While Islamabad is experiencing a mushroom growth of eateries, fine dine restaurants are still quite few in comparison to informal burger joints, pizza parlous and desi fast food places.
So, when a pan-European restaurant by the name of Petit Brugge opened its doors to the residents of Islamabad a couple of months ago, I was very excited to experience what it had to offer, both in terms of food and ambiance. I finally had my wish granted a few days ago and merrily climbed the exquisite staircase at the restaurant’s entrance to make my way into Petit Brugge.
Once inside, the first thing that caught my attention was the regal details of the interior. From the subtle colored walls to the colorful wall-hangings and from the chandeliers to the candles perched on each table, the place was alive with the romantic vibes associated with Europe.
A party of three, we were escorted to a table towards the center-left of the large dining area. Once seated, we almost immediately began scanning the menu to find delicacies most suited to our taste buds.
A very well-trained attendant arrived at our table when we were ready to place the order. He was pleasant, extremely helpful and most importantly, able to describe in detail the taste of every item on the menu. Relying partially on his input and partially on instinct, we ordered a two-persons’ serving of Finger Foods for starters and Chicken Schnitzel, Hungry Henrietta and Spaghetti Quarto Formagio for the main course.
The starter offered an array of fried items including calamari, prawns, cheese croquettes, chicken nuggets and french fries. The seafood was good while the rest of the items were strictly okay.
Once the main course arrived, each of of us spent the first few minutes savoring our entrees in silence, allowing our palate to register the taste without any distractions.
While Chicken Schnitzel (i.e. two pieces of chicken fillet coated with bread crumbs and served with a side of vegetables, chasseur sauce and french fries) and Hungry Henrietta (a beef burger) seemed decent tasting at first, their marginal utility quickly diminished and even though we weren’t full, less than halfway through our meal, we had lost the motivation to eat further.
Spaghetti Quarto Formagio, on the other hand was a miserable failure from the first mouthful. No ingredient particularly stood out and it tasted, at best, like almost boiled pasta folded into a bland cheesy sauce.
Now, I say this fully aware of and thankful for being able to afford expensive food in a world where many struggle to put together a single meal after a long, hard day’s work. However, this is a review and I feel obligated to be honest. And the honest truth is that the food was entirely forgettable; it lacked the oomph and the tantalizing effect that motivates a group of foodies to become loyal customers.
That said, the quality of ingredients and the serving size, were both quite decent.
What stood out more than anything else, however was the service. From the guard at the entrance to the ushers to the attendants and waiters, the service was impeccable. The staff was extremely polite, prompt and ever available to ensure that the customers had nothing to complain about. If I could afford, I would have tipped the staff as much as the total bill rather than a percentage of it.
On the whole, Petit Brugge lives up to the expectations that one has from a fine dine restaurant as far as the ambiance and service are concerned but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the food it serves.