Ambiance & Décor
Launched in 2011, Charcoal is an upscale restaurant located on the emerging and popular food street on the Do Darya belt in Phase 8, DHA. Situated along the coast, the restaurant’s unique ambiance with its nautical décor and scenic ocean view is its strongest point.
Spread over two levels, the restaurant offers mainly open air seating with white cushy sofas and dark wooden furniture strewn over the wooden deck.
Add to that the soothing sound of the Arabian Sea singing its sweet lullaby and you have the perfect setting for a rendezvous with family and friends. The management has also installed two large projector screens so diners can follow their favorite cricket/soccer matches live while enjoying their dinner. You can also order shisha but if you are not a fan, try to get a table on the upper deck which is the unofficial shisha-free zone.
The menu is a true crowd pleaser with something for everyone. Mexican, Italian, Pakistani and Seafood – you name it and they have it!
We decided to go straight for the main course and ordered the Roman Chicken priced at Rs. 765, Ultimate Double Beef Steak for Rs. 725 and the Charcoal Grilled Fish priced at Rs. 725. All prices in the menu are inclusive of tax. The service was sadly very slow and our order came after more than an hour – that too after complaining several times to the maître d’. The only consolation was that the food was served hot and fresh.
The Roman Chicken lived up to its name for it was as majestic in sight as in taste. Covered in a rich layer of roasted cheese and Italian bread crumbs, the chicken had a glorious topping of tomato sauce, black olives, mushrooms, capsicum and pieces of chicken salami (sausage). The meat was soft and perfectly cooked and every mouthful was a wondrous mix of flavors due to the rich medley of ingredients. A divine mildly spicy green chutney, creamy mashed potatoes topped with spring onion and sautéed spicy carrots and zucchini made up the sidelines. The serving size was huge and could easily have been shared by two people.
The Ultimate Double Beef Steak (medium well) was juicy and served sizzling hot. Rich black pepper sauce coated one half of the steak while a creamy tarragon sauce coated the other half. The helping was a little on the smaller side but the steak was well marinated and tasted ambrosial. The sidelines included sautéed tomatoes and onions, mashed potatoes and green chutney.
The Charcoal Grilled Fish was another delight with the fish fillet pan fried and marinated in yogurt, ginger, garlic and spices. Seasoned with cocktail sauce and fresh lemon juice, the fish seemed to have been marinated for a long time with the combination of flavors springing in your mouth like fireworks. The entrée was served with fresh coleslaw, sautéed zucchini and carrots, baked potatoes and the trademark green chutney.
To compensate for the slow service, the maître d’ offered our table four scoops of complimentary ice cream. The chocolate and vanilla flavored ice cream topped with chocolate sauce was surprisingly not the usual milk ice cream that we were expecting but a version of the local Peshawari ice cream available all over the city. It tasted fresh but was not a hit given its characteristic desi taste.
We decided to give the dessert section another go and ordered the Malt Cake priced at Rs. 295. The warm chocolate cake served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream was to put it mildly – sheer disaster. The cake was raw and powdery from inside and was inedible. The vanilla ice cream was the same Peshawari edition that we had been hoping to avoid and to add to our misgivings, a shard of thick plastic was found inside the cake! Suffice to say we decided to go without dessert after that.
Hit or miss? A hit!
Charcoal’s picturesque location, exhaustive menu and liberal serving sizes make it an ideal hangout spot for young and old alike. The speed of service and quality of desserts need to be improved though. Also, separate sections for smoking and non-smoking, installment of water lights to improve the view at night, availability of Wi-Fi and the option of paying one’s bill through credit/debit cards would go a long way in pleasing the restaurant’s growing clientele.
My rating for Charcoal BBQ N Grill is 3.5/5.