Yes, they have been around for 12 years now... Yes, the name can only have Middle Eastern connotations! And yes, this name is the first to come to mind when listing the options for enjoying Arabic food! Hence, it was rather a pleasant surprise when I stumbled upon the facebook page of Damascus and discovered their now-so-elaborate menu, and other information about the reborn diner. The addition of a separate family area, a whole array of fruity sheesha flavours, and a diverse menu ranging from shawermas and falafel to pizzas and burgers, it all had me intrigued.. And one Friday night, I decided to venture out with my family and find out more about this so-far well-kept secret.
The open-air seating area is now divided into two sections, and one of them is clearly marked as Family Area. Arabic music filled the air making the atmosphere merry and boisterous. Mosquito repellent coils were placed strategically at short distances. Families with children were devouring hearty meals; Old couples were enjoying each other’s company with a reclusive dinner; and young, bubbly youths were having a great time hanging out and sharing sheesha. I at once felt drawn into the inviting, cheerful and spirited setting.
Very interestingly, the menu is printed on waterproof material and pasted on the tables. We decided to go for the Furrouge platter and a Chicken Shawerma from the traditional Arabic cuisine, and from the new menu additions, we opted for their famous Beef Burger – aptly called ‘What a Burger!’, and the Crust Filled Pizza – the pioneer one in the city as per their own claim. Despite not having a single empty table, the service was delightfully swift and efficient – the food was literally served in a jiffy!!!
The Furrouge platter was not only a thing of beauty – flame grilled whole chicken cut into eight pieces sat aesthetically in the middle of a sectioned serving tray with the sides of hummus, moutabal, tabouleh, garlic sauce, and four pita breads – it was also scrumptiously satisfying to the palate! The Chicken Shawerma encased a huge helping of chicken pieces and pickles smothered in Damascus garlic sauce, and was fresh and juicy.
As much as we enjoyed the traditional Middle Eastern entrees, we were rather taken by surprise by the brilliance of the other two non-traditional items that we ordered. The ‘What a Burger’ Beef Burger is aptly titled because that’s what one exclaims after looking at the sheer size of the burger. The well-seasoned juicy beef patty just melts in the mouth and the crisp vegetables and cheese complement the beef well to make a well-rounded mouthful, although we agreed that the burger bun could be a little softer. The burger is served with fries, cole slaw and a tangy dip, and is a real winner at Rs 275 only.
The other star of the evening – Crust Filled Pizza – exuded a heavenly mix of aromas of cheese, oregano, and other herbs. The crust was crisp and flavoursome and even though it was a mere 7 inch pizza, it weighed a ton with the more-than-generous filling of chicken, cheese, olives and mushrooms. At Rs 325 for the regular size, this entrée is again excellent value for money. There was barely any room left for dessert after we had all stuffed ourselves to the brim and still had a hefty takeaway of the left-over food. Hence, we decided to leave our sweet tooth unappeased, albeit unwillingly. The baklawa and kulfi will merit another trip soon. The menu also offers a host of seafood entrees, of which the latest one is the Prawn Masala Platter, which I am tempted to try on my next visit.
A remarkable and noteworthy feature on Damascus’ menu is the availability of a whole array of gluten-free products ranging from pita bread, pizza, shawerma, mezze and seafood. In addition, they sell gluten-free flour bags, and also prepare gluten-free loaves of bread, choice of biscuits and cakes. Not only that, they provide egg-free, milk-free and sugar-free products as well on order. Damascus is most likely the only restaurant in Pakistan to have such health-related choice of products on offer. I am not much of a Sheesha smoker, but Damascus is surely a sheesha-smoker’s paradise with its 75+ imported flavours and a vast open smoking space. It was interesting to watch a waiter going around the area with a pan of red hot sheesha coals to replace the cooling ones in all sheeshas. However, the management could probably consider demarcating the sheesha smoking area, for the benefit of families with children.
With its lively and festive setting, an elaborate menu, pocket-friendly prices, and efficient service, Damascus has got the right mix of ingredients for a customer-oriented road-side eatery. The excellent quality of food coupled with the value for money will keep taking us back there. Plus there is always the option of home delivery, which, I have found out, is just equally efficient. We wish Damascus the best and hope that they will continue to serve scrumptious, affordable and healthy meals in the years to come.
Posted by Saira Malik on December 25, 2011