, WA. Yassir Khawaja with the same passion and vision of providing the best cinnamon rolls to us here in Pakistan opened these Cinnabon kisoks and plans on opening them in almost every mall around Pakistan. To provide this world class desert, and to bring the same taste, he imports all the ingredients from US and or Dubai. The staff are all trained from the Cinnabon experts from USA and constantly strive to maintain the taste and  texture as per international Cinnabon standards. 

Zara the brand manager showed us around and served these mouth watering treats with a delcious huge tumbler of Latte’, the ideal companion to an aromatic, sweet and nutty frost topped cinnamon roll and cinnamon sticks. There is a full range of Latte, Cuppacino and Coffee on the menu, the size of their hot beverages are larger then most café and fast food outlets. The kiosk style outlet offers the full range of Cinnabon delicacies ranging from their gooey Cinnamon rolls to their refreshing and ultra delicious Chillatas. With their second outlet in Karachi, Cinnabon Pakistan is strengthening its presence in Karachi – a city which embraced Cinnabon with open arms, long lines and a hefty appetite for the Cinnamon rolls. 
So next time when you are out to the Dolmen Mall Clifton or Atrium Mall to shop till drop or ready to watch your favourite movie, fetch a Cinnamon Roll and Latte to complete the excitement and round off a great day.

Blog write up and photographs by Farah Kamal