Nepali Times
Revolution in dining


Revolving restaurants, when invented, were a testament to the technology and optimism of the great boom years of the last century. Technology would be our salvation, delivering us from the grubby drudgery of our ugly imperfect today into a future rich in leisure and plenty. Man would ride in flying cars and we would all eat space food. As we revolved.

Kathmandu's contribution to revolving restaurants breaks with that shiny-new vision and offers its clientele a more realistic vision of the future. The realism starts with a long climb up the stairs, an ugly reminder that Bhatmara Bhai hasn't got his flying car yet. There isn't, nor was there ever, something as elemental as an elevator here. Such an absence would surely have future man tut-tutting into his space food.

Then there is the matter of height. Revolving restaurants are supposed to tower over their surroundings. Rising a whole five floors above the metropolis obliges the word 'towering' to be an overly generous misnomer. This is a serious failing. In the world of revolving restaurants, size matters. The whole point of a revolving restaurant is its view.

Indulge me. Run these words together: 'View' and 'New Road'. What went through the minds of those who built a revolving restaurant in the centre of New Road? If you, like Bhatmara Bhai, have a demanding visual palette, I recommend the following. In daylight hours, raise your eyes to 15 degrees above the horizon, permitting a view of only the rooftops of Kathmandu and the mountains beyond. Once night falls, screw up your eyes just a little, preferably with the help of a beer or two, and the hidden charms of New Road will reveal themselves.

I am reliably informed that the restaurant revolves at the maximum legal limit. The movement cannot be described as a smooth glide. In fact, it leans into the domain of jerky. But Bhatmara Bhai warmed to the restaurant's quirkiness, even to its Nepali country and western music. It is a very good place for a dusk beer, especially as the beer is served, unfashionably for Kathmandu, seriously cold. (Why oh why do so many restaurants fail to chill beer?)

The restaurant's clientele seems to be mixed. It is a good hang-out for young couples, and equally a draw for groups of young women who hanker to be part of a couple. The local clientele makes a nice change from eating out amid unwashed backpackers or over-washed expats in Thamel. The service at the revolving restaurant is friendly, efficient and unobtrusive.

The eating, however, is a very different story. Bhatmara Bhai was horrified to discover that this was an Indo-Chinese restaurant: it offered two menu choices, Indian or Chinese. Mixing food metaphors is a Nepali disease, and like all contagions it must be quarantined immediately. Luckily, on the night Bhatmara Bhai ate there, the entire Indian Menu was, inexplicably, 'off'. Perhaps it was a revolving menu.

I could tell you that the food choices made by Bhatmara Bhai and his delightful partner for the evening were surprisingly tasty (if occasionally greasy). I could tell you that I was, all in all, pleasantly surprised by the restaurant. I could tell you all this and more, in considerable detail, but the gastronomic events that followed us the next day might put an end to your desire to listen.

Bhatmara Bhai's conclusion? Revolving Restaurant for drinks, yes. For food, maybe not.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)