Tucked in one of the smaller alleyways in Gairidhara is a cozy little eatery called Social Cafe. Going by their name, I had expected the cafe to have a clean and chic look with western inspired interior but I realized I had grossly misjudged the place by its name. Social Café is an amalgam of all things nice and it doesn’t stick to one theme or vibe.
“We didn’t have any specific ideas regarding the decor of the cafe space. We just wanted to give off a cozy and calm vibe and we didn’t want to spend an absurd amount of money decorating it,” says Bindu Ojha who owns and operates the cafe with her husband, Ranjan. They might not have decorated it very consciously, but the cafe looks straight out of an indie movie set.
The indoor space has a copper lantern hanging above every table and the space is artfully littered with musical instruments like a guitar and a bunch of flutes, and miniature copies of other instruments like harmonium, tanpura and tabla. Since the cafe building itself isn’t that big, the team has even turned their patio into an outdoor dining space.
What fascinated me the most was their tempo bar, which Bindu mentions is the first of its kind. They have used an old tempo (with a broken engine) as their drinks and bar corner. There is also a makeshift stage on the patio where local bands play live music every Friday evening. When this space is not being used as a performance stage, it gets turned into a seating space that can be shared by a large group of people.
There was also a large bookshelf full of what we at The Week like to call “airport novels” (light novels that you can finish in one or two sittings) next to the table where we were seated. Bindu revealed that although they initially installed that so that anyone who comes to enjoy their food could also indulge in some fun light reading while waiting for the food to be served, they have recently come up a scheme related to that. “If a customer finishes one of these books in a single sitting, they will be served a drink of their choice free of cost,” states Bindu.
Like their decor, Social Cafe’s menu isn’t limited to any specific genres. They have included a bunch of dishes that suit a Nepali youth’s palate perfectly. You’ll get everything from momos, fries and chicken chili to grilled pork, Caesar salad and Thai chin mushroom.
However, since they make all their food from scratch and don’t use any premade or canned ingredients, it takes quite a while for your order to be served. Bindu mentions that recently they have also launched their Happy Hour Lunch Menu that comprises of those items that can be made quickly and this has been specifically done in consideration of office workers who come to their cafe for lunch.
Location: Gairidhara, Kathmandu
Opening hours: 10 am to 10 pm (Sunday to Friday)
1 pm to 10 pm (Saturday)
Contact : 01-4427370
Additional: Service Charge
Delivery: Not available
Chicken and chips in a basket
Price: Rs 200
When it was served, the chicken pieces were laid out above the fries so the fries weren’t seen. Finding them underneath the chicken strips was a pleasant surprise. Both the chicken and the French fries were fried to perfection and had the satisfying crunch that one expects from fried food. The tangy sauce served alongside it delivered the flavor that this dish needed.
Greek Style Salad
Price: Rs 400
The Greek style salad served at Social Cafe is very light and refreshing. All of the leafy greens and vegetables used in this salad tasted very fresh and although I could see the sheen from the use of some vegetable oil on the leafy greens, I wouldn’t really call this dish oily. Since it’s a light dish, I would recommend you to order some other heavy dish alongside this one if you are hungry.
Homemade veg. chowmein
Price: Rs 180
Before critiquing this dish, I want to mention that I’m not a noodle person. So, don’t take everything I say about this chowmein seriously and consider trying it for yourself when you visit Social Café. This dish was a little bland for me. And although I appreciate the fact that the chef creates the noodles from scratch, the chowmein felt very heavy and wheat-y, more so than how I usually find chowmein to be.
Grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and red wine sauce
Price: Rs 500
This is the ultimate dish that you have to order when you visit Social Cafe. I loved everything about this dish. The chicken was finely grilled and the side of sautéed vegetables (asparagus and cauliflower) served with it nicely complemented the chicken. I did feel like the mashed potatoes was a little grainy, as in it could have been mashed a bit more, but it still tasted really good.
Price: Rs 200
Bindu mentioned that Social aloo is a customer favorite and that the recipe for it is something the cafe values a lot and the reason is very clear once you have a bite of this dish. One problem with fried potatoes at most restaurants is that they don’t add any flavoring, not even a bit of salt, to it but these potato wedges were crisp and full of flavor.
Mocktails: Virgin Mojito, Fruit Punch, Candelina, and Virgin Sunrise
Price: Rs 250 each
Mocktails are the quintessential (non-alcoholic) summer drink. And we were served four different varieties of it at Social Cafe. Although all four of these iced drinks were refreshing and tasty, I personally really liked the Virgin Sunrise. It was the sweetest of the bunch with just the right hint of sourness. All in all, these drinks did great to help us wash down our food as well as feel cool despite the rising temperature.