Located on main Khayaban-e-Sehar in Karachi, Vintage Bakeshop & Café is easy to find with its striking yellow door.
The inside of the café is reminiscent of the Victorian era, with flowered wallpaper lining the walls, mismatched tiles and dried flowers at the entrance. While quite beautiful, the white stained wooden table stationed at the top of the stairs wears an empty look, with only three saucers adorning it.
A staircase leads to the actual seating area where one immediately gets the impression of a quaint English teahouse – white chairs; mint green and pink flowered wallpaper; floral cushions and vintage lamps.
The seating area is cosy, consisting of eight tables and three bar style tables and chairs, with just enough space between the tables to avoid being cramped.
The bright yellow menu, however, is a complete contrast to the ‘vintage’ theme. Instead of the expected scones and clotted cream, the dishes on offer are quite contemporary. Featuring chicken as the only protein, the menu consists of café style food designed for sharing.
My friend and I decided to forego the usual chicken main dishes and try the items we could share.
For starters, we ordered the Quesadilla that arrived in 15 minutes. Cut into quarters, it consisted of freshly toasted tortillas stuffed with chicken and cheese. Jalapenos added a bit of spice, and the fresh tomato salsa with sour cream complemented it beautifully. The presentation, however, could have done without the cabbage garnish.
Next to arrive was the Chicken Buffalo Grandwich served with french fries, coleslaw with a dip that was reminiscent of Thousand Island dressing. The crispy, juicy chicken fillet with tangy buffalo spice in an enormous hot dog style bun was a bit difficult to eat, but nevertheless was very appetising.
Drinks were served with the main course. On first sip, the mint lemonade tasted refreshing but it needed some black salt or perhaps lemon, as it progressively became too sweet.
Upon informing the waiter of its lacking, more slush was added, but still the overall flavour remained very, very sweet.
My friend liked her mochachino, which had just the right amount of coffee and chocolate flavour. However, she wished to have it with brown sugar, which was not available.
Last to arrive, after 40 minutes, was the Chicken Pot Pie, which looked delicious with a crispy golden crust. Since the pies are made fresh on order, the waiter had notified us that it would take time to serve.
To our dismay, the dough inside the pot pie was raw and tasted of flour. We informed the waiter, but he seemed clueless. We told him to take the pie back and decided not to call for a replacement as it meant another long wait.
The pie wasn’t charged on our bill, but we had hoped for an apology from the management.
After having the mains, we decided to try the desserts.
The dessert menu is divided into two parts; first confectioneries with fancy desserts like layered cakes, puddings and custards, and second featuring traditional cake slices.
The waiter said that we could see the desserts available on the glass counter, where they also had cupcakes on offer.
The Mars & Butterscotch cheesecake had come highly recommended by a friend, so we ordered that along with the Red Velvet cake. Both desserts were served with whipped cream on the side.
The Red Velvet cake was fresh and moist, but a bit too sweet for us. We felt it needed more cream cheese in the frosting to balance the sweetness.
The Mars and Butterscotch cheesecake with rich butterscotch flavour, speckled with bits of chocolate had just the right amount of sweetness that made the cheesecake a steal at Rs195 for a slice. We loved it so much that we each took a slice home.
Looking around the café, one can see the amount of thought and effort that went into creating the quaint tea house ambiance.
However, the same attention to detail is not reflected in the crockery, the cutlery and the presentation of the dishes. Considering it’s just been a month since the café opened, the food quality and service was good. However, there is room for improvement – the sugar content in drinks and desserts needs serious tweaking.
The raw pie was a disappointment, and the management should have known what to do.
It hasn’t been long since Vintage started business, hence sales tax is not applicable for them – and they only accept cash payments.
They have an interesting breakfast menu, which they will start serving in a month.The café also announced affordable lunch deals for pairs (groups of two and four people) on Facebook.
What stuck out the most was the huge divide between the ambiance of the place, and the menu. While creative in their own right, both have different target audiences. The menu and prices make it a good hangout place for students or young adults. However, its interior feels like the place may end up attracting more women.
Despite some faults, Vintage is a gorgeous addition to the cafés in Karachi. The decor is stunning and the delicious and affordable desserts on the menu can easily make it a place for impromptu plans or random cravings.
Rating (3.9 out of 5):
Food: 3.6 | Ambiance: 4.5 | Service: 3.7 | Value for money: 4
Kiran Afzal is a researcher by profession, who enjoys food blogging and reading on the side.