1-7 July 2016 #815

Utopia Restaurant

Courteous staff and relaxed ambience among the reasons that make the restaurant deserving of a visit
Someplace Else by Smriti Basnet

Utopia Chicken Florentine

Ekantakuna — a 'quiet corner' in Nepali — is no longer deserted. With eateries like Piano B and Higher Ground setting up shop, the once-tranquil streets of the area bustle with fine-diners and bakery lovers. The newest addition to the block is the hip new joint Utopia, located away from the clamour of Jawalakhel’s noisy streets.

Utopia occupies an entire building and offers a wide selection of seating arrangements: the small patio with an adjoining mini-bar, an outdoor seating area, a ground floor room next to the coffee station, or on the first floor overlooking the restaurant. A meeting hall, also on the first level, provides a conducive space for those who wish to work while having a meal.

Utopia Chicken Florentine

We settled into the comfortable chairs outside, and were asked for our choices promptly. The vast menu features Newari dishes, as well as French, Italian and other continental cuisines. After taking time to peruse the options, we decided on two light starters: Seafood Timbale (Rs 475), and Corn and Bacon Chowder (Rs 315), the latter on the recommendation of our host.

Adorned with lettuce, cucumber and cherry tomatoes, the dish was an amalgamation of seafood: prawn, white fish, squid, mussels, octopus and baby shrimp. The instant it was served, we noted with disappointment that it was not the mousse its name had led us to expect, but instead resembled a run-of-the-mill seafood salad. Fortunately, the soup more than made up for the Seafood Timbale’s lack of flavour and authenticity. The creamy chowder — with its garnish of corn, celery and potatoes — delighted our palates. We relished it even though it lacked a side of bread and the robust bacon flavour overshadowed the corn.

Pics: Smriti Basnet

Hoping to spice up the repast, we ordered Sukuti (Rs 240), shredded buffalo meat prepared Newari-style. Served on a papad, the crispy meat was seasoned to perfection with tomatoes and chillies. Although it could have done with a lighter hand with the onions and a heartier serving of meat, the spicy dish whetted our appetites for the entrée.

We opted for the Utopia Chicken Florentine (Rs 675) as our main course. Typically, the Italian dish comes on a bed of spinach and mushrooms, steeped in a white cream sauce with a topping of baked mozzarella. The restaurant version’s had a twist to it: chicken breast stuffed with a spinach mousse and served with garlic rice, sautéed vegetables and a tomato pesto sauce. It was scrumptious. The piquant stuffing, enhanced by the use of fresh herbs, added to the appeal of the moist and savoury meat.

To round off the evening, we ordered the Oreo Frappe (Rs 275). The drink stood out: it had a full-bodied taste of coffee, boosted with a blend of Oreo cookies and chocolate ice cream. Although we enjoyed the rich consistency, it proved a challenge to sip the frappe though straws.

Opened only a month-and-a-half ago, Utopia was packed with youngsters out to enjoy a sultry summer evening. The pleasing, well-furnished interior, coupled with mural-decorated walls, added to the vibrancy of the joint.

Despite the slightly sluggish service and somewhat skimpy portion of soup, the courteous staff and relaxed ambience are among the reasons that make the restaurant deserving of a visit.

How to get there: Turn left from the Embassy of Switzerland and head straight until the Department for International Development (DFID). Utopia is directly opposite.