Relief washes over you after a first meal at Thanda Garam, the 4-month-old brunch and refreshments joint located in an unassuming lane in Y Block DHA, Lahore. The place feels like a total find with décor that is a refreshing combination of unexpected colours, a location set back from the street and food that is a whole other story. The relief stems from the fact that the food is exceptionally fresh-tasting with preservative-eschewing cold pressed juices and food presentation that can qualify for Masterchef.
The brunch is on from Fridays to Mondays and is hearty without being heavy, thus eliminating the previously inevitable-seeming big brunch hangover. The one where you enter the restaurant eager but exit wanting to rub your stomach and find the nearest bed. On any other day of the week when brunch isn’t being served, this is the place to hit if you are in search of a light and healthy mid-day refreshment. They have all sorts of delicious combinations of cold pressed juices, smoothies along with a coffee and chai menu. The main attraction however, remains TG’s brunch that has been created by their food consultant and chef, Khadija Shafqat.
We have been frequenting the place since it opened and the Paris-trained chef has been innovating recipes and trying out various things. The initial menu (that’s still available), called K’s signature series, has interesting combinations of menu items including poached eggs with avocado and siracha sauce, pulses in Dijon mustard and sausages and my all-time favorite, traditional French toast served with cotton candy. The little child in me was jumping with joy at the sight of it and the adult food critic was equally delighted two minutes later. Their Sunshine in a Bowl – a creamy blend of yoghurt, custard and mango – is also one of the standout items on the menu, if you’re looking for something less heavy.
The second batch of menu items introduced include equally fascinating dishes that leave you trying to figure out the explosion of flavor in your mouth. The Buddha Brunch was a spicy Thai salad with peanuts, salmon tartine and camembert apricot jam tartine. The spices were offset by the sweetness of the jam and made for a unique flavor.
The Hugo has two poached eggs with grilled chicken, zucchini, rocket and shitake mushrooms. Served with bread, order this if you are feeling something healthy and of course, if you like poached eggs. The brunch tacos were cheesy potato balls in crisp taco shells with chipotle sauce and scrambled eggs on the side. As they were embarrassingly disintegrating in my hand while I was eating, Shafqat discussed how she’s working on improving the tacos so we look forward to that. Everyone’s favourite on the table was the Mademoiselle Rouge; Nutella cheesecake waffles with mixed berries and whipped cream. I have not been knocked out by so many dishes at once in a while the way I have been by dishes at Thanda Garam. Besides their innovative menu, the place has a lot to do with their food being so fresh – the fact that they grow their own edible flowers right outside really won me over.