Kronenbourg 1664 and Wicked Crispy Chicken, what a lovely combination!” That’s what I was thinking as I left the Wicked Spoon, Fork and Rock Restaurant and Bar in Jhamsikhel after spending an hour or so in its cool and welcoming premises with a tall glass of the famous French lager and an enticing plate of the rocking restaurant’s specialty dish.
The pleasure was all the more intensified due to my companions, Chef Ajay Maharjan and bartender Anish Maharjan, sharing the table with me and sharing their thoughts on food and drinks in general, and in particular, on the celebrated lager from Gorkha Brewery that has made a terrific entry in the Nepal market. “Wicked Crispy Chicken goes very well with this fine pale lager,” stated the chef, “and both are very popular with our guests.”
I, being somewhat of an amateur cook myself, and finding the chicken to be excitingly crunchy and such a treat for the palate, aside from having a really appetizing look, naturally wanted to know the recipe. The chef smiled, an amiable man, clearly, and I listened expectantly. “Chicken breast is marinated and allowed to rest for about 20 minutes. Then, it is coated with white pan crumb and cornflakes, and deep fried,” he said.
Not so fast, I thought, having some knowledge of cooking from quite a bit of experimentations in my kitchen. “What is the marinade made of?’ I asked, knowing fully well that it must be the most important part of the recipe.
“We use Wicked Masala,” answered Chef Ajay, smiling “and it’s a secret of our restaurant, so I’m sorry, can’t reveal it!”
Well, it wouldn’t be polite to press him further, so I veer away from this delicate subject, at the same time thinking that it must be something else to impart such a delicious flavor to the dish. Before I forget, let me also note here that this wickedly tempting dish was accompanied by wonderful tartar sauce (“Goes well with crumb items,” according to the chef) and a small salad with dressing of honey, mustard, and vinegar (the combination resulting in a delightful tangy flavor).
Now, what other dishes does the chef suggest that would go well with a crisp and exhilarating pale lager like Kronenbourg 1664? Surely, such a famed beer has to have accompaniments that do justice to its worthy reputation as the most popular French beer around the globe. He recommends another of the restaurant’s popular concoctions—Peppered Chicken (shredded chicken marinated in…yes, you guessed it… Wicked Masala, which is then dipped in flour and deep fried. “Garlic Prawn and Corn Pakoda, too, give this world-class lager excellent company,” said the chef.
An interlude here, if you please. I got up to have a tour of the premises, guided by the manager, Mr. Raju Shrestha, a very helpful guy, who by the way, informed that theirs was a ‘fine dining’ establishment. The restaurant has five dining areas on two floors; all the rooms having their own unique characteristics; comfort and coziness, however, being common to all. There’s a stage at the far end of the large front dining area, opposite the well-stocked bar, where live music is played on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. This is one restaurant that’s ideal for holding small and mid-sized parties, of which apparently, four or five are held every month, currently. Another valuable aspect of the restaurant is the spacious parking place just across the road outside, next to St. Mary’s School.
Having satisfied my innate curiosity, and having been suitably impressed by the wonderful ambience of the restaurant, I sat down at my table, now turning to bartender Anish, whose attention was on the glass of Kronenbourg 1664 that he was drinking, expecting, no doubt, to be queried on his opinion about the celebrated beer. His opinion was quite succinct, “It is mellow and crisp, very smooth, and with a delicate bitterness that teases the palate. Excellent beer, I must say.” Having tended bars most of his professional life, he should know! Indeed, Kronenbourg 1664 lives up to its high reputation, that was my view, as well, and I enjoyed my glass till the last drop. It was a pity that I couldn’t have more than a glass, not when I had to return to the office.
However, the score and more patrons in the restaurant (all young boys and girls, some couples) had no such qualms. A couple were whooping intermittently at the pool table beside the stage, while inside the convivial, softly lighted room fitted with comfortable sofas and long tables behind the front section, it looked like the youthful patrons were intent on settling down long into the evening, although it was still mid-afternoon. A group were gathered around a shisha hookah, the light smoke enveloping them with the sweet aroma of vanilla.
Everyone was obviously having a great afternoon! Helped certainly by the refreshing drinks that the bar offered—cool cocktails, of which Margarita and Pina Colada seemed to be the favorites, cocktail shots with intriguing names like Last Wish (flaming) and Brain Hemorrhage!, shots like tequila, Baileys, and JD Honey, and many brands of whisky, vodka, and rum. And, of course, the most popular of all—tall, chilled glasses of Kronenbourg 1664, with its truly refreshing flavor, and Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc (fruity, with a hint of citrus and coriander spice; very uplifting!). Both, without doubt, most welcome additions to the elite list of premium beers in Nepal.