Avish Acharya is a chartered accountant, currently working as Manager in Finance and Treasury at Laxmi Bank Ltd. He loves travelling to different places and is an avid food lover
Cibo Bistro is a tiny restaurant hidden in an alley in Pulchowk. As we entered, we were greeted by a sign that read ‘we use the freshest of ingredients for our meals’. I looked forward to a good, hygienic meal at the restaurant.
I was pleased by the tidiness around me and allured by the pleasant lighting and greenery. Framed pictures of food from
the menu around the room added to the appeal. A sign said, ‘Thirty per cent discount on beverages.’ We were thirsty and first ordered fresh juice and mint lemon soda. The soda was refreshing — with fresh lemon topped with grated mint leaves.
The restaurant had a limited menu that continued from blockade days. The menu boasted of French, Italian and other continental delicacies. Continental cuisine is usually healthy — less spices, less oil and added herbs. Therefore, it didn’t take me long to decide on my starter — Cibo Goat Cheese Salad.
The restaurant had a see-through glass kitchen, that was clean and orderly. The salad that I ordered arrived on time. The spinach looked fresh and was generously mixed with walnuts, olives and oven dried tomatoes topped with the right amount of salt and pepper and, of course, goat cheese. This was served with mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar, the sweetness of the latter blended perfectly with the salad. No doubting the freshness of food here, I thought.
When asked about their speciality, the attendant mentioned their famous Pita Bread. Therefore, I ordered Hummus and Moutabel with Pita Bread. It took some waiting and listening to the gentle music offered in the background for the dish to arrive. Pita Bread was served with dips of Hummus (chick pea blended in garlic and olive oil) and Moutabel (mashed eggplant). The dips were yummy and rich in their distinct flavours but the bread wasn’t as hot and soft as it should have been.
Of the few options for vegetarians, I opted for the Aglio Olio Spaghetti which was the beginning of dissatisfaction. Our attendant had trouble getting it on time due to the growing number of visitors. From the odd time lag in getting our glasses filled to forgetting a dish on our neighbour’s table, the mini-chaos was evident. After a long wait, we were served a plate of disappointments.
The spaghetti was mixed with sautéed garlic and red chilli flakes and topped with minced parsley. Few spoons and lo, I was disillusioned. The quantity was revoltingly less although I would have a hard time finishing the meal. Similar feelings of non-fulfilment ensued as my wife ordered the prawns and salmon-fillet.
When we were handed over the bill, we were not provided the 30 per cent discount on beverages as promised. We complained and later received our discounts but weren’t treated to the courteous apologies one would expect at a fine restaurant.
I admire the fresh, hygienic food and the tidy setting of Cibo Bistro. However, I hope we will be treated to better ‘value for money’ at this expensive restaurant the next time we come around.
Food quality: 6
Value for money: 3
Overall satisfaction value: 5
A version of this article appears in print on April 28, 2006 of The Himalayan Times.