A bit of background on my trip first. My son chose Chicago to celebrate his 14th birthday. I was excited about his decision as Chicago proudly boasts a multitude of gastronomical adventures for all foodies, and it certainly is gorgeous in the summer.
A fellow foodie on my previous visits to Chi-Town had pointed me to Sabri Nehari, located on Devon Avenue, home of Little India. A trek from downtown Chicago, still I was super excited to share this Pakistani eatery with my family. Since, we were in Chicago merely for 3 days, I had to plan accordingly.
My fastidious itinerary took us to Sabri Nehari for lunch after spending all morning walking at the Museum of Natural History; might I add without breakfast. We opted to take the train followed by cab to Devon Avenue.
The ambiance and décor per se is minimalist and bare. The service was standard of most Indian/Pakistani places in the States. People, who are familiar with me, acknowledge that I am the last person to try let alone go out of my way to an Indo-Pakistani restaurant in the USA. Simply, because I cook at home and without sounding pompous; I do a pretty good job of it. And sadly, most restaurant experiences have been utterly disappointing. There is a pretty decent Asian population here, then why the apparent hole in showcasing our wonderfully flavored multi facet cuisine? Why can’t more restaurants serve food like I have eaten in India & UK? Well, that is another story, all together.
That said, I promptly ordered the Mixed Grill Platter, Haleem, Palak Gosht, Chicken Biryani, and some naan. Yes! We certainly love our meat. The service is prompt and friendly; however the kitchen does take a while to cook the dishes. I was thankful we were seated during lunch on a weekday, since the weekend rush would have truly tested our patience.
I have to admit, I was tip toeing given that I was nervous about how my family’s critique on Sabri. After all, they are staunch connoisseurs of good food, especially Indo-Pakistani cuisine.
The Mixed Grill Platter consisted of Boti, Chicken Tikka, and Seekh Kebab. The meats were grilled to perfection, succulent and spiced adequately.
The Haleem; one of my favorite Pakistani dishes and the hardest to make, is luxuriously creamy at Sabri. Garnished with the right amount of cilantro, onion, green chili, and lemon slice; Sabri gets it spot on.
The Palak Gosht (spinach and mutton) was beautifully flavored. Unlike most restaurants which dump both ingredients together at the last-minute; one bite of it is all it takes to appreciate the slow cooking involved in making this dish, as it generates silkiness to the Spinach gravy.
The glutton in me ordered the Chicken Biryani; did I order too much? The Basmati rice was decent quality, aromatic, and satisfactorily spiced.
Even though we were food comatose by the end of our meal, I couldn’t resist ordering Kulfi Falooda. Basically it is house made Indian style ice cream (Kulfi) flavored with saffron and cardamom; served with sweetened vermicelli (Falooda) and topped with rose syrup; a nostalgic favorite of ours while growing up. It was a refreshing welcome to our carb loaded and spiced meal.
Chicago residents might have other local favorite joints when it comes to Indo-Pakistani cuisine. For me, however, Sabri Nehari is reminiscent to authentic Indo-Pakistani dishes we grew up with and miss in this country. We left Sabri Nehari with happy bellies, but most importantly with our heart and souls satiated.