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Dining out in Nepal - Review of Papillon Rosé -French fine dining in Kathmandu? Mais oui monsieur!

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

It’s not often I blog about restaurants. Yes I’ve been fortunate to review many here in the UK as a judge for some regional eat out competitions, but this is a first for Nepal. I had to write this; I couldn’t just walk past…

I had been asked by friends in Kathmandu to meet them at the recently opened Papillon Rosé, located on the first floor at the Silver Mountain School of Hotel Management in Lainchaur, about five minutes walk from the British Embassy. The well-known Silver Mountain School trains young Nepali and international students in the culinary arts but goes to a different level of food experience with the addition of this French inspired eatery.

It's Saturday evening and there’s a friendly buzz in the air as I enter the restaurant. I’m met by a young student whose quiet professionalism and confident welcome belies his years. The décor is a mix of Nepal red brick, brown and blues and half drawn white blinds. There’s some funky mood music quietly adding to the background vibe. It’s very much Kathmandu meets Paris, and the result is a pleasant and cosy up-market bistro. I’m shown to my table, from where I can view proceedings into the busy kitchen beyond, by a glass viewing pane. I can see a young team working diligently bowed over plates and seemingly ballet like, they move with grace carefully placing endless food items on plates. It’s kitchen ballet and an absorbing performance by tall white hats bowing and raising in unison. I’m offered a range of international aperitifs and as I’m a Scot, advised of the range of malt and deluxe whiskies on offer. I’m happy to accept! Back here in my homeland we Scots are more regularly to be seen taking a good whisky before dining rather than the once traditional sherry that our forefathers would have participated in. The whisky (and the great company I’m in) stimulate my taste buds and tum and I’m eagerly waiting to start eating.

We are going to enjoy the Carte du Jour set 6-course menu and the production opens with an amuse bouche of beetroot hummus and molecular caviar sitting on a fresh sourdough of rum and raisin. What a clever and playful dish. Stunning in its presentation but with cunning flavours that come alive in the palate. It’s great to see simple ingredients such as a beetroot elevated to the central focus on the plate- astonishingly good.

Next up we are pleasantly surprised by an hors d’oeuvre of salade de quinoa aux crevettes. A small mound of quinoa is fortified by pomegranate, mint, avocado and cilantro, topped by a lightly grilled prawn- it’s lush! The flavours are fresh, light and the cilantro also seems to cleanse the palate, ready for the soup course.

Ah the soup, but what sorcery is this?! Those dancers in the kitchen have taken the humble yellow pumpkin and built layers of flavour with shallots, some subtle garlic, thyme and celery. Was that just a hint of paprika coming through on the second or third waves of flavours? Too clever this lot, that’s maybe the best soup I’ve tasted in a restaurant in a very long time-amazing. This is wave after wave of flavours, food as art and molecular gastronomy all bundled into a melange of culinary experiences – so good.

The poisson follows and I’m fearful that the trout might be overcooked, so easy to do. My fears come to naught though as I’m served a boneless fillet of truite that is perfectly firm, with a delicate cheese sauce topping. A river fish that is served with cheese sauce- shouldn’t work friends. But it does, and the presentation is set off with some very clever knife work on side vegetables on top of a beetroot couscous. A triumph.

We take a short break before the viande. I’m grateful and wondering at the same time, can these young chefs sustain this high level of culinary delight? What was I thinking - of course they could..

I like their approach in this kitchen - taking simple ingredients and turning them into something special and the poulet roti was no exception. A perfectly cooked and tender portion of on-the-bone meat is seasoned perfectly and has a deep rich flavoured pan developed jus. There’s turned carrot, green beans and delightful baby potatoes supporting this poulet and it reminds me of an authentic French dining experience a long time ago – another time another place..

Just as I am thinking I can’t take much more of this wonderfulness, I am happy to hear the dessert is an old favourite of Îles flottantes, floating islands, bliss. The crème anglaise has maybe slightly more egg flavour than the vanilla that should be the predominate in this dish, but the floating meringue is perfect, light and holding its texture atop the crème. It’s the perfect ending to the production and I’m grateful for the light touch.

I am very pleasantly stuffed by the end of this culinary masterclass and being honest, blown away by the skills shown by this young team of chefs. I think about just how great they are going to be in some years’ time when they gain more industry experience. For these young culinary artistes today however under head chef Subhadip Majumder, they are learning from a man whose international career is paying dividends and shaping their futures from an early age. I should also mention the lovely servers who attended our table. Discreet, unobtrusive and attentive without being overly fussy or straight faced the way you see in some so-called fining dining establishments. This is a very friendly, smiley yet professional team who are also very knowledgeable about the food on the plates they are serving.

The directors at Silver Mountain School deserve many accolades for their vision to develop young chefs in Nepal but also for making this wonderful restaurant open to the public to enjoy as well. Go now, go soon, because in a very short space of time, you won’t be able to get a reservation in this place, it’s that good.

Papillon Rosé is situated at Silver Mountain School of Hotel Management in Lainchaur, Kathmandu 44600. Call 014515038 or +977 9841298804 for reservations.

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