Karachi has historically been the testing ground for restaurant franchises mushrooming in Pakistan. Whether it’s a café or the swankiest of patisseries, if it runs in the metropolis, it’s bound to go viral! Now, testing those waters is yet another international eatery, Esquires Coffee.
Based out of New Zealand, the café’s branch in Karachi has recently popped up on the once extremely-popular Zamzama Boulevard and is located a few shops away from Arizona Grill. If you don’t have a sharp eye, there’s a chance you may just miss it.
Adorned in shades of whites, metallic greys and shades of blue with small knick-knacks and memorabilia scatterered around, the hipster-inspired café is divided into two floors – a smaller sitting space downstairs, and a proper café/boulangerie upstairs.
The menu too, is thus, quite urban-chic, going with the theme. Divided between organic teas and coffees – two things the franchise boasts as its most important selling items, along with breads, appetizers, mains, desserts, and drinks, Esquires Coffee’s menu is standard fare to anything one may find these days. Of course, with prices on the steeper side.
From their rather underwhelming lunch options in the menu – which doesn’t showcase variety in regards to protein choices – we selected the Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Alfredo Fettuccine, Lemon Chicken Fusilli, Pain Au Chocolat, and Italian Chicken Dippers to try out.
Starting off with the mains (which ironically, came before the Chicken Dipper appetizer), the Grilled Chicken Sandwich may have looked appetizing, but lacked major innovation in its taste. Made in a Panini-like bread, the sandwich could be just another meal you could make at home. It really has to hurt if one makes something as simple as a sandwich into an unwanted item. That being said, the fries served with it may have been a saving grace – but when are chips ever bad?
Moving onto the plates of pasta – which again, we had the littlest of options to choose from – seriously lacked love. While the Fettuccine still had a creamy base in its otherwise standard taste, the Fusilli was off-putting due to it being extremely al-dente (we mean it!) and lacking any sort of sauce, whatsoever. We truly wondered if adding a litre of olive oil was considered having a base at Esquires Coffee?
The appetizer and bread, which as we mentioned, arrived even after the mains, were again average at best. While the Chicken Dippers were still enjoyable due to their crisp coating and four dipping sauces, the Pain Au Chocolat was unappealing, despite being fresh out of the oven.
After a meal that truly lacked any imagination, we still couldn’t end the day without coffee and drinks, of course. Trying out the Matcha Lemonade, Latte, and Americano, we were unsure why Esquires Coffee was ‘famous’ for its beverages. Apart from the Matcha Lemonade, which was still palatable, the Americano and Latte were anything but nice.
Overall, for the amount being paid, we really wish that this international franchise plays to its international standard. Although we’ve heard rave reviews about their breakfast, we really wish we had the same to say about their standard lunch menu. Is paying close to PKR 5000 for less-than-average food justified? We don’t believe so! It’s like any other coffee shop.
Food Taste: 4/10
Food Pricing: 6/10