Aaahh it’s that time of the year again! The air is crisp with just the right amount of chill and even the current smog situation of the city cannot deter me from feeling excited about the approaching winter season. There is something about these languid winter mornings that instantly awaken the foodie in me – not that it ever goes to sleep! I feel that Lahore in winters sets the perfect mood for lazy, laidback weekends, spent amidst family and friends around tables laden with food from your favorite breakfast joint. Every year I compile a list of potential places that I want to visit and this time I thought of sharing my top-picks with you all. So without further ado, here’s my list of the best tried and tested breakfast/brunch places whose awesome food will help kickstart your weekends.
The restaurant that’s taken the city by storm! Amavi opened its doors to the public just last month and received an overwhelming response from the Lahori foodie community who came in droves to taste the delectable treats on offer at this teeny tiny café. Within 15 days of its launch, head-chef and owner Maira was forced to announce the opening of a new space right next door to accommodate the crowds. I have been told it’ll be operational in a months’ time. Woot, woot!
So I thought I was being smart when I decided to visit the place on a Wednesday afternoon but the place was already packed and the crowd was spilling out of the café, waiting patiently to have their takeaway orders handed to them by the staff. The management had also placed three additional tables outside the premises since the interior has space for only two. When I finally did manage to bag a table, I ordered straightway and was pleasantly surprised to have steaming plates of food in front of me within 15 minutes. Full marks on service! First up was the Smoky Turkey Baguette, which was nothing short of divine. The baguette cut with a satisfying crunch and the turkey bacon just dissolved in my mouth. Add the creamy avocado and roasted bell pepper to the equation and you had a sure shot winner. The side of rocket and micro greens, drizzled with parmesan shavings and an exquisite honey mustard sauce just wrapped up the dish with a pretty little bow.
Next on the roster was their customized Brioche burger with Veal & scrambled eggs which is made on special request if you’re a glutton like me, who wants her meat, carbs and eggs all rolled into one mammoth dish. Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking! But I have no regrets because it turned out to be one of the best burgers I have had the pleasure of sinking my teeth into! The 200gm beef patty was tender, moist and the juices literally ooze out when you cut into it. The side salad was crunchy and fresh, but did nothing to salvage the image of the dish – this was pure and unabashed indulgence! And we recommend it one hundred percent!
On the server’s recommendation, I also ordered the Hot Chocolate which is beautifully presented in a copper mug and garnished with whipped cream and choco chips. The cream was shamelessly devoured with a spoon while the chocolate milk just vanished! I do feel that the secret to Amavi’s amazing food is the quality ingredients used – which shine through the recipes. Even the choco chips sprinkled on top of the hot cocoa were high quality, sourced all the way from Belgium.
Last but not least, we hit the jackpot when Maira offered us a slice of her Breakfast Pizza, based on a recipe currently under development at her test kitchen. The dough was crispy on the outside but so flakey that it felt like my insides were given a hug. A flawless pizza sauce, mushrooms, capers and smoky bell peppers made for a heavenly combo but it was the fried egg with the runny yolk that really did the trick! All in all, a great experience.
Thanda Garam has acquired veteran status in the city’s current breakfast-serving scene. From a cozy but small joint in DHA to a spanking new outlet in Gulberg, they have seen a steady rise in popularity, largely owing to the meticulously maintained standard of food being served at both the branches. On my recent visit, I decided to reign myself in and opt for the most healthy items on their menu i.e. Smoothie Bowl and The Hugo, along with a tall serving of the cleverly named Heart Beet detox juice. The french toast were added as an afterthought, I swear!
When it arrived on the table, the Pink Smoothie Bowl was a visual delight with its vibrant colors and garnish of edible flowers. Consisting of fresh fruits, tangy strawberry smoothie, nutty granola and creamy chia pudding made in coconut milk, this dish feels like an indulgence but is actually quite healthy. The portion size is enough to satiate 2 persons. The play on textures and flavors was simply exquisite, with the crunch of the granola contrasting with the richness of the chia pudding!
Next up was The Hugo which looked like an unassuming egg dish but packed quite a punch flavor-wise. Two perfectly poached eggs sat prettily atop a bed of creamy spinach sauce and green salad tossed with succulent grilled chicken chunks, shitake mushrooms and zucchini. The oozing egg yolks felt silky smooth and complemented the spicy salad dressing and spinach sauce. I also decided to try the Thanda Garam’s Signature French Toast, accompanied by edible flowers, dollops of Nutella, seasonal fresh fruit and a heavenly vanilla cream that’s made fresh in-house for every order. This golden-gilded beauty is a sure-shot winner and is the perfect end to a delicious breakfast.
The Heart Beet detox juice screamed healthy. Relying only on the core ingredients (apple, carrot, and beet) for sweetness, this cold pressed juice is energizing, fresh and hits the right spot. I can imagine downing a glass of this on a sunny winter morning. Presentation can be improved though and the use of plastic straws put me off a bit. Time to embrace healthy changes guys!
Pro-tip: The DHA branch has a quaint little balcony overlooking the lush green park across the road. Call in advance and book a table out in the open to enjoy a truly relaxing dining experience.
Feeing hungry yet? Watch this space for part II. More exciting reveals are in store J