Most restaurants in Pakistan, especially Lahore, operate on one theory: the more you have on the menu, the better it will be.
Dock 27 sounds like a seafood joint and looks like one too… or does it? Nevermind, it’s complicated.
The base of any chef, any restaurant or any food, is the basics. Books for professional chefs, bibles of food pairings, all emphasise the utmost importance of the basic commandments, which when perfected, are what the finer, complex ideas should stand on.
Dock 27 is as confused as the “About Us” section they have posted on their Facebook page.
The words, that jump at you from their Facebook page, don’t mean anything when put together. “Deepwater expeditions,” “Drifts and Jolts under the dark eclipse,” “journeys with dancing dolphins” and ultimately a “nautical hub” bistro. What did it all mean? I couldn’t tell.
Dock 27, a “worldly” restaurant in Lahore Defence, simply put, focuses on seafood, but also on cuisine from around the world. From Thai green curries to NY Strips, Italian pasta to Chinese stir-fried beef, it’s as if the owner and chef sat down and decided to make everything: because excess is always good, isn’t it?
Not spoilt for choice, but feeling overwhelmed, my dinner partner and I asked the courteous waiter for his recommendations. In the dim lighting, I could barely see his face but appreciated the impeccable service. We ordered two mains on his recommendations.
It is incredible how something as basic as BBQ sauce can save a restaurant’s review.
What a BBQ sauce. The Tampa Chicken is grilled chicken slathered in shiny BBQ sauce, a bone dry potato mash (that I sent back) and decently grilled vegetables. The flavour was spot on, with the perfect balance of ketchup, Worchestershire and the tartness of what tasted like imli. Another bowl of the sauce was requested and dumped on everything else. Including the second main, the penne pasta with chicken and mushrooms in a creamy sauce. It elevated everything that touched it.
The al dente penne pasta had a solid flavour with and the right basics — decent white sauce, perfectly seasoned…but that was it. After a few luxurious bites, it became a little one-note — until I took a journey under the dark eclipse and mixed it with some BBQ sauce, licking the bowl clean.
Singing praises of the sauce, I left thinking that I will not return again. The dim interior, the confused setting, and the loud music left me feeling disoriented. But I would definitely send someone to pick up anything with extra BBQ sauce.
There was a time, not very long ago when the only bread we found in our cities was Dawn ki white wali bread. Foreign sounding breads weren’t available in Pakistan until they came with a big bang.
Loafology in Islamabad took the lead when it comes to producing the best bread in Pakistan. And as an avid bread finder and baker, I say that with full authority. There is no better multigrain bread in the country than the one at this bakery-cafe.
Making bread is a real art. After spending a week of learning how to make bread in a bakery in small-town France, I quickly realised that it isn’t an art. Its downright precision. The ingredients, the temperature, humidity, space where it’s kept varies from bread to bread. Writing on a small note pad as a young Frenchman explained with gestures and broken English on what temperature to keep for which bread, I felt small in the even smaller white space.
I am not a fan of their popular brioche and sourdough bread but their raisin and walnut bread and the eight-grain bread will take your breath away. So much so that you’ll be sure to buy the bread in bulk and lug it back to your city, freezing it for a month, cutting a piece every day and hoping it lasts forever.
Its not always the bread that makes the sandwich. It might be the core of a good breakfast or sandwich but if the other ingredients don’t hold up, it can’t be the only saviour. Sadly, Loafology’s breakfast and sandwiches have never done their bread justice.
The interior is quaint, a guaranteed hit with foreigners and aunties out for a lunch. Bright and happy, it reflects the openness of Islamabad and the joy of the abroad. But the food stops short of being good. The Loafology Omelette walks the bland line and bite after bite, falls into the land of no salt and the slow-cooked shredded beef needed more BBQ sauce. While the food has all the elements needed, it just doesn’t match up to the mark – not once but a few times.
Regardless, we will all keep going back. For the bread, for the happy ambiance and the joy of knowing you can freeze the bread and let it linger for a month or more.