The city of Udaipur was a surprise for many reasons, not least its food. The small, manageable spaces around Lal Ghat where our hotel was located turned out to be the very best location we could have chosen. We ended up being within easy walking distance of all the main attractions and best eateries in the area. Beware, not only does Lal Ghat have lots of undulating peaks and troughs in its rambling streets, most of its best restaurants are located on rooftops, which require healthy knees to keep climbing up and down. Watch out if you’re with elderly people.
My father and I arrived in Udaipur on a late evening after a tiring flight and journey to Lal Ghat, ensconced in the Old City, right next to Lake Pichola. Our hotel overlooked the lake as well as Rainbow restaurant across the narrow street from us. After we’d freshened up, everyone around us had only one place to recommend – Rainbow restaurant. Also, as rooftop terrace restaurants go, it was the only one with just one flight of stairs. The rest all seemed to be on the third floor and higher in the area around us. We ascended the steps and found a charcoal fire burning in a corner of the terrace rooftop restaurant as well as a sprawl of various sized tables dotted around a wide expanse of space. Soft candlelight threw faces into relief and I caught bits of muted chatter and laughter spreading around us. We found a table away from Lake Pichola’s edge but where we could still see Jagdish island and the Taj Lake Palace lighted up in the distance on the lake. We split a helping of Lemon, coriander and mushroom soup, then helped ourselves to pungent but tasty Lal Maas (a Rajasthani specialty) and plain naan. Our first night in Udaipur was made easy and comfortable by the thought of having such a well -recommended restaurant with very tasty, affordable food at our disposal and we ended up having two dinners, one sundowner session and even breakfast one morning at this restaurant.
Adjacent to our restaurant was Jaiwana Haveli which had a ground floor Bistro open for breakfast and tea. We decided to save the climbing for the City Palace in Udaipur, which we were going to see later that day, so sat down to French Toast, Hazelnut cappuccino and a local version of Poha (yellow rice flakes) called Matari Poha, consisting of peas and fried vermicelli (also known as sev). The French toast was very good as was the cappuccino but we were the first to enter the shop and the coffee machine took so long to warm up that I knew I wasn’t going to waste time with another breakfast visit here. The coffee I’d asked for first ended up coming last, after twenty minutes.
We walked past Ozen on our way from Lal Ghat to the City Palace and after four hours of intensive sight-seeing (Jagdish temple and the City Palace) were relieved to enter this relatively empty first floor restaurant. It also had a rooftop terrace, but we’d been climbing up and down five storeys of stairs in the City Palace so were in no mood to brave any more than necessary. The room had tasteful turquoise and white decor and wide glass windows where you could see the rooftops of surrounding houses and temples. My father had a really delicious tandoori chicken wrap with yoghurt sauce and I ordered a butter chicken with plain naan. If I’d stayed longer in Udaipur, this is one of the places I would have returned to, besides Rainbow restaurant.
Millets of Mewar
We walked across Dalji bridge, from Gangaur Ghat to Hanuman Ghat and spotted Millets along the way. My brother had seen it mentioned in his guide for healthy food options so we decided to try it and ascended two flights of stairs to get to their cosy middle floor of a three floor restaurant. We had to block the partial lake view completely in order to sit comfortably in the shade and ordered drinks on that suddenly hot, unexpectedly bright afternoon. The service was pleasant enough and it was nice to have vegan, gluten-free options on the organic food menu but everything we ordered lacked zing. I swapped my Ginger orange smoothie with my sister-in-law’s Apple, coconut, date and walnut one which was infinitely more refreshing and delicious. It helped that she liked ginger as well as the drink was infused with so much ginger, I could taste nothing else. We had a curry, some naan and a veggie wrap but all were lacklustre though claimed to be healthy and made with organic ingredients. We decided not to have a coffee there when they told us they sold coffee grounds but didn’t have a machine, so unfortunately couldn’t satisfy our cappuccino cravings. I’m guessing that the reason this place has rave reviews is that they pitch themselves to the ‘healthy, vegan, gluten-free, organic’ crowd when so many other just as healthy and much much tastier food options abound in the area.
Natural View restaurant
Although it is one floor higher than its sisterly counterpart the Rainbow restaurant, we were not impressed at all with this restaurant, its appallingly poor service (albeit with a smile!) or its exorbitant fare which we had for bigger portions at half the cost at Rainbow. We ordered two soups, a couple of cocktails and a half-tandoori chicken, which ended up being four small, disappointing pieces of chicken for the price of a full chicken at Rainbow. We had to order a kebab, which was well done and tasty enough, but even the partial view of City Palace Udaipur combined with the Lake Palace on Lake Pichola at night wasn’t enough to make us ever want to return there, let alone write a good review of the place. Oh, and since I’m at it, this restaurant is certainly NOT the best rooftop restaurant around. Those would be the rooftop restaurants on the opposite bank at Ambrai Ghat like Upre, for instance, which have the best views of the City Palace looming over Lake Pichola, so do NOT be fooled by false advertising.