Size isn't everything: This little eatery in Islamabad may serve Pakistan's best burger

Size isn't everything: This little eatery in Islamabad may serve Pakistan's best burger

What The Warehouse lacks in square footage, it aims to make up for in service and presentation
21 Sep, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Every once in a while, a quirky little eatery opens up that captures the imaginations of the residents of the capital. In the same way that Islamabad’s restaurant-goers were once drawn to the old Tiramisu and its impeccable cooking and indulgent desserts, a newcomer has captured the imaginations of the city.

Upon first entering The Warehouse, you could be forgiven for thinking, “Is this it?” But what this restaurant lacks in square footage, it aims to make up for in service and presentation.

If you’re lucky enough to find a spot to sit, the menu is a simple one-pager, and most of the choices on it are binary. In soups, there’s Asparagus or Roasted Tomato; Panini options include Cheese and Tomato or meat.

The salads though, are a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Here too, one can choose between a Mediterranean or a meat-based option.

The seating is designed in such a way that customers have a clear view of the kitchen area.

Here, chefs in hairnets and aprons sous-vide burger patties in the style of celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal. This is a method where the meat is vacuum packed and cooked slowly for a long period of time in water. In fact, a lot of the cooking methods – especially the way the coffee is brewed – are innovative and unique.

Regulars also praise the personalised service at the bistro. Ammar Mumtaz, the young entrepreneur behind the restaurant, can often be seen moving from table to table, checking on people’s orders, recommending items to new customers and getting feedback.

The Warehouse is the owner’s second foray into the culinary landscape of Islamabad. His first outing, the Burning Brownie bakery-cafe, has been a big success. In fact, the Rasmalai Cheesecake – one of the best items on the menu – was probably created at the bakery itself.

A lot of people Dawn spoke to also praised their burgers. Journalist Madiha Tahir called their burgers, “The best I’ve had in Pakistan.” “The meat is done medium rare, as it should be,” said development professional Sarah Ahmed.

However, the restaurant’s pièce de résistance, their steaks, have not been available for over two weeks now and a sign outside the door proclaims that they will be serving steaks after Eidul Azha, ostensibly when meat becomes more widely available in the market.

There are obviously teething problems: Asma Saigol complained that certain items on the menu, such as the burgers and steaks, are not available at all times. The restaurant has also had issues with meal timings and has had to implement a very narrow window for lunch and dinner.

The drinks, however, are delightfully presented. Fruit smoothies, iced teas and light cocktails are served in jars and there are actual tea bags in the iced teas. The Citrus Breezer and the Strawberry Iced Tea are quite popular among patrons. Educationist Fiza Waheed especially recommends the Hazelnut Frappe, saying “it’s the best in town.”

But if there’s one item on The Warehouse menu that is a must-have, it is the Roasted Tomato Soup. As Mr Mumtaz explains to new customers, the soup is infused with roasted garlic and smoked hickory, and served not with a regular breadstick, but a crispy, dried piece of Afghani Nan. The soup is perfectly well-balanced in terms of spice and is guaranteed to leave everyone wanting more.

What is surprising is the absence of a concerted advertising campaign, either via mainstream or social media. The bistro’s popularity, in fact, owes a lot to word-of-mouth communication, with friends recommending it to each other and word getting out that way. But perhaps that is for the best: one can’t imagine how the restaurant would ever fit more customers than it is already receiving.

Published in Dawn, September 21st , 2015


Justme Sep 21, 2015 10:58am
How can you have "designer cocktails" without any alcohol?
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lala Sep 21, 2015 11:18am
burger burger . Say yes to the burger nation.
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u saifi Sep 21, 2015 11:37am
Excellent place - will go there again today.
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Azam Sep 21, 2015 11:43am
The South Asian food especially the one prepared in Sub Continent has a lot of history and culture but mainly the taste is awesome. There is no doubt that our Bun Kababs are much tastier and healthier than the Cheese Burgers of McDonald's. If one has not thought about going to Mainstream with this taste of Sub Continent then this is the right time to think about franchise concept. This will most likely fly.
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Yasser Masood Sep 21, 2015 11:50am
Sounds great but just one photos isn't enough!
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Dr.Sadaf Sep 21, 2015 12:18pm
There has been no raid on it yet?
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Nuscie jamil Sep 21, 2015 12:29pm
An address would be welcome. Thank you very much. Looking forward to visiting.
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Nuscie jamil Sep 21, 2015 12:29pm
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Mohammad Salim Khalid Sep 21, 2015 12:46pm
Location ? Where Warehouse is located on this earth
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Muneeb Sep 21, 2015 01:41pm
@u saifi address please?
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H Sep 21, 2015 02:04pm
@u saifi - what's the address ?
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Mohammad Salim Khalid Sep 21, 2015 02:27pm
@u saifi Please help me with address of the Warehouse
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Asim Sep 21, 2015 03:08pm
I have eaten at this place and their burgers were good but not the best burgers for sure. In my opinion for beef burgers in Islamabad the best option is Hardees and for chicken Howdys serves well. Their panini was disappointing too. Overall experience was just OKAY and if i have to rate this place then it will not be more than 6.5/10.
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ali Sep 21, 2015 03:19pm
@Mohammad Salim Khalid F-7 markaz backside.
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Ga Sep 21, 2015 04:51pm
@Nuscie jamil - the address has been kept a secret to keep that pesky Punjab Food Authority away.
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Ahmed Sep 22, 2015 10:01am
Not to belittle their achievements vis a vis burgers since I havent been to this place...I dont even live in Islamabad; but I'd say calling it the best in the country is a bit excessive. On a similar note, I have been recently caught saying on multiple occasions that Karachi is really starting to specialise in burgers. Two places that have really impressed me are burger lab and street kitchen (I think its called) in Clifton. Definitely worth a try.
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Karachi_burger Sep 22, 2015 10:08am
Had the burger, the patty was surprisingly dry. The chocolate milk shake and the citrus fizz were great. The panini was amazing. The service was on point. For anyone looking for the best burger in Pakistan, you have to head down to Karachi. From Burger Shack to Burger Lab, Burger Inc. to Pantry to Oh My Grill, the options are endless. Most of them bake their own potato buns and have the correct fat to meat ratio. Islamabad eateries would do well to learn from the Karachiwalas.
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Rosie Sep 24, 2015 05:34am
@Justme Google my friend. There are so many non-alchoholic options available.
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