It goes without saying that Salt n Pepper has been a part of the oldest and the fondest memories of almost everyone in Lahore who has ever eaten out, for decades now. Mainly, it has been due to their mouth-watering food suited to our Lahori taste, ranging from Burgers, Steaks to Pizza, Handi etc… reasonable prices and a very casual, simple aura.
Couple of weeks ago, I over-heard in sleep, someone in the morning saying, “Oh I so feel like having Stuffed Chicken Breast w/Pineapple Sauce today, been so long” and as soon as I got out of bed, I was sure mom would be asking me to get ready for lunch. Rest I could guess where we would be heading since Stuffed Chicken Breast and Salt n’ Pepper has been synonymous for most, for the longest time. They undoubtedly did it the best. Hence, our soul interest to go there was to have their specialty.
We immediately placed our order without even referring to the menu, but later I went through their ‘better looking’ menu booklet to kill time and was pleasantly surprised to see the upgraded variety. I could see some interesting entrees of Italian cuisine, several new desserts and a lot more. Also, nice additional options of Steak and Stuffed Chicken Breast toppings other than the ages old Black Pepper and Mushroom sauce. I cant recall all of the new ones now but Jalapeno sauce & Teriyaki sauce I bleakly remember. (I didn’t get to try anything new since I was too late to find out) and of course the revised prices were higher too.
It took them longer than they normally did to deliver the order on the table even though it was around 3 p.m. and there were lesser people than usual. Anyways, we finally got to see the lovely sight (only LOOKed good) of our meal. It was after almost a decade that I was having Stuffed Chicken Breast w/pineapple sauce since I had to quit fried food for sometime. (ermmm…QUITE long though) OK NOW, Looking at it closely, I recalled it wasn’t ever this size, smaller now. The baby sized baked potato and a bit of spinach alongside. But ah I couldn’t wait to start anyways so I ignored that. EEE what was that?!!! It was just WARM, not hot. It tasted fine on my first bite, but the immediate after-taste was sooo sooo soo bad. Seemed as if it was fried in an over-used oil…reheated gazillion times!!!! The smell of which took over my senses. Absolutely stale! It was then time to have a dialogue with the manager but all he said was that they used fresh oil everyday and this is how they have been frying always etc etc… but not even once he was courteous to offer a replacement. It was so disappointing as I remember they had the most considerate management always. All he suggested was to pour some more of the pineapple sauce on it, which he said was warmer :S Well? Does it really compensate? Or makes it tastier? Oh well, whatever he was thinking!!!!!
I continued cutting the piece anyways trying to reach the cheese stuffed part of the chicken and hoping it would make it a little more edible. But since the whole thing was soo cold by then that the cheese too wasn’t the same, wasn’t even oozing out like once it used to. It was just a thick slimy stuffing of cheese, like a chewy cheese ball!
I took few bites still and had the baked potato alone.
Then probably the manager felt a little for us and with the bill, brought a complimentary dessert to cheer us up, which was some desi Triffle, tasting equally poor but since it was his ‘better’ gesture, I too had to be nicer and thank him anyways.
It was more of a ‘heart-wrenching’ trauma rather than merely a bad food experience since Salt n Pepper has this very special emotional association for always being such a warm and hospitable place. It’s actually sad to discard Salt n Pepper from the “good memory of the past” factor.