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Restaurant review: Johnson's Cafe, Manali

Last updated on: May 13, 2011 13:39 IST

Restaurant review: Johnson's Cafe, Manali


Rediff reader and a communications professional with a telecom company, Manisha Singh visited Manali with her girl friends recently and discovered a charming little cafe. Read on to find out more:
A visit with friends to Manali hoping for a quiet weekend, away from the daily madness turned out to be a gastronomic delight, thanks to this recommendation by a colleague.

I was told that it served one of the best trout dishes. I am usually not the one actively seeking delightful culinary experiences when holidaying, but I must admit Cafe Johnson was the highlight of my weekend at Manali, besides the four-hour traffic jam at Gulaba, both inspiring different emotions in extreme forms.
It is part of the Johnson Hotel, and doesn't seem any different from one of the many resorts around. So, on our first night in Manali, the four of us -- all girls -- trekked our way down from the log huts to the Cafe with some trepidation around what to expect.

The Cafe does seem quaint and everything that you expect of a nice, cosy restaurant up in the hills -- wood, warmth and wine!

Impressed with the decor, we found ourselves a nice table for four next to the giant TV screen showing some IPL match we couldn't care less about.

The wine menu was a tad disappointing with just a single Indian brand available.

There was an interesting plum drink under non-alcoholic beverages, which was refreshing.

We skipped the snacks went straight for the main course which was an assortment of trout dishes -- wood oven-baked trout, trout in lemon, garlic, spicy masala trout.

Of course, there were the regular multi-cuisine dishes like pasta and pizza but we stayed with trouts mostly. And we were not disappointed, either with the preparation or the price.

The trout dishes were in the range of Rs 300 and 400.

For the pasta we ordered, I could say I had eaten better but perhaps I didn't order the right dish.

On our next visit the following day, we ordered a mix variety -- pizza, Indian curry, chicken curry (local preparation) and trout once again, with plum drinks for all of us.

The trout won hands down again, followed by the pizza with thin crust and ample cheese. For the chicken curry, I'd only say I wish I had ordered trout instead!
We also indulged in desserts -- Lemon Cake with fresh fruit sauce and freshly baked Apple Crumble Pie with custard.

The Lemon Cake was all that it claimed to be, but the Apple Crumble Pie was simply out of this world and we ended up ordering twice.
So, for its decor, dishes and dessert, I would strongly recommend a visit to Cafe Johnson for all those headed for the cooler climes of Manali this summer.

Especially, for the Delhiites who swear by Big Chill, here is alternative up in the hills.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or cuisine? Or have you sampled the latest haunt on the block? Be it Manali or Kanyakumari, Kashmir or Goa, Jaipur or Nagpur -- we would love to know more about the eating out options in your village, town or city. Simply e-mail your reviews to (subject line: 'Restaurant review') and do try to include a photograph of the establishment; we'll publish the best ones right here on

Image: Johnson's Cafe, Manali
Photographs: Medha Jain