Why should we compromise on taste, freshness, or even temperature, when resorting to home delivery? For that matter, does service matter less if a customer chooses to eat at home or office, rather than dining at a restaurant? A long time ago Karachi food culture embraced the principle of maintaining quality on all fronts regardless of where the meal was being consumed. While delivery is common throughout major Pakistani cities (and a number of smaller ones too), the City by the Sea leads the pack with restaurants that specialize in home delivery, some choosing to eschew dine-in entirely.
While it may be a relatively new addition to this growing movement, Rowtisserie has come to epitomize this approach to food. For a moderate price, prompt delivery will bring food that can easily compete with many restaurants. The variety of options on the menu is admirable, but what you really should be coming for, time and again, is the specialty; chicken, rotisserie or flame grilled, with a smorgasbord of side dishes and sauces that will satisfy any palate.
They keep it simple with the rotisserie chicken; seasoning is subtle, and for the most part the skin retains its integrity through the delivery process, no doubt thanks to the care given to packaging. The thick Garlic Sauce included with your order will add a pleasing cool pungency to the order, and the combination of spice and sauces in the Row Sauce adds more complex flavour. For those requiring something with more zing, for a little extra cost there’s the Sculler Sauce, with a distinct essence making its way through fiery hotness.
The accompanying serving of tabouleh is enjoyable for its freshness, even if it is a bit small. The pita is great, particularly the brown variety.
The flame-grilled chicken is perfectly charred, adding depth of flavour without overwhelming the senses, basted in a sauce that complements the chicken admirably (available in mild or hot flavors).
As good as the chicken is, it’s also easy to be distracted by the side orders. My personal favorite is the New Potatoes, baked with butter and dill, a bit of the crunch sacrificed in delivery, but none of the flavour; quality still impressive after many city miles. Skippers Corn avoids the sogginess of so many similar servings, allowing one to actually taste the corn with its firmness thankfully intact.
Both the corn and the potatoes are among several options that one can choose from when ordering the combination deals, which offer considerable value, even though Rowtisserie isn’t the most economical of options, delivery or otherwise. A reasonably light lunch will run 600-700 with about two sides and a drink, while a heavier meal at dinner is closer to 1,000 per person, which will include several sides and dessert as well, along with soft drinks.
Other side options include well-prepared garlicky green beans, rather good curly fries, and pleasing Row Fries.
The falafel could be a small meal in itself, and at a cost of 375 is among the thriftier but also wholesome menu selections. That price will buy you four fried crispy balls of ground chickpeas over a bed of chopped veg.
No indulgent meal is complete without dessert, and this is particularly true of Rowtisserie. The Double Chocolate Tart is a slice of sinfully rich decadence, worthy of a confessional. The Chocolate Éclair refuses to be outdone; a generous serving that is just as gratifying as the chocolate tart. If you want apple pie, better get it early in the day because it finishes fast, a fair indication of its quality (due to the limited supply, I haven’t yet had a chance to try it myself).
The service is certainly worth a mention as well; while one may be interacting with an employee over the phone, and briefly with a delivery person, the professionalism, efficiency and courtesy exhibited by Rowtisserie employees, such as my order-taker Ahsan, further adds to the satisfaction one feels in patronizing this establishment. I believe it is safe to assume that similar – if not better – service would be forthcoming in the quaint dine-in area (located at 14th Street, off Khayaban-e-Shamsheer, Phase-V, DHA.). Rowtisserie should also be noted for its willingness to deliver over considerable distances, such as West Wharf, without extra charge.
Although delivery time quoted is usually 45-50 minutes, riders often arrive within 30-35. I had forgotten my dessert order the last time I called, and a second delivery was at my door within ten minutes of another call.
Asad Khawaja is a co-moderator of the Pakistan Food Forum Facebook group. He tweets at @asadmkh