Opened in a prime location at the heart of the capital city, the Hard Rock Cafe Kathmandu, a franchise of the famous American Hard Rock Cafe chain is synonymous for being the beauty and the beast of restaurants. With its official launch set for January 2022 the restaurant has gone all out to please and welcome its customers.
The décor and ambiance at the rock and roll theme establishment, has many distinct qualities. Starting with the unique guitar shaped structure at the entrance of the building itself, the restaurant’s entrance leads into a merchandise shop built out of glass and concrete showcasing various merchandise from keyrings, t-shirts, and hoodies, all inked with the restaurant's brand name. From there a modern lift comprising of a touch screen instead of a traditional button takes you up to the main entrance of the restaurant.
Upon entering the main restaurant, attendees dressed in elegant black shirts and pants, stand next to various memorabilia depicting Lady Gaga, Rihanna and other celebrities, ready to guide you to your table with an option of two seating areas- indoors and outdoors.
There’s a casual vibe to the spaciously open outer seating area with its rows of couches and soft music in the background. The inner area’s mixture of stylised rust and metallic furnishing and rows of twinkling lights put on an extra layer of spice and flavour. Likewise, the non-stop music being played in the high-end music system and the collection of rock and roll memorabilia of some of the world’s famous musicians like Bryan Adams, Jimmy Page, Metallica, Lady Gaga, BB King, and many more, obviously suggest only one thing- a haven for music lovers.
I was driven crazy by the signature guitars of Jimmy Page and Metallica along with Michael Jackson's iconic hat and shoes that made his moonwalk world famous as well as the t-shirt of legendary Wonderful Tonight composer Eric Clapton. This unique blend of melody and music in a place that was very well known for it had a relaxing effect on the atmosphere and the service being offered which our team found quite soothing.
According to Abhishek Sanwa, director of the restaurant, the Hard Rock Cafe Kathmandu is an amalgamation of music, good food, entertainment, and fine service all blended together to provide a special moment for the restaurant’s customers.
After a short tour of the restaurant’s various memorabilia guided by a member of staff, we sat down at one of the tables inside. The director suggested that we take one of the cozy couches outside, but, as a hardcore music lover I had to decline his offer, as Metallica’s Whiskey in the Jar started blasting out the stereos.
As the music changed to another of Metallica's hits, Turn the Page, my welcome drink, a Strawberry Basil Lemonade filled with in-house-made sour mix and Strawberry blend, arrived to quench my thirst. The cafe has an iron bar that offers lines and varieties of mocktails and cocktails to thirsty customers. As I took the first sip, the pulpy and fresh juicy strawberries mixed with lemonade and cold ice cubes refreshed both my mood and my mouth. Though mocktails are regular staples at major restaurants, the Hard Rock one’s were mostly on the sour side.
Meanwhile, Jon Bon Jovi's Always kicked off the appetizer, which was a California Salad- a mix of pomegranate pepita seeds, soaked black beans, sweet corn, lettuce, chopped apples, cheese, grilled chicken, lettuce marinated and olive oil. The freshness of the fruits and the mild flavour of the ingredients drove me on. Not only was the salad fresh, it was also sprinkled with the right amount of chopped herbs and it was so delicious that I lost track of the songs being played in the background. Soon after a waiter arriving at our table with our next course, a Jumbo Combo.
The Jumbo Combo turned out to be a combination of five dishes- spring rolls served with ranch dressing, Brassica cheddar cheese, Tupelo style chicken with honey mustard, chicken flavoured onion rings with BBQ sauce, and chicken wings with blue cheese. It was a type of main course as the director suggested the dish would be enough for three to four people. Additionally, he suggested we try the blue cheese with the chicken wings. After having a bite of each of the dishes, we could tell the staff knew what they were talking about. Their devotion and passion were evident in the way the dishes were prepared, especially served with the blue cheese.
Though some of the items were naturally oily, as they were deep fried, all the dishes were delicious. I took a shine to the chicken wings and Tupelo chicken in particular. The well-cooked pieces of chicken were wonderfully seasoned, juicy, and tender. Also, the Brassica bread with salsa topping served with cheddar cheese had a distinctive flavour. The bread was crunchy and the salsa added a sour taste and the creamy cheese just added to the aroma of the dish.
As I started to feel full from all the eating and Don't Look Back in Anger started to play, Sanwa shared that the cafe has a current staff count of 130 and has had significant investment. Managed by American GM Cenk Levant Baysan, the restaurant serves customers from 11:30 AM to midnight on weekdays and 11:30 AM to 2 Am on weekends. It also offers live music of various genres six days a week excluding Sunday.
As we kept talking a waiter brought our final dish to the table, the Hard Rock Legend Burger. The burger, grilled buffalo meat in cheese, comes either well done or medium well. It also includes a topping of fried onion and comes with Sriracha mayo, ketchup, and fries. Upon the first bite, I could feel the flavour of the meat as being slightly dry and juicy. The burger with its mild taste stood out and felt quite unique from the usual burgers served in major restaurant outlets in Kathmandu.
In the end, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the restaurant, taking in the service, food, music, and unique ambiance of the Hard Rock Cafe. With its distinctive qualities, the whole experience was remarkably pleasant. It will definitely grow into being a must-visit place for music and food lovers.