PICS: RUBY TUESDAY
Vootoo Food Voutique in Lazimpat is owned by DJ Raju along with Ashutosh Shrestha and Sanjay Gupta. They claim to be avid foodies and this is their endeavour to bring fine food at affordable prices to fellow Kathmanduites. Vootoo, which is an anglicised version of the Newari bhutu or kitchen, is a snazzier and more expensive version of the bhattis that dot the streets of Kathmandu.
It boasts a large open terrace and comfortable sofas and is a good spot to kill a few hours with a glass of beer while soaking up the sounds of the city. It's clean and spare and the owners have made efforts to give it a Nepali touch by having lamp shades made out of iron kadais and aluminum wash bowls- ubiquitous items in every self-respecting Nepali kitchen. Soothing music streams through the speakers, and the ambience is inviting and non-intimidating.
The menu sports items that will shock, excite and disgust patrons, depending on how much they are used to Newari delicacies. There are stuffed and fried goat lungs, buffalo tripe filled with said animal's bone marrow, raw minced meat, tongue, brain, ears. Think of any organ and in all likelihood it's on the menu. There is also Nepali style BBQ (sekuwa) and fried soya beans (bhatmas sadeko) and roasted peanuts (badaam sadeko) along with spicy potato pickle (piro alu ko achar). And all of this can be washed down with a multitude of beverages from the very well-stocked bar.
But, and this is a big but, a restaurant is ultimately judged by its food and sometimes more importantly the service. If I walked into a bhatti, I could have ordered the same dishes, and the surly sauji or sauni would probably plunk the plates in front of me and not say a word. I got pretty much the same treatment at Vootoo albeit slightly more hygienic. Having to wait for a glass of water, dealing with a brusque waiter who would rather be doing something else and to top it all, a strand of hair floating in my momo sauce completely dampened my experience.
The rest of the meal was satisfactory. I recommend the Vootoo Alu (Rs 120), thick potato wedges in a crispy, crumbly crust served with spicy tomato sauce and mayonnaise. The buff momos (Rs 120) themselves are quite tasty and not saturated with masala, the achar, without the offending hair, is nice, cold and tangy. The pork chop (Rs 390) is tender and well seasoned. The chicken curry with rice (Rs 190) could have been better. The pieces of meat were succulent and delicious, but they were doused in sauce overpowered with cloves that just served to drown all the other flavours.
Vootoo is definitely a nice place and I would tell people to give it a try because of its accesibilty and reasonable price. However, a fancy name and fancier premises do not guarantee a fine dining experience. It's about delivering what is expected and showing commitment towards your guests. Vootoo would do well to invest in training its staff to be friendlier and more hospitable.
Also, there is a 40 minute wait for yomari, the traditional Newari sweetmeat made of rice dough stuffed with molasses, so skip the only other option- ice cream and head downstairs to Coffee Escape and indulge in some creamy cheese cake with a pot of Earl Gray tea, remedies guaranteed to banish thoughts of the not-so-nice meal you just endured upstairs.
At the mouth of Lazimpat, near the rear end of Narayanhiti Museum, inside the big white gates opposite Hotel Ambassador. Go around the back after the parked cars and up a flight of stairs.