Tenerife offers a mixed bag of cuisines under one roof
Adding to the already inundated market of restaurants in Lahore, the newly opened Tenerife Café’s location couldn’t be better. A quiet retreat in the midst of the city, it is away yet a part of the everyday buzz of urban life.
The view of main Gulberg, through the lush trees just outside the beautifully-lit terrace, is heartening. The terrace outside is a perfect setting for those balmy nights when the scorching, oppressive summer of Lahore hasn’t quite set in.
Think Tenerife and you start imagining a Spanish island, the largest in Canary Islands. The typical food of the Canaries is dishes of meat and fish accompanied by vegetables or salad. Tapas are another speciality. Papas arrugadas (small potatoes with their jackets boiled in salted water) and Rancho canario (a creamy meat and vegetable soup) are other typical Canaries food.
As you step inside, you are met by a welcoming staff, enthusiastically ushering the customers inside. Boasting a comfortable, lounge-style seating, the ambience is relaxed and promises just the right setting for that perfect luncheon or a relaxed family dinner.
Everything is right so far. It is the menu that confuses me. I look for tapas or the food that is typical of Canary Islands. I find none. I really don’t know what to order. Where do I position this restaurant amongst the mushrooming restaurants of Lahore? Neither Thai or Italian, nor Mediterranean or Continental, it’s a mixed bag of cuisines all put together under one roof. It is ‘fusion’ cuisine, I am told. More like confusion cuisine, I would say. Wouldn’t it have been better if we, the food-loving Lahoris, were finally treated to some genuine cuisine? Not desi Chinese or Lahori Italian but original native food.
My mushroom soup kicks off the meal very well. It is creamy and tasty and the texture is just right. I am hoping that the next course would be just as good. This is not to be. I am spoilt for choice as my eyes race across the menu. In an effort to combine elements of different cuisines, it is not able to offer any speciality. I keep looking. I look for the taste of the Mediterranean in the Hummus. I find none. The Thai Chicken Nine Lives has something missing and so does my Shish Taouk.
As I fight to finish what is on plate, I am compelled to think why the Aylantos, Freddies and Alfredos are all offering the same kind of food, minus this or plus that. The service here is excellent, though, and we are asked time and again if we need anything else.
What is lost in the main course is made up in the dessert. The Molten Lava cake is moist and full flavoured. Tantalising to the buds, it is a chocoholics’ dream come true.
Tenerife also makes a statement with its décor. The lighting is just right--it is present without being intrusive or overpowering. You can actually see what you are eating, which I cannot say for many noisy, badly-lit restaurants of Lahore.
The cigar lounge upstairs is particularly a nice addition and so is the terrace right outside. It offers a large enough space to cater to the ever growing social scene in Lahore, especially when weather is favourable. Mist fans may just be able to make this area usable even during those long, hot, summer evenings.
Overall, Tenerife seems to lack a focus. The success of a restaurant depends on the loyalty of its returning customers and one is unsure whether this particular restaurant will be able to secure that loyalty. Once the initial thrill of a new restaurant is over, it is the quality of food that takes us back to get our money’s worth. Some challenges await Tenerife on this front.