Veranda Bistro, Lahore

By Rizwan Takkhar

Verandas Bistro, minus the ‘s’.

Apparently, Verandas Bistro is a restaurant chain in the US. Someone in Lahore came up with an unbelievably creative twist on the name and started Veranda Bistro, Lahore. This one offers one of the prettiest, ‘fine-dining’ experiences I’ve come across in my eight years in the city.

My first impression of the place as soon as I arrived here for dinner last week was, “Whoa”. The place has one of the prettiest dining setups in Lahore. The theme is extravagantly classy and is achieved through expensive wood and glass work. And this is just the interior dining area. The actual ‘veranda’ is even prettier and has this amazing “fire and water” combination theme with wood tables that suit the outside environment, umbrellas and all.

Let’s jump straight to the food though. Like I often do, I tried my best to make every member of my party order something different so as much of the full menu as possible. We ordered Chicken Fettuccine, Lasagna, Lamb, and a T-bone steak.

Suffice to say, the décor really was the best thing about Veranda Bistro which is all the more shocking keeping in mind the fact that restaurants and cafes in Lahore are enjoying healthy competition. The Fettuccine tasted like an unfortunate combination of pasta and several packs of vegetable-flavored Slanty[1] chips. The Lasagna was served in a 3-inch diameter bowl that looked like cups for baking muffins. To compensate for the size of the serving, it was placed in a large plate lined with a ruffled table napkin. And the lasagna tasted totally desi – I’ve had better lasagna at desi homes in Lahore actually. The only thing I actually enjoyed on the table was the complimentary bread served as soon as we ordered. Freshly baked, served with garlic-infused olive oil, blissful!

All in all, I think the food experience was uniformly abysmal which was confirmed with the Rs 12,000 check for a party of seven—no starter or dessert—and an entrée and drink each. As a saving grace, however, I should add that the veranda area is a must-see if you are between 18-22 years of age and a Shisha-lover. Order their Shisha (they add real fruit!) and some thin-crust pizza, which is NOT a single serving as the server might suggest (serves 3). They might even throw in a complimentary Pomegranate cooler to cheer you up.

In summation: Veranda Bistro, Lahore is a great place for classy dining as long as you have a heavy purse and a cloudy judgment. A great shisha bar, however.

[1] Slanty Chips are crisps / snacks that come in a large number of flavors in Pakistan.