I was a little hesitant about visiting Noir Fennel, a six-month-old restaurant that primarily serves a fusion of Indian and French cuisine. As someone who appreciates and mostly sticks to typical Nepali food, the combination of these two seemingly discordant cuisines did not sound very appealing to me. But after hearing good things about it from a friend, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try out the restaurant. And am I glad I did because after trying out a bunch of dishes there, I only have good things to say about the eatery and I definitely plan on going there again.
Located at Lazimpat, opposite Hotel Ambassador, Noir Fennel can look intimidatingly fancy from the outside. With a floor to ceiling glass pane overlooking the streets right next to the entrance of the restaurant, mood lightning, and swanky padded chairs—all of which can be seen from the outside—it collectively gives that vibe. But once you enter the restaurant, you will be surprised at how cozy and welcoming it actually looks and feels up close. It’s grand, yes, but it’s grand in a comforting way.
The first thing you see after entering is the bar area situated at the far end of the restaurant. This, according to the founder Resh Maskey, is an intentional move and everything else in Noir Fennel complements this area. The walls of Noir Fennel are painted in a serene blue color with a matching black, grey and maroon/brown wallpaper in a small segment of the wall.
The restaurant has multiple seating arrangements with tables for groups of two, four and six and can fit over 90 customers at once. The bar area is also lined with some high rise stools perfect for those who come to the restaurant by themselves. Additionally, the seating area of the restaurant is also sectioned off into three parts—the main seating space, a private lounge and a small smoking section to the side of the main space divided by glass. The private lounge also has its own smoking zone.
Pots and vases of plants litter the restaurant. There is also a plant shelf in the main space of the restaurant—in between the smoking zone and the bar. You will also notice photos of some famous international ballet dancers stretching their bodies into elegant poses in different cities around the world, all of which were apparently captured by Maksey’s photographer friend. All of this combined with mellow tunes in French and English playing in the background make you feel at ease at Noir Fennel.
I visited Noir Fennel pretty early and there was no one (other than the staff) present at the restaurant for a majority of my stay. I’m assuming that is why I had to wait for quite a while before I was served the food. But once the first dish was served, the rest of the dishes followed very quickly. I tried five dishes and a drink at the restaurant.
I started out with Les Epinards (Rs 475), a flash fried baby spinach chat with fresh vegetables and bhujia that had a sweet and tangy flavor. You’re supposed to eat this as soon as it is served to enjoy the many textures in this dish. I then had the Croquette (Rs 350) made from mashed potatoes, coconut, scallions, cilantro, peanuts, green onions, shakhar and coconut milk topped with thin eggplant skin; and the Puri—a long pizza-esq dish stuffed with heavy Nepali style curry and three different varieties of cheese topped with a half cooked egg.
After this I tried the Chowpatty (Rs 250) which is a typical Indian style chat named after a beach in Mumbai where a lot of vendors sell a similar kind of chat in the evening. Chowpatty was my favorite dish out of everything I tried at Noir Fennel mainly because of its crunchy texture and savoury flavor. The last dish I had at Noir Fennel was their Root Salad (Rs 450) which is, as the name suggests, a light salad made from a variety of root vegetables. I particularly enjoyed the freshness of this salad.
I ended my meal with Brave Heart (Rs 850), a spicy drink made with tequila and sprite served with a jalapeno and a slice of fresh lime in a salt rimmed glass. Brave Heart is one of the many signature cocktails at Noir Fennel.
In general, I liked the dishes I tasted at the eatery. All of their dishes play with a multitude of flavors and you can’t quite figure out the ingredients used by yourself. The first bite excites your palate as you taste a few familiar flavors with some fresh new tastes that are pleasant yet unsettling at the same time. Maskey, who also designed the interior of the restaurant, put together the menu himself, filling it with his own recipes that incorporates aspects of regional cuisines from all of the places he has travelled to till date. Even though he never learned cooking professionally, his passion for food and curiosity for new, unique flavors is reflected spectacularly in all the dishes served at Noir Fennel.
Noir Fennel is where you must be if you enjoy sampling and enjoying new dishes and flavors. It is bound to surprise and delight you.