The only thing I'd ever noted about Kilroy's of Kathmandu was the large, slightly ridiculous advertising board on the left as you enter Thamel, which features an impressively bewhiskered old man raising a toast while declaiming the 'SEXquisite' food. These days I don't even notice it, preoccupied as I am dodging the sarangi sellers, the glue-sniffing street kids, and the trannies. Such are the delights of Thamel these days.
But my eyes turned to the old man once more on my way to the 8th Monsoon Wine Festival at Kilroy's. I don't know what I expected, but I was surprised to turn left into Jyatha and into a rambling, dimly lit garden space above which considerable yet cozy restaurant space and an equally expansive patio beckoned. There wasn't much of a festival going on, in the sense of a carnival or mela. In fact, the place was practically empty. But a glance at the menu implied the festivities were all locked up right there, and perhaps the only crime Kilroy's had committed was being tucked away in a corner of Thamel so long everyone had forgotten it actually existed.
Inexplicable, given the very reasonably priced wine on offer during the rainy season. With a dozen wines at between
Rs 800-1000 a bottle and Rs 200-odd a glass, and the option of tasting any wine on the specials menu gratis, soon we were very festive indeed. Add to this a large continental, Nepali, Indian, Tandoori and salad menu, and I began to feel positively ashamed at having given up on Thamel.
The wine was a mixed bag, but deliberately so, ranging from semi-sweet Cuvée Du Papa (that the tasting notes recommend unabashedly to 'wine virgins') to the excellent Ardèche Chantalauze, a light, dry, slightly lemony white. Hardy's unoaked Voyage was a heavier, more rounded white than the Ardèche, and well suited to the assortment of salads we ordered. The Banrock Station Semillon Chardonnay didn't meet with our group's favour, however, which variously described it as 'boring' and 'soapy' (something I'd also apply to the Danish blue in the cheese platter, probably not the best cheese in the world; the other cheese, too, struggled to put up a fight). The Sol De Chile Chardonnay was sprightly and lively, if a little on the light side. But there was something for everyone, even the member of our party who greeted one of the whites with, "Is that wine?"
By then we were hankering for something a little weightier. Enter an Oz Shiraz from Royal Cellars, a good, fruity start. Having quaffed the bottle, we moved on to a Jean Belmont Cabernet Sauvignon, a dry, solid red that had us wishing we'd asked for a steak or two. Alas, by this time we'd waved away the closing kitchen.
More substantial fare will have to wait till next time, and monsoon or no, I'll be back this season. Bravo!
PS The man in the ad was actually there, whiskers, pipe and all.