In a space that already existed, a makeover that extended to name and ownership resulted in Café Soma – a small menu and shelves full of bestsellers with intriguing names as well as children’s reads with legendary references. A bookish café in true sense, Soma also serves as a secondhand bookstore for people willing to sell their books (with a catch though; only books bought from United Books can be sold back).

5 Ws

Where’s it located?
Jhamsikhel, next to the
mercedes-benz workshop
What to wear?
mute shades
Why drop in?
books, free wi-fi and fresh
When to visit?
work lunch for grown-ups,
weekend alternative to library
for kids
How much to carry?
a thousand for two with taxes
and coffee

Glass door cluttered with adverts and reviews, mute indoors, a crisp menu, wrought iron chairs with marble-top tables, a couple of couches with soft denim covers and walls hung with mounts of replicated photographs go into the making of Soma. Soma intendes to be known for its coffees and sandwiches besides the books, so that is all I’m gonna talk about.  

The sandwich menu offers multiple options ranging from Breaded Chicken with Pesto, veggie Cheese & Tomato to Grilled Beef Teriyaki. A sandwich lover must however make it a point not to miss the Ammachhi Chicken Relish. A spicy South Indian marinade of chicken shreds enclosed inside crisp and crunchy bread and accompanied by fries and fresh greens comprise this juicy consume. Though a sandwich, it makes for a filling midday meal for the adventure-seeking gastronome. Burgers and kids set are also served (unfortunately, only to the kids – my request for one was turned down right away).

A new menu was introduced in January. Though not new in a complete sense, a Café Special Pasta made its debut. The special spaghetti comes with a Nepali twist to the Italian specialty with use of soy sauce aplenty apparent in its brownish appearance. The bite-size chicken shreds used are succulent and the dish smells pleasantly of rosemary. In all, the spaghetti is a pleasurable experience for the palate and the gut.  

The desserts are my craze – their brownies are the best. With or without the ice cream, the brownies are so very gooey. The fact that when you cut through it, the portion lusciously crumbles and accumulates on the fork rather than spill all over the plate is the sexiest thing about the dessert. Try it for yourself with a paanch-rupiya-ko-glass (not literally) of lemongrass tea without sugar. You could also ask for some crêpes – fine reminiscence of French restaurants – with variations of banana and chocolate or sugar and lemon available.

I will be doing injustice if I forget to mention the organic coffee they use. The good part – their coffee beans are on sale (hold on, in small packets and airtight containers as well). And if you are a nuts person, you could also buy walnuts dipped in chocolate available in cute plastic wraps, equally apt for individual consumption and gifting your special one.

My Verdict
To begin with, the greatest challenge a café in this neighborhood faces is that it has to be a part and apart of the crowd at the same time. And the good thing about Soma is that they are not the least confused about what they are. However, my (ubiquitous) concern here (as well) is workplace camaraderie – I am a Nepali, so I very clearly understand all the talks that go on around among the service staff – professionalism also relates to the behavior you demonstrate towards your colleagues, not just your patrons.!

Furnishings   Simply arranged, minimalistic
Ambience   Looks warm, feels cold, heaters are available
Cutlery   General cutlery arranged interestingly
Service   Friendly service that can get casual
Restroom   Clean enough
My rating   (and a nod) Combined outcome of all the above