Lahore’s culinary palette seems to have halted in dimly lit Chinese restaurants serving another rendition of manchurian or overly industrial cafes with ambiance better than the coffee they serve.
There is no denying Lahore does not suffer for a lack of decent dine-outs, but at the same time, everything seems done and dusted; different eateries serving the same spices and ingredients repackaged into slightly different versions of the same old dishes.
The hype around Dalston House has been building slowly; its Instagram feed advertises, a calming neutral platte and a plethora of high-profile guests including celebrities and influencers.
My initial expectation of Dalston House was that of another high-end restaurant which had higher Instagram appeal than it had grit (and taste). But the Dalston House experience was one full of pleasant surprises and comforts.
Nested in-between houses in Gulberg, Dalston House’s white exterior looks calming from the get go. The outdoor courtyard space is decorated sparsely with marble top tables, wooden chairs, the occasional plant and a rustic finish which is just rustic enough without being overwhelming.
The interior of Dalston House boasts cool grey concrete floors, stark white leather upholstery and deep wooden accents, but what stands out the most are the tall windows looking out into the courtyard.
The small comforts are undeniable; the tables are well spaced out affording privacy, the chairs are extremely comfortable (letting you sink in for a truly self-indulging experience) and the music isn’t loud enough to hinder conversation. From sparse furniture placement to unobtrusive branding, Dalston House has mastered the art of minimal tasteful decor.
The basic home cooked daal chawal is an established feel good meal, but who would have known rice and lentils could be elevated to such an exquisite level.
Served cold, this dish is a mix of organic brown rice, lentils, chickpeas, fresh tomatoes, onions, cucumber and pomegranate molasses. The zing of lemon zest and a sprinkling of feta cheese cubes completes the dish. Every bite tastes different depending on which vegetable you fork up with the rice and lentils.
A clearly noticeable difference is the decision to keep the garnishing simple and allowing the taste of the ingredients to stand out; something which is reflected in every dish from the entrees to the main courses.
By avoiding simple mistakes and focusing on what truly matters, Dalston House has achieved giving its clients an experience they won’t forget anytime soon and one which they’ll definitely be returning for.