Looking for love, Ause Abdelhaq may have met the dish of his dreams in Kinara Kitchen.
IF you’re like me, you’ll probably spend this Valentine’s Day sitting in your room watching 500 Days of Summer on a loop, eating ice cream and wondering why nobody will ever love you. Of course, we’re not all so lucky, so for this issue we here at the Observer decided to bring a little romance to the restaurant review – you know, in case you do have someone special to share the day with.
When it comes to romantic restaurants in Dublin, there is no shortage of choice. Walking down George’s Street, every second door leads to a dimly-lit, intimate eatery where the food is expensive and the wine is incomprehensible. However, if you’re yet to choose a nice place to bring your beau, and you’re getting worried, don’t fret – we’ve got you covered. Last week, in anticipation of the big day, I took a trip to Kinara Kitchen in Ranelagh, on the lookout for a romantic meal at a reasonable price.
From the outset, I expected to spend more money than I usually do – there was no surprise when I looked down at the menu and saw main courses costing around €20. Unfortunately, with great quality comes great cost and the honest truth is that you’re unlikely to find somewhere to bring your significant other which doesn’t set you back around €50. That said, there are some restaurants that are worth it, and thankfully, Kinara Kitchen is a restaurant that’s definitely worth it.
“The lamb was succulent, and the mint sauce perfectly complemented the meat.”
They manage to provide an authentic, satisfying experience of Pakistani cuisine while still keeping their prices at a reasonable rate – for the most part. For my starter, I ordered the Champ Kandhari, which was described on the menu as slowly-chargrilled lamb chops with a side of mint sauce – right up my street.
The starter was simply wonderful. The lamb was succulent, and the mint sauce perfectly complemented the meat. In terms of taste, it was the best dish of the night. However, in terms of quantity, it was horribly disappointing – I got two small lamb chops with enough lettuce and rocket salad to fill up the rest of the plate, which is an indication of cheapness on the part of the owners.
When it came to mains, I ordered the restaurant speciality: the waitress described the Nehari Gosht as the most popular dish. Again, it didn’t fail to impress. The beef was magnificently tender, garnished impeccably and the sauce was light enough not to overwhelm the meat.
My only reservation is that I probably should have ordered something a little more adventurous. While the dish was excellent, it was also exactly what I expected. Some people enjoy knowing precisely what they’re going to eat, but personally I prefer a little uncertainty – simply because you’re never surprised by what you know. It’s important to note that even though the size of the starter was underwhelming, the main course was genuinely too big to finish.
“They manage to provide an authentic, satisfying experience of Pakistani cuisine while still keeping their prices at a reasonable rate.”
There are other aspects of my visit to Kinara Kitchen which stand out as positive: the atmosphere in the restaurant is exceptional, both because of the friendliness of the staff and the lighting used to create a genuinely comfortable mood. Also, the efforts of the owners to cater to those with alternative diets is remarkable; a huge portion of their menu is dedicated to vegetarian options. If you do decide to pay them a visit, order their buttered naan as a side – you won’t be disappointed.
Overall, Kinara Kitchen is a hugely impressive example of Pakistani cuisine done correctly. Though the size of the starter was a disappointment, the restaurant ticks all the right boxes regarding food quality, accessibility and especially atmosphere. Realistically speaking, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, that’s all most couples are looking for and might earn you points for a more original choice of cuisine!