Backpacker oriented Thamel is a frequent stopover before and after trekking in the Himalayas, with shops selling just about anything you might need on the trail and a variety of international restaurants to suit nearly any taste. It’s crowded and touristy but sometimes convenience makes it worth it.
We returned to this central Thamel location where we had stayed on our previous visit in 2012. The mid-range-guest house is decorated with old family photos and antique looking furniture and is a more charming choice for the price range. It’s also set back from the street and is an oasis from the bustle of Thamel.
The manager is gracious and accommodating. Although sometimes difficult to understand his boisterous laugh forgives any small miscommunications. Our room was upgraded from deluxe to super deluxe.
The spacious room with a large bathroom was quiet at night and included good amenities, an in-room safe, a firm comfortable mattress, nice sheets and plush towels. The wifi is slow at times but generally works.
Breakfast – 2 eggs, choice of meat, potatoes, juice and tea or coffee (French press) – is served on their covered terrace. Surrounded by greenery it’s a pleasant place to start the day.
Third Eye is a highly rated Indian restaurant located a few doors down from the Ambassador Garden Home. Our first day in country we were tired and had an early dinner, arriving before 6PM. By the time we left around 7 the place had filled both inside and on the courtyard terrace. It turned out to be a perfect evening for dining al fresco.
We had a lighter supper of a half order of tandoori chicken, aloo gobi (cauliflower and potatoes) and garlic nan. Flavors were good but milder than we are used to for Indian food. The tandoori chicken was disappointing as it had been sitting a while and was not served fresh hot. The chicken was still warm but dry, especially the breast. Service is very friendly and efficient.
New Orleans Café
New Orleans Café, located a half block from the hotel, boasts a quaint interior with carved dark wood beams. The menu is an international mix of offerings, but not much suggests New Orleans. I tried the Greek salad and Jambalaya. The Greek salad included chunks of cucumber, tomato with rubbery local cheese and canned black olives.
The jambalaya was missing the andouille sausage that makes jambalaya jambalaya. It tasted fine just not like jambalaya but rather the trinity flavors (onion, bell pepper and celery) with chicken.
Don ordered the Choie la Kathmandu. The local fish dish with fish morsels in a barbeque sauce was served with chapatti and salad. Cash only.
La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita is also located in the heart of Thamal across the street from the Ambassador Garden Home. The upstairs Italian restaurant has a friendly euro vibe with red checkered table cloths and soft lighting. The menu has the usual pastas, pizzas and other Italian staples you would expect. Food is OK to good. Keep in mind this is still Nepal.
We started with the mixed crostini. Made ahead it wasn’t as crispy as it could have been and toppings were the best they could do – chopped canned olives and mushrooms, bland cheese and a flavorless pesto.
For mains we had the spaghetti Bolognese – very western tasting – and the grilled pork chop in a barbeque sauce. The sauce was not my favorite and it was not the most tender cut of meat, but it was well cooked. The accompanying French fries were fresh hot and crispy.
Service started out reasonably attentive but went south after the food was served and all the servers decided to have a chat at the front desk. We had considered ordering desert but decided not to waste the effort and just got the check instead.
Lunch at Pho 99
Specializing in Vietnamese dishes I was disappointed that they did not have beef pho, the traditional meat used in this dish.
The chicken variety was a very nice chicken noodle soup with Asian qualities but not really pho. Their shrimp summer rolls were freshly made but light on shrimp. Overall perfectly fine but still Thamal quality.
Lunch at Roadhouse Café
The Roadhouse Café was quiet at just after noon on a Thursday. The covered atrium is a pleasant place to hangout.
We ordered the chicken burrito and the chicken swarmi panini which looked like a burrito with grill marks. Both were tasty but did not resemble much the flavors of the respective dishes.
For links to all the posts in this series see the Nepal page.