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Gun Smoke Lahore: A taste of the Wild West and yummy mud pie

Gun Smoke Lahore: A taste of the Wild West and yummy mud pie

The first time we visited Gun Smoke on M.M. Alam Road in Gulberg, it was in the company of my wife’s friend and colleague Ra’ana, and we had gone specifically to listen to the song and music of her son Jimmy Khan. He was talented, gifted and good-looking, and did he strum away happily.

As we entered the eatery under our feet peanut shells crunched. This was, so they imagined, the feel of what a bar in the American Wild West must have been like. The waiter greeted us with a loud “Howdy” and everyone had this deliberate Wild West accent. Much later I was to research the origin of this accent, a mix of heavy Irish, laces with Scottish and Northern English. This was the way the ‘geezers’ of old used to conduct themselves. But in Lahore it made me chuckle then, and I am prejudiced.

The music and guitar strumming of Jimmy Khan, now a big name in the world of Pakistani popular music, still hung in the mind. So with these thoughts we returned there. Our objective was to once again try their now-famous ‘cowboy steaks’, or as Ronald Reagan once said: ‘You ai’nt seen noth’in yet’. Things are almost the same, though the interior has been changed and improved considerably, and the waiters still drawl out their accent. They sure have been practising a lot. This eatery is the brainchild of Kamran Sheikh, who has since contributed considerably to Lahore’s ‘eating out’ scene.

We were four persons and for starters we ordered ‘Red Buffalo Wings’ prepared in cheese sauce. That got the juices flowing and for soup I insisted that as they probably had the best Mulligatawny soup in town (gosh, I must not slip into western lingo. Queen’s English, Please), we all have the same. That came with a flourish and it was pleasing, I must admit. Making the correct Mulligatawny – whose origins are in Madrasi ‘mulli ka panni’ ‘dal’ – is a wee bit difficult and people have their own construction. Why not!

For the main course we ordered what is labelled as the ‘Original Gun Smoke Cowboy Steak’, and I recommended that we go for the 300 gram version. Well, if we are going into the make-believe world of cowboys, might as well have ‘the real thing’. The ladies raised an eyebrow. One of them just had to be different and ordered a Mediterranean Garlic Steak in the 200 gram version. Gosh, these health freaks just never let go. I went for a medium version, while ‘desi’ suspicion never let go and everyone insisted on ‘well done’.

My friend Husnain Almakky would throw a tantrum at that. Democracy favours the brave. I told them that in the Wild West even a rare was rare, and in Japan they insist on raw. “Uggh” came the instant response.

The fare came with baked potatoes filled properly with sour cream and laced with apt greens and a steak sauce made from the juices. The knives were special steak knives and soon a silence dawned on us as we enjoyed the noisy ambience and the occasional crunch of peanut peels. The light western music was fine, but not a patch on the live shows Jimmy Khan used to do at this place. Just one comment. The meat was just fine and every morsel virtually melted in the mouth. Of all it went down well with the ‘health-conscious damsel’ living in her beautiful Mediterranean dream.

By the time we ended this meal everyone looked well-fed. But then the eatery management insisted we try a Chocolate Mud Pie. Uggh, said the lady. That was enough for me to insist that we try this mud pie. It came as one piece, a mix of chocolate fudge cake with a vanilla ice cream top, peanut butter cookies crushed and sprayed on top with nuts and caramel sauce sprayed on this massive concoction. To end matters a whipped cream crown sparkled. Now this surely was ‘muddy’. It tasted great and in the end the Mediterranean damsel had the most. Imagine!

Now back to classwork. Let me mark this ‘eating out’ experience on the Michelin Scale of one to nine. For food quality it gets seven, for food taste another seven, for food presentation six, for service six, for quality of crockery and cutlery six is just about good (no compromise here), for ambience a well-deserved seven (probably the best theme eatery in Lahore), for prices four (this is no cheap place), and for ease in parking and approach six. This averages at 6.1 out of nine, which is good. Highly recommended.

SAMOOSA FIGHT: Recently a reader of this column wrote in to recommend that I try out the ‘samoosas’ of an outlet in Johar Town. In our business readers matter. So off I went to try out ‘Ideal Samoosa Corner’ as recommended by Munir Sahib. This turned out to be an excellent place for a Sunday breakfast, and one of these days we will turn up for a ‘halwa puri’ session.

We purchased four ‘samoosas’ and consumed them in the car. The outer shell was crisp, the size – thankfully - was moderate, the taste was good and, most important, the ‘after-taste’ showed that this was fresh stuff.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2015

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