THE MOVEABLE FEAST: Where the good times roll


The Roadhouse Café in Pulchowk, Patan is a hop, skip and a jump away from where I live, but I prefer getting there by car. Chakra Budha Magar, who is the Maitre’de, used to serve me in The Roadhouse in Thamel, and he has been a welcoming, “neighbour” for the years that The Roadhouse had been open in Patan. “Sometimes it gets so packed here that we have to ask people to come back,” said Chakra.

It was getting that way the night we went. Japanese, Nepalis, Russians and Americans crowded the place as Bishnu, who was serving us, brought the Nachos. The menu describes them as, “Crisp tortillas chips layered with ranchera sauce, refried beans and melted cheese, topped with sour cream and jalapeno peppers”.

The taste went from the salted crispness of corn chips to mixed flavours of chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, refried beans. All of which came gently through the cream we added. It was as original as Chef Ignacio Anaya created them in 1943 at a small Mexican town, just across the border from the US, for some Texan ladies on a shopping trip.

“People like our pizzas. They are wood fired and special,” said Chakra. And they are famous.

The brothers, Chandan and Ranjan Kayestha (cool, collected, together people), who own Roadhouse have opened a branch near Bhatbhateni on the fame of their menus, “Our Specialty”.

I order pizzas at home from Roadhouse like the simple Margherita, which was invented in 1889 in Naples, Italy for the visiting King Umberto I and Queen Margherita. A good Margherita pizza always comes in colours of the Italian flag. The green is basil, the white is mozzarella cheese, and the red is tomato sauce. The 16 Roadhouse pizzas have a smokiness about them that doesn’t detract from their ingredients.

While dining at the restaurant, I enjoy ordering from their select but very original menu which has a great Chicken Burrito which is, “grilled chicken, refried beans rolled in flour tortillas”. Sour cream makes for an excellent dip.

The textures and the taste are true to their beginnings south of Los Angeles and their popularisation in 1930 when Mrs Rosa Borquez opened El Cholo Spanish Café in Los Angeles, where the most popular item was the Burrito — that meant “little burro or donkey”. The saying was you would be a burro if you didn’t try the very special dish.

I once took my grand daughter Heyshe to The Roadhouse, where the seven-year-old finished my Club Sandwich. It’s a testimonial to The Roadhouse Club. It has chicken, ham, lettuce, tomato and egg and is balanced so that it is slightly moist without being wet, and there is still the pitch perfect taste as you bite in. It is served with a pickle or relish made with chopped carrot, capsicum, cucumber, black pepper, red chilly boiled in vinegar, and according to Chef Rajesh Sijapati, it could keep for a week to 10 days.

The Club Sandwich gets an added dimension with the tart relish. According to Craig Claiborne of The New York Times, the Club Sandwich originated in the kitchens of the Saratoga Club when it was changed to a casino in 1894. Famous restaurant critic James Villas is convinced they were first made in the club cars of trains. He says, “I consider this sandwich one of the most luscious of America creations. I could eat one for lunch every single day”, which is what I feel the frequency for visiting The Roadhouse Café should be whatever deliciousness you eat. Call 5521755.