|Mews has the potential to become one of Karachi’s best loved cafes|
Mews is the latest example of Karachi’s burgeoning Café culture. The elegant café opened last week on E-street and has a unique ambience. Modeled as a British mews, the entrance opens into a narrow alley that leads to a series of attractive, inter-connected dining areas. Mews combines brick walls, clever natural lighting and contemporary furniture for a modern, relaxed and very European feel.
|An outdoor patio at Mews|
|The alleyway at Mews|
|A passion for food and a commitment to fine ingredients shines through the dishes at Menu|
Mews is spacious compared to some of Karachi’s most popular eateries such as Okra (tiny) and Xanders (petite). Like Xanders, Mews makes use of both interior and external seating. There are three distinct, spacious indoor rooms and three pretty outdoor areas. A great deal of thought has been put into ambience and presentation, with customized wooden serving platters and quirky details.
Mews is the brainchild of Amir Tariq and Neeshay Rabbani and offers a mix of comfort food and healthy, wholefood options. It may seem strange to see Mac n Cheese and Burgers jostling with Black Quinoa salad on a menu but there is an underlying commitment to quality and flavor.
Neeshay Rabbani explains,
“We wanted Mews to offer hearty café fare as well as lighter options. What’s key about our food is that everything is freshly made – our sauces, our jams and our baked goods are all made from scratch. We use authentic guacamole and homemade clotted cream. Freshness and flavor is cornerstone of our menu.”
The menu has been developed in collaboration with Samar Hussain, a food consultant who has also worked with Lals and Chatterbox. They have separate breakfast and teatime menus that include dishes such as steak and eggs, red velvet pancakes and scones with jam and clotted cream.
|Red velvet pancakes, Nutella French Toast and Shakshouka|
The main dishes at Mews are a smorgasbord from around the world, including a Kimchi wrap, Korean Beef Bowl and Flatbread pizza. The menu also includes a handful of healthy options – calories counted, wholefood dishes like their Black Quinoa salad.
|Black Quinoa Salad at Mews – Delicious, healthy and just 300 calories|
Despite the range of cuisines offered, the menu is not extensive. Mews apparently plans to expand the menu as time goes by but currently there are only five desserts and four starters. Two of the starters are salads and the other two are sharing platters. Sharing platters are great for larger tables but if you are a table of two or three, salads are really the only option you have for a starter. Of course you don’t necessarily need starters in a café, and many cafes don’t have them.
|The seafood platter at Mews – ideal for sharing|
Both the seafood platter, with crabcakes and calamari, and the ribs and wings platter sounded intriguing but as we were a group of three, we opted to start with the Asian Steak salad and the Black Quinoa salad. I would have preferred the steak to be pink in the middle but had no other fault to find. Both salads were delicious and played up the freshness of the ingredients, with an excellent balance of flavor and texture.
|Dirty Bolognese – one of the main courses available at Mews|
There is much more choice as far as main courses are concerned. The menu includes pizzas, sandwiches, wraps, grilled fish, Laksa, Mac n Cheese and a burger, among other dishes. Our group tried the Chicken & Prawn Laksa, the Korean Beef Bowl and the Tuscan flatbread pizza. All three were very good.
|The Laksa we were served was flavoursome, despite the crunchy condiments being left off by mistake|
The Laksa had wonderful depth of flavor and was well-spiced without being overpowering. It would have benefited from something crunchy to add another dimension of texture but it turns out that the server left off the garnish by mistake. The crisp beansprouts, fresh cucumber and peanuts he omitted were just what the dish needed.
|Korean Beef Bowl – the dish of the evening – a must-try at Mews|
The Korean Beef Bowl was possibly the dish of the evening, with deliciously more-ish umami flavours. Although one of my companions refused to touch the egg on top, we all agreed that this was something we would all come back for. The pizza was also a success – crisp, hot and flavoursome.
|Tuscan Flatbread Pizza with chicken at Mews – crisp, hot and delicious|
Over two sessions, we tried four of the five desserts available at Mews. The best is undoubtedly the triple chocolate chip skillet cookie developed for Mews by A Whisk Come True. Don’t be misled by the word cookie – this is in fact a warm, fabulously decadent chocolate dessert that is served in a ramekin with a scoop of ice-cream on top. It’s fudgy and delicious with a hint of salted caramel – well worth the calories.
|The triple chocolate skillet cookie – simply divine|
The banoffee pie is rich and appetizing, though a little sweet, but the serving size is very small. They need to adjust the size of the portion, perhaps tweaking the composition to reduce the impact of the sweet caramel. The pistachio cake meanwhile is light, fluffy and scrumptious.
|The pistachio cake at Mews tastes as good as it looks|
The lemon meringue pie was the only true disappointment on the menu. The meringue was beautifully airy but the pastry was much too thick. It was pale and undercooked and it let down the dish. It was a shame because the pie was served with a superb lemon syrup with strands of candied lemon.
|Lemon Meringue Pie at Mews – the meringue is airy but the pastry is too thick and pale|
Mews has the potential to become one of Karachi’s favourite cafes but it has gotten mixed reactions on Karachi’s increasingly powerful Facebook foodie groups. In the age of social media, restaurateurs do not have the luxury of a grace period to deal with teething issues. While Mews’ owners are frequently on the spot to smooth issues, the initial period is trying because wait staff can only become truly comfortable with a menu when they have served it for some time. Add the inevitable crowds that flock to a newly opened restaurant and you have a situation that can put off customers. The teething period needs charm and generosity on the part of the hosts. Good front of house management is an art and keeping customers happy is crucial.
|Open face sandwiches and Mac n Cheese at Mews|
In terms of service, we had an excellent experience apart from the fact that our food came at the same time as the salads we had ordered as starters. This wasn’t a huge issue except for the fact that it became difficult to fit everything on the table. It’s also worth pointing out that salad portion sizes are not huge, although the other dishes were more than ample. The price range is in the same ballpark as other premium cafes – we paid just under Rs2500 a head without the banoffee pie or the pistachio cake, which I sampled on other visits.
|The Banoffee Pie at Mews|
Overall we really enjoyed our dining experience at Mews and that was down to the food. Almost everything we tried was very tasty and the quality of the ingredients shone through. My companions and I all agreed that we wanted to return to try other items on the menu.
|Scones and banoffee pies at a pre-opening tea at Mews|
Mews has all the elements to make it on Karachi’s food scene. It has a wonderful ambience, a good location and owners who are passionate about food and who are committed to using the best ingredients. If they can weather the hiccups associated with opening, Mews can easily join the ranks of Karachi’s best–loved cafes.
|The back patio at Mews|
This review by chief editor Salima Feerasta was first published on Dawn.com