Weekend grub: Nobby is the new celebrity hotspot, but is it worth the hype?
Did you catch snaps of Fahad Mustafa, Hareem Farooq, Sheheryar Munawar, the Hocane sisters and pretty much all of the entertainment industry at new eatery Nobby cafe?
We'd be lying if we said we didn't. Just weeks ago our feed was filled with their pictures at the cafe and we wondered what the hype was all about.
Let's forget for a moment that it is run by Saba Jerjees, the wife of ARY CEO Jerjees Seja (which explains the star power!), we still had to see what this new place offers and being the foodies that we are, the Images team decided to test out the place for ourselves.
Where to go?
Nobby is located at Bukhari commercial, lane 10. It's tucked away right in the corner of the street. For those who've seen The Social Hub, you'll find the cafe right next to it.
The place takes up a small space on the outside with its dark exterior, potted plants and brightly lit signs.
When you walk in you're welcomed by flowers on the walls, greenery on the ceiling, framed photographs, plush velvet sofas, marble tables and a TV playing a slideshow of their food. A little too busy for our liking, but it's nice to see that restaurant owners are also giving importance to interiors to add to the ambiance.
The cafe also has a basement which provides a private space if you have a bigger party.
When to go?
It's open from 8am till 12am, all days except Monday.
What to order?
At first sight the menu doesn't exactly excite, it features items that have been done to death like Mozzarella Sticks, Tarragon Chicken, Moroccan Chicken, Parmesan Crusted Chicken....you know, the works.
So then we decided to let Saba take the reins and walk us through her recommendations.
She immediately pointed towards their Nobby Signature Stuffed Bellpepper and Cheese Filled Mushrooms. We decided to add Crab Meat au Gratin (seafood ftw!) and Granola Salad to the list.
When the Stuffed Bellpeppers arrived, they were quite lackluster. The massive bell peppers were topped with baked cheese but the presentation nor the quantity did us any favours. At Rs880 a plate, there should've been more bell peppers - also we never got the accompanying garlic bread!
On to the taste. Honestly, the chicken and spinach filling got lost in all that cheese; it was like eating creamy cheese and crunchy bell pepper.
Not the best start. We didn't see what the build-up around this dish was.
Next were the Cheese-filled Mushroom Caps. This dish was presented well - can definitely make do without the bed of vegetables - but it was very different from the version we had in our heads, we were not aware that the mushroom caps would be deep fried, but that added to our intrigue.
We dived right in and sadly this one disappointed us too. The batter was too thick and we were fishing for the mushrooms in our mouth. The dip was average, rather heavy and didn't add to the dish.
When we started on the Crab Meat au Gratin, we were pleasantly surprised. Although we were missing the au Gratin, the crusty breadcrumbs on top, the filling was creamy with a generous amount of crab. It was comfort food at its best. A clear win.
Moving on to the Granola Salad, the greens were a fresh and clean change from all the cheesy, creamy starters. The vegetables were well-balanced, the salad was crunchy with bits of granola, there was no playing hide-and-seek with the cranberries or feta and the light dressing did not overpower the dish.
However, the quantity of granola and apples could've been more, other than that the salad was a hit at the table. If you're looking to eat something light there, order this.
By now, we were relatively full but we were also looking forward to the mains. Since we're not chicken fans, we ditched that idea and went straight for the seafood and beef. We ordered their Chili Glazed Red Snapper with Lime Sauce and the Stuffed Chili Beef Steak.
When the Chili Glazed Red Snapper with Lime Sauce arrived, we thought they mixed up the order. The fish was covered in a white, creamy sauce when we were expecting a light chili-lime sauce like promised.
A few confused looks later we tried the fish. A tad bit overcooked, the snapper was slightly dry on the inside and the sauce was too thick and gravy-like for the protein, it also lacked the lemon zest we were looking for.
The sauteed vegetables were lightly flavoured and added a nice texture on the side. What we really loved though were the mashed sweet potatoes. They were creamy but also lumpy and they helped equalise the dish with the slight zing of the sauce and the sweetness of the potatoes.
We had also ordered their special Stuffed Chili Beef Steak medium-rare. Again, we thought the steak was going to be stuffed, the name really puzzles you. But what arrived was not stuffed at all, rather the green chilies it came with were stuffed. Get it?
Two steaks piled on top of each other rested atop a lump of mashed potatoes and we were worried that the heat from the potatoes and steaks would cook the meat further. We were right. The steaks were unevenly cooked, medium-rare on some sides and medium on the other. Nonetheless, the meat was juicy and tasted good!
The mashed potatoes had a good consistency, but the parmesan and butter sauce added the perfect touch to the dish. We wiped the light, buttery sauce clean with the mashed potatoes. However, the grilled chilies stuffed with what-tasted-like cottage cheese were pointless and can be removed altogether.
Time for their much talked-about desserts. We promptly ordered the Lotus... because Lotus, and Saba advised their Sinfully Yours and Passion Ball.
Let's start with Lotus, this dessert is all about putting on a show. It arrived in a tiny cylinder which when lifted up let out a stream of Lotus sauce and powder which poured on top of the chocolate brownie and vanilla ice cream, covering the entire dessert.
It looked fun and was good too. The Lotus flavour was definitely there, the mix of the warm (chocolate brownie) with the cold (ice cream) along with the sauce was good, but the sauce was overwhelming -- the quantity can be lessened -- and it made the overall dessert a tad too sweet perhaps because there were no elements to cut through the sweetness of the dish. And it also needed some texture, like a bit of crunch would’ve elevated the dessert.
Sinfully Yours was next. This one came in a cup topped with whipped cream sandwiched between two chocolate sheets. The cup was filled with coffee chocolate pudding covered with honeycomb pieces, berries, brownie bits and some more whipped cream. We give it points for being a pretty dessert.
The main struggle we faced was trying to break the chocolate sheets to dig into our dessert. Had the sheets been tempered and made thinner to easily cut through, it would've been less of an effort. We kept at it though and finally managed to break it.
Sinfully Yours was an instant hit at the table. The pudding was soft, light and not too sweet or rich in chocolate, although the coffee flavour was missing, it was complemented by the toppings; the zinginess from the berries, the sweetness and crunch from the honeycomb, the added chocolate flavour from the brownie. Texturally the dessert worked and we went back for more.
Then came the Passion Ball. This dish overthrew our entire dessert palate, The yellow cream - which we were told was ice cream - was flavourless and felt like a hard shell encompassing basic heavy cream.
The dark chocolate under the cream was extremely hard so we weren't able to break through to try it and it was filled with more cream. The honeycomb on the side made little sense because the dessert was only a combination of dense, firm elements. Overall this dessert was super sweet and difficult to eat which only made it inedible.
The team at the cafe offered their Crème Brûlée as compensation and with all the sugar that we ate, this seemed like an impossible task. Nonetheless we gave it a try. The presentation was new to us. We would've expected the baked custard to come in a bowl but there it was lying on a plate looking a bit bare, we almost thought it would spill over.
The top didn't seem caramelised enough, but surprisingly when we broke into it, the thin sheet of burnt sugar cracked with a soft yet crisp sound. The baked custard had a nice, smooth consistency and held through. However, the additions to the dish such as the brownie, honeycomb and whipped cream were unnecessary; they did nothing to elevate the flavours of the Crème Brûlée but risked overpowering the subtle notes.
That being said, the Crème Brûlée was a good choice and we wish we had ordered that instead of the Passion Ball.
Damage on the pocket?
The pricing at Nobby is towards the higher side if you order the more expensive items on the menu, otherwise adding up these dishes for three people it came to around Rs4,500. To get a basic idea, their food ranges between Rs500-1500.
If we ever go to Nobby again it'll definitely be for the Crab au Gratin, the Granola Salad and their chocolate dessert Sinfully Yours. These we say, are worth the trip.