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Updated 08 Jan, 2016

Japanese sushi, Chinese chowmein, Turkish donor kebab, spicy Thai curry, Mexican tortilla, Indian dosa – when it comes to world cuisine, Lahore's offerings are diverse. When in the mood for something different, Lahore's foodies can give Lebanese food a try.

It’s a lot like our own good ol’ barbecue, but get into the finer details and you find that you may have used the ingredients before, but not in the same combination as the Lebanese do.

A restaurant offering Lebanese food as their specialty – and claiming to offer authentic fare – is Café Backyard. This café has been around for some time, but never really took off, most likely due to its run-of the-mill menu and unimpressive decor.

Fortunately, they realised their shortcomings (unlike some eateries that simply shut down) and went into overhaul mode. They have a new revised, crisper menu offering the best of continental food, which includes a separate Lebanese menu that they claim to cook with mostly authentic ingredients imported from Lebanon.

Where to go

Cafe Backyard is back with a revamped menu at the same charming venue
Cafe Backyard is back with a revamped menu at the same charming venue

Café Backyard’s location was perhaps one of its drawbacks when it started out. It is located off the mini food street, M.M. Alam Road, in the street adjacent to the legendary Café Zouk. Quite like a hideout, but there’s much more to it once one visits. The interior needed some work, and they've made some lovely additions to their decor, including an artificial waterfall and a little pond.

When to go

The roomy interiors of Cafe Backyard guarantee your privacy
The roomy interiors of Cafe Backyard guarantee your privacy

Lunch or dinner, you’ll enjoy the subtly lit ambiance with chandeliers and lamps in the main hall. The soft lighting is appropriate and the cafe's noise level is quite low. Unlike many other restaurants, tables aren’t ‘too close for comfort’, so your privacy is guaranteed even during rush hours. Still, try grabbing a table in their spacious hall instead of one close to the entrance.

What to order

For starters, we would recommend the fresh, crispy Falafel with delicious tartar sauce. Take the first bite and you will instantly notice each ingredient in that unique combination of chickpeas and Lebanese herbs.

Also try the Moutabbal – a soft, creamy eggplant puree mixed with tahini (sesame seed paste), olive oil and lemon juice, served with hot pita bread made in-house.

If you’re a cheese lover, I strongly recommend Labneh – creamy cheese made with strained curdled milk, and had with or without pita.

If you’re not in the mood for a proper meal, try the delicious Hummus with Grilled Kafta. A generous portion of Hummus, a chickpea puree with olive oil, is served with juicy, appropriately spiced lamb cubes topped with pine nuts. We loved this combo.

Hummus with Grilled Kafta is a great option for a light meal
Hummus with Grilled Kafta is a great option for a light meal

From the main course, both Grilled Chicken Kafta and Grilled Lamb Kafta – served with hot pita, tabouleh, French fries, and delicious garlic mayo sauce and a house special made with dates – are fulfilling meals.

Grilled Lamb Kafka is a must-try for those wishing for a hearty meal
Grilled Lamb Kafka is a must-try for those wishing for a hearty meal

We’d also recommend the Grilled Moroccan Chicken, which is grilled chicken skewers sprinkled with herbs served with garlic butter, rice and two sauces. Their portion may not be enough for some, but still makes for a good light meal.

Moroccan Chicken is another grilled option available
Moroccan Chicken is another grilled option available

Close to this is the very well-known Shish Taouk. Marinated grilled chicken skewers served with the usual sides of tabouleh, French fries, garlic mayo and the house special date sauce. This one’s a must try.

When you’re done with your meal, try their array of desserts and milkshakes. Our favourites would be the Kit Kat or Ferrero Rocher shakes. They also have a wide range of pastries to choose from: lemon tarts, caramel crunch, and so many more.

Shakes and pastries can be a sweet end to your Lebanese meal
Shakes and pastries can be a sweet end to your Lebanese meal

Damage on the pocket

The Lebanese starters and appetisers are appropriately priced. Among the Lebanese mains, the chicken dishes are priced at Rs700 on average, while those with lamb and seafood go up to Rs1,500, and the platters over Rs2,500.


'Weekend grub' is a weekly column published on Friday that features new cafes and restaurants across Pakistan. Can you think of an eatery that should be reviewed? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Comments

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A. A. Jan 08, 2016 01:45pm
Platter over Rs 2500? I live in Oslo which is one of the top 3 most expensive cities in the world, even then a Lebanese platter cost less than that here! This is crazy!
Recommend
M.Saeed Jan 08, 2016 02:33pm
One of the best Labenese foods is called Arise. It is made from freshly minced meat mixed with some greens like parsley and coriander, salt, black pepper and garlic sauce then made into long kebabs (like our seekh kebebs) and grilled either filled in Arab-breads specially prepared for Arise, or just barbecued in wire-net barbecue holders, served right from the fire.
Recommend
lafanga Jan 08, 2016 02:56pm
@A. A. I love Lebanese food but I agree Rs 2500 is pretty steep. In good London Lebanese restaurants like Maroush a platter would be around £10.00 to £12.00 which is still better than Rs 2500 after conversion.
Recommend
Kamran Jan 08, 2016 03:24pm
@lafanga This is a problem with you stubbornly-prudent ppl. You convert too much. On the contrarty we eat too much.
Recommend
Goga Nalaik Jan 08, 2016 03:25pm
This Lebanese platter costs 14 euros (1610 PKR) in Paris
Recommend
Yolo Jan 08, 2016 04:26pm
Prices are normal for any gourmet resturant in nz, aust ,us,canada
Recommend
Habib Jan 08, 2016 04:52pm
Pakistan has best food if health safety and halal conditions are met
Recommend
asif iffy Jan 08, 2016 06:45pm
The prices you mention make make me feel these are one time bandits- not people interested in serving food!
Recommend
papay Jan 08, 2016 06:58pm
I am totally Lebanese food fan, commodity prices are going down but those fancy restaurants are over charging. Most of them have now started putting too much grease on pita which is not healthy. I am not sure about Oslo but in Canada we can get platter for $12 equal to Rs. 950, their Pak prices are overkill
Recommend
US CENTCOM Jan 08, 2016 07:43pm
I would love to visit this restaurant. The food looks delicious! Ali Khan Digital Engagement Team, USCENTCOM
Recommend
Ali Shah Jan 08, 2016 08:52pm
I love Lebanese food and there were a lot of good Lebanese restaurants that I tried out in Dubai. The Lebanese restaurants in North America and Europe are not very good generally. Terrible in Oslo. The price of 2500 is really high though. That's close to 90 dirhams in UAE. A party of 2 to 3 can eat well in dubai in a medium tier lebanese restaurant in Dubai.
Recommend
Yolo Jan 09, 2016 05:26am
But in saying that are going to get customers in lahore ?where the price for coke 20 rupees maybe better drop the prices to get more customrs depends on how many people they are getting through the door and how well they market themselves to middle class , overseas diaspora,corporate sector and international expats if they doing good no point to drop prices
Recommend
Yolo Jan 09, 2016 05:31am
Try ? Manhattan bite size pizzzas
Recommend
Siri Jan 09, 2016 10:16pm
Love Lebanese food, but this presentation was not the best one!
Recommend
white noise Jan 10, 2016 05:17pm
@A. A. you obviously have not been to Pakistan lately, dear boy, its called inflation !!
Recommend
Omrna Jan 11, 2016 04:28am
@Kamran then eat who is stopping you and pay as you go...
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