While iftaris are all about big spreads and unlimited food, the sehri meal smacks of a sense of adventure. The guilty pleasure that comes from indulging in a full meal post midnight is unmatchable. As we enter into the last week of Ramzan, Instep rounds up the best sehri places so that you don’t miss out on one last chance for some late-night culinary exploits.
Vintage Bakeshop and Café
Known for its delish desserts and toothsome savories, Vintage Bakeshop and Café is all about tantalizing the continental palate. Located at the bustling Sehr Commercial in Defence Phase 6, the café is small but lively. From the décor featuring quirky knick-knacks and cozy furniture, reminiscent of the gastro-pubs of London, to the menu that offers mouthwatering delights, be prepared to fall in love with this place.
The café hasn’t customized its menu for sehri, thus everything on the regular menu is available and the large variety is likely to suit all taste buds. In short, one can order anything from eggs and waffles to proper meals, and probably find something to their liking.
Moreover, it does not skimp on quantity either, so if like a true Karachiite, you love to eat to your heart’s content, Vintage is putting out some truly hearty dishes. Don’t leave without trying the famous desserts such as the chocolate lasagna or that melt-in-your-mouth Mars and butterscotch cheesecake.
If you need a break in the daily routine of eating at home, look no further than Vintage for money well spent. Did we mention it’s 50% off on the second entrée? Yes! #NeedToGo.
Verdict: Served at a price range that is comfortable for most, a good sehri at Vintage will not cost you more than PKR 1,000 per head. Plus, the café is one of those few places that serves everything on their menu at sehri, so if you’re tired of eating ‘breakfast’ during the night, you know where to go.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
If you think a sehri should consist of desi wholesome savouries and beverages that keep the stomach full, check out the dhaba-style Chai Wala.
Located in a quaint street in a quiet part of the otherwise buzzing Bukhari Commercial in Defence, Chai Wala teems with life as people head over to try out the variety of desi savouries on offer. Boasting an assortment of parathas, one could really be spoilt for choice. When in doubt, go for the Nutella paratha, or the cheese-oozing paratha – delicious and satisfying options for an early morning meal.
If you’re looking for economical meal that is filling as well as hygienic in a comparably safe environment, Chai Wala would be your safest bet thanks to a crowd that is relatively more exclusive than a real dhaba.
Verdict: One of those diamonds in the rough, the place has improved tremendously on taste since its inception and has turned into a fan-favourite quite quickly and efficiently. For a desi night out that is affordable and fun, head over to Chai Wala and enjoy sehri time with the family over chai and some good conversation.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
The Pantry by The Polo Lounge
The newest ‘it’ eatery in Lahore, The Pantry is the place to be seen this Ramzan. The fact that it serves up a variety of wholesome, organic goodies as part of its sehri menu explains why the deli-style restaurant is always at full capacity post midnight. After all, who wouldn’t want to start their roza on a healthy yet delicious note? You have the option of choosing from the English Breakfast Platter or the Desi Platter. The former includes a choice of eggs (we recommend the fluffy and mouth-watering cream cheese omelette filled with hand-picked herbs), sausages, baked beans and bread along with freshly cooked waffles served with maple syrup.
The star attraction of the Desi Platter is the omelette made with tomatoes and fresh mushrooms instead of the canned variety that most restaurants resort to. The earthy, delicious flavor they lend to the eggs is definitely worth a try. The accompaniments, Ginger Chicken and Aloo Bhaaji, served with parathas, make for a filling early morning meal. If you still crave more, you have the option of ordering the French Toast Platter or the Halwa and Channa Platter served with whole-wheat puris.
The health-conscious can opt for the homemade granola with chilled yogurt and fresh fruit – the perfect cooling meal for these nights when temperatures are going through the roof.
Verdict: Priced at PKR 899 plus tax, the sehri platters are more expensive than similar options offered at other cafés. However, considering the natural goodness of the ingredients that go into the dishes, it’s money worth spending.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars Grill n Bake
Fans of desi food in Lahore are familiar with Grill n Bake – the small, unassuming restaurant in Model Town that has earned a reputation for its mouth-watering and adventurous take on all your favourite local dishes. The last thing one wants for sehri is an artery-clogging feast and Grill n Bake provides a healthier option than most desi restaurants with its emphasis on pure and organic ingredients. The best-selling items on the menu are the delicious whole-wheat naans and parathas that come in a variety of fillings (lamb, chicken and beef with or without garlic) and the qeema cooked in desi ghee.
Since pretty much anything can be ordered off the main menu for sehri, which starts at 12.30pm, we suggest trying out the newly-introduced Pataakha Chicken, an ode to the famed dish of the same name served at the Taj Restaurant in Nathiagali. It’s not for the faint-hearted, given its level of spiciness, but it’s definitely to be tried once for its burst of flavours.
The char-grilled chapli kebabs and the beef burger served in a whole-wheat bun baked using extra virgin olive oil are also filling sehri options. If you’re in the mood to try something out of the ordinary, order the ‘Pizzomelette’ – omelette topped with pepperoni and cheese. Wash it all down with glass of lassi or a cup of tea.
Verdict: Perfect for those looking to escape the unrelenting iftar and sehri buffets with their line-up of mediocre food and savour local delicacies in relative peace and quiet. The prices are mid-range (the lamb naan cost PKR 450 and the chicken one PKR 250 for instance) but with the Ramzan offer of a 10% discount on all dishes, it’s budget-friendly scrumptiousness all the way.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
The Lime Tree Café @ Kuch Khaas
The stylish little café at Kuch Khaas, Islamabad’s thriving center for arts and activities, is a favourite with expats and local alike, given the array of yummy continental and desiitems on its menu. The sehri options might not be extensive but they cover all the usual favourites and are priced reasonably, making the Lime Tree Café a perfect place to hang out with friends over a good meal.
The desi sehri consists of omelette and parathas, along with aloo qeema, sawaiyan and lassi– you can’t get more local than this! The continental option has a choice of scrambled eggs or omelette, sausages, baked beans, French toast and a ‘power smoothie’ on offer. Extra helpings of all the items can be ordered at an additional cost.
You can work up an appetite beforehand by indulging in a game of badminton or if the roza has left you too exhausted, while away the midnight hours with a board game, such as carom.
Verdict: While the menu doesn’t offer anything novel, there is comfort in the tried and tested. And priced as it is, at PKR 500 for the desi sehri and PKR 550 for continental, the Lime Tree Café is a great option, especially for those of you looking to spend a fun night out with friends or family.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars