12 Sep, 2016

Located in F-6 Markaz and not to be confused with Butler’s Chocolate Cafe, The Butler recently opened its doors to the public.

The restaurant has a wheelchair-friendly entrance, something most other eateries in Islamabad lack, as you have to climb up a few steps at least in most buildings.

The interior of the restaurant feels very much like an English cigar club, with heavy wooden floors, dark wood panelling on the walls, a good, old fashioned stairway and shelves filled with books.

Tall lamps in the corners light the restaurant and the French windows are adorned with greenery. French Louise chairs and delicate crockery complete the European look.

The walls are lined with pictures of celebrities from between the 1950s and the 1990s and jazz tunes play on the sound system, sometimes switching over to a Frank Sinatra number while your butler for the night shows you to a table of your choice on either of the two storeys, the rooftop or outside.

Containing Italian-continental dishes, the menu is extensive and offers something for all times of the day. Everything is a product of extensive research and experimentation, the owner of the restaurant, Asad Niazi, said.

“If you want to do the restaurant business right, then everything from purchase to the plate is technical, and even more so if you are in Pakistan and are not offering desi food. People still want a desi touch in their food and that is where it becomes tricky. You have to make sure that the authentic taste of the food remains and that it also appeals to your client base,” Mr Niazi said.

When asked, the staff recommended the chicken and lemon soup and the garden salad for starters.

The salad is your usual, run-of-the-mill garden salad with the usual seasonal greens diced up and tossed with cubes of feta cheese but also comes with shredded beef bacon and strips of grilled and seasoned chicken all of which is drizzled with a generous helping of honey vinaigrette.

A bite of the salad releases a medley of flavours with the vegetables fresh and crunchy, the meats lightly spiced, the cheese slightly sour and crumbly and the dressing sweet and tangy.

The lemon and chicken soup was by far one of the best thin soups, with the flavours so delicately balanced and with the tanginess of the lemon and the savouriness of the chicken equally standing out.

A whole page of the menu is dedicated to chicken, starting off with ‘Grandma’s Herb Roasted Chicken’, which is two pieces of chicken served with bread, broccoli and cheese sauce.

Your butler for the night will ask you how well done you want your chicken and what temperature you would like to have it served.

The chicken is dusted with herbs and is wholesome and succulent; the kind one can easily imagine a family of English farmers in the 1980s having for dinner.

The other chicken items include the Polo Tuscan, which is a chicken breast stuffed with spinach and baked till a crisp golden brown, topped with the house Tuscan sauce and served with garlic rice.

The Cordon Bleu is also listed on the page, which is a fried breaded chicken breast stuffed with cheese, olives and lemon as is Tarragon Chicken and the Cashew Nut Chicken which comes with a fiery red sauce along with a few other variants of chicken.

If you are in the mood for a steak, the butler will again ask you for the temperature you want your steak to be served.

The meat is tender and grilled to your preference and comes flanked by sautéed vegetables and a seared potato baked in foil and crowned with a dollop of fresh cream.

The several pastas served at The Butler are flavourful and come with thick, spices and herb infused sauces and generous helpings of shredded meat and vegetables.

Traditional European breakfast items are also served till noon including fresh scones and English muffins with fresh cream, Eggs Benedict, pancakes, waffles and omelettes.

However, the desserts are something everyone should try at The Butler, with its cheesecake the smoothest of cheesecakes, its molten lava the chocolatiest of cakes, and its crepes smooth, fluffy and sweet.

However, it is highly recommended to pair off any of the desserts with the simple, mix chai which is served in purple, floral cups.

The portion sizes are perfect and are good value for money and the service prompt with most entrees served in under 20 minutes and desserts and starters taking even less than that.

However, some items listed on the menu are not always available, including the tuna sandwich and the grilled lamb chops.

When asked, the restaurant staff said they do not serve meats which they could not find fresh the same day.

The restaurant is a good place to hold parties at, with its afternoon tea service, to have a working lunch or just a quiet moment with a loved one.

Originally published in Dawn, September 12th, 2016