GARDEN BISTRO: Quantity over Quality is never a good thing…
When I heard Health Act had opened a restaurant, I knew I had to go check it out ASAP! They use to do amazing wraps and I was itching to know if they were able to translate that into a proper restaurant menu.
This cozy little spot located on Kayaban-E-Sehr had a warm and inviting set up. Fairy lights and falling creepers ruled supreme, while stained glass twisted with dark wood brought out the warm vibe of the place.
There were three of us and we ordered four starters. The Egg Plant Roll Ups came first. The mushrooms and grilled egg plant slices were doused with a yogurt cum tahini sauce which came together in a mushy, sloppy bite of food that was desperately missing some crunch. Sadly, the walnuts promised inside the roll ups were MIA. Next up were the Beetroot Tacos. The marinated, grilled beet slices with pistachio were again lost in an overpowering herb Greek yogurt flood, leading to another mushy mess of a starter. The well prepared, golden crusted Honey Siracha Chicken tasted almost gourmet after all that, but as I’ve said before, tasty chicken strips does not a good restaurant make. Lastly we had the Chicken Tarragon Cups. The bread was absolute perfection. Flaky and crusty on the outside while melt in your mouth soft and steaming on the inside. This wonder bread was encasing small cubes of chicken in a creamy tarragon sauce, topped with melted cheese. This was clearly the winner, with an almost perfect bread to filling ratio. If I come back for something, it would be for this.
The menu is a huge, almost dizzying selection to chose from, another red flag.
We decided to order at least one thing from the specials board, the safest option, four cheese flatbread pizza. Remember when safe wasn’t sorry? This was not a ‘flatbread’ pizza, but a round, sad uneven disk, something I wouldn’t put on the children’s menu let alone the specials board. We also opted for the Garlic Basil Cream Sauce Pasta. The chicken was divine and truly succulent, while still maintaining great mouthfeel not overpowered by the sesame garlic, which remained light and flavourful. I was worried the penne would be too heavy but I found myself pleasantly surprised by the balance of the dish brought on by the fresh basil.
Lastly, because the bread was such a surprising treat, we decided to round our meal out with a Cuban Sandwich. The baguette was, as hoped, airy heaven. However we soon came crashing down to earth with the ‘slow roasted beef’ being chewy, uneven and borderline inedible. No amount of pickles, tomatoes and dare I say even cheddar cheese could have helped the beef go down. The fries accompanying the sandwich were bang on though, skin crisped to perfection on the outside, while remaining soft and fluffy on the inside.
For dessert I chose the Baked Chocolate Mousse. This was served with vanilla (protein) ice cream, which tasted funky and I didn’t really want the extra protein but there wasn’t another option. The chocolate tasted cheap, while the berry ‘compote’ was clearly out of a tin, or prepared to make it taste like it came out of a tin. Hardly had two bites. We were recommended the French Toast and went for the Dark Chocolate variant. The whole wheat baguette slices were a little to dry for my unhealthy palate, while the ‘dark’ chocolate sauce could be described as knock off Hershey’s milk chocolate syrup at best. The orange coulis was barely there, being overpowered entirely by the sweetness of the chocolate syrup.
This place definitely has the potential to up their game with a few tweaks. If they consolidated their menu and focused on higher quality ingredients over quantity – I feel they could focus on the right things, making it a real contender the Karachi food scene. For now, there was nothing stand out that made me want more.
Written by: Aneela Shaikh
Cheese fiend by day, anime addict by night, you can find Aneela begging strangers online to source her Lucky Charms (@aneelashaikh)