How many of you have pages and pages of take away menus pinned to your refrigerator simply because cooking is so inconvenient when you’re working 9 to 9? That’s a very familiar scenario in modern homes where almost everyone is working and no one wants to be cooking. Now imagine having a dine-out option where food does not directly equate to empty calories hence an unhealthy encroachment of weight.
The petite restaurant opened last week in Karachi and it has been impossible to walk in and breath, let alone instantly eat, thanks to the crowds its drawing in. The attraction, other than Sikander Rizvi’s involvement in the venture (which comes with a quality guarantee), is the promise of relatively healthy and mostly low and moderate calorie food. This is foodie heaven, even if you do indulge in one (or two) of Shamira’s freshly baked chocolate chip cookies that are always sitting on the reception counter.
The Evergreen experience begins with the salad bar, if you so choose it, which allows you to select up to three combinations in one bowl. In two trips we ended up trying all options, finding the Feta and Shitake Mushroom salad as the very best; the balsamic reduction serves the perfect balance of flavours in this one. My second favourite was the Roasted Pumpkin and Quinoa salad, because roasted pumpkin and leafs work so well together. One would recommend the Date and Orange salad to people with a sweet tooth because it is sweet; the orange-fennel dressing on this one is quite sophisticated. For those of you looking to stay within healthy lunch parameters, it’s a good idea to stop at the salad and simply add grilled chicken or steak to the serving for some additional protein.
Evergreen offers a variety of staples including diverse soups and ‘bowls,’ wraps and lean burgers, noodles and zoodles (I’m not a fan of the zucchini noodle) and various curries that come warm or cold.
We tried the Beef Chimichurri Bites as a starter and the quality of beef was really good; these ‘bites’ would serve as a main course if you’re not sharing. The Laksa was exceptional; the coconut curry was well balanced with tender chicken and noodles and the egg was the perfect degree of being fully boiled without being stone hard. Though the Laksa too is listed in Soups and Snacks, it is a wholesome meal.
Evergreen also serves up a mean Caesar Salad wrap, which despite having a green (undoubtedly health infused) wrap, was delicious. You must also try the Asian Sirloin Salad, which also comes as a wrap. We didn’t attempt the burgers on our two visits but did make a mental note of choosing one of the two options – Thai Beef Burger or Greek Chicken Burger – on our next trip. I have to admit that a Thai burger does not sound very comforting.
Red Snapper is the only fish on the menu but it comes in three disguises. We tried the Sesame Crusted Snapper, served with vegetables, and dressed with a soy ginger sauce; it was perfect on our first trip but a little dry on our second. This just goes to show that Evergreen is still in an evolutionary stage and will take a week or two to settle down. The taste of certain things on the menu will also have to be tweaked here and there; I was not a fan of the Coconut Milk Lassi. That may be a taste that you acquire with time or not at all.
Making up for the odd lassi, however, was the absolutely divine slice of flourless, gluten free chocolate cake, which you cannot end a meal without. We ended up ordering a second slice for the table.
For those of you wondering if this restaurant is affiliated with the original Evergreen, the answer is yes, but it has been revived under new management. This Evergreen is owned and managed by one of the older partners, Kamil Rahim, and Sikander Rizvi. Shamira, who’s been affiliated with Café Flo for over a decade, has developed the menu and recipes for the place. This almost certifies that the desserts are irresistible, which ironically also defies the green theme. Whatever you step in for, you’re sure to feel better about life when you leave, which is what good food should aim to do. Comfort food aims for happiness albeit not always weight loss.
- This article was first published in Instep on Sunday