Winter in Lahore is chaotic. And as always, what comforts the frenzy is food – but please note, only heart-warming food. With a clever choice of location, Sweet Affairs is the place for such fare in one of the affluent parts of the city. Initially offering only desserts and coffee, the dynamic duo of Asma and Saniya Waqar have extended the small domain into a busy café. What might sound to you as only a place for sweets has plush deep purple sofas, white wooden tables and chairs, an eclectic white-bricked wall and a well thought-out café menu. It is comforting to leave the Lahori chaos outside and walk into Sweet Affairs!
At the cost of being distracted by in-house bread loaves, large cupcakes, coffee bar and a terra cotta brick oven in one corner of the restaurant, our group of eight were immediately handed wooden slates displaying the hearty and well-explained menu based on fresh ingredients and on-spot preparation. And so began our sweet calorific affair.
Clamouring with hunger, my kids immediately nodded to my brick-oven pizza suggestion. Sensing my confusion as a first-timer over the menu, I was promptly assisted by the courteous staff and settled for the Prawn Tartine and Spicy Buffalo Wings as appetizers. Choosing various pizzas, another tartine and salad, we went back to admiring the silence, the cozy whites, the glass-cubed kitchen housing a brick oven and the busy staff. Neatly laid garlic bread and huge chunks of brown bread with three dippers arrived and we hogged on – one word: delicious!
Soon after, the Prawn Tartine appeared. Deep purple with reddish hues, the beetroot puree was silently accompanying a load full of pan-fried prawns speckled with chopped garlic on two slices of toasted and heavily buttered bread. The elders in the group dug in and happily nodded. The bite was massive, juicy and crispy – an explosion of wonderfully married flavours in the mouth.
Return Factor (For those who love heavenly seafood – 10/10)
Roasted Chicken Tartine was also an aesthetic treat. Chicken slices, caramelized onions, earthy rocket leaves, zucchini and an in-house reduction – they sat very well on top of the toasted brown bread pieces.
Return Factor (A great option for sharing before the mains – 8/10)
My cheflings smeared pungent red sauce on their faces as they bit into the Buffalo Wings. Two dipping sauces, sliced veggies and four healthy chicken flyers presented a decent helping and happy kids.
Return Factor (Great for kids – 8/10)
Since we had ordered for the table, immense mayhem kicked in as soon as the food was laid out on the white wooden tables. Massive pizzas, hearty broccoli soup and drinks were all met with great approval.
With three different kinds of pizza laid out on round wooden discs, skin-thin crusts and chaotically colourful toppings beckoning, it was difficult to make a choice. As the kids hovered over the Seafood pizza, I slid a slice of Mexicano onto my plate. Juicy chunks of spiced beef, thinly sliced onions and tangy jalapenos on top of a smoky thin pizza crust – it was little wonder that it soon disappeared from the table. The Ultimeat was swaddled with chicken and beef salami and sausage cuts and was popular with the younger members of our group. The tomato base which is made fresh every day certainly lent a kick to the sublimely cheesed pizzas.
Return Factor (Seafood Pizza – 8/10; Mexicano – 10/10; Ultimeat – 7.5/10)
Asma hopped over to our table, inquiring if we needed anything else and before we could shake our heads the Ceaser Salad found a place in our existing food bedlam. Fresh, crisp, mildly green lettuce leaves topped with sliced sun-dried tomatoes and olives bedded a grilled chicken breast. Faintly brown croutons were speckled generously over the huge platter. I was disappointed after gobbling down a forkful simply because the saltiness and flavour of a typical Ceaser salad was depressingly missing. Whilst the presentation was great, the dressing definitely needs a re-haul.
Return Factor (On the pretext that it would be dressed up better next time – 6/10)
My mother is a complete ‘soup’ person so we had to order a Broccoli Soup for her. It came in a huge white bowl; a shareable portion, it was minty green in colour with white swirls of cream. It was comfortingly warm but left a strong after-taste of pepper and garlic. The consistency was smooth, although I would have preferred a slightly thicker substance.
Return Factor (For the comfort-seeking mums on board – 7/10)
How can you come to a café and return without having dessert – that is supremely objectionable. Highly recommended by the manager himself, we decided to share the Skillet Cookie – a huge and deep cookie baked and served in a skillet, topped with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. With the temperature outside in single digits, it was rather comforting to dig into the warm, chocolate-infused cookie, pick up some cold ice cream on the way and bite onto pure enjoyment.
Return Factor (For the love of desserts – 9/10)
Sweet Affairs has been on the Lahore gastro map for a while now and it was only last year that the two sisters expanded it into a full-fledged café. With courteous staff, a soothing interior, hearty and shareable portions, reasonable prices and not a gruesome attack on the paunch, I think this affair is certainly worth keeping alive.