One of the few places in Kathmandu that has managed to get right all the three elements of ambience, food, and service
As a proud resident of Lalitpur, where quirky cafés serving excellent coffee and desserts are aplenty, I never thought my quest for the best café in town would one day end at Baneshwor of all places.
After all, cacophonic Baneswor isn’t exactly where you go searching for good bakes and peace. So when you find these two combined with other elements (expertly brewed coffee, delicious desserts, friendly service, super clean bathrooms) in a fancy tea house on an unassuming road, you are pleasantly taken aback.
Reactions to this writer’s Instagram post of the lovely wooden cottage where the Garden Tea House is located confirmed its ‘secret’ status. Friends, followers, all wanted to know where it was.
The GTH initially served as the in-house café of Hotel Sunset View, a gem of a property that still retains the rural ambience it had when it was opened in the 1980s. With the expansion of its dessert and drinks only menu that now includes familiar favourites such as Chocolate Cake (Rs 195) and the not-so-known Aggogato (Rs 220), the café expanded its clientele to include outside guests last year.
We visited the GTH on a lazy Friday afternoon to find the place all to ourselves. The hotel’s lush garden looked inviting and sitting inside meant a closer proximity to the dessert shelf, but we settled on the small patio that let us dine alfresco without being sunburnt.
For drinks, my friend ordered the White Chocolate Mocha (Rs 220) and I took the smiling waitress’ recommendation of Iced Green Tea Caramel Latte (Rs 295) (pic, below). GTH sources its coffee beans from Himalayan Java and the full aroma fills the air. The Mocha was creamy, warm and delicious and not overly sweet. The latte was refreshing, with the caramel offsetting the bitterness of the matcha perfectly. The GTH also serves green and black tea grown in Dhankuta.
Because everything on the menu looked so tempting and we had a hearty appetite, we ordered five desserts. The Blueberry Cheesecake (Rs 220) with its generous layer of blueberry compote and puree was so pretty to look at it felt almost criminal to dissect. But you got to do what you got to do. The cake was moist and creamy, and the berries provided a nice, tangy flavour. I only wished the crust had been crispier.
The Lemon Chiffon Cake (Rs 190) was served with not-so-sweet whipped cream on the side and was fluffy, airy and light. The Chocolate Cake (Rs 195) had three sumptuous layers with chocolate frosting and drizzled with cocoa powder on top. While the cake in itself tasted quite regular, the use of cocoa powder elevated its overall taste, cutting down on the chocolatey richness and providing just the right amount of a sharp, bitter tang.
Our fourth dessert was the Aggogato (Rs 220). The GTH’s version of this simple Italian dessert which fuses gelato and espresso uses store-bought vanilla icecream. Served separately in individual glasses, you pour as much espresso as per preference over a scoop of the icecream. There’s little that can go wrong with such an ingenious concoction: the spectrum of flavours in this coffee-based beverage is representative of the GTH’s overall menu: well-thought out, balanced flavours and classic treats.
We ended our three-hour dessert binge with the homemade green tea icecream (Rs 195), partly as a measure to ease away a tiny bit of our guilt for such an indulgence. The icecream's unique taste may not be up everyone’s alley, but this is a great last dish choice as it works as a palate cleanser. There are few savoury offerings too. Buckwheat Crepe with egg and mushrooms/ham was on offer the day of our visit.
Garden Tea House is one of the few places in Kathmandu that has managed to get right all the three elements of ambience, food, and service. Go there before everyone else finds out.
How to get there: Garden Tea House is located inside Hotel Sunset View at New Baneswor on the street leading south from BICC towards Sankhamul.