Every one of us has once experienced where we have heard extra ordinary things about something or someone but they fall short of their reputations. This is a tale of food adventure: “heard amazing things about “The Poet” blinded me too. Lesson learned one must be open for experiences without any pre-notions in mind to avoid displeasure.
Not your typical Desi
The poet is a lavishly designed desi fine dining eatery in the heart of walled city with open-air seating spreading into greater Iqbal Park. Their interior has no typical desi vibe we are generally used to, but the small elements added to the experience connects one to basic desi sensations. Their crockery, Tabla, bansuri and paan wala takes you back to Mughal era.
The fascinating element, which captured my attention at first, was the main gateway with a hanging board written “Gilgit-Baltistan”. They represent provinces and seeing mine brought joy. And the fountains guiding you towards the main entrance of the restaurant is befitting to the Mughal era inspired architecture.
The Poet made its mark in no time with their whole package in the evening including dancing fountains, Qawalis and great food. But this time we were visiting them for their newly launched Alá Carté lunch menu. Lunch timings are from 12:00 – 3:00pm and my recommendation would be booking your place two to three days before your visit. Reaching here could be stressful due to traffic jams but rightly planned, you can save yourself and others sometime. They have presence on Google maps so that is the best guide to follow and yes, they have their own hassle-free parking for 500 cars which can be an appealing feature for corporate, casual and wedding related events.
The staff offered girls, gajra to wear following the instrumental music, and directed us to the table. We started with Tillgoza: which was a combination of humus served with baked sesame tandoori bread. Which I skipped for I did not want to miss the main entrée.
Chilamdar Biryani, which came encrusted with puff pastry hiding a surprise underneath. The first thing hits your nose when you break it the aroma of the rice. The mild spice, bunch of chestnuts with mutton takes you to heaven. This combination compliments each other so well yet you can distinctively taste the individual ingredients. For PKR 975/- this is the best value for money without a doubt.
The biggest disappointment
Mutton Kunna that claims to have lamb cubes cooked with homemade spices and bone marrow, had only plain shorva along with huge boney meat. It did not taste like lamb so not worth splurging PKR 1400/- which can’t support its claim.
In-between, we ordered a mix of BBQ and curries
Diya Kabab was the best between BBQ for its well-balanced spice and texture. They are chicken seekh kababs with lit diyas coiled right into them. which of course must be dealt with care specially around the kids. Priced at PKR 885/-
Reshmi Tikka was presented on table serving grill lacked the tenderness and the right amount of spices. Priced at PKR 765/-
Mutton Shikaripuri was as simple as achari gosht. Mutton had a manageable dice, softer and had a strong taste of pickles. Priced at PKR 975/-
Maharani Murgh was boneless chicken curry, which you can easily mistake for creamy butter chicken from the appearance. The chicken was tender and sauce was creamy but could not make much of the pukhraj sauce ingredients. Which could have been overpowered by hing powder if they used any as mentioned in description of the entrée.
Dessert leaves a mark on wholeness of an eatery so pay attention
First, they have only four dessert options and after trying two of them, I decided not to indulge on dessert here. But rather get some other famous meetha nearby walled city when I am there anyway.
Zafrani Rabdi Jamuns came with two gulab jamuns in yellowish rabdi. They were cooked well but too sweet for my taste so personally I will not spend PKR 300/- on this.
Shahi Kheer was a regular rice pudding, rightly textured rice and agreeably sweet completed with a performance of liquid/dry Ice smoke only for PKR 210/-
Freebies are always appreciated
Free paan is served by a paandwala once you are done with your meal. which is not a bad deal to have by just skipping dessert altogether.
Last but not the least the best service is they serve free food to your driver and maids accompanying you. So do not forget to mention them with your order.
To go or not to go
Overall, I will rate this place 7.5/10 as I had a standard experience of food from The Poet – Alá Carté lunch menu. Which could be because of the different kitchen staff form the evening. But I will choose dinner any given time to relish the holistic treatment of colourful dancing lights, well lit monuments, live Qawali and flavorful cuisine. They offer variety of seating options featuring rooftop, indoor and veranda to admire the lush green garden. Well trained staff to handle any situation and thoughtful of your needs. The average cost per person could go up to around PKR 2400/- including a drink.