There are few restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines under one roof. Verandah Bistro is one of the prominent restaurants of Lahore that offers Mediterranean, Greek, Italian, Thai and Chinese food. It posits itself as a fine-dining restaurant, a label that many eateries adopt to boost prices, but in the case of Verandah the food and ambience somewhat justify the prices that are charged. As the name suggests, the restaurant boasts a majestic Verandah, a beautiful sitting area with different levels, fashioned quite artistically. Customers have the opportunity therefore to enjoy a meal out in the open, either a refreshing lunch in the sun-kissed, balmy afternoon or a relaxed dinner in the midst of caressing, cool breeze and sublime lighting in the courtyard.
The indoor section is equally appealing. The interior is quite tastefully done and gives off an air of regality. There is a bar area (sans the liquor of course) in the middle of the restaurant that adds character to the setting. The sitting area inside is split into different spaces. The one near the entrance has dimmer light and gives a lounge feel; the one towards the centre gives a sense of space, and a prominence of white in the colour scheme looks delightfully elegant.
One of the reasons why Verandah attracts crowds is because it serves an elaborate buffet during lunch and dinner, in addition to hi tea. This strategy keeps in mind the buffet culture of Lahore that attributes to the penchant of Lahoris for variety and quantity when it comes to food.
The combination of items in the buffet varies every day but broadly speaking it consists of really spicy Thai food and Italian Food doused in creamy sauces. This includes pasta, Thai noodles, sautéed vegetables, beef, chicken and seafood.
There is quite a spread of starters and accompaniments that form a part of this buffet, including different types of fresh salads, and hummus with pita bread and olives.
On my last visit to the restaurant I embarked on my feast with dark meat. The Tornado Beef consisted of thin strands of succulent beef with a creamy red sauce poured over it. A fierier variety of beef was available that was cooked in Thai spices and had a tangy kick. On my previous visit the beef was quite tender, but on this particular occasion the texture of the beef left much to be desired.
The prawns in tamarind sauce had a palatable, distinct smoky flavor but a bit of an overpowering aroma. The chicken with pineapple sauce gave a good respite to the spices and it and it wasn’t the unpleasantly sweet, fried, honey comb like chicken served at most Chinese restaurants. Its creamy sauce combined black pepper, cheese and a hint of pineapple which resulted in a delectable flavor that was just the thing to have with the garlic fried rice. The saffron rice had a tinge of sweetness to it and seemed quite exotic in yellow, dotted with strands of saffron and exuding a heady fragrance.
|Verandah's exquisite offerings|
The Thai noodles had crispy stir fried vegetables and a generous amount of chili flakes. This one was definitely for those with a high tolerance for spice. The spaghetti had subtler spice and did not taste overwhelmingly of acidic tomato sauce like spaghetti generally does which masks the flavour of the meat, an intrinsic part of the recipe. In this one, the flavour of the pasta and meat was well defined, which was welcome. The Thai chicken continued the tradition of change and this maverick item was not cooked with the typical dense, dark sauce, but was dry. The fact that it had been cut in julienne strips ensured that the spices were absorbed to the core.
The fish was lightly battered and soaked in translucent gravy of oyster-sauce; a comforting delight in the frosty winter evening. The vegetables were fried to perfection and not soggy, laced with herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil. This was a refreshing and healthy concoction that was juxtaposed with a neighbouring dish that sought to nullify the bites of health, albeit pleasurably, with installments of carbohydrates. The roasted potatoes were soft from the inside with a crispy, brown layer dusted with salt for an optimum finish.
|Their decadent desserts|
The dessert section had a mix of cold and hot desserts, but the cold desserts which included crème brûlée, chocolate soufflé, tiramisu and chocolate cake were passé to say the least. The hot desserts on the other hand were the real show stoppers of the lot. Consuming the rich chocolate soup was an experience that every atom of my taste-buds relished; I was taken in a trance-like state as the warm, heavenly liquid gradually trickled down my throat. It was indeed a chocolate lover’s dream come true. Served in a tiny shot-glass style container it had just the right intensity of sweetness. The seemingly high quality chocolate used in its recipe made the dessert what it was. The bread pudding was again a scrumptious offering with thick creamy sauced highlighting the flavor of condensed milk and cream with moist chunks of bread in it.
This was a perfect climax to the buffet that was fit for a king. For those who wish to indulge in a fine-dining eating experience without having to suffer through tiny portions of intricate food, Verandah is the place to check out.
(November 19, 2017)
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