Karachi now has a plethora of restaurants that claim to serve authentic Lebanese cuisine but the latest entrant has an upper hand.
Baituti opened its doors to Karachi with a promise of Lebanese cuisine like no other. Wondering what would make Baituti so confident in their claim, I head down to the restaurant to find out. Also, because I saw this picture online.
The restaurant has four Lebanese owners who have brought their own recipes from their homeland, so yeah, no need to question the authenticity. In fact, after finding this information out I became more excited to try out what Baituti has to offer. Again, because this.
Where to go
Baituti is situated in Block 4 Clifton on the lane parallel to E street and adjacent to Deli. It opened up in place of the previous R5 aesthetic clinic.
The restaurant has two floors and each has a distinctive design. The ground floor has an old school vibe which the owner says is to resemble what the average home looks like in Lebanon. The top floor has a more modern look.
When to go
The restaurant is open from 1pm to 12am.
What to order
After meeting with the owners, we realised it's best to depend on them for our order. And they were more than happy to help.
While the options on the menu look exactly like what you'll see on Zaatar or Figaro, many items stood out in terms of quantity and quality.
Baituti prides itself on its fresh ingredients and the Fattoush is proof. The fresh crunchy salad topped with pomegranate and crunchy bread was just what we needed to kickstart our meal in this growing heat.
The tabbouli was no different in the freshness but gave us an important lesson on how a small change like switching the type of parsley can elevate a dish.
"We use flat parsely - also known as Italian parsely - instead of the curly parsely that is locally available because it suits our dish more."
And while it was a minor change the difference was noted.
The garnishing on the hummus really made it stand out from all the versions of the dish we've tried before. The relish provides a welcome addition to the texture and the hummus itself is very smooth and lightweight.
What impressed me most in the cold mezzes was the mutabil. It is some of the best mutabil in Karachi, having a smokey flavour in the aubergine without any of the bitter aftertaste that many versions in local restos tend to have. The secret, yet again, is imported aubergines as local variants don't give the same result when cooked the way mutabil should be.
We kicked off the hot mezze variety with sujuk, sausages served in a tomato based sauce. The sausages are served like meatballs and according to Lebanese cuisine, this is spicy. For the desi palate, there isn't enough heat. We felt there was a slight issue in that the dish was a little on the salty side but we did like the the tomato base in the dish.
The Shrimps Provencial is a dish which has some history in Lebanon, as it came after the French colonised the country and stayed.
This was an instant hit at the table, as we all were stunned at the perfect cook on the shrimps. Soft and plump, they were marinated in a spicy base - which did have heat for the desi palate - and had a unique flavour we could not get enough of.
Moving on to the grilled goodies, we decided to get a mix platter to get a taste of most of the meaty offerings and surprisingly, we realised that Baituti's mezzes - and vegetarian dishes - are far superior to their meaty varieties.
What stood out in the platter was the Arayes kufta, which were tender and had the perfect seasoning. The rest of the items within the grill - which consisted of grilled meat, chicken kufta, shishtauk and lamb chops - were unfortunately on the drier side and could've used more seasoning. I wondered if this was due to my desi palate but then again, a dish doesn't need to be hot and spicy for it work here. We have different cuisines here completely low on spices (sushi, anyone?) that we love too.
Baituti made up for the grill, however, with their new dish, the fatayer. So far, I have not seen this dish in any other restaurant and was interested to know what it was. Fatayer is a hybrid of manakeesh and meat pie, it looks like a bread boat and may resemble pizza but because of the toppings, it's completely unique.
We tried two of the fatayers at Baituti and we were already planning a second trip to have more again. Light and topped with the freshest ingredients, this is a must try. We opted for the chicken with pomegranate fatayer and the chili minced meat fatayer and both stood out in their own ways.
The chicken fatayer was topped with fresh crunchy lettuce and a mustard sauce we were worried would be overpowering but was surprisingly not so. In fact it was light and added just the right zing to each bite.
The minced meat one had sliced red chilies that would give you the kick you need while still maintaining robust flavours. We were glad we had some fresh pomegranate juice to help us handle the spice.
Moving on to the dessert, we decided to go for the Umm Ali but unfortunately we were not sold on the dish. Described as a cream based puff pastry topped with crushed nuts on the menu, we were expecting something quite different from what came to us. This was more like a pudding that felt incomplete in its texture and flavour. I may not have the biggest sweet tooth around but even I felt like the dish could've been sweeter.
We do wish we had tried another dessert because from the looks of it, their chocolate based desserts look like a must try, but we couldn't handle another bite.
Damage on the pocket
Baituti had fairly competitive prices with almost all their dishes apart from the grilled items ranging from Rs 400 - Rs 700. The grilled goodies range from Rs 500 - Rs 1300 with their platter going up to Rs 3565 - and that's for 4 to 6 people. Considering the large servings of the items, I think it's money well spent. Especially it you want a mezze night out.