Eating out as often as I do, I cannot help but feel disappointed with many of the new places that open up. Often, they are overly decorated places with scant attention paid to food and flavour. That is why I had not bought into the hype surrounding Ne Brasserie, a self-avowed chic spot that serves artisan coffees and promises to show you ‘the other side of Kathmandu’. And with a name like that… Pretentious, right? I thought so too initially, but am thrilled to write that I was proved completely wrong.
A 100-year-old Rana house in Naxal on the verge of being torn down was given a new lease of life by the young entrepreneurs who own this fine dining establishment. The owners have tried to retain as much as possible of the original structure and fittings, while outfitting it with modern amenities so that no patron walks away dissatisfied.
The menu is impressive and boasts a distinct variety of foods on offer. I started with the Mezza non-vegetarian platter (Rs 999). This platter includes homemade nachos, fried prawns, dachtyla - crispy crusted fried chicken with a honey mustard sauce and virgin psaria -, and baby sardines topped with a delicious tomato and cilantro salsa.
The sardines were cooked to perfection- crispily fried on the outside with a succulent, soft and flaky centre. My only fault with the platter is the minuscule serving of the fried prawns.
PICS: RUBY TUESDAY
The ne burger (Rs 555) is a gustatory experience not to be missed. A huge pork mince patty marinated in Jack Daniels and flavoured with Greek herbs, it is layered with bacon, a fried egg, mushrooms, caramelised onions and cheese in a sturdy multi-grain bun. Each bite brings new flavours and textures that tantalises the taste buds. Also, it is a substantial sized burger, and comes with fries and a salad, which makes for a complete and satisfying lunch. Save some of the honey mustard sauce for your fries- an excellent combination.
After these delights, the baked pasta (Rs 500, extra Rs 100 for diced chicken, and extra Rs 100 for the bacon) appeared meek in comparison. The penne is cooked in a white wine sauce with peppers and mushrooms, topped with yak cheese and baked till golden. No flamboyance here, just a regular homely and wholesome though beautifully flavoured meal.
Ne Brasserie tries to source its produce as far as possible from the growers and organic farmers themselves. The restaurant believes that customers will appreciate the difference quality ingredients make to the final dish.
The teas on offer are organic, hand rolled and from a single tea-estate in Ilam. The brew is imbued with the freshness of the mist-covered hills it is grown on. The restaurant also aims to work as a vibrant art gallery to showcase new and young talent. Also, plans are underway to open a used book store and library soon. Refurbished closets act as repositories for magazines and newspapers, while reclaimed doors hide unsightly water pumps. Finally, framed hanging tea pots and cups add a touch of whimsy to the entire area. This is a wonderland you can escape to for hours and actually feel like you’ve stepped back in time to a quieter, greener Kathmandu.
How to get there: In Naxal, pass the Ducati workshop and go straight along Narayan Chour to enter the galli that leads to a Sai Baba Temple. Ne Brasserie is on the left before the temple.