It cannot be refuted that Paddington is a place that oozes hip. Filled with designer boutiques, art galleries, hole-in-the-wall style cocktail bars, organic produce grocers and antique stores it is a thriving hub of second generation hippie lifestyle. I've been exploring the suburb for months and still haven't tried all its secrets. In fairness, however, this is partially because I keep getting drawn back to the same place: Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n, the best restaurant Paddington has to offer.
This is no idle claim, there are some great places along Paddington's main drag. But the simple elegance of this store is everything that Brisbane aspires to be; laid back, unpretentious, multi-cultural, high-class, affordable living. It is, at its essence, great food and atmosphere while still being entirely accessible.
Located early on Latrobe Terrace coming from the city, Kathmandu is a converted house tucked into a corner behind some trees and can be easy to miss. Look for the traditional prayer flags hanging from the nearby branches. Its parking is a massive plus considering its location, as Latrobe is notorious for never having a space free.
The interior is cosy and well-furnished making you feel at once comfortable and far away within the Himalayas somehow. Two closed off interior rooms are set up with cushions over a low table for those interested in being authentic, and for those who aren't there are standard tables and chairs inside and outside.
The staff are faultlessly friendly and efficient. It's clear that you are welcome the moment you step inside and will be served like royalty. The wait for meals is ridiculously short, usually fifteen minutes at most whether sitting in or taking out.
As for the food itself, it doesn't disappoint. The starters must be recommended when eating there: from the unexpected cinnamon tang in the spring rolls to the crisp pastry of the samosas, the names may be familiar but you will not have their like in Brisbane.
As for mains, the options are many and varied though not all of them are knock-outs. In general it's a better idea to try the vegetarian to the meat courses. The former is flavourful, original, generous and makes you feel genuinely clean and refreshed afterwards, while the latter tends towards the same taste you can get at any standard Indian restaurant, though there are exceptions. The Gorkha lamb, for instance, is particularly nice and the choila sadheko rounds out the sweep of fantastic starters.
Perhaps the chief fault of Kathmandu is a tiny one. The food is sold to standard mild, medium, hot range of spice, but in this case mild translates to "none" and medium to "too much." For those who like it hot there is probably joy to be found, but for everyone else I recommend sticking to mild.
In all, Kathmandu is the perfect place for a quiet dinner of any sort. The feeling of leaning back with a milk tea after polishing off three courses of fantastic vegetarian food and talking with friends and family just can't be beaten. Take my word and treat yourself. You won't regret it.