Take your pick – Café Indulge vs. Café Malee: poor service vs. bad attitude
By Fareeha Qayoom
oday, I realized, my life is like a soap opera too. I can’t imagine a life less ordinary, but apparently, I am a “character,” – an observation made by a close relative. She told me if she could write a book, she would write one about our family. I didn’t think there was anything remarkable about our family or indeed our life, but today, I realized, it’s actually a very acute observation. A story about a life in Pakistan would make a very interesting book. Every day, something strange happens here.
My sister and I had a GT planned with a friend of ours. This particular GT was to celebrate her birthday. We picked her up around 2:00 pm. unfortunately; we couldn’t decide where to go for lunch. My sister suggested we get “Wok Chicken,” or Chicken Karahi in local parlance from a Desi place. My friend wanted to pick up a sandwich; she didn’t want heavy food that would take too long to cook. We had a hair appointment at 3:00 and we had to do lunch in an hour.
Finally, after much back and forth, we decide to drop by at Malee’s café. They had a lunch deal offer…
“Buy one pizza and you get 50 percent discount on a second pizza,” said a sign so, by rights if you buy two pizzas the third pizza should be totally free. (Since the size had not been mentioned. It had to apply to all items on the menu). We wanted three small pizzas – one for each of us. The staff at Malee including the manager couldn’t understand this simple illustration of basic math. Even, I got it. And I am pretty bad at math. So, we decided to forgo the pleasure of eating at Malee’s café. We didn’t like their attitude – it reeked of dishonesty.
We decided to go to Café indulge instead. It was 2:30 pm. We found parking right in front of KFC luckily for us, even though, the parking space is not enough for two restaurants. Indulge is right next door. The décor and ambiance is average. The menu is unnecessarily fussy and complicated according to my sister. She had seen this program on TV about a restaurant in Hollywood that was set to rights by a world class chef and she remembered this guy’s advice. “There is no need for cumbersome menu full of pictures. Keep it simple and keep it short.” It just makes it difficult to make your choices quickly.
I explained to the waiter that we were in a hurry and to bring our order within 20 minutes please. He said he would take only ten. This was a total over estimation on his part. First of all, this was a ‘sheesha lounge’ as well so a crowd of young people were the only patrons. It was by no means full. You could call it half full. We didn’t see a lot of wait staff but I think they could handle this modest crowd with the number they had.
The prices were reasonable, better than at Malee’s. My sister and friend had ordered “Tandoori Burger,” because my sister was in mood for Karahi. I had ordered a club sandwich. A safe choice – no chef can ruin it no matter what. The service was pretty bad. It took them more than half an hour to serve. The waiter didn’t offer any ketchup with our servings. He brought the Tandoori burgers first; then, our drinks. However, it took him a good fifteen minutes to bring my order after he had brought theirs. In the meantime, my friend decided to go and make her presence felt at the counter. The waiter took exception. He literally banged the ketchup on our table. A few minutes later, my order followed. We were running late. We quickly ate our lunch. I decided to pack mine and take it with me. My friend left only minimum tip for the waiter. She wasn’t in the mood to reward bad behavior.
Overall, the food is not that fast. The prices are comparatively reasonable. The chef is not exceptional, his work is quite average. The ambiance is about average too. The crowd is all young students and professionals from nearby offices. The choice of background music is eclectic. They do have a backup power supply for load-shedding but it kicks in with a pause.
So is it a great place? Only if you are on a tight budget; by the way, it wouldn’t have taken Bundu Khan that long to serve Chicken Karahi and they serve bigger crowds, even at lunch time. So my sister felt kind of vindicated.