In the heart of Durbar Marg is a special little spot. The Old House is a beautifully renovated neo-colonial building that now houses an adventurous new restaurant dedicated to the art of French cooking.
The menu, designed and executed by Elise Wang, the passionate and talented Parisian consulting chef, follows the principals of gastronomic cooking which embrace respect for the customer and prioritisation of the quality of the food, concentrating particularly on using produce and ingredients that are organic, fresh, and locally sourced.
Gastronomy is as much a philosophy as it is a way of cooking, developed for the ultimate foodies who want to know where their food is coming from – making sure everything they put in their mouth is ethically sound and promotes the livelihood of local farmers.
As we had reserved in advance (which is recommended) Elise had prepared the seven course tasting menu for us. As dish after dish emerged, each plate beautifully presented, we were told about the ingredients of each course by the attentive staff. All of the non-vegetarians praised the ostrich meat main course, sourced from a farm in Lumbini that the chef herself had visited in order to ensure the quality of the meat.
Elise’s meticulously cooked and highly creative meals are complemented by her partner François Tossou’s perfectly baked bread (his baguettes are now generally deemed to be the best in town) that can include delicious variations such as blue poppy seed bread and black olive bread.
While experimentation may not be for everyone – one must have a fine palate and an adventurous bent to truly appreciate the combinations of tastes – The Old House has the capacity to provide a few unforgettably original meals.
The intrepid Nepali owners have astutely split the restaurant into two distinct sections, the outside bar and lounge area is verdant with hanging flower pots, beautiful natural light, and a view of the new City Museum of Kathmandu. Here you will only have access to the Tapas menu, which includes fresh panini (the salmon rillette is particularly good), cheese and charcuterie plates, and delightfully original cocktails such as a Cardamom-Lychee Martini or a Cucumber Mojito.
Inside, the elegant newly restored interior complete with an antique fireplace can seat up to 40 people. Here, the full menu can vary weekly but to date serves items such as a shrimp vermicelli salad, trout ceviche, a re-visited version of dal bhaat with saffron potatoes, and pork belly ravioli. As Elise explains, true gastronomy involves changing the menu as often as 5 to 6 times a year, seasonally sourcing the best available yummy things.
The Old House is still ironing out minor glitches, but when it is officially done it will be one of the loveliest places in town to sit down, have a quiet drink in a gorgeous garden, and perhaps then, replete with good wine, fine coffee, and artisanal momos, the most gluttonous of us will make that little move towards the restaurant proper to settle in for a wonderfully decadent multiple- course meal.
Prices range from between Rs. 500 for appetisers to Rs. 1100 for main courses.
How to get there: The Old House is located in Durbarmarg. (01)4250931