Keep the warmth in the cool summer evenings with barbecued meat from Urban Food Market and sides from Cafe Mitra.
Nestled between the bustle of typical Thamel shops, stepping into Cafe Mitra is like entering a summer garden party: low tables and cushioned chairs cosily arranged in the compound, while colored fairy lights hang from the trees. The grill, manned by co-organizer Urban Food Market, flutters with activity as a variety of meat and bratwursts are barbecued — it is the all-you-can-eat barbecue welcoming the summer of 2014, after all.
Cafe Mitra’s signature salad bar sits beside the grill. The four salads are meant to entertain your taste buds, alongside music from Sampanna and the Band for your ears, while the grillers do their thing. The cafe’s signature potato salad is generously doused in sesame and pepper, with a strong cheese texture over the firm potatos. If potato is not your carbohydrate of choice, there is wild rice salad: cubed tomatos, yellow bell peppers and cucumbers are tossed with rice in a lightly sour dressing. Cafe Mitra also offers a simple chickpea salad with a unique citrus dressing. The most interesting, however, is the simple bowl of watermelon, presented with balsamic vinegar and feta cheese. When tasted together, the vinegar and cheese register first, before the sweet watermelon juice bursts on the tongue, leaving a pleasant aftertaste.
The tangy salads provide a counterpoint to the salty and greasy varieties of meat available at the grill. A definite must-try is the smothered grilled chicken. The chicken drumstick is well-cooked, and the flavor permeates through thoroughly. Salty and peppery, the flavors behind this particular dish are a trade secret — mixed ground spices seem likely though.
Uncomplicated sausages and “dogs” make up the rest of the meat menu. The frankische (chicken) bratwurst is large, salty and juicy — perfect for a hotdog roll. The cheese and ham bratwurst is similar, only it tastes like the essence of a ham and melted cheese sandwich. The debrecziner (pork sausage) is smaller, like a chicken frank. Slightly overcooked with a crisp skin, bacon lovers will flock to the grill for seconds. The “dogs” are small patties of tenderloin and fish cake. Although the tenderloin’s marination isn’t a hundred per cent consistent, the flavor of beef shines through. For those who prefer a lighter taste, the fish cake dogs are certainly the way to go. Vegetarians are also somewhat catered for with veg kebabs. Consisting of cherry tomato, bell peppers and mushrooms cooked sweet, it is certainly different from the sour and savory salads.
After the sour, savory and salty, one would expect the palate to be complemented with sweet and sour, and Cafe Mitra doesn’t disappoint with its desserts. As if the lemon soufflé wasn’t convincingly sour, it comes with an additional dollop of sour cream. The only sweet treat to the pudding-like dish is the strawberry on top. The other dessert offered is ginger apple pudding. A simple brown square with thin apple slices held by sour cream on top, the pudding is warm and very sweet with only a hint of ginger.
Outside the buffet price of Rs. 1000, mocktails such as the sweet and Citrusy Rasp Lemon Tea (Rs. 150), and cocktails like the generously alcoholic Rosé Sangria (Rs 250) are also available to slake any thirst. Everest Beer is also available at Rs. 500 for two bottles.
The way the sides and drinks from Cafe Mitra frame Urban Food’s mains seamlessly is a sign of an ideal collaboration of taste — flavors exploding on the tongue in symphony throughout the evening as the music plays on.