Restaurant Review #6: Hollywood Grill

Hollywood Grill is a restaurant quite prominently located on Sea View opposite McDonald’s and right next to D-Mart. I personally have been passing by this place for sometime never ending up to land for dinner there sometime, today I made it a point to try this yet unexplored eatery on my list.

The name Hollywood Grill brings memories of Planet Hollywood and its ambiance, this definitely lacked the rock-your-body experience of Planet Hollywood but presented itself quite well. It is located on the first floor literally on top of D-Mart. A short staircase leads to upstairs or for the perpetually lazy Pakistani crowd an elevator awaits you to briskly swing you a few feet into the air.

The Maitre’d greeted us with a smile and quickly escorted to our spacious table, there was ample location in the restaurant to seat over a 100 guests and the ambiance classy with good music. The menu was interesting to read as all the dishes were named after a Hollywood Movie or one of its megastars, anywhere from Angelina Jolie to Brad Pitt you could scrumptiously enjoy. Reading the names and correlating them with a Chicken Burger or a Tenderloin Steak was quite a funny twist. But a glance down the price list had you feeling for your wallet, steaks hovered around Rs 800 – Rs 1100 while burgers hovered around an average Rs. 500.

Having placed the order we relaxed and enjoyed the spacious seating and the number of pictures that were decorated around the area, we had a brilliant image of Johnny Depp located right in front of us along with a few oldie classics on a few smaller frames.

From the placement of the order to serving the main course was a brisk 20-25 minutes. The Cream of Mushroom soup was served quickly and it had the right texture and served as a good appetizer. Going to the main course I had the choice of a Tenderloin steak (medium) which had the right texture and flavor. I have to hand it to them, my tenderloin steak was literally out of this world granted the price tag was 1100 but it was scrumptious soft and perfectly cooked to my liking. The other members of my party had a selection from chicken to the big mouth variety of burgers, we all were generally quite satisfied but generally felt that spending so much money one got the feeling of a smaller serving size which generally left us wishing for more, maybe a little more garnishing could have taken this guy to the moon and back. We literally ended the evening licking our fingers and were all praise for this new restaurant.

The interesting part of my experience was when I asked the waiter to give me the email address of the manager, I asked so that I can forward him my ‘good’ review of their restaurant, but it seemed that this question triggered a fire alarm back stage and a number of hosts dropped in to ask if everything was ok. Finally after a number of reassurances I was handed the card and the personal email address of the manager scribbled on the back. I was hoping the card would have a domain and an official email address of at least the restaurant, but sadly none were to be found.

Hollywood Grill is the creation of Manzar Riaz, the genius behind the success of the Pizza Hut franchise in Pakistan, this is his adventure in creating a new franchise which takes birth in Pakistan and soon can become a recognized chain world over. If this is a the first link in the chain, I think he has nailed it right on the nose and wish him success in placing Pakistan on the global map of restaurant chains.

A few recommendations to Mr. Manzar Riaz, is he so pleases, firstly get yourself a domain and a website, its an essential component for this new generation, improve the serving size and slowly work to attract the rich and famous. Karachiites only needs a buzz word to start the stampede, and then the doors will never stop closing. But continue the great food without compromise. In the end I seriously think the experience was a little pricey but will not hold it against them, since the steak works to around $20 internationally and that is cheap by any standard

Last but not the least the overall rating, I think Hollywood Grill comes quite close to the likes of Cafe Flo & Okra on food, if you will, but definitely lacks ‘the crowd’ atmosphere of the glittering rich and famous making their entrance. On the steak issue I feel Hollywood Grill beats Okra and Flo hands down – try it and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed – but before I blabber too loudly I did over hear some one dislike the steak a table or two away, so it all depends on your taste buds.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Reservations: 5349970 & 71

DISCLAIMER: This entire review to some may appear glamorously too much in favor of Hollywood Grill but I assure you these remain a true representation of my overall experience there, they should now definitely be placed in the spotlight to live up to this review for other customers who may follow suit, I also assure you the entire meal was paid in full by me

14 Comments so far

  1. Fariha Akhtar (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 2:44 am

    he he TM seems like u kicked the hell out of ’em by mentioning about the review :D I hope they feel better after reading it.

  2. kidal (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 2:59 am

    I haven’t been to Pakistan in a long time but these prices sound ridiculous. I may be wrong, but it seems that the gulf between the rich and poor has grown over the last few years. I cannot imagine that a middle income family of five (let alone the low-income group) would be willing or able to spend Rs 4000 or 5000 on a single meal. I remember the good old days when the best restaurants were 77, Shezan’s and ABC (Chinese) (I know I’m dating myself). I doubt we ever spent more than a few hundreds.

  3. Teeth Maestro (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 3:08 am

    Kidal – I agree with you the prices for some restaurants are sky rocketing high, surely not within the reach of the common Pakistani, even a stretch for the middle class. But yes there is a market to serve for the upper class, which is getting richer by the minute.

    Karachi still has the lower income group of restaurants, the middle income types and has recently developed a breed of super-rich income type of restaurants.

    Yes the divide is getting bigger, I think you simply cannot put a finger on who to blame it is quite simply industrialization and yes a great deal of credit goes to the Real Estate boom a few years back which made lacpattis into crorepattis over night and that included a large number of serving and retired Army personal predominantly the ruling cadre

  4. Lies (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 9:23 am

    Mr. Riaz is an idiot if he thinks his concept which plagiarizes images of movie stars and names of popular hollywood flicks will work anywhere with real actual laws. So much for his franchise.

    And for those looking for REAL food, I suggest you drive further down sea view towards Afridi Inn (Cafe Salateain) and enjoy an amazing Karahi, rather than this banal, overpriced tripe.

    And if you do choose to go here, on your way out please notice the poor flower sellers (most under 12) flocking near your car and at least look them in the eye before you shoo them away.

  5. Salauddeen (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 10:16 am

    Was the cream of mushroom soup from a Campbell’s can or was it Heinz?

  6. SELF (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 11:09 am

    “burgers hovered around an average Rs. 500.”

    That’s more expensive than in west. How do they justify these prices? They get their ingredients at local rates, pay local rate salaries but charge more than in west? Amazing!

  7. Raza (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

    I’ve always had bad experience with HG. Hate it.

  8. Al khan (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 6:02 pm

    @ Lies,

    I dont think that Mr Riaz in an idiot for using this concept, and I dont necessarily think that it will fail anywhere with real laws. There are many many cafes in Europe and America which use exactly the same formula with hollywood movies and movie stars. Are they ALL plagarizing? You imply what he is doing is illegal. There is no law preventing this concept in Europe or America so why should there be in Pakistan?

    Where I do agree with however is that is extremely overpriced, but surely the sorry tale of the poor flower sellers can be atributed to any other restaraunt in the city also?

  9. FK (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 7:00 pm

    I have been there 4-5 months ago..when it was recently launched.
    *Service and food was good
    *Prices at that time..i guess were normal…don’t remember exactly.
    *MUSIC WAS PATHETIC…(paris hilton)

  10. Lies (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

    @ Al Khan

    Well, lets take the case of Planet Hollywood. They were a chain using Hollywood images to hawk their food, but they paid royalties to the studios/sought their permission. Has Hollywood Grill sought permission from the actors/

    Of course there are many small diners across the world which don’t bother seeking permission, but they dont/cant harbor ANY illusions of going international/becoming real brands.

    Hence, Mr. Riaz is delusional.

    You’re right about other outlets being as expensive, but the question to ask is, do that make it right?

    Personally, I wouldn’t even blame the owners, they’re just filling a need. I would on the other hand blame people like me and you who patronize these outlets and bring about the need for mediocre, overpriced food when millions dont get one meal a day in Pakistan.

  11. al khan (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 11:26 pm


    Yes, the point about such outlets charging such huge prices and still managing to bring in customers is a sad fact of society in a country where poverty is extreme, and millions go starving.

    However I still disagree with your argument regarding the movie themed restaurants. Planet Hollywood was launched by Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger – its therefore not just as you say “a chain using Hollywood images to hawk their food”, Hollywood OWNS it! – So of course they made sure that actors/studios/production companies etc all made money from it – that was the whole idea. – You don’t need permission to put up pictures of actors – BUT they managed to charge royalties for it.

    What would be a better example is tinseltown, a 24hr diner. This has 2 branches in London, and has plans to launch in LA and NY. – Same formula – filmi food names, pictures and memorabilia. Tinseltown IS becoming an international brand. Its owned by a pakistani by the way.

    I’m not picking an argument with you, but if Mr Riaz has the money and connections to launch in other cities and countries then he could become a brand. I havent been there so I really dont know if its any good or not!! – ;-)

  12. stabani (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

    actually fudruckers too uses popular movie images, and using them as posters for restaurants and other places (including memorabilia which is actually paid for by all restaurants) is under fair use. People around the world use them and pay for the memorabilia (such as Planet Hollywood).
    Lies, I agree, Afridi Inn is great, so is Bundo Khan and even Hot n Spicy for that matter of fact, but the truth is, sometimes, you need that extra level of service ie. when i’m in a business meeting with guests from other countries. So, to be honest, there is a market for Hollywood Grill, and I wish Mr. Riaz the best of luck in promoting it in other countries.

  13. shobz (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 11:14 pm

    why are we all so obssessed with food? there is more to life than just going out to eat. however i love ur reviews about all the latest eateries doc. seems like you have been around a lot.

  14. Asif Raza (unregistered) on March 6th, 2007 @ 3:25 am


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