Review: Olive Garden (Italian –Fine Dining)
Hotel Radisson, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal. Ph # 999-1-4411818
If you are already smiling after reading the cuisine above I know what you have in mind, Italian again, Huh. All I can really say in my defence is that the rainy evening that it was yesterday, had us craving for some comfort food and that’s what Italian has become for us after our age long love affair with the cuisine. It’s also the overcast weather that kept us away from venturing out on our first night in the City that almost sleeps by 9 p.m, but that’s quite obvious in Mountains.
Olive Garden, one of the in-house restaurants of the Hotel that we are staying at boasts of being a fine dining experience in the City. Well, frankly I’d beg to differ on that for despite all the efforts that have been put in to make it appear exquisite, it remains quite old school, for in our modern times we cannot really appreciate the artificial grape vine branches running through the four walls and ceilings, almost failing to create the intended garden ambiance. Though I have to acknowledge the efforts being put in laying down the tables quite perfectly, large and medium goblets , fine cutlery, a small tea-light to add the romantic touch and clean, hygienic drapes in olive and white to cover the otherwise rickety tables. An open busy kitchen counter was visible at a far end where the chef carefully plated the dishes before sending it out to be served. Despite all the efforts the place could definitely do a little better with some modern touch to the entire décor. Besides, the restaurant was also mostly empty but I am in no capacity to comment on that for we walked in just in time before the last order.
The attendant was a wonderful charming person, soft spoken and courteous, perhaps a characteristic of the Mountain regions. I really give the staff an extra mark for admitting us late and still showing all the patience through the night. The service was good, prompt and food was served warm and with a smile without fail.
The ritual in Italian dining started off with a bottle of a fine Chardonnay wine (though we ordered a French variety from the elaborate list) and a basket of fresh toasted garlic bread that came complimentry. I missed the assorted Italian bread basket where you have a variety to chose from, not saying that the one served was bad, it was good too but we always want more. A look at the watch and we felt sorry for we had kept chatting over our wine for too long keeping the entire restaurant held up for us, not that they complained but we decided to let go of any starter or entrée or what the Italian would call ‘the antipasti’. So our straight order of a Fresh Mushroom Risotto and Fettuccini Madonna, were served absolutely hot without much of a wait and in large portions. The Fettuccini Madonna with chicken, spinach cooked in the traditional lemon butter sauce was wholesome with a load of crispy chicken slices, though we felt it needed a little extra sauce which was immediately fixed on request to make it a delightful bite. The Fresh Mushroom Risotto certainly stood out; it offered the much desired depth of comfort in every spoonful.The creamy risotto with the richness of Parmesan and chunks of Mushrooms was pretty much in line with the restaurant’s promise ‘food for soul’.
The Spiced Apple Crumble with Ice-cream was quite comforting too, though I’d have preferred a fresh hot apple crumble on the chilled night but then the chilled portion too had its flavours intact, Strong flavours of Cinnamon and the dense Apple crumble went quite well with the smooth vanilla ice-cream. The house made chocolates with peanuts that were served with our bill were a perfect sweet bite to end a good dinner.
The Food was definitely good and fresh, though some little details like more options with fresh Italian breads, or variety of Olive Oils, or Even fresh house made Ice-creams with a more contemporary decor would be more welcoming.
The reality remain that there’s a long way to go before the place can actually be termed a fine dining restaurant and then eventually see more customer perhaps. We were billed to a total of 5717/- Nepali Rupee including taxes (Rs. 2200 for our bottle of wine and the rest for food). The fair price was a relief and adds to the over-all rating of the place that’s definitely a wroth try for the quality of food that’s being served here.