THE Lahore café and deli on Burley Road, Leeds, is part of a burgeoning chain founded by two Bradford brothers.
Ostensibly inspired by the food and culture of the city of Lahore in Pakistan, this eatery does offer a whole range of South Asian classics, but also a plethora of dishes from across the world.
Parathas, pakoras and a variety of curries and sub-continental street foods sit alongside grills, burgers, milkshakes, smoothies and the full array of American diner staples.
There are also steaks, paninis, stir fries, and, if you fancy a home-cooked British classic, there’s even Shepherd’s Pie.
For the sweet-toothed, there is a speciality ‘school pudding’ dessert offer including cornflake tart and jam roly poly. Oh, and don’t forget the Italian Gelato ice-creams. Phew! It’s great to have choice, but there is such a thing as too much of it.
Little Oliver popped in on a weekday evening for an express meal.
The bright exterior of the café is inviting, and will definitely draw in lots of passing trade. I imagine residents of the nearby student heartland love this place. The extended opening hours - til midnight on weekdays - and citywide delivery via zippy, branded smartcars are also very convenient.
The service was immaculate from the off, with smiling, attentive staff, and we loved the colourful decor and branding.
There is a limited amount of seating, but the booths were spacious and comfortable. The ultra-loud music blaring out from the TV on the wall was a bit off-putting.
I opted for the Chicken Tortilla Panini (£2.95). This unusual sandwich was a toasted Mexican tortilla wrap filled with a mixture of chargrilled shredded chicken breast with onions, peppers and melting mozzarella cheese. I liked the spicing, which was not too powerful, but found the texture of the chicken a little odd. The idea of a thinner wrap as a grilled sandwich was good, great for those wanting a lighter sandwich. My side dish of onion rings was crispy and delicious. I also liked my crunchy side salad, although it could have done with some dressing.
My supremely carnivorous companion could not resist the chargrilled beef steak (£12.95) which was advertised as a juicy 8oz sirloin steak, marinated and chargrilled “the way you want it”.
Unfortunately the steak was a disappointment – dry, overcooked and with burnt bits on the side. It was not a nice way to treat a prime piece of meat. My companion liked the accompanying creamy pepper sauce and his chunky steak cut chips. But he felt the additional side dishes – mash and vegetables – were bland and unnecessary. The serving style was also not great, with everything piled high and the mash buried under the chips.
There is plenty to like about this café, not least its crowd-pleasing ethos, attractive branding and great service. But it’s still a work in progress.
Sometimes fusion can become confusion, as is the case here. Perhaps it’s time to do fewer things, and do them really well, rather than serving up a mountain of mediocrity.
Rating (out of 5): ***