Kathmandu:

In the heart of Thamel is The Third Eye restaurant, which has an Indian and a Continental menu that is perfectly balanced.

While our hosts Martin Kromer and Tejender Shrestha were hospitality itself, so was the Shrimp Cocktail Marie Rose with a Thousand Island Dressing that struck a welcoming sweetish note with a hearty undertone.

The Thousand Island Dressing has at least four ways of making it — with the base of mayonnaise being added to with different things ranging from chopped eggs and chopped olives to chilli sauce and ketchup. Legend has the Thousand Island Dressing (which can make a Shrimp Cocktail heavenly) being created by a Belgian Chef from Chicago, whose wife on first tasting it remarked on the sauces and many fillings saying it resembled a thousand islands.

While my guest Javed Ashraf talked about Thamel being amongst his favourite places to Kromer, Janak Budasainee served the Chateaubriand London House Steak. It had a first taste of the gentleness of mushrooms in a laid back red wine reduction, then came its Béarnaise sauce complete with reduced vinegar giving the steak a second under taste of sharpness.

The Chateaubriand comes from England and was brought to France by the Vicomte de Chateaubriand in the 1800’s, and was made with lemon juice and white wine from a good year.

“We had a good October, November this year”, said Martin, “The trekkers came in droves.”

Javed, a devout trekker, discussed routes and guide books while Chef Bishnu Bista discussed the ingredients of the Chicken a la Kiev, which was perfectly bomb shaped covered with bread crumbs and when you cut it, butter mingled with smokey goodness that flowed.

“I use minced mushroom, parsley and of course a generous helping of butter,” said Bista.

The Kiev can also have chives and tarragon, but Bista preferred his mixture as did we. Strangely it had a taste of mellow cheese. It must have been the magic of the flautist who was playing outside our window seat while selling flutes.

We debated having the Tournedos Rossini, which was grilled tenderloin with mushroom, red wine sauce, chicken liver pate, bacon and parsley butter on top. But passed on the dish created in 1829 by William Tell composer Gioachino Rossini who had given up writing operas in favour of cooking. He also found a way to stuff macaroni with foie gras with a sliver syringe.

Instead of the Rossini, we had Janak bring us the Stroganoff.

People are remembered for one thing. Count Paul Stroganoff in the court of Tsar Alexander III is remembered for living well and creating any number of dishes enriched with sour cream and frequently seasoned with a touch of mustard.

And what a balancing act the Stroganoff turned out to be with its gentle flavour of white wine cream sauce and its kicker of gherkins and pickled onions heightening the musky mushroom taste, going perfectly with the whitest of white rices. It was a perfect picture. In fact The Third Eye prides itself on presentation, which the photographer in Javed would have liked to capture as he does the mountains. I wondered if I would choose the mountains or the food if I could take pictures.

I think that Martin and I would go for the food.

But Javed, who has an exuberance in all things, would find it hard put to choose between his many passions.

The Count Stroganoff in him would settle for the mountains with Martin and me bringing the food along from The Third Eye. Call 4260289.