After having faced many highs and lows in his cricketing career, Shahid Khan Afridi aka Boom Boom recently ventured out into the eatery business and brought a South African franchise, ‘Splice signature,’ to Lahore.

“This is a concept created to spread the taste, flavours and spirit of Africa to markets that are ready to enjoy this unique dining sensation,” goes a quote by the ace cricketer turned fashion designer turned restaurateur.

Situated in the heart of Gulberg, next to the very popular 10-Q and close to some of the city’s top restaurants, yet away from the commotion of the M M Alam Road, Splice had better be good. More so, of course, because it happens to have the Afridi stamp.

To begin with, the exterior of Splice is disappointing, what with its rather tacky colour scheme of aqua blue and shining silver (of course, it’s subjective!). There is an underground car parking, so that makes for lesser noise outside the place.

The ambience inside Splice could best be labelled as casual/informal; nothing spectacular as is deserving of places that offer fine dining. The manager at the outlet cited a reason: “Splice means to offer a relaxing dining environment, nothing too formal, so that it can attract family clients also.”

The manager also made a mention of some of the “snooty places” around M M Alam that, he said, “do not match the temperament of a public figure like Afridi who wants to reach out to the masses.”

Well, on our (we were three ladies!) maiden visit, there was not a single female customer to be seen; just a horde of men (or, boys) chatting and eating away gaily.

The menu at Splice is rather limited and features only a few starters, salads and one has to move quickly on to the meat and sea-food dishes. Though, the staff mentioned that a variety was soon to be added. Presently, it is the arrival of a new restaurant on the map of Lahore that has got everyone talking. Also, the fact that celebrities like Imran Khan and Atif Aslam were present at its launch recently.

The place doesn’t leave a lasting impression but it has its share of high points including the ‘Wall of Fame’ that carries autographs of some of the country’s top cricketers, besides a glass memorabilia that has Afridi’s cricketing kit; it’s a must-see.

The sitting area is dotted with chairs done in bright reds, blues and mustards, while the sofas are kept for those wanting to lounge around. There is a bar in the middle and a kids’ den that offers games aside from an art corner for children’s amusement while the elders are munching away.

The menu card has Shahid Afridi pin-ups all over it while the second storey of the building, with its VIP corner, is covered with huge LCD screens perhaps in anticipation of a huge crowd on days when cricket matches would be aired live.

A review of a restaurant is not complete without a mention of its specialties. Admittedly, the African cuisine took us by surprise because of its tangy flavour and also because it is without the spices we Lahoris are oh so fond of.

Starting off with a loaf of garlic bread, which had been baked to perfection, and stuffed with a piece of chicken dipped in cheese sauce — it won over the youngest member of our group.

While the food was ordered and we were settling in, the kids went about ‘exploring’ the place and also to catch a glimpse of the cricketing superstar who disappointed everybody with his absence (he is currently touring South Africa with the team).

The welcome drinks included mocktails and premium milkshakes which were priced really high — they are for Rs500 each. Suffice to say, Ferrero Rocher came out as a clean winner from amongst the variety.

This was followed by ‘Boom Boom Chicken Platter’ that consisted of saucy chicken pakeeza along with fries and onion rings, tender chicken strips and a sea-food variety that included calamari and prawn platter. The delicious blend of sauces such as the lemon butter garlic, peri-peri and signature spice chill had been used to grill the sea-food specialties. Accompanying all of this were desserts which, we thought, needed a bit more variety and an immediate lift.

A quick round of comparison (with the other eateries we had been to) followed and it was unanimously decided that Splice had it to break into the mainstream pretty soon, provided it brought its price tags down, add more servings and include a greater variety. Anyone willing to shell out Rs2,000 per head will rather be interested in a fine dining experience; a casual spot like Splice will have to look into ways if it means to bring in such customers.