Restaurant & Bar Audit: The Food & The Drink

Features Issue 35 Aug, 2010
Text by Sagun Pradhan / Photo: ECS Media

You probably already know where to eat & drink in Kathmandu, but everybody can use a bit of help when selecting a restaurant or a bar for the right occasion. There are many fine eateries around town to choose from, and everyone has his or her own preferences, from Hari’s Sekuwa Pasal, near the airport, Krishna Mandir Chwayla Pasal in Patan to restaurants in star hotels. Whatever your choices, try out these outlets and make your own decision.

Relaxing in the J Bar, sipping your cocktail, you soon feel you are somewhere other than Kathmandu, and positively not in Thamel. Keeping up with the bar trends of the big cosmopolitan cites, J Bar brings to Kathmandu a glimpse of the bar culture in Delhi or Bombay; sipping your drink at a trendy bar and hobnobbing with the Fashionistas of the big cities. The decor is very chic and cosmopolitan. The lighting of the bar changes from blue to lime green to blood orange progressively complementing the mix of the DJ.

The cocktail menu is quite extensive with all the classics like Martini, Bloody Mary, Daiquiri etc and new recipes like Ozone, Green eye and more. The bar menu includes lots of aperitifs, single malts, hard liquor and digestives. The wine list is quite extensive but does not need to be, since the dining menu is limited. The current menu by the way, is only a temporary one and it would be interesting to see a few more appetizers, tapas and mezzas on the new and improved menu, redefining the bar food concept of Kathmandu. When the bar is not overly busy, the service is prompt and friendly. Prices are slightly above that of other local bars, but still affordable.

J bar is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for members only. It does open on other weeknights but for private parties only.  J Bar is a place to enjoy good lounge music, good cocktails and it is a great place to meet people.

Red Onion is one of those places that has been around only a few years, but feels like it has been there for decades. It speaks of comfort. What with those couches! It is a place you would go to after work, and have a few drinks before heading on home. Or it is a place where you end up after a nightlong bar hopping spree. Red Onion charms you with its homely ambience and comfortable seating. The couches are enticing and provide the kind of comfort you would seek after a hard day at work. This is where you would want to just chill out on a mellow night.

Red Onion has one of the best bar selections in town. ‘Onion Bar’ as the regulars like to call it, has an extensive drinks menu as well as a selective cocktail menu. At first glance, the menu prices look steep, but once you are enlightened on the fact that all orders are double orders, they suddenly seem quite reasonable. The snack menu is limited, but makes up for it by including a few local favorites like bandel sadeko, chicken chili and others. The bar tenders and waiters appear a mite over-dressed for a place of this sort, but what do you care, as long as they are attentive and quick to follow up on your orders.

Red Onion has live music every Wednesday night and Friday nights. For a relaxed and comfortable evening, hanging out with your friends, enjoying a few drinks and some good music, Red Onion is the place.

Located in Babar Mahal Revisited, Latin Quarters sits above Chez Caroline Bistro. Walking in through the Babar Mahal complex and entering the bar takes you back in time and you feel as though you are in a hacienda. If you look out the window of the bar, you can see a tall church like structure which makes you almost believe you are somewhere in Latin America. The choice of colors in the bar is quite Latin. The pastel colors and the matt finish give it that Latin charm and warmth. The décor is simple but tasteful and unpretentious. At the Latin Quarters, it seems as if everyone has caught the salsa bug and the only remedy is to dance the night away.

While you sip away, the salsa enthusiasts keep you entertained through the night.  The bar menu is just about right with a few familiar cocktails but offering interesting twists like a Margarita Azul and others. The dining menu looks ordinary but the execution of the recipes is done very well— in particular the prawn tempuras and chicken croquettes. The Nepali salsa (golbheda ko achar) with corn chips is a nice touch. The menu has only a few Latin dishes. If  empanadas, beef salpicao, frittatas & tapas were added, it would make a world of a difference. The service here is timely and friendly.  Prices are reasonable, and the serving portions give value for your money.

Latin Quarters is a happening place where you see salsa enthusiasts coming together and having a good time. Latin music and salsa is contagious and exciting. LQ also offers dance lesson during the weekdays. Salsa is a great way to meet people and get in shape, as long as you do not end up chugging down too many Coronas and tapas while you are at it.

These are some of the interesting bars to visit while you are bar hopping through Kathmandu. There are definitely more bars in town that we all love and have come to call our own favorites. The ones we checked out this month are a bit different from the traditional Thamel joints (not that there is anything wrong with them). People do not go to bars just to drink or eat. We go there to experience something more. We are social creatures and bars promote socializing. So let us do what we do best–interact with fellow human beings and have a good time doing it.

(Sagun Pradhan is the Food & Beverage Consultant at Dwarika’s Hotel. He holds an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts &
Technology Management, CCA, Manila;
F & B Management, Cornell University, NY)