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Come for the style; stay for the taste?

Does the well designed ambiance of the newly opened Jardin guarantee an enhanced dining experience?

Come for the style; stay for the taste?

FOOD REVIEW

As the mushrooming of concept restaurants continues in Karachi, more eateries are moving towards creating identities that go beyond just the menu they have to offer. Gone are the days of hackneyed cuisine and cookie-cutter interiors, as the path is being paved towards enhanced culinary experiences.

Striving for a similar journey, the latest to do so is the upcoming restaurant, Jardin.

Situated in Defence Housing Authority’s Ittehad Commercial Area, Jardin sits in proximity to other major restaurants in the same lane, such as Long Cheng and Kookie, and is quite eye catching thanks to its pristine white exterior and French windows, which set it apart. Plus, what the exterior creates, the interior further adds onto, as the white is complemented by contrasting hues of green and charcoal that give the space a chic ambiance.

Once we were done admiring the interior, we were escorted to a separate dining space where the tasting from the menu – still in experimental phase – took place.

On offer were a myriad of appetizers and main courses, out of which, the head chef Raheel Anwar recommended the best they had created. Amongst the list were items such as Smoked Salmon, Prawn Salad, Chicken Wrap with Avocado, Open-faced Chicken Sandwich, Pepperoni and Hawaiian pizzas, Penne Arabbiata, Pasta Marinara, Beef Entrecote with Stuffed Aubergine, Moroccan Chicken, and Beef Tenderloin with flamboed Cafo De Paris butter.

While the amount of food offered was gargantuan, the plating quantity remained adequate, which meant that despite having a cornucopia in front of us, we were able to go through it all.

Onto the taste, it was a fair share between the good and the average, and in many cases one could compare it with the latter than the former. However, what most dishes – in their teething period – lacked in taste or in their excess of seasoning, they made up for in their plating styles and quality-control.

food1What stood out amongst the appetisers were the Smoked Salmon with a fruity, citrus salsa that served as the perfect amuse-bouche for the night, and the creamy Prawn Salad, which used an avocado base to keep it rich but healthy at the same time. However, while these two items remained our favourite in the starters, the open-faced sandwich and the chicken wrap were lackluster at best and proved that the restaurant needs to narrow down their menu.

Onwards to the main entrees, most of them were interestingly plated, but lacked in one solid taste. The two types of pasta and pizzas for example, could have used a bit of more work on them as  being al-dente or being thin crust just doesn’t do the trick any longer and needs to go through proper ideation processes to create something new. In comparison, one would easily find better Italian staples at other places.

Similarly, the Beef Entrecote with Stuffed Aubergine and the Moroccan Chicken too, failed to impress. While the former had meat that was tenderized so heavily that it turned into a piece of boti-style meat, the latter didn’t bring across the staple Moroccan flavours one expects or has grown accustomed too.

However, on the other hand, the dish that did stand out for all the right reasons was the Beef Tenderloin with flambeed Cafe De Paris Butter. With the perfect amount of flambeing onto the herbed butter complementing the perfectly rendered medium-rare pieces of beef, this main entree was one for the books. However, one wishes it was served with much better accompaniments than it was.

Heading onto the last course of the night, we were served two desserts for the table – a chocolate fondant, which is largely known as ‘lava cake’ here, and an espresso-infused chocolate mousse that was served with pieces of berries, white chocolate, honeycomb and a dollop of whipped cream. Surprisingly, both desserts were brilliantly done, and may have just proven that the chef’s 19 years of experience in gastronomy are more dessert-inclined.

As the night came to an end, it proved that as an upcoming restaurant, Jardin does have promise to become a staple for those who need a new quirky place to experience fine-dining at. However, with a few teething-problems stalling the experience, one would hope that they open with a more concise menu and more focus on staying true to their name and concept.

Shahjehan Saleem

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