A cuppa from the Capital

March 27, 2016

Seventy-one different types of tea, aside from an interesting array of breakfast options, make Chaaye Khana a favourite with the people

A cuppa from the Capital

It’s strange that a metropolitan city like Lahore has long had to make do with coffee shops. So, when the grapevine was abuzz about Islamabad’s favourite café Chaaye Khana opening here, on the city’s unofficial food street -- MM Alam Rd, it got us all interested no end.

Most visitors to the café can’t stop raving about the place which is surely meant for the genuine tea lovers.

The double-storey café boasts a chic interior. Its menu is also much-talked about: it offers an array of breakfast options such as a multitude of eggs, sausages, croissants, aloo parathas, pancakes, crepes, waffles, and French toasts.

The place beckons people especially around morning time and mid-afternoon when women can be seen immersed in idle chitchat and some elderly men are found lazing about with tea mugs in their hands. Of course, you can’t miss the boisterous chatter of teenagers and 20-somethings also. All this makes Chaaye Khana a thriving premise.

Aside from the seating zone, you also find chess tables, and pieces can be got upon request. The split level has designated areas like a bar spot for anyone working on a laptop. The space for book readers is carpeted and gives you the feel of a lounge. It forms the central seating where comfortable sofas are placed to separate corner areas such as a designated cigar lounge and a conference room attached with facilities.

As the orders for brewing drinks were placed, the owner, Javeria Salman Malik, accompanied us for a pleasant conversation. "We have brought [to Lahore] the same brand. Even our staff has been trained in Islamabad. We wanted to bring an authentic taste of continental and Pakistani breakfast which was entirely missing from the scene. The paratha-qeema combo is the most favourite item on our menu. Add to it the likes of halwa puri and nehari.

"For a nation whose favourite drink is tea, we offer 71 different types," she said.

We ordered the aaloo paratha-qeema combo while the kids opted for pancakes, waffles and crepes. Being egg lovers, we couldn’t decide between Spanish omelet and scrambled, mushroom-sprinkled Pakistani omelet, ending up having the fluffiest Spanish breakfast item. This one was served with brown (or white) bread and a hash brown as a sideline.

The crepe was loaded with chocolate hazelnut spread. It was a surefire winner, along with the fresh waffles served with maple syrup.

We also had the quesadillas; Mexican tortillas filled with a savoury mixture of chicken, cheese and jalapeños, and agreed that the crust and the melt-in-mouth filling was a star item.

The portion sizes were enormous and could be shared between two people while the price was customer-friendly.

Other Chaaye Khana specialties include steaks, pastas, spaghettis, Fettuccine, burgers, sandwiches and soups. There has to be another time to try the black, green, rooibos, white, herbal and oolong tea, we thought.

For the hygiene conscious lot, the food is cooked right in front of your eyes.

A cuppa from the Capital