I won't lie. I'm a little bored of cafes.
I love good food and Karachi does boast some cafes that you can rely on for a great meal. But I feel like the recent string of cafes that have opened up are all the same. They serve the same few salads, the same variety of steaks and the same molten lava cake.
But what really puts me off cafes is that their ambiance is too similar. Because I don't have that much of a problem with food. I can never get enough of steaks and cakes... I really need to start working out... But anyway...
I recently heard about a new cafe in Karachi called The Bikers Cafe, which I thought would offer something new. It's been marketed as a themed restaurant that celebrates all things Harley-Davidson. That might have something to do with the fact that the cafe is run by Maaz Nawaid, who also runs the Harley's store upstairs. Still, very Vegas.
I've been intrigued by Harleys and was tempted to check out the store and cafe. As usual, I pulled a few colleagues who for some reason are never that excited about trying new places like I am. I mean, why you no like food, fam?
I got in touch with Maaz and headed to the cafe.
Where to go
The Bikers Cafe is located at Bukhari Commercial. The sign for the cafe is easy to miss but if you keep an eye for the Harley store, you'll be able to spot it easily. Trust me, those bikes are huge.
Entering the Harley Store, we made our way through many bikes before reaching the staircase that leads to the cafe. And the first thing we noticed is that the biker theme is taken seriously.
Harley-Davidson banners and bike parts decorate the small, cozy restaurant that seems like a place where one can chill for a long time. I also appreciated the fact the the sound system was upstairs rather than within the cafe as that meant the music wouldn't interrupt our conversations.
When to go
The Bikers Cafe is open from 12pm-12am, which are the timings of the store.
What to order
The Bikers Cafe has a limited menu but that didn't mean we weren't confused about what to order. We asked Maaz for his recommendations.
Maaz decided to start us off with the Salad Nicoise and the Classic Chicken Wings.
The Salad Nicoise is great for the health-conscious. The salad consists of iceberg lettuce, beans, olives and potatoes with tuna and eggs and is tossed in a very light olive oil and lemon dressing. I loved the light dressing, particularly because I don't really enjoy thick creamy dressing in my salads... they make me feel guilty.
While the light dressing was great for the salad, it's the lemon that's served with the salad that really brings the salad together. It also makes the dish light.
While the Classic Chicken Wings are coated with a nice spicy sauce, it's still a pretty mediocre appetiser. But this minor disappointment was compensated by the next part of our meal.
When Maaz recommended we try the Classic Beef Burger, we weren't exactly excited by the idea. Why try the basic beef burger when there are more enticing options on the menu? But Maaz claimed it to be his favourite, so we decided it to try it out.
When the burger was served to us, a part of me (welcome back negative Nusrat) was underwhelmed. Even though it appeared to be a big serving, I assumed that was because of its bun. Boy, was I wrong.
The patty was huge! And the beef was perfectly cooked. Two bites in (and then a quick third because I have no class) I looked up at Maaz and asked him to never call this a Classic Beef Burger again.
I realised how important a name is for a dish. Because that was the only thing wrong with the burger! This is anything but a 'classic'. I recommended it could be called 'Biker Boss Burger' or 'Bigshot Burger', just not this.
The burger is now known as The Beefy Bite. Better, but I prefer my Biker Boss title.
The Biker's Cafe definitely knows its beef well. We got our hands on the Open-Faced Roast Beef Sandwich with caremalised onions and dijon mustard. This became an instant hit at the table.
The pan-seared beef was tender with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and the dijon dressing was generous but didn't overpower the beef. Props for the balanced flavour!
Another thing I really appreciate about The Biker's Cafe is that for a small joint, they have many healthy options. Maaz revealed that's because he has lots of health-conscious people in his inner circle.
The beef sandwich can be served on multi-grain bread. Maaz plans to have whole-wheat options for his burgers and brown rice options in the future. I support it.
We were then served the Bruschetta Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese and Dill. While I love smoked salmon, I was concerned about the bruschetta being heavy. The dish looked rather loaded with cream cheese and dill so I was right to worry, but I didn't have to. The burschetta was light and tasted pretty good!
Maaz also had us sample some dishes that haven't been added to the menu then. So up next was a steak in pepper sauce.
Since the cafe is doing justice to beef, it's a no-brainer that this dish would be perfectly cooked as well. We had ordered medium and that's what we got. Instead of a whole cut of beef, the steak was pre-sliced so it actually makes for a nice dish to share.
Our lunch was accompanied by mint lemonade and pina colada. Maaz had recommended the pina colada but I insisted that my colleague and I share one since they are usually so heavy. To our surprise, the pina colada at The Bikers Cafe is very light.
The mint lemonade is the one thing that wasn't popular on our table. The drink had a bit of a bitter aftertaste that did not gel with the mint or lemon.
For dessert. Maaz got us bread pudding, which was also not on the menu yet.
"The bread pudding is our chef's specialty," Maaz revealed. That made us want to sample it. Well, that and the success rate of Maaz's recommendations (Biker Boss Burger!).
The bread pudding was rich and its sweetness was just right. Also, kudos on the presentation! The pudding, drizzled with caramel sauce, was topped with vanilla icecream and decorated with spun sugar.
The pudding also had raisins, which I think were an unnecessary addition. Apart from that, the flavours of the pudding, ice cream, caramel and sugar came together well.
Damage on the pocket
Prices at The Biker's Cafe range from Rs440 to Rs800 while the drinks range from Rs75 to Rs250. I was surprised to see the pina colada for Rs180! For the quality of the food, I don't think the prices are too steep — everything on the menu is less than Rs1000 and you don't see that often at good cafes.