CTC and Espresso, Lahore – Where Coffee Shops are Diners.

My worst fooding review, yet.

Not that I mind what the title says. I love how when you walk into some of the major coffee shops in Lahore, you’re not only presented with a coffee menu but a full-on food menu having everything from soups and steaks to burgers, sandwiches and wings. I’m not a coffee person. I’m a chai person. I live on chai. When I’m sad, I have doodh patti. When I’m happy, I have masala chai. When I’m meh, I have simple home-made chai. Despite my chai-lurve, I practically live at two of my favorite coffee shops in Lahore. Here’s to CTC and Espresso, coffee places that had a review coming from me but I never got to it.

CTC – Coffee, Tea and Company – Established 2003

My attachment with CTC goes back to 2003 when I was studying for my A-levels and spent a few hours every week at the place. And then to 2006 when I started my Psychology degree. That was before the ridiculous increase in the prices of practically everything at CTC. In those days *distant Bollywood-style look*, you could get a huge cold sandwich at CTC for Rs. 70. You could get a super-loaded pizza slice and their amazing lemon iced-tea, all for Rs. 110 All their cold sandwiches are now priced at around Rs. 250. And a glass of lemon iced-tea now costs Rs. 160. Add a few more rupees for more flavors. Times have changed.

What makes me go back to CTC still is their amazing food menu though. If you’re looking for the biggest and most amazing hot-sandwiches served in baked-in-house bread with a dollop of battered fries and assorted dips to choose from, this is the place to be. Their Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich has become staple food for me. A picture is attached to help your virtual foodgasm. It’s an old picture, I know, but the sandwich is the same. Trust me. o.o

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich

Other items on the menu that are worth trying:

1. Cannelloni Pasta (Rolled-up pasta stuffed with seasoned chicken, covered with a light, creamy tomatoeish sauce)

2. Chicken Pepper Steak Sandwich (The Lahori favorite *heh* Pepper Steak, in a Sandwich)

3. Chilli Cheese Fries (Fries, loads of cheese, loads of Jalapeno. So addictive that you can’t stop having them and you can’t stop crying because they’re THAT hot)

4. Chicken Quesadilla (4 chicken tortilla wraps served with actually fresh salsa)

5. Try their coffees too. They make a beautiful Cappuccino and their Hot Chocolates are friggin’ rich and a treat during winters. I was never a Starbucks person, so yeah, avoid the over-priced Starbucks menu heh.

What about other items to avoid though? Never, I say NEVER try a steak at CTC. You can try it though if you’re used to having paper-thin pieces of chicken or beef that taste like isphagol. Sorry, couldn’t come up with a blander tasting example. Do NOT try their breakfast. They say they serve bacon. That’s what they call 2 strips of fat on a plate. I wouldn’t pay poop-loads for a plate of eggs and toast in Lahore anyway. No thanks, I don’t want that complimentary glass of Nestle orange juice.

The service at CTC could keep you going back too. They’ve got really friendly waiters who remember your order most of the time and serve with a smile. One of them looks like Saeed Anwar. He’s adorable. One of them, Irfan, left the place and started working as a manager at Yasir Broast, Johar Town (LMAO). One of the managers, Sohail, is a really great guy and always at hand when you need something extra or for suggestions and complaints. You can spot him by his sharp, shiny head and frenchie.

Espresso

Passion Fruit Ice

Ahh, dear Espresso, home is where the tummy is babe, and you, my favorite coffee place, is what I call home. The first time I visited Espresso was around a year ago when they had recently opened up in Lahore after several successful years in Karachi. I immediately filled the form for a Loyalty Card (the card is brown and is sexy) that allows me to accumulate points on it. When I have more than 150 points, I CAN HAZ FREE FOOD. What could be better than that? I’ve had numerous free coffees and drinks at Espresso. One time I redeemed around 800 points. That was bloody amazing.

I love Espresso because of the amazingly cozy feel the place has. The whole theme is brown and the back panel of the whole place is not a wall but a back-lit abstract display that helps light the place, still managing to keep the place dimly-lit, enough so you can watch what you’re eating, not enough to make out. With food or whatever.

Again, I’ve been coming here for the food. Food you must try here:

1. CLT Sandwich (Chicken, Lettuce and Tomato in nice fresh baguette. The chicken is pretty spicy. Coconuts beware heh.)

2. Chicken Alfredo (The famous Alfredo pasta. They make it real good here. Seriously. Served with Garlic Bread). Also try their Chicken Fajita. It comes with dips and tortilla and everything.

3. Passion Fruit Ice (I love this. I simple LOVE this. More probably because it brings back sweet memories ahum. But it is really pretty good. Also try their Strawberry Ice.)

4. Starter Platter (Potato Skins, Chicken Strips, Mozzarella Sticks and Buffalo Wings served with Sour Cream, Cheese Dip and Hot Sauce). This almost totally matches the popular sexy starter platter I had at TGI Fridays in Dubai once. Yes, this is actually that good.

What not to order? NEVER order their Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. No words for it. Never order the Kiwi Ice.

Ahh that’s it I guess. When I started writing this, I had a lot on my mind. I actually love these places and can be found at either one of them almost every day of the week LOL. But there’s still a lot left to say. I want you people, my readers, to contribute. Comment on what your favorite coffee places are and why. Comment on food or drinks you liked at CTC and Espresso, or whatever.  Comment if you want directions or more information. I’m done here. Eventually, I’d always prefer Caribou if it opened up in Lahore, probably because of all the time I spent there with Sandora. They have the best Chai Tea Latte (heh-fancy-shmancy-name-for-masala-chai-win) and a nostalgic Passion Fruit Green Tea. *drools*

Bye for now. Make fun of my writing skills. Make fun of my blog. I’m not at my regular foodie self today. X|

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