ISLAMABAD: Situated in F-7’s Rana Market, English Tea House has been set up on the ground floor of a two-storey building that resembles a house.
Glass double doors open into a reception area done in dark wood which stands in front of the small bakery display – bedecked with colourful macarons and scones – and the kitchen window.
Taking a left, one is let into a medium-sized dining area sectioned in two by wooden barriers. The furniture is mix and match so that it seems like an afterthought, giving the restaurant more of a look of an artists’ café than an English tea house.
Large windows run along two sides of the room, one side opening into a garden with large trees and sparse grass on which a few seating places have also been set up and which is lit up at night.
Although it is cosy and a lot of thought seems to have gone into the décor, it doesn’t quite go with the theme of the restaurant.
The menu is extensive and typical for Islamabad, with its focus on Italian-Continental dishes, fast food and a few tea items.
The tortellini pasta is accompanied with smoked chicken and lathered with cheese. It comes with tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and turkey bacon, and the mushroom sauce and the cheese creates a rich, creamy ensemble.
The steaks are flavourful and charred and juicy in all the right places, with sautéed vegetables and topped with a creamy sauce, depending on the steak one orders. The Moroccan chicken is a medley of flavours and textures, and like most Moroccan foods, the dish is on the spicier side.
What stands out on the menu are the burgers. The Canuck Cluck a spiced grilled chicken piece topped with crispy turkey bacon, mushrooms and cheddar cheese placed on firm bread and complemented by sundried tomatoes. The burger is easy to handle despite the mushrooms and very satisfying, though for Rs795, it is very small and will leave you wanting more.
The Nanny’s Fish is a simply presented take on the traditional fish and chips in burger form but with the addition of cheese, of course. This sandwich is perfect for the oncoming winters.
And if you fancy a little afternoon tea, the restaurant serves scones with a pot of tea, preserves, and butter. For an alternative snack, their macarons are light and sweet but not enough to be overwhelming, and won’t keep you from dinner.
The accompanying sweet shop, Chashni, offers great desserts and sweetmeats.
The Badam Pak consists of butter and almonds, hardened into squares. It is soft and rich and worth all the calories.
There are so many different kinds of ladoo here that they take up almost the whole of one display, while the chum chum, in all its pink, syrupy goodness, is a reminder of happy childhood Eids.
However, the chocolate barfi spoils the traditional favourite for everyone; there are just some things chocolate does not pair well with.
The restaurant earns points for food, although the serving sizes do not justify the prices. A serving of cereal comes at Rs400, the stuffed jalapeno appetizer dish costs Rs745 while most mains are priced between Rs700 and Rs1,200.
The eatery remains busy at most times and the din makes it difficult to hold proper conversations or read a book, though it does make it a good choice for kitty parties and eating out with a group of friends.
Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018