Café Chatterbox, Zamzama, is my second home

The Karachi-based café consistently serves seasonal food that nurses the soul

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From the onset I would like to warn you that this might come across as a biased review, but an eatery that goes above and beyond to serve its longstanding, returning customers calls for a special shout-out. It’s become one of those restaurants I turn to when I want to unwind because it is reliable when it comes to simple, seasonal food and more importantly for me, it is child-friendly.

After its ‘recent’ revamp, Café Chatterbox, the outlet tucked strategically at the end of one of Zamzama’s busy lanes, has secured its place firmly in the café space that took the city by storm less than a decade ago. It is quaint, cozy without feeling too confined and the shared space with Pie in the Sky gives it the day-long aroma of freshly baked goodies. For me, the ideal set-up has become a home away from home, as my vast photo album documenting numerous past visits will testify.

The first signs of hospitality at Chatterbox are their complimentary bread baskets. Their crunchy breadsticks are good at triggering hunger and conversation. But over time their generosity with the bread has really burnt out. After being introduced to their buttery knotted dinner rolls and soft brown buns, I really felt their absence this time.

Bread Basket

I must confess, I am a sucker for salads and the Chatterbox Special Salad has been my go-to starter every time I visit because it’s got the right amount of greens and protein to leave one thoroughly satisfied. However, during my recent drop in over the weekend, I gave their strawberry salad with feta cheese and candied walnuts a try. As delicious as it sounded and tasted, the portion did not justify the price. The strawberries were so thinly sliced and scanty that when paired with the iceberg lettuce and rocket their sweet, acidic flavour was hard to discern. I wouldn’t call it a complete disappointment though because the sharp vinaigrette and salty, crumbly feta still kept it interesting. But it’s definitely not a salad I’d go back for.

On the other hand, their Thai sweet potato soup was a rich, golden concoction of soul-soothing goodness. It was a luscious creamy texture yet gentle on the stomach and packed an extra spicy punch with finely sliced red chilies which served well as garnish only. Served with a side of toasted, buttery garlic bread it’s a must-try on their ever-changing seasonal menu.

Thai sweet potato soup

This time I was also greeted by an additional third menu dedicated to dishes for children. It listed a handful of shrunk-down versions of finger food for smaller appetites. After consulting with my two year old and double-confirming with her, I went ahead and ordered the mini beef cheeseburger with fries. At nearly half the price of its regular-sized counterpart it was a real kid-pleaser with plenty of fries and a well seasoned ground beef patty nestled under a slice of melting cheese. Its true test of taste was in the fact that my daughter worked her way through half the burger and most of the thick, fluffy fries.

My child has always had a swaying good time at the café courtesy the rocking horse at hand and the few children’s books they stock on a shelf at the back of the restaurant. Sadly, the children’s books were missing this time. She has also landed a few admirers who serve her a delicately crafted chocolate spoon with a side of biscuits every time she makes an appearance there.

For a parent and a foodie, what more could I ask for?