While strolling through the paths, shops and restaurants in whitewashed Babar Mahal Revisited, it’s easy to forget that it’s 2010. There are strikingly green palm trees set against white walls, carved stone elephants, terracotta brick paving, grandiose curved door frames and intricate balcony banisters. The grounds are breathtaking and will transport the visitor back to the time when the Ranas ruled Nepal.
The majestic dining hall at Baithak
Just when you think you can’t get any further from modern, dusty Kathmandu without actually leaving the city, step inside Baithak restaurant within Babar Mahal Revisited and you’ll wonder whether you time traveled back to the 19th century, the beginning of Nepal’s Rana rule. The restaurant is made up of a royal banquet hall, fit for a prince, walls lined with oil paintings of the Rana family, resplendent in thick velvet capes and decorated head dresses in rich reds and golds. Long wooden tables are set with starched white napkins, crystal ware and shining silver utensils. Stepping into Baithak is truly a magical experience, and that’s all before the food has arrived.
Veteran restauranteur Kishore Pandey took over Baithak’s operations in September of 2009, but the establishment has been running for the past decade. Although Pandey has been instrumental in fine-tuning Baithak’s princely menu, he credits Gautam (G2) Rana as the one responsible for the majestic ambiance and development of Babar Mahal Revisited, which used to be the horse stable of the Rana palace.
Pandey says a visit to Baithak is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors who can expect to dine in true Rana Maharaja style, eating in the regal hall off silver platters.
“The ambiance of this restaurant is of an old bygone era, how Ranas used to live,” explains Pandey. “This is how they used to eat.”
Baithak’s food presentation is difficult to rival. The meal begins with a silver tray of snacks, including momos, pickled peanuts, potatoes, achar and bara, a lentil donut. Next comes a flavorful soup and then the main course, an impressive silver tray divided into sections, each one brimming with traditional Nepali foods that are as delectable as they are visually appealing. There are servings of succulent wild boar, sauteed spinach, black dal, potatoes and bamboo shoots, mushrooms, marinated paneer (cottage cheese), chicken and a number of zesty achars.
The flavors, food presentation, service, ambiance and attention to detail make a visit to Baithak a unique experience that will leave the visitor delighting in the impeccable culinary and historical experience.
“Everyone wants to be a part of history. People think: ‘What was it like when the Taj Mahal was built in India?’ or ‘How did the Maharajas of Nepal treat themselves?’” says Pandey. “It’s not possible to live in that history anymore, but to have an experience like this is always fun. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
So, people will leave Baithak feeling like a Rana prince?
“That is possible,” says Pandey with a smile. “That is a guarantee.”