A tiny new eatery on Bhittai Road in F-7 is perfect for whiling away an afternoon, taking a break between errands, reading a book or just looking out at the soon-to-come monsoon rains.
Mishar is perhaps the size of a standard living room but the ceiling to floor windows on two sides let in a ton of light, lending the illusion of a more expansive venue. The space is decorated with light furniture, with light grey upholstery which coordinates with the many green plants outside the windows to make it seem homelier.
“I named the restaurant after myself,” says the owner, Misbah Khar.
“I took the first three letters of my first name and the last three of my last name and it was perfect. I had imagined a woman who is strong, independent, no-nonsense but also warm and hospitable. And Mishar sounded like that,” she said.
Ms Khar said she wanted to offer good quality food with good presentation and hygiene in a comfortable and cosy environment that families and friends can enjoy from all classes.
“Good quality restaurants in the city are usually only affordable for the upper class,” she said.
The menu at the restaurant is also limited and largely Italian-continental with a few desi dishes, but it is an interesting mix.
The menu announces at the top that all the dishes are made either in olive oil or desi ghee, according to customer choice. The mixed green salad comes patted down in a dome with seasonal greens, feta and grilled chicken with a tangy sauce to topple over the medley of natural flavours.
Though not an unconventional salad worldwide but certainly so in Islamabad, the menu includes a fish salad, which is fried fish served on a bed of spinach and drizzled with teriyaki sauce.
The chicken tornedos is pieces of pan-roasted chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella, spinach and olives on a bed of desi-ghee infused, creamy mashed potatoes. The dish is bathed in a generous helping of a rich cream sauce laced with herbs. The mozzarella comes as a pleasant surprise in each bite and the faint taste of desi ghee in the mashed potatoes is almost like an afterthought.
There are a couple of beef and pasta dishes and sandwiches and an assortment of parathas which can go with the all-day breakfast options, most of which are omelettes, along with halwa puri.
It would be justified to rush through the rest of the menu to get to two items in the desi section.
The first being tawa qeema, which as the name suggests is fresh mince cooked on a tawa with diced onion, tomatoes, garlic and ginger and our favorite desi spice, green chillies. It is served piping hot with a mean paratha and sauce.
The second dish worth a special mention is pretty unconventional for restaurants to serve but is everyone’s mother’s best loved desi food, which is qeema karela and paratha.
An order of the Nutella rolls is Nutella rolled in pan-toasted bread served with a fresh mango diced like a sunflower, the stem made of chocolate syrup. The mango sits in a pool of maple syrup and is crowned with blackcurrant jelly and fruit preserve. The roll is luxurious and overwhelmingly sweet, the fruit is fresh and lent an earthy sweetness by the maple syrup, making for an almost sinful mix.
Pair this with the special masala chai served in dainty black cups and taken over by cinnamon, and you have yourself the perfect rainy weather snack.
A large white screen has been put up at one end of the restaurant for screening movies, and recently, football matches. If you have enough people, the management will reserve the whole space for you and make it your own personal cinema.
Originally published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018