Tavern Grill – The Crème de la Crème

One thing that has become quite common in Karachi is the sudden surfacing of restaurants serving mundane burgers and fries/steaks, Mexican and similar dishes. Every now and then there’s a new burger joint opened there, sandwich place here, or steak located around the corner. When one has so many choices to choose from, in order to survive, not only does the quality have to surpass that of its competitors, but so must the customer service. Nowadays, certain places miss the mark based on various factors; maybe the quality of service isn’t what you would expect from a new place; or the picture you saw of a dish on their Facebook page is clearly NOT what you have in front of you in your plate; or maybe the small plate of ‘barely visible’ pasta is exorbitantly expensive. What ever the reason for your dissatisfaction and resenting taking the decision to visit that specific establishment, when you DO find a place which meets the mark in this smorgasbord [pronounced “sch-mor-gaz-bord” – a metaphor used to indicate any diverse group; synonymous with a vast array of possible choices] of restaurant options, you feel ecstatic and gastronomically awakened!

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Situated at a prime location, Tavern Grill greets you with a welcoming entrance and staff, escorting you up a spacious wooden staircase. Playing, is a selection of excellent music from an era devoted to worthwhile and meaningful compositions, rather than just a catchy tunes with nonsensical words, which is almost everywhere; and in my opinion, is simply noise, nothing more. The menu is diverse in nature, ranging from burgers to steaks, Mexican to Italian, and places in between. However, the vital point to note, which makes Tavern’s wide array different from others who do the same, is that the dishes are competently created and consistently cooked; a rare feature to see.

The owner, Mr. Zubair Dossal, is always present, to not only greet his customers personally at their tables, but also to keep a watchful eye on the quality of food and staff. This courteous host reveals a quality and element many restaurants have been missing; that of care and concern regarding the customer’s needs and satisfaction, not just the monetary benefit hoping to be gained from opening up a restaurant.

For the starters/appetizers, the Tavern platter and Buffalo wings were ordered.

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The platter had various fried items such as thick onion rings, with crunchy onions coated in medium brown batter; and mozzarella sticks, with cheesy and stringy mozzarella, battered and fried; jalapeño poppers, large jalapenos stuffed with shredded chicken and cheesy sauce. Last, but definitely not least, my favourite from the platter; the fried calamari! 20150912_180248

But not the typical calamari you would expect to find at other places; no, the rings of calamari were moist and broke off from a single bite rather than attempting to saw through it with your teeth because it’s rubbery and overcooked. All these were accompanied with delicious sauces to mix and match with.

20150912_180304The Buffalo wings were also deep-fried and tossed in a buffalo hot sauce which was a combination of Frank’s Red Hot sauce and Tavern’s special twist to shake it up a bit. The sauce was not like the typical hot sauces found in Pakistan, which is really just Tabasco and painful to eat in large quantities or excess amount. This sauce had a balance of flavour which, if you’ve ever had Buffalo wings in America/Canada, etc., you would know exactly what the flavour should taste like; and eating these wings brought back feelings of nostalgia and happiness with each bite! The sauce made you nose tingle in delight when you smelled the wings; a blend of tangy and spicy making you crave more! In order to cool it down and balance the heat, it was accompanied with sour cream and fries.

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For those who have had the Roasters’ burger, the burgers at Tavern will give Roasters a run for their money! Tavern’s burgers are quite large in size, which will have you struggling to determine an action plan and figure out, not only where to begin, but how?

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NOTE: the orange-ish liquid at the bottom is NOT oil; it is the hot sauce that the fried chicken breast was smothered in! DELICIOUS!

Though I personally enjoy beef burgers far more than those with chicken, primarily for the reason that many people cannot cook chicken properly; and by ‘properly’ I mean that the chicken is either, completely overcooked and dry, or, in fear of overcooking it, it is raw; I may switch over to eating chicken burgers instead of beef purely based on the burgers at Tavern Grill! After inquiring from Mr. Dossal as to the method of preparing and frying the chicken burgers, I was informed that Tavern Grill individually weighs and assesses the cooking time for each chicken breast, which was a pleasant surprise!

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The burger had fresh and soft buns, a large chicken breast which wasn’t overcooked and perfectly juicy in the center, battered and deep-fried, then smothered in the same hot sauce used for the Buffalo wings.

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An Up-Close look at the Beautiful Behemoth of a burger I had! =D NOTE: the orange-ish liquid at the bottom is NOT oil; it is the hot sauce that the fried chicken breast was smothered in! DELICIOUS!

Complementing the succulent chicken breast in the burger bun were crunchy onions, crispy lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, pickled jalapeños and cheese melting off the sides. YUM! Not to mention, golden and crispy fries with delicious coleslaw.

Finally, for dessert, I tried a slice of their popular Mud cake. The size of the slice of cake was also just as generous as the burger I just had, instead of a sliver, which most places serve; it was moist, soft and decadent without being exceedingly sweet; poured on top was a thick chocolate sauce. Heaven!

[Unfortunately, I was too engulfed in its richness and deliciousness to take a picture; however, next time I visit Tavern Grill, I will be sure to take a picture of the cake slice!]

What else can a person ask for in a restaurant other than hospitality, genuine concern for the quality of your food and experience; value for money; and to have no feelings of regret or discontent when the bill arrives at your table? To find a place which has not only rekindled the flickering gastronomical fires in the customers who visit, but also in the dead embers of the culinary realm in Karachi, Tavern Grill has become a new favorite amongst many, including myself! It is highly recommended!

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One last up-close look at the Burger before ending this Post!

Oh My God, let’s order Oh My Grill!

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Burger joints have been popping up everywhere! Some have failed to impress, while others have almost reached that level of a ‘perfect’ burger. The general comments on the new ‘Oh My Grill’ (‘OMG’) burgers were all the same, ‘Wow, it’s amazing!’, ‘I love it!’, etc. but lacked description. What was this craze all about? This led me to order 3 individual burgers from OMG on a spur-of-the-moment lunch for myself and the family on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, OMG does not deliver, however, the ‘Food Genie’ delivery service was kind enough to make an exception and deliver to the area in which I reside on the weekend and without a minimum order amount, which was against their policy. The Food Genie operators were very helpful and patient; the individual who delivered it on time, as assured, within 90 minutes, did so with a smile on his face and replied politely to my ‘Thank You’. The food was delivered piping hot and fresh, as if I had ordered it right there and then from OMG; which I later learned, was due to the new triple insulated bags in which they carry the food to be delivered.

The burgers ordered were the Classic Burger (Double), the Classic with Aged English Cheddar and the Gouda Burger. Both, the Classic with Aged English Cheddar and the Gouda fell under the heading of ‘gourmet’ burgers, due to the respective cheeses chosen and the size of their burger patties, I assume. Furthermore, they were also larger in size, as compared to the Classic Burger (Double). The burger buns of the aforementioned gourmet burgers were visibly lightly seared on the grill, with grill marks on both, the bottom AND top buns.

The Gouda burger had a 250 gram beef patty, covered with a heaping and substantial amount of Gouda cheese, crispy bacon, which wasn’t burnt, but lightly crimson on the edges, topped off with their OMG sauce. The imported Gouda cheese had a firm, yet slightly elastic texture, not too overpowering in flavor, and coated the burger patty completed.

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Gouda burger

The Classic with Aged Cheddar also had a 250 gram beef patty, but the cheese chosen for this burger was, as the name suggests, Aged English Cheddar, fresh tomatoes, crisp onions, thick and sweet ketchup, which eventually mingled their OMG sauce. Sharp cheddar, also imported, with a slightly earthy flavor, firm in texture and beautifully paired with the fresh tomatoes, crunchy onions and the mixed blend of ketchup and the OMG sauce.

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Classic with Aged Cheddar

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Classic with Aged Cheddar

Finally, their Classic Burger (Double) contained two patties, each 100 grams, processed cheese, onions, tomatoes, ketchup and their OMG sauce. Each patty was nearly enveloped with the cheese and very moist inside. This burger was not only small in size, but also not much of a contender when up against the above-mentioned gourmet burgers. And how could it be? It was a nice burger, small in size, but compared to the other two, it was no match.

Oh My Grill

Classic Burger (Double)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh My Grill

Classic Burger (Double)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though each burger was exceedingly juicy, the Classic with Aged English Cheddar burger stood out as the juiciest! Each bite resulted in a mouthful of flavors and not a single piece of dry beef; still makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

Though the prices of the individual burgers were a bit on the ‘high’ side, these are burgers that would be most enjoyable if eaten at the establishment itself or as soon as possible. Moreover, the overall textures and flavors were impeccably paired and constructed. The buns of all three burgers were soft and light, almost like pillows in which the juicy patties were nestled and coated with such thick layers of cheese that they were oozing off the sides! The freshness of the onions and tomatoes appropriately complimented the burgers’ rich sauces and meaty patties. The combinations were unique and didn’t leave a heavy feeling, which is most expected after eating burgers and the like.