The Pantry by The Polo Lounge is usually in the top three on the list of places to hang out at whenever my friends and I plan to meet and grab a bite. I love this place and the much welcome food on offer which is pretty different from the usual café/restaurant fare.
The main branch of The Pantry by The Polo Lounge is located inside Mall One on Lahore’s Main Boulevard while a newer one has recently opened at Emporium Mall in Joher Town.
The Pantry by The Polo Lounge at Mall One has rustic wooden tables paired with wood and rattan chairs, both painted a soothing shade of white that adds a lovely brightness to the surroundings. A nice airy seating area, which is actually in the middle of the mall, with glass windows (plus a smaller inner sitting area) makes for a pleasant meal here and I always prefer coming here during natural daylight hours. This might not be a big deal in the grander scheme of things but personally I prefer well-lit, airy looking spaces and eateries that fit the bill, such as the one in question, do get my vote when considering going out to eat.
The new branch at Emporium Mall catches the eye from afar with its European style outdoor café seating. It has a larger seating area inside and follows a similar design principle with the signature rattan chairs but with an interesting ceiling look which feels something like modern loft cum industrial. It is a smaller location but offers pretty much the same wonderful menu and good service. But the most aesthetically pleasing part about this location of The Pantry by The Polo Lounge has to be the arresting flooring inside the eatery. It is a more elaborate style of the same but simpler flooring design in front of the menu blackboard at the Mall One location.
I don’t know what this particular flooring style is known as but I do know that this kind of gray, black and off-white tile design was in my maternal grandmother’s home in one of the older parts of Karachi. I believe I’ve seen such flooring in photos of other older Karachi homes too. Full marks to The Pantry by The Polo Lounge for choosing this particular floor design!
Yes The Pantry by The Polo Lounge is undeniably chic in that understated rustic sort of way and what it offers in terms of food is no less elegant. The eatery serves a variety of delicious offerings starting with breakfast. Their English Breakfast Platter consists of a choice of Mushroom Omelette or Herbed Cream Cheese Omelette, baked beans and sausage served with a bread basket. The platter includes an order of waffles served with syrup, all to be washed down with good tea. Other than that you have Eggs Benedict, Granola and Bagels to choose from. My personal favorite is the Herbed Cream Cheese Omelette Platter.
Apart from breakfast, the regular menu at The Pantry by The Polo Lounge is also wonderful and varied; I personally believe that the salads here are this café’s main strength. You have a stunning looking salad counter with various salads placed in pretty Mediterranean style plates and bowls at different heights for added visual appeal. All the salads are fresh and sprightly and contain ingredients ranging from plump couscous and peppery rocket to grilled artichokes and flame roasted peaches and they all pretty much taste amazing. I usually stuff myself with so much of the salads that I hardly have room left for the main course. Hence I almost always end up getting things doggy bagged to take home.
The sandwiches here always hit the spot, especially their hot toasted ones. I adore The Pantry by The Polo Lounge’s Roasted Vegetable Sandwich and have that 9 out of 10 times whenever I’m here. The Herbed Chicken Sandwich and the Beef Brisket Sandwich are quite popular with my family.
The rustic artisan pizzas at The Pantry by The Polo Lounge are some of the best I’ve had in Lahore so far and the Pizza Caponata with grilled aubergine, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, buffalo mozzarella and pesto deserves a special mention. All pizzas are served with fiery chilli oil on the side.
The pastas on the menu include a herby Pesto Fettuccine and a beefy House Special Lasagne – both are deliciously satisfying and perfect when all you need is comforting pasta.
My chicken loving friends can never get enough of The Pantry by The Polo Lounge’s grilled chicken platters and the Herbed Chicken seems to be the most sought after.
The drinks at The Pantry by The Polo Lounge are lovely and they have iced teas, fresh juices, lemonades, a few mocktail type drinks and even sattu! I am particularly fond of their Strawberry Mojito and the pleasantly unusual tasting Caramel Lemonade.
We are usually pretty stuffed by the time we’re done with the savoury part of the menu but since we are dessert fiends, we usually do not leave without partaking of something sweet from the menu.
The desserts are very good at The Pantry by The Polo Lounge and you just cannot make your way past the gorgeous dessert display without shamelessly ogling it and wishing you could have everything from there. Worth mentioning are the mini lemon meringue pies with their flaky crusts and tart lemon filling topped with spiky toasted meringue and so are the generous slices of moist carrot cake, dotted here and there with walnuts and topped with a creamy cream cheese frosting. The tall wedges of sticky toffee date cake are wonderful when dense, comfortingly large slices of treacly cake are called for.
Dessert is almost always accompanied with some strong tea and The Pantry by the Polo Lounge does surprisingly good chai, which was a revelation as it was totally unexpected – many places just don’t get chai right but thankfully the folks here know how to make a reasonably satisfying cup of tea. Bonus marks for the ultra pretty teapots!
With newer additions to the Emporium Mall menu such as the Roast Beef Burger, the Classic Beef Burger and the Mongolian Chicken Rice Bowl, things look promising for The Pantry by The Polo Lounge and for its faithful fan following. Their service is almost always faultless but I was particularly impressed with the welcoming and hospitable staff at the Emporium Mall branch with their smiling faces and pleasant attitude. I hope they stay this way.
As much as I love The Pantry by The Polo Lounge and am happy to see it doing well, the only downside to it is that the main Mall One location (much closer to me hence more accessible than the Emporium Mall one) can get extremely crowded and fairly noisy. I am the sort of person that goes out of their way to avoid crowds and crowded places so this is perhaps the only reason I stay away from it at times. So this popularity thing is a two-edged sword for me – I’m glad when good eateries are drawing in customers but exasperated at the hordes of people crowding around, especially in smaller spaces. That also explains why I don’t have as many photos of the interior of the Mall One location despite it being quite pretty and despite my being there so many times – it is almost always way too crowded.
Other than that, the service is attentive, both the locations are lovely and the food is delicious – what more can one ask for? Kudos to the team behind The Pantry by The Polo Lounge for getting it right nearly every time.
Note: This is not a sponsored post and I was not compensated by The Pantry by The Polo Lounge in any way for it. The views expressed in it are entirely my own based on my experience.