Illy Cafe – From Italy to Lahore, with Failure!

One of the reasons why I stopped going to restaurant and cafe launches is the huge disparity between the food and drinks they serve on a launch versus when you go on a regular basis. Often times, eateries will go out of their way to make sure their food is good for an event, where all sorts of media persons will rant and rave about the “perfect” food they’ve been served. You go a week later, and your experience will be radically different, in a bad way. I, thus, feel cheated.

I feel that a true opinion of any place can be formed when you visit them outside of these “launches” and “events” as that would reflect truly on how the eatery serves the public at large.

I am also a stubborn person. I insist on visiting new places because I feel like they need to be given a chance. These budding entrepreneurs make a huge effort to bring in international brands to Lahore to give us foodies a variety of options. My friends tell me to stop trying out new places, but I insist. However, of late, my experiences of dining out in Lahore have been more of a miss than a hit.

Illy cafe, unfortunately, joins the list of eateries to miss in Lahore. Which is really disappointing as I’ve been to Illy Cafe in London and Dubai, and their standard is impeccable. I fail to understand why they cannot maintain those same standards here. This adds to my frustration of dining out in Lahore (and yes, I am to be blamed for insisting on trying out these new places!)

After my experience, it’s become clear where things go wrong.

One, the chef that Illy Cafe has hired has been from another restaurant, for the food we ate was strikingly similar to the other restaurant (the food has also been modified to cater to the local Pakistani taste buds, which defeats the purpose of opening up an Italian-oriented coffee shop), and two, there is a skill in making coffees. One undergoes extensive training to make coffee the proper way. Illy Cafe may have the coffee beans and mixture, but it’s the technique of making the coffee that makes or break the deal!

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Don’t fall for this history– the impeccable standards that Illy is known for is absent in Lahore!

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In all honesty, the bread were the highlight of our meals- soft, warm and fresh.
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Crispy Fried Prawns- neither were they crispy nor were they filling. A poor choice.
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Mediterranean Chicken– the ‘exotic spices’ were very ‘Pakistani’ in flavors. I felt like I was eating this piece from Cafe Aylanto!
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Chicken Roulade- nothing to write home about. Ultimately, both these meals were left aside and had to be packed!

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The interiors didn’t invoke the feeling of a standard Illy Cafe abroad. It felt like a very sub-standard cafe.
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I liked the cup– but didn’t really feel the hug!

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