16-22 January 2015 #741

Hannah’s Cafe

Jamie Oliver influence is perhaps what sets Hannah’s café apart in the burgeoning café scene in Kathmandu

Tucked behind a little-known guesthouse and beautiful garden, Hannah’s cafe can be easily overlooked by tourists and locals. That is the intention behind the location of the café, according to eponymous owner Hannah, who prides on the café being a “low-profile” and “quiet” place for diners.

Walking through the beautiful Parisian front yard with flowers in full bloom, al fresco dining seemed to be the obvious choice. However, I would soon find out that having breakfast inside the café would promise an equally unforgettable experience.

Photos: Kenji Kwok

Dining inside was akin to eating comfortably at home. The interior of the café was reminiscent of a typical living room, with dishes stacked away in drawers, window ledges lined with photo frames, a fire place framed with potted plants, complete with two long sofas perfect for a lazy afternoon with books and a cuppa.

The food tasted and looked similar to a homemade breakfast, served without pretentious and unnecessary garnishes like coleslaw or parsley.

I went for the classic Big Breakfast (Rs 475) and it did not disappoint. The sunny side-up eggs, served on multi-grain toast were seasoned perfectly with sea salt and crushed pepper. With the usual works like fried bacon, sausages and grilled tomatoes, the breakfast was filling and surprisingly not very oily at all.

The loaded sandwich (Rs 395) stayed true to its name as it had ham, omelet and cheese packed in every bite. My only gripe was that the toast had lost its crunch by the time I dug into the second half of the sandwich. The star of the sandwich dish was the side salad. It was none of that usual half-hearted side of wispy lettuce with acerbic lemon juice as dressing — Hannah uses only fresh hydroponic salad greens like rocket leaves, arugula and red-leaf lettuce with sweet vinaigrette.

Choosing to use quality ingredients — even for “supporting” dishes like the salad — clearly paid off. I distinctly remember myself perusing the menu another time to check if they served that salad as a main dish. I was glad to find out that they do.

For Rs 225, you can have a breakfast salad with your choice of bacon, ham or egg. It was too bad that we were too full for another dish, but now I have another reason to take a trip back to Hannah’s.

The coffee, however, failed to pick up where the dishes left off. The cappuccino (Rs 160) had a slightly acidic aftertaste and the mocha latte (Rs 160) erred on the sweet side, so much that it could pass off as hot chocolate. When served, the coffee was barely aromatic, and did not suffice as a morning “pick me up”.

Displeasure did not brew despite the lacklustre coffee because ultimately, eating at Hannah’s was such an enjoyable experience.

The waiter did not rush us, and would keep busy with other duties while we ate heartily. Hannah would pop out of the kitchen occasionally to ask if we enjoyed our meal, leading to conversations about how she taught herself to cook through Jamie Oliver’s recipe books.

That “Oliver” influence is obvious in Hannah’s cooking and is perhaps what sets Hannah’s café apart in the burgeoning café scene in Kathmandu — her insistence on using only fresh, quality ingredients, fuss free plating, and keeping the café a quaint eatery that serves good old, honest fry ups.

Cynthia Choo

How to get there: Hannah’s café is in Dhobighat, right below Bethel Guesthouse .

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