The ornately-decorated Lakhnavi, located next to the beautiful helix-plexiglass staircase suspended above a centre courtyard water-feature, is perhaps the most elegant restaurant in Lahore, serving Mughal-inspired Lakhnavi cuisine.
We started off with:
- Makai ki Roti (cornmeal flatbread), served with tamarind, mint, and sweet green papaya chutney dips. Fried in ghee, it's denser and chewier than chapati. The version here was also spiked with very spicy green chilis.
- Jaam-e-Jam: cold milk flavoured with cardamom and cloves, served in earthenware vessel, was refreshing and a perfect start to the meal.
- Murgh o Baadaam: intensely-flavoured chicken broth, flavoured with almond & saffron, with delicate pea-sized chicken meatballs. One of the best soups I'd had this year!
- Kaakori Kabaab: smoked beef with cardamom, clove and dried rose petals, with saffron; the beef mixture was finely hand-chopped till pate-like, before being charcoal-grilled - the Pakistani version was decidedly more refined and subtly-flavoured compared to the cardamom-heavy renditions I'd had in the Taj Hotel chain's fine dining restaurants in India in the past.
- Murgh e Bay Misal: described in the menu as chicken in a lustrous tomato, onion and garlic curry with a dash of yoghurt, seasoned with cinnamon, clove and tandoori spices. I found it pretty standard, and had hoped it would be more fascinating.
- Sultaani Daal: Avadhi specialty of slow-cooking Arhar-daal in fresh tomatoes and garlic, finished with white yoghurt - another average-tasting daal dish, albeit slightly over-salted. Nowhere near the ITC Group's famous Daal Bukhara in Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore.
- Qandhari Naan: Whole wheat bread with a sprinkling of pistachio, almonds and raisins, baked in clay tandoor. Nice and fluffy.
- Shahi Tukra: Golden-fried bread soaked in milk & syrup, served with saffron-infused "rabhri" (caramelised sweetened, condensed kil), garnished with almonds, pistachio and "chandi ke varaq" (edible silver foil). It's light and not overly-sweet like most desserts in Lahore, where the locals have a sweeter tooth compared to Pakistanis in other regions.
Exceptionally professional and very efficient service - the wait-staff were confident and conversed very well, and able to make good recommendations.
Avari Hotel Lahore
87 Shahrah-e Quaid-e-Azam
Lahore 54000, Pakistan
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