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Cosmopolitan cafe: Modern decor, sinfully amazing dessert

Updated September 29, 2014
Front of the cafe (L) and the outside seating area surrounded by plants. – Photo by author
Front of the cafe (L) and the outside seating area surrounded by plants. – Photo by author

Cosmopolitan cafe is another new eatery in the posh E-street at Clifton, Karachi, filled with upscale restaurants, cafés and fashion stores.

Designed by acclaimed architect Naheed Mashooqullah, the café has a modern yet casual feel about it with both inside and outside seating arrangements.

Situated next to the Sonya Batla store, the outside seating is far more relaxed, with white furniture surrounded by lots of green plants, which should prove to be a popular option in the coming winters.

 The outside seating area surrounded by plants. – Photo by author
The outside seating area surrounded by plants. – Photo by author

Walk inside the café, and the first thing you notice is the hand painted mural across the entire wall showing the city of Karachi.

 Hand painted mural. – Photo by author
Hand painted mural. – Photo by author

The mural is a transition from the hustle and bustle of historic Saddar with its vintage cars and Mereweather tower, to modern Karachi where a group of friends are eating burgers with an iMac on the table, and a group of young women are taking a ‘selfie’ on the beach.

Interspersed in the mural is quirky poetry that should resonate with all Karachiites:

Dear Karachi

We go together like Teabag tea and Everyday

like garam parathas and anday

like Sandspit and a Well-utilized Sunday

 Mural shows friends eating burgers with an iMac on the table. – Photo by author
Mural shows friends eating burgers with an iMac on the table. – Photo by author

Contrasting the primarily grey mural is the stark white chairs and fuchsia tabletops that give the cafe a modern upbeat feel.

 Stark white chairs with fuchsia tabletops. – Photo by author
Stark white chairs with fuchsia tabletops. – Photo by author

The cafe was buzzing at lunchtime, and it was interesting to note that almost all the diners were women.

Warmly welcomed by the waiter, we were initially seated at a table next to the dessert counter. As this was a bit dark and noisy, we requested another table on the other side. With sunlight streaming from the window blinds and the skylight above, the new spot was much better.

The menu follows the décor of the café with a wooden back cover, and a purple first page. We did wish the cover was either glossy or laminated as the thin paper was sticky.

 Menu cover. – Photo by author
Menu cover. – Photo by author

The menu items offered were typical café items but with an upscale facet as they included items like ‘Smoked Salmon Bruschetta’ and 'Fig and Olive Tapenade’ in the starters; ‘Grilled Red Snapper’ and ‘Norwegian Salmon’ in the mains.

We ordered the 'Cheese Cigars' which arrived in about ten minutes.

 Cheese Cigars. – Photo by author
Cheese Cigars. – Photo by author

Oozing with cheese, the cigars were a crunchy start to the meal. However, they may have been better with a little more golden colour on the outside, and the marinara sauce needed a bit of punch – maybe some spice, or a mayo-based sauce would do the trick.

Onto the mains. My friend straightaway went for ‘Parmesan Chicken’, and I went for the ‘Turkey and Cranberry Relish Sandwich.’

Brought on a dark slate platter, my sandwich was presented beautifully – sandwich in the corner, wedges strewed on one end, and a small bowl of ketchup completed the picture.

 Turkey and Cranberry Relish Sandwich. – Photo by author
Turkey and Cranberry Relish Sandwich. – Photo by author

Deceptively small, the sandwich was stuffed to the brim with smoked turkey, cheese – and the best part – thinly sliced beets for crunch. The tart cranberry mayo brought the sandwich together, but I do wish there had been more of the cranberry relish mentioned in the description.

The ‘Parmesan Chicken’, which my friend ordered, was also a small serving, but the meal turned out to be more than filling. Coated with light golden crisp breadcrumbs, the chicken was so moist and tender, it did not need any accompanying sauce.

The sides were the standard potato gratin, and grilled vegetables. While they were both good, it would be nice to see new eateries experiment with different options for sides.

 Parmesan Chicken. – Photo by author
Parmesan Chicken. – Photo by author

No meal is complete without dessert, and here we decided to order the highly recommended chocolate tart for dessert, which was a perfect end to a great meal. Made with 100% Belgian chocolate, this rich and positively sinful dessert was – in my friend’s words – the absolute highlight of the meal.

 100% Chocolate Belgian Tart. – Photo by author
100% Chocolate Belgian Tart. – Photo by author

The total meal cost us about Rs1,250 per head (no tax since it’s a new cafe), which I felt was a bit on the high side, but then again, we ordered premium dishes and had we ordered a mix of sandwiches and pizzas, it would have cost us around Rs1,000 each.

At the end of our lunch, we had a chat with the manager about the restaurant.

It’s been only two months since the restaurant opened on August 14, and considering how full the café was, the public reception has been good. Given its close proximity (located next door) the comparison with Xanders comes up as a regular topic of discussion.

Aside from location, the two eateries have similarities in terms of dining concept – both are upscale casual modern cafes; there’s Ensemble inside Xanders, and Sonya Batla inside Cosmopolitan; there’s a trio of mini-burgers at Xanders and a triplet of mini-burgers at Cosmopolitan along with other items.

In order to attract customers to their cafe, Cosmopolitan’s focus is on taste and quality of ingredients; while their portions might look small, the actual ‘meat’ in terms of grammage is higher, making for a satisfying meal. Still, while this meal was enough for two women, it might not be enough for a typical male. It could also be one reason why the diners were mostly females, so maybe some heavy, meaty options would be appreciated by the opposite sex.

Expertise with ingredients and flavours is clearly evident; what they need to work on is improving their menu and developing signature items, instead of taking inspiration from other cafés.

Overall Cosmopolitan café is a promising new eatery in the dining out landscape of Karachi, with a good mix of starters and mains, and an absolutely sinful dessert menu. Currently they only have lunch and dinner options, but the outdoor dining area and the sunny side of the cafe would be perfect for a lazy weekend brunch.


Rating (4.25 out of 5):

Food: 4.5 | Ambiance: 4 | Service: 4.5 | Value for money: 4


Kiran Afzal is a researcher by profession, who enjoys food blogging and reading on the side.