Restaurateur Kunal Tej Bir Lama irks at the word "fusion" when describing his menu at the reopened Cafe Mitra in Thamel. The term often renders ill-executed pairings like Hotel Radisson's recent, overhyped promotion of an Italian and Indian twist. But at Mitra, as Lama later concedes, the fusion of local ingredients and Chef Mohit Rana's culinary prowess yields eclectic, adventurous dishes that, according to my predecessor, hail Rana as Kathmandu's creative best.
From the new menu, the red-pepper cheesecake is no dessert but a starter that blends three cheeses and a hint of pimento served with a spot of plum jam. The medley of heat and sweet draws tasters to the deserts of the Southwest US.
Chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese and laced with chocolate jus sounds mouthwatering Like Water for Chocolate but flounders with its complimentary mishmash of fennel and potato.
Luckily, if food experiments fail to impress, Mitra holds onto its classic menu of reliable plates like the deep-friend tiger prawns, grilled mackerel and the steamed tofu dressed with soy and ginger, a generous starter to share.
On the new dessert list, the iced peach souffle is a mouthful of air that leaves an overpowering, potpourri aftertaste fit for a vanity. Stick to the classic menu and order the chocolate souffle.
Renovations at Mitra have made for a quaint, festive space, modern and tasteful. But the new menu, particularly with its pocket-pounding prices, needs some rethinking.
South of Thamel Chowk, look for a building on your left undergoing construction (likely to last for a while). If you've reached the Yak, you've passed it; sneak through the backyard to a revamped, intimate nook.