2016 is a big year for Harry Potter fans. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released on July 31st and most Potterheads finished it within a few hours of buying it (guilty as charged); Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a new movie set in the Wizarding World, is set to be released on November 18th; and a new cafe called Hogwarts Cafe has just popped up in our very own Islamabad and destroyed the reality every Pakistani Potterhead had accepted: that we would never be able to experience the Wizarding World for ourselves.
So, as a die-hard Potterhead, I just had to go pay a visit to the cafe that had taken the whole world by storm.
The Hogwarts Cafe opened up on August 10th in PWD, right on the outskirts of Bahria Town.
I have to be honest, when I first saw the cafe I had no high hopes for it. I thought it would be just another lame failure, and I didn’t think twice about it. The next day when I drove past, I saw two men outside putting up these giant hoops on the ceiling outside the café and my inner nerd freaked the hell out. I texted my biggest Potterhead friend, exclaiming “THEY’RE OPENING A HOGWARTS CAFÉ AND THERE ARE QUIDDITCH RINGS AND EVERYTHING!!” And before I knew it, the cafe started blowing upon social media
A week later we finally set out to the café and the 11 year old in me was as excited as the first time I read the books, just like the night before when I was reading Cursed Child. As soon as we pulled up in front of the café, I couldn’t stop smiling. The entrance had a trolley on the left, complete with an owl cage, slamming into a wall labelled 9 ¾; no need to tell anyone who’s read the books what that means. We walked inside and it was like being apparated to a modern day, slightly muggle version of The Three Broomsticks.
The place was filled with posters from the movies, moving pictures behind the bar, copies of the books, broomsticks, including a Nimbus 2000 (eeep!)
There were wizard hats, robes from the different houses, and a WAND! The ceiling had floating candles and wooden chandeliers, and the walls had excerpts from the book, including the opening paragraphs from The Sorcerer’s Stone. It was basically a dream come true and the inner nerd was now fully unleashed. There was also a TV in the corner loaded up with an XBOX ready to play, which might be against the theme but I’m sure most people will appreciate it.
After sitting down and taking in everything the café had to offer, we finally decided to order.
We walked up to the bar and ordered a Butterbeer and Felix Felicis along with a plate of Pesto Polo pasta. Our order was taken by one of the owners, who told us what was in the drinks and was friendly enough to suggest that the Butterbeer was better than the Felix Felicis, but I was adamant on getting my liquid luck.
We were told our order would take about a half hour but we were too engrossed in everything to care. We spent the time putting on the robes and taking pictures with the Nimbus 2000, which was standing right by my chair. During that time, the power went out and kept fluctuating, and one of the staff informed us that there was a problem with a transformer and that the power would be back to normal in a few minutes and apologized profusely, which was such a welcome change from most establishments not giving a flying Umbridge about customers.
Our food finally came and obviously we attacked the drinks first.
I had the Felix Felicis, which was a tangy mix of fruits, and my friend had a Butterbeer and then we switched. And while the Felix Felicis was good in its own, the Butterbeer was…oh my Dumbledore, the Butterbeer was amazing! It was a mixture of butterscotch and ice cream fizzing inside my mouth to perfection. And sitting there in our robes and hats, drinking the Butterbeer, it was surreal. The pasta was also delicious.
So if you were thinking whether or not it’s worth the 45 minute drive from Islamabad to come to Hogwart’s Café here’s what you need to know
Let me just give you a few reasons why you definitely should: the whole place is designed around the theme and better than what you can read about here, the Butterbeer, the yummy, economic food, the super friendly staff, the Butterbeer, the fact that the Wi-Fi password used to be alohamora and is now lemon drops (I KNOW!), dressing up as a witch/wizard, getting to hold a real wand instead of the tree branches you used to use as a kid, and finally, for the sake of that amazing Butterbeer.
While currently Hogwarts Café is small and only has 6-7 tables, the good news is that they are going to be expanding, and they plan on making it better according to all the feedback that they receive from the customers, and maybe even get a Hedwig look alike! So what are you even waiting for? If you’re a true Potterhead, you should have already visited the place by now and posted that Instagram selfie in your robes. #HogwartsCafe.
Note: The photographs are by the author.