Lahore just got its first tapas restaurant, a staple of the Spanish culture that’s really picked up in this part of the world. Situated right off MM Alam Road (where Yoglicious previously was), Qué Rico may be the city’s first Spanish restaurant but we already have good reason to believe it’ll do well if standards are maintained.
The Spanish palate is a lot like Pakistan’s in that the Spanish also take their spices seriously. The tapas culture, in addition, is about sharing food and general ‘digging in’, a concept that our culture is rooted in too. Loco tested Karachi’s market with their tapas bar and the trend recently came to Lahore with Qué Rico.
The menu at Que Rico boasts a full range of iconic Spanish and Mediterranean dishes but on both our visits, the midsize tapas plates struck
everyone’s fancy. Why fill up on one main when you have so much more on the menu to indulge in? The restaurant’s welcome drink was served first – a chilled mango juice in soup spoons – that had been fixated into its spherical shape by liquid nitrogen. If we were to go by first impressions, this drink made solid impact.
Coming back to the tapas, the rock salt coated edamame had to be one of the best I’ve had in the city. It was well-cooked and what really made it stand out was the addition of smoked paprika and garlic seasoning. Although the salt to spice ratio was slightly off, with the salt overpowering any other flavor, it was a great way to add a Spanish touch to a very Japanese menu item. The Pepperoni Twirls were an interesting mix of salty pepperoni and nutty pesto, baked in soft dough with mozzarella; a surprisingly delicious combination that one wouldn’t have thought would go so well together. The Seared Seed Coated Tuna Bites were full of flavor, fresh and totally worth it. Served with shredded carrot, zucchini, green onion and topped with tuna sauce – this had to be one of the favourites on our table and got wiped out in record time.
Next up were the Salmon Tacos, crispy tortilla wrapped around salmon, avocado spread and salsa. Can you go wrong with those ingredients?
Not really. The best part about this was the super fresh avocado and salmon, which we learnt are regularly imported from Dubai. The star menu item of the day was the Pil Pil Prawns dish – prawns marinated in garlic, paprika, white wine and dipped in olive oil. These prawns were loaded with flavor but could have done with more olive oil to dabble the seafood in and dip the warm bread they served alongside. Small eaters would be happy just ordering from the tapas menu as we were quite satisfied by the time we finished.
There’s always room for dessert though – especially when the menu has churros and a very enticing 24 Karat Gold Chocolate dessert in tow. The churros were crunchy but soft on the inside and came with two dips – chocolate and caramel – but I’ve had better. The Belgian chocolate dessert with panna cotta, on the other hand, left me wanting to go back for more even though I’m not big on sweet. The presentation was excellent and it was almost upsetting breaking it down to eat it but also immediately satisfying. The restaurant’s food consultant, Adeel Chaudhry, has also worked on a cotton candy drink that is quite the Instagram friendly addition. A glass full of colourful cotton candy that dissolves as you pour apple, mint and lemon juice over it. It was a bit too sweet for my liking but could appeal to those who have a sweeter tooth than mine. Chaudhry has also developed a Passion-fruit Volcano drink which has an Instagram presence that’s already making us want to plan our next meal there! Food with theatrical value? Yes please.