The one shown in the picture below has a pretty wonderful view of Chotta Shimla, Kasumpti and New Shimla. The only problem with this section is that one part of its roof is covered with some sort of acrylic ceiling which creates a sort of hot-house effect. I'm sure this would be most pleasing in winter, but the day SdS and I visit, it feels a little warm.
A great delight: not to have the latest Hindi film musical releases inflicted on one! You spot a little two-in-one stereo in a corner, but it remains mercifully silent through the course of the meal.
It is a little disconcerting to walk into an eatery and not be mobbed by the maitre'd or over-friendly waiters. Mind you, I'm not complaining. I'm one of those people who are always clear in their mind about what they'd like to eat or drink and am therefore prone to look askance at the staff of eating places which try to nudge me into ordering this, that, or the other. I also hate waiters who will rush you into ordering, practically ripping the menu from your unsuspecting fingers. Then, in Shimla, it is also likely that the waiter will greet you with a friendly wave and then disappear into the misty depths of the kitchen, only to emerge when you've collapsed with hunger.
None of this happens in Spars Lodge. A young lad saunters in from some level below, unseen to the diner's eye. He is courteous, but not smarmy. I have called the cafe ahead, informing them that SdS and I wish to feast on their much-touted trout. I remind him of this. He brightens in recollection. Oh yes, of course, so you are the one who called. Yes, yes, your trout will be ready in 15 minutes. He turns to leave. Err, could we have a drink of some sort, asks SdS, the soul of politeness, even under trying circumstances. He spins back. A drink? His forehead creases in concentration... okayyy, what will you have? A sweet fresh lime soda each, please, we suggest timidly. Fiiiiine, he says and goes back to wherever he came from. The soda appeals to my sweet tooth and goes well with the meal.
We call the waiter and ask him if something could be done forthwith. Such as? he asks. Well, err... take it away and lop off the head and the tail, maybe? we say. Why don't you simply eat the stuff in the middle and leave the rest? he demands. Well, no, we couldn't do that, we whine. So with an ever-suffering expression perfected by women playing mothers in Hindi cinema, he bears off our plates away and returns with what you see below. The chef has hacked the trout's head off in a manner not unlike the manner used by the French on their Royalty during their Revolution!
This is what our meal now looks like:
One could argue about the portion of the vegetables, but not about the way they have been cooked. The colour, flavour and texture are just right, but I would love to walk into the kitchen and show the chef how to make dice the carrots, julienne the beans and make florets of the broccoli. In their current form, substance wins over style! I won't say much about the potato mash because while making it is no rocket science, the chef at Spars Lodge does a good job of salting it to a nicety.
The remains of the day can be seen below, and are evidence that SdS and I have enjoyed our meal.
For dessert, I opt for banana fritters and ice cream, while SdS asks for apple pie and ice cream. No bananas, (and therefore, no fritters) and no ice cream, informs the waiter, a bit apologetically. So we both settle for the apple pie. This earns a score of 9 on a scale of 10 from SdS, that old apple pie aficionado, who has been raised on the epiphany-inducing produce of Bombay's Yazdani Bakery. The apple pie is soft, melt in the mouth and with the gentlest hint of cinnamon. If anything, the ice cream might just have focused the diner's attention away from its wholesome goodness.