The people who own the much loved OR2K restaurant in Thamel have been dishing up quality Asian fusion, Middle- Eastern and Israeli vegetarian dishes for over a decade now. They saw the demand that existed for the same type of food albeit of the meaty variety and thus a relatively new entrant to the eating out scene in Kathmandu came into being--Friends.
The place like the rest of the world has succumbed to the World Cup fever and the walls were emblazoned with flags of various nations while pennants and streamers waved a merry dance in the breeze of the fans. The furniture painted in bright primary colours and the cosy couches create an aura that is cheery and welcoming and it appealed to us immediately. The concept behind Friends was ‘inspired by exquisite meals in the warm company of friends from across the world’ and their menu clearly reflects that. Choices range from paella to pies, stews to shwarmas, hot pots, burgers to tortillas, and no Nepali restaurant worth its salt would be complete without momos.
The mint lemonade came replete with chunks of the freshly minced herb but required a good stir from time to time. Refreshing and icy cold, it is the perfect drink to beat these summer blues.
The waiter recommended the chicken momos (Rs 250) and as he was so inordinately proud of them we decided to humour him, not expecting too much but to our great delight the momos were delicious- steaming hot, moist and delicately flavoured with just ginger. No pre-packaged momo masala atrocities were committed here. The pinchos (Rs 275), our other starter, was an assortment of toppings -- fried mushroom with goat cheese, aubergine with cheese, and salt-cured salmon with organic goat cheese -- suitably skewered onto toasted bread and made for a perfectly adequate snack.
The steak shaslik (Rs 550) at Friends is served with chimichuri, which is originally an Argentinean sauce made with garlic, olive oil, parsley and vinegar, and is a must try. The barbequed chunks of perfectly grilled filet mignon (medium rare was my choice) was meltingly soft and just delicious. The steak filet mignon (Rs 550) was as tasty, though the creamy mushroom sauce that accompanied it was bland and boring. The mince used to make the beef kebabs (Rs 475) had been kneaded well with a variety of spices that helped the meat absorb those flavours wonderfully but the end product was dry and wasn’t capable of holding its own in comparison to the other two dishes we’d ordered.
PICS: RUBY TUESDAY
The accompanying pickled cucumbers were delightful in their own right- crisp and sour and flavorsome. The beef kebabs were doggie bagged and brought home, sliced and tossed with tomatoes, cucumbers, coriander, yoghurt and stuffed into a chappati and made for a delicious lunch the next day.
The meal ended with an OR2K favourite: Kiss from Zuri (Rs 295). A chocolate truffle with a cream-cheesy topping and chocolate sauce, it’s decadent and sinful and just right for a meal that heavy and satisfying.
The service was satisfactory, the restrooms clean and stocked with tissue paper and water and individual little towels to dry your hands. The people who own Friends should congratulate themselves on creating this little haven that promotes lounging and eating and conversing: the elements that make for a memorable meal. I will definitely be going back because there are so many tempting dishes still to sample and meals to savour.
How to get there: In Thamel, enter Mandala Street that starts opposite Pumpernickel, and make your way past OR2K and The Last Resort office and Friends is on your right, up a flight of stairs.