This story dates back to August 2018. I was merrily enjoying my last days in Karachi, filling them up with as many meetings, lunches, dinners and coffee dates as possible.
One such evening, I met Fattu to watch Apartment 786 at FTC. Post show, we decided to have dinner, and agreed on Nando’s. Since I started going to Nando’s in 2008 (or was it 2007?), I have never had to wait. Maybe like 5-7 minutes, but never longer. We drove to Nando’s at Shahbaz Commercial and were asked to wait for 45 minutes. Our third wheeler, let’s call him D, did warn me about the waiting time but I didn’t believe him. I should have.
Peri Peri had recently opened doors back then, was close (both physically and in food options) and I was starved. He drove us to Peri Peri, where the waiting time was 30 minutes. I almost laughed. Is this a joke? What is going on? Don’t people eat at home anymore? And why can’t they go elsewhere? I was HANGRY.
We decided to have chai to kill time, but the waiting was endless, so we got on our way and hoped to find something, anything. We threw around ideas, and although Boat Basin was a unanimous yes (those dhaga kebabs are to die for), parking would have been a nightmare. ‘There’s Newbury Café on the way…”, D murmured. I had never heard of it, Fattu was interested and we could all eat a horse between us. So, Newbury Cafe it was.
It’s in one of Clifton’s many dark alleys, with beautiful lighting and romantic setting. Spread across two floors with a small patio, it is a charming establishment. Lots of wood, red bricks, artefacts and clever lighting.
We got seated immediately. Full points for service – attentive and just about enough salesmanship to make us listen to their recommendations.
Skipping starters, we dived right into mains. I ordered Smokey Flamed Grilled Chicken, Fattu went for Mutton Chops and D wanted Rib Eye Steak. A very important detail to remember: I ordered from the normal dinner menu whereas Fattu and D chose from Chef’s Special.
Food came, and everything was delicious – right down to the sides and sauces. Meat was done just right, with enough flavouring to enhance and not overpower. Servings were generous. It was hands down one of the best meals that I had in Karachi this year.
Still in food coma, we decided to go all out and order two deserts – Crème Brulee and signature Chocolate Dome (the one with chocolate shell that’s melted with hot chocolate to reveal chocolate brownie, ice cream and rice crisps – devine!). This was the most theatrical part of our meal, with chocolate falling apart and torch caramelising our brulee.
Everything was delicious and in that moment, we loved D just a little bit more for suggesting Newbury Cafe.
Then came the bill, and I blinked. Once. Twice. Thrice. Nothing changed.
It said something Rs17,000 plus. As it turned out, Fattu’s meal costed Rs.6,400 and Rib Eye Steak was for about Rs. 5,600. Throw in my cute little, comparatively inexpensive chicken of Rs. 1,250, mojito, desserts, tip and it rounded off to Rs.18,000.
In retrospect, it was up to us to ask for the prices of chef’s special as they were not printed. We didn’t. The server assumed that we knew what we were getting into. We didn’t. Had we planned for a special meal, it would have not come as much of a shock. But for a random, late night dinner, it was more than I planned on spending.
In my head, I blamed D’s Merc – had it not been for his swanky car, the server might have mentioned the prices for my two meat-khor friends.
Anyway. It was one of my last nights in Karachi and the food was indeed delicious. So, I didn’t crib about it. We split the bill three ways, D dropped us home and we all slept (in our respective beds) with happy tummies.
The food is delicious and I have seen some pictures of the venue during the day, and it is equally beautiful. I would totally recommend Newbury Café, just confirm prices (if not printed) to avoid ‘surprises’.