Nepali Times
El Mediterraneo


El Mediterráneo is small, clean and elegant and reminiscent of the tiny, usually family owned and run restaurants that dot the Spanish and Portuguese landscape. The clean white washed walls, blue ceiling and general air of wholesomeness gave me the illusion of that I had been teleported to the Mediterranean to indulge in some feisty paella and fresh seafood and cold sangria. But all good things, even dreams, come to an end and such was the case with El Mediterráneo.

First off, the food is all Spanish. There is no momo or chow mein anywhere on the menu and this alone got me excited. Living in Kathmandu is a gustatory delight with more and more restaurants not shying away from offering a variety of cuisines, which I see as a silent appreciation of the growing number of people who travel (channel surfing, trawling through food blogs and reading cook books for recreational purposes also count) and want to experiment with more than just the regular dal bhat, hamburger, sizzler et al.

No self respecting Spanish restaurant could forego tapas and the Patatas Bomba (Rs 80) and Croquetas de Pollo (Rs 100) at El Mediterráneo are delightful. The Ensalada Mediterráneo (Rs 410) with goji berries, slivers of almond, tomatoes and luscious shrimps on a bed of lettuce, tossed in balsamic vinegar dressing is one I highly recommend.
However, the Seafood Paella (Rs 450), which the menu at El Mediterráneo very simplistically explains and I quote 'something like a biryani', was a big turn-off. Google images of seafood paella and compare it with the one on this page to see what I mean. A mush of under-cooked short-grain rice drowning in tomato sauce with nary a shrimp in sight is not what I was expecting. Closer investigation with my fork revealed bits of squid and octopus and other bits of seafood. Knowing how difficult it is to find good seafood in Kathmandu, I was willing to forgive the gaffe if it wasn't for the waiter who condescendingly told me, "Oh that's the way it's meant to be."

The Calamar Renello (Rs 570) – squid stuffed with a mouth-watering mixture of spinach, paneer and raisins went a long way in redeeming the restaurant. At this point, I would have loved a glass of wine or even some sangria in a pitcher, but sadly though the bar menu offers a variety of 'hard drinks' there isn't any wine on it. For dessert we had Natillas (Rs 160), a custard dish with milk and eggs that tasted a lot like pureed burfis and their summer special, Mango Mousse (Rs 160), which was okay.

What was not okay, however, is the way we were treated. Many restaurants especially in busy tourist ghettos like Thamel and Pokhara's lakeside are guilty of ignoring locals in favour of foreigners. Although not welcome, such behaviour is still understandable, because the businesses in these areas rely largely on foreigners. But
El Mediterráneo is in Jhamsikhel, which is a favourite among Kathmanduites and expats alike. Besides, I paid for my meal, asked for no discounts and am always polite to the waiters.

I walked into El Mediterráneo really excited and eager, but I left with a bitter taste in my mouth, not from the food, which is more than adequate, but from the despicable attitude of the waiters. My presumed bank balance and the colour of my skin were enough for the restaurant to put me in the 'second class' category, while it served people with lighter skin tones like celebrities.

Getting there: El Mediterráneo is in Jhamsikhel opposite Epic Mountain Bikes.

1. here n there
6.5 is generous - rude/discriminatory service kills any appetite. Go to the Thakali restaurant nearby Cinnamon Cafe - the most polite people and all are welcome. I just ate there today. Good food. 
Speaking in angresi and only angresi in a angresi accent and doing it faster and louder then they can comprehend is the best way to put them down. I'd stay away from seafood, the shrimp for sure will taste rubbery and hasn't been de-veined(euphemism).

2. Shaket
Well, you should try Thakali Restuarant nearby Gangalal Hosptial, Basbari...

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)