It was over a cup of tea after dropping off their children at school that four women named Zainab Jafri, Maryam Faisal, Binish Khurram and Seham Merchant decided to start a restaurant.
After spending their mornings drinking coffee at different cafes, they wanted a place of their own where they could introduce new ideas for culinary feasting.
And so Flemish was born in May 2016. Flemish refers to any of the varieties of the Dutch language spoken in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium.
Where to go
Located in a quiet neighbourhood of Clifton in a two-story building, Flemish has managed to occupy a good lively place downstairs; the upper portion is given to pensive thinkers to display their art, in a gallery space called Spaces.
With plenty of space for parking, the restaurant offers three different seating areas for its customers. One may sit in the garden area at night to enjoy pleasant weather or perhaps sit inside for a more cosy experience. With ample space outside, Flemish has also opened its doors for bigger events in their garden, catering to up to 150 people.
Upon entering the restaurant, I could not ignore a big masonry oven for their variety of thin crust pizzas that are spread over the menu. When given a tour of their restaurant, I was pleased to see the level of hygiene in their kitchen. Habibullah from Baltistan is the head chef and has been serving Flemish since its initial days. With 12 chefs under his command, he has managed to train them all with precision, soon starting to serve breakfast from next month. Their service seemed to be fast, serving food right off the stove.
When to go
Not a fan of going solo at restaurants, I was accompanied by my mother at Flemish. We arrived at around 8.30 for dinner.
Serving Continental and Mediterranean food, Flemish’s menu has a lot to cover. Besides dinner, the eatery offers high tea from 4pm to 6pm with around eight items to choose from, from bruschetta to brick oven pizza to chocolate mousse and chicken wontons for Rs1275.
What to order
Anyway, on to dinner. Our first order was one of their most famous recipes called baked Brie (stuffed with scrumptious fig, marinated in red wine vinegar and fresh thyme served with raspberry sauce and Melba toast).
Brie, a soft cow’s milk cheese, is pale in colour with a slight grayish tinge under a rind of white mold. With its flavour dependent on the ingredients it should be paired with, the baked Brie at Flemish (paired with raspberry sauce) was very good. a perfect combination of the two. Never having been tried Brie before; I would highly recommend people to try this recipe at Flemish as it won’t fail to disappoint your taste buds.
As for our drinks, the mint lemonade tasted a bit too sour and the cucumber and pineapple cooler also failed to deliver its flavor. It was the guava daiquiri that surprised me the most. Not ever having taken a liking to guava since childhood, it was this unique drink that managed to satisfy my thirst.
Next up were their main courses starting with decked beef with Shiitake mushroom and jalapeños sauce. Served with a side of light, fluffy mashed potatoes, the meat was cooked medium rare, the right temperature I had ordered. However, the jalapeños sauce lacked zestiness, so didn't complement the steak well. Luckily, the caramelised onions brought out the steak's character and saved the dish.
While I managed to enjoy the decked beef, I found the chicken pocket and herb crusted fish to lack seasoning.
Although a nice golden crust dominated the chicken pocket, the meat wasn't cooked until tender. And paired with cream cheese, the flavours didn’t seem to blend together at all.
The fish in particular was insipid - covered with herbs and bread crust, the red snapper tasted really dry and was not seasoned enough with black pepper and salt. Also, the whole grain mustard sauce failed to rescue the dish as it lacked cream and lemon juice.
While our mains were less than satisfactory, with oddly matched sauces, it was compensated for with pan-seared fish with warm salsa.
We all know how difficult it is to cook red snapper, but here, the chefs were able to cook it to perfection. Without overpowering the delicacy of the fish as red snapper is often paired with heavy sauces; here it was paired with cumin infused clear citrus and warm vegetable salsa which was just enough to highlight the bold flavours of the fish.
And now comes the most important part of the night. Having a sweet tooth, I was really looking forward to the last part of the dinner: the Flemish special dessert - a chocolate mousse dessert with tempered chocolate disks at the bottom, topped off with peanut butter resting in the centre. This dessert was almost like a theatrical performance: with hot chocolate ganache poured on top of the tempered chocolate, it merely took a few seconds for the ganache to sink into the mousse and melt the tempered disks. Every bite of this dessert was truly magical.
Damage on the pocket
Prices at Flemish conform to the E-street standard. The mains begin from PKR685. with the specials menu being upwards of PKR1000, Desserts are in the range of PKR395-PKR650.
In conclusion, there are a couple of ingredients I'd drop from the dishes I ordered; those aside, this modern yet homely cafe with reasonable prices and good ambiance should be a given a try, for its dessert and appetizers won’t disappoint you.