Good Italian Food, Nice Decor, Excellent Service in Central New Dehli


Caffé Tonino
No-9, H Block
Plaza Cinema Building, Connaught Place
New Delhi, India
Prices: $$$$$

Mobile: +91-9871474753
Landline: 011-23320081

Connaught Place, a very large circle (roundabout) in central New Delhi (a series of concentric circles actually) just south of the main train station, is brimming with shops (shoes, clothes, electronics, you name it), a massive Metro station (Rajiv Chowk), street vendors, a large park, relentless hawkers, and restaurants of all varieties. The large white buildings occupy an entire city block and are labeled sequentially with letters (A-L), making businesses a little easier to find.

We spotted Caffé Tonino while strolling one evening, shopping for a Kindle for my newest family member, a Tibetan Buddhist monk named Sonam who had been my pupil in Dharamsala. The exterior looked more inviting than most and the menu was comprehensive and reasonably priced, so we entered.

The restaurant is nicely decorated in modern earthy tones and brick offset by more colorful and lively décor, giving it a clean and inviting feel. The large wood fire pizza oven sits prominently in the back with a pizzaiolo cloaked in white with his large stainless stell spatula at the ready. We were warmly greeted and seated, one of just three parties in a restaurant with 15 or so tables. We found out that they have only been open a few months and are awaiting a liquor license in order to serve wine and beer, a rarity in India.

The menu items, mostly Italian, are almost all spelled correctly, another oddity in India and a good sign, indicating that they have at least a reasonable understanding of the country and cuisine they represent. We started with the mixed vegetable antipasto, Antipasto della Tradizione con Verdure (440 rupees/$6.90), which came with grilled and/or marinated mushrooms, eggplant, onions, green peppers, and olives accompanied by two small crostini, one with a small slice of pecorino (goat) cheese. The menu claimed that it came with marinated artichokes with potatoes, sundried tomatoes, and tomato mozzarella basil, but we found none of these on the plate. The antipasto was accompanied by assorted breads, spicy diced tomatoes and an olive spread, nice additions, and was decnt, but a bit bland and a disappointment at $7.00, being nearly twice the price of an average meal in India. I also had the Bruschetta (95 rupees/$1.45), diced tomatoes on three slices of toasted garlic bread and sprinkled with fresh basil, which was very good and an excellent value.

For our primi (main courses) my wife ordered the Ravioli Ripieni di Pere e Pecorino con Salvia, Burro e Mandorle(ravioli stuffed with pear and goat cheese in a light butter, sage, and almond sauce – 380 rupees/$5.95). It was very tasty, light and savory, cooked al dente and a much better value than our more expensive vegetable appetizer.

I had the Fusilli Carbonara (also 380 rupees/$5.95), a strange pasta choice as carbonara is normally made with spaghetti or similar pasta, but while tasting good, the bacon and egg were barely noticeable. Being a vegetarian country for the most part, I asked specifically about the bacon and egg and was told that the bacon was “pork” and the eggs, chicken of course. In any event, not tasting like any carbonara I have had, it was still very good and not too heavy on the sauce as has been the case at most restaurants I have eaten pasta at in India.

In all, nice atmosphere, good food, decent prices (for Delhi), excellent service, and slightly above average value. The service was outstanding and the environment warm, clean and inviting. Their bathroom was the cleanest and best stocked we have seen in India in over two months here (Western toilet, clean, toilet paper, soap, hand towels). Hence, …







CombatCritic Gives Caffé Tonino 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!



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Key Words:Café Tonino, café, tonino, New Delhi, new, Delhi, India, Connaught Place, Connaught, Italian, restaurant, menu, review, CombatCritic, travel, value, TravelValue 

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CombatCritic’s TravelValue: Rishikesh


Published on Dec 20, 2014

In this episode of CombatCritic’s “TravelValue” we explore the yoga capital of the world … Rishikesh, India. Explore the Ganges (Ganga) River, 80-year old suspension bridges, ancient Hindu ceremonies paying homage to “Mother Ganga”, and yoga ashrams, including the fabled Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram … better known as The Beatles Ashram.

Watch the video, then read the corresponding reviews on my blog http://www.CombatCritic.com and watch other India videos and more on CombatCritic TV on YouTube!




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Key Words: travel, Rishikesh, Rishekesh, India, ashram, beatles, yoga, meditation, Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Parmarth, Niketan, Ganges, Ganga, value, video

Copyright 2014 – CombatCritic and 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC – All Rights Reserved



The Beatles (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) Ashram – Rishikesh, India


The Beatles (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) Ashram Rishikesh, India
Prices: $$$$$

Sign on Wall Leading to Maharishi Mahesh Ashram

In February 1968 The Beatles came to Rishikesh and stayed at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, writing many songs for the White Album and others, including Revolution #9 in the small meditation huts you see in eight of the last ten photos.


Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr left in March, returning to England, but John Lennon and George Harrison remained until John had a falling-out with the yogi over a rumored sexual liaison with a young westerner, some reportedly thought was Mia Farrow, who had accompanied the Fab Four on the trip. Before leaving, the Maharishi asked Lennon if they could talk to find out what was wrong, but John stated something to the effect of: “if you’re so cosmic, you’ll know why” and they were off, apparently plagued by car troubles that Lennon attributed to some type of “spell” the Mahirishi had put on them before their departure.


Entrance on North Side of Ashram

The “Beatles Ashram”, as it has become known, closed in 1994 and has been taken over by jungle where only the empty shells of the former glorious ashram remain. Only parrots, peacocks, monkeys, elephants, and leopards remain along the banks of the Ganges where music history was made some 46 years ago. 

Follow the path in front of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram south less than half a kilometer until it turns into a sand Jeep trail. You will see the Ganges on your right, where there happened to be a funeral pyre the day I was there, along with an old guest house and makeshift shacks. You may see the “Beatles Ashram” sign on the wall on your left if it is still there. When you reach the end of the path at the dry river crossing, make a left up the riverbed and follow the intertwined paths between the rocks. You will see a park and high wall on your right and about 150 meters further east you will find the gate to what used to be the Maharishi Mahesh Ashram.

The entrance fee will run around 100 rupees ($1.60) per person, but try to haggle. There will likely be  a “guide” waiting there to offer his services for a “donation”, so feel free to partake or not. I did and it was well worth the 200 rupees ($3.20) I gave him, probably twice what he was expecting for an hour of his time.

As you meander through the dense jungle, you will go up a hill past small domed rock two-story structures that served as living and meditation quarters for ashram guests. A little further up on the right (you will see a small entry/exit gate) are three of these that the Beatles “reportedly” used for song writing during their stay. The second, bungalow “#9”, I was told by the guide, is where Revolution (1 and 9) were written by Lennon.

The ashram was a small city at one time, housing up to 2,000 guests and providing banking, a post office, shops, kitchens and cafeterias, bungalows, large single-room dorms (where the Beatles and their entourage lived during their stay), meditation halls, and the quarters of the Maharishi Mahesh atop the cliff overlooking the Ganges, complete with air conditioning and a small swimming pool.

You can see everything in an hour to an hour-and-a-half or you can spend an entire day meandering through the jungle, exploring buildings, or meditating in a mecca of rock and roll … The Beatles Ashram.

CombatCritic Gives Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (The Beatles) Ashram 9 … Number 9, Number 9, Number 9 … Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GREAT!





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Photos


Title: The Beatles (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) Ashram – Rishikesh, India

Key Words: Beatles Ashram, Beatles, ashrams, ashram, Rishikesh, rishekesh, yoga, India, White Album, The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Revolution

Ramana’s Garden: Good Cause, Bad Attitude, Above Average Value


Ramana’s Garden
Village Tapovan, Laxman Jhula
Rishikesh 249192, India

Having studied psychology for over 30 years, I will never completely understand the territorial nature of humans, particularly when it involves a very worthwhile charity, but I have experienced this phenomena more times than I can count, including at Ramana’s Garden in Rishikesh.

Entrance from Path

I decided to visit Ramana’s Garden after reading about the charity and café on TripAdvisor and their website, but the compound was very difficult to find. There are no maps online and the only sign I found was on a gate I spotted while on a path leading toward the Ganga (Ganges) and just happened to come across.


I asked the man behind the counter at Ramana’s if they needed any volunteers as I had about four more days in Rishikesh before heading to Delhi, but I was quickly dismissed without further inquiry. He told me that they only accept volunteers for three months or more because the children need consistency in their daily lives. I understand that the children need consistency, but when someone is kind enough to offer their time to your charity, maybe you should ask a couple questions before making them feel unneeded. I could have been CEO of a Fortune 500 company for all he knew, but he did not seem to care.

One of the Residents

In my case, being the author of two popular blogs, producer of a very successful YouTube channel (400,000+ views), a licensed professional counselor, and a retired military officer, I think I could have contributed something to their cause without being an unnecessary stress or burden on the children. I could have taught them how to make my World Famous Orecchiette with Broccoli Sauce recipe in less than an hour, but it was not meant to be.


Menu

In any case, even though I was more than a bit put off by the volunteer in question, I decided to stay for their “set menu” lunch and I am very glad I did. A tulsi (a local herbal tea-like drink), starter (soup or salad), entree, and dessert runs 400 rupees ($6.40), rather pricey by Indian standards, but a good value in this case.


The tulsi was warm, sweet, and tasty and the cup of soup of the day (a creamy kale consommé straight from the garden) flavorful and light, although rather small. Some bread, crackers, or croutons would have been a nice addition, but it was a  good start to a late lunch (they close at 4pm, so dinner was not an option) nonetheless.

Cup of Kale Soup

There were several entrées to chose from, including spinach gnocchi, pumpkin ravioli, enchiladas, and momos among others, but I went with the special of the day … cannelloni. The cannelloni (2) were large and accompanied by a few greens. Unfortunately, the pasta was lukewarm, but flavorful nonetheless, particularly for a vegetarian dish (everything on the menu is vegetarian or vegan). 


Canneloni


The chocolate cake, although very small, was decadent and rich, making me wish there were more to go with my coffee and milk (hot from the cow in the barnyard).


In all, coming in at $8 including a small donation, I have to say that the meal was a very good value. The terrace overlooking the Ganges River below was quiet and a pleasant place to enjoy a mid-afternoon meal while helping a good cause, even if it was for just an hour. Ramana’s probably would have garnered a 5 or 6 OUT OF 10 TravelValue rating if not for the kids they support and the natural, organic ingredients they use in their foods, so …

CombatCritic Gives Ramana’s Garden 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … Bombs Are Good!




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Cake and Coffee

Café Entrance 

Organic Garden

Garden

View of Ganges from Terrace

Key Words: review, Ramana’s Garden, blog, CombatCritic, TravelValue, Ramana’s, Ramana, Garden, restaurant, café, cafe, food, menu, lunch, Rishikesh, India, travel, value, TripAdvisor, trip, advisor

Parmarth Niketan Ashram … A Definite DO NOT MISS in Rishikesh


Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Swarg Ashram (250 Meters South of Ram Jhula Bridge)
Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

Parmarth Niketan Ashram is definitely worth a visit if for nothing else than the beautiful 5pm ceremony on the banks of the Ganga (Ganges). I had difficulty finding it on TripAdvisor because of the confusing map links, taking me near the Ram Jhula Bridge instead of 250-300 meters south to Parmarth Niketan.


From Ram Jhula Bridge, head south and keep to the right at the junction, taking you through the many stalls along the river and a covered market and continuing another 200-300 meters where you will see the riverfront stage to your right and the ashram to your left (you cannot miss it).
The Parmarth Niketan Ashram is worth a stroll with beautiful sculptures, gardens, buildings (dorms, meditation/dining halls, etc) and shops. I understand that you can stay here rather cheaply (if not free) for meditation, devotion, yoga, and meals, but I will not lead you to believe that I understand the specifics. htto://www.Parmarth.com has much more information, so I recommend you contact them for details. There are also free toilets (western-style sitters beside the “squatting” variety), snack stands, and benches to sit on.

Arrive for the 5:00PM ceremony early (4:30 recommended by locals, but in mid-December space was not a problem) and get a seat near the main steps to join in the melodic and visually stunning ceremony. The monks start arriving around 4:30 and loosen up their vocal chords, singing beautiful Hindu songs and praising Krishna as the sun starts setting slowly in the west on the other side of the river. It lasts about 30 minutes (until 5:30), ending in a fire offering where candles are lit, passed around the crowd for blessings, and placed in the river to float downstream and out of view as darkness ensues on Mother Ganga.

CombatCritic Gives Parmarth Niketan Ashram 10 Out of 10 Bombs … It’s FREE and a Definite DO NOT MISS in Rishikesh … More Bombs Are Better!



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Key Words: Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Parmarth, Niketan, Ashram, Rishikesh, India, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, yoga, meditation, Ram Jhula, ram, jhula

Avoid Himachal Travels (McLeodGanj/Dharamsala) AT ALL COSTS!


Avoid Himachal Travels (McLeodGanj/Dharamsala) AT ALL COSTS!
Himachal Travels
Jogiwara Road (Main Market – Across from Four Seasons Restaurant
McLeodGanj, Dharamsala, H.P. India
I booked my ticket a day early, originally planning on leaving Saturday night (December 13, 2014), because the bus was fully booked for the 12+ hour trip from McLeodGanj (Dharamsala) to Rishikesh, paying 900 rupees ($14.40) in advance. As you can see from the above receipt (ticket), I was assigned seat number 7 when the owner called and made my reservation 33 hours before scheduled departure.

I said all of my goodbyes during the day and was walked to the bus station by three friends, but when I arrived at the Laxmi Holiday Bus #7583 as instructed, my ticket was taken and a long phone call ensued. Ten to fifteen minutes later, the driver told me “you do not have a seat on this bus”, pointing to a seating chart he added “see, someone else has your seat, you cannot go”. 

I threatened to call the police, then contacted the owner of Himachal Travel where I had bought my ticket. He came down to the station and unsuccessfully tried to get me on the bus as I watched my transportation drive off into the sunset with no backup plan. Because I had already vacated my room and had a hotel reservation (paid in advance) in Rishikesh the following night, it was imperative that I get out of Dodge ASAP.

The owner and ticket issuer told me that there was a bus leaving for Dehradun, about an hour away from Rishikesh, at 8PM (about 50 minutes later) and asked if I wanted to take that bus. He told me that it would be a semi-sleeper with chairs that recline, so I said “OK”, understanding that I would be slightly inconvenienced, but comfortable … WRONG!

When the bus hastily arrived, it was NOT a semi-sleeper, but a “local” bus, the kind you take across town, not across the country and a dingy, dirty one at that. There were no reclining seats, only hard, cramped plastic ones and I weighed my options as I considered the 12+ hour journey and its impact on my disabilities. I decided to take my chances rather than wait another two days for the next available bus, paying 535 rupees ($8.60) for the one-way ticket.

I got ZERO SLEEP that night, departing at 8PM and crammed in next to two young girls on an overloaded bus that made stops every 30 miles on a nearly 300 mile journey, and with NO HEAT … I was freezing the entire time!

When I finally arrived in Dehradun at 11:30 AM the next day, I was dropped off on a road with no bus station in sight. Fortunately, there was a very nice Tibetan couple on the bus that took me under their wing, helping me to navigate a route with no English speakers (hey, I thought English was the “national language” in India!) and finding a bus to Rishikesh (51 rupees/83 cents). I had to pee for the last hour and a half, but could not risk relieving myself in Dehradun for fear of missing my connection to Rishikesh, so I sucked it up for the one and a half hour trip (40 miles) … HOOAH!

I finally arrived at my hotel at 1PM, 17 hours after my departure, slightly hypothermic and extremely sleep-deprived, but alive. Oh well, another adventure in the life of CombatCritic!

CombatCritic Gives Himachal Travels 1 Bomb Out Of 10 For Their Failure To Get Me On The Bus I paid For And 16+ Hours Of Torture … More Bombs Are Better!

Key Words: Himachal Travel, Himachal, travel, Himachel, Pradesh, McLeod, Ganj, McLeodGanj, Dharamsala, Rishikesh, Dehradun, bus, sleeper, seat, heat, heater, recline, CombatCritic, value, reservation, ticket, transportation

CombatCritic Q&A: "Hill Top Swiss Cottage, Rishikesh"


Hill top Swiss cottage, rishikesh
Has anyone stayed at Hill Top Swiss Cottage? We are staying there for the whole of March 2015. I am wondering what the access is like as it looks very high up.

Helen T. (Nottingham, England, UK)

———————————-

15 December 2014, 09:27

Re: Hill top Swiss cottage, rishikesh

I’ve been staying for 2 of 7 nights and the property seems a good value. Rooms are big and bright, internet fast by Indian standards. 

It is a bit isolated from the Ganges (Ganga) and town, but offers a quiet environment and a few shops, restaurants, yoga/meditation/massage options.  I have bad knees, but the walk to the river takes only about 15-20 minutes and is not a bad climb up or down.

There is a wonderful new Italian restaurant a short walk away, A Tavola con Te (atavolaconte on TripAdvisor) owned by an Italian couple from Milan that make wood-oven pizzas, pastas and desserts. 

Let me know if you have any questions.

Chris S.
aka CombatCritic

Key Words: CombatCritic, question, answer, TripAdvisor, trip, advisor, TravelValue, travel, value, questions, and, answers, Rishikesh, Hilltop, hill, top, Swiss, cottage, hotel, guest, house, India








Hut One, Hut Two … Crepe Pancake Hut … YUM!


Hut One, Hut Two … Crepe Pancake Hut … YUM!

Crepe Pancake Hut

Jogiwara Road (Next to Tibet World)
McLeodGanj, Dharamsala, India
Prices: $$$$$

I walked by Crepe Pancake Hut probably 70 to 80 times before stopping in. Neither crepes nor pancakes, particularly vegetarian ones, sounded good prior, but I wanted to give them a try before leaving. I am sorry I waited so long!

Like most restaurants in McLeod Ganj, especially the ones with Eastern-style (sit on the floor) seating, this place was filled to the brim with young, Bohemian, hippie-wannabes. If you have traveled in India recently, you know the type … long, filthy, unwashed dreadlocks, pajamas, nose stuck in their phone or computer and unable to carry on a conversation with anybody over 20 even if their life depended on it.

Anyway, enough of my judgmental attitude (I really am working on it and learned a bit more through Buddhist philosophy classes, but it is obviously a work in progress) and on to the food. 

I ordered a Veggie Burrito with Avocado Pico di Gallo (90 rupees – $1.45) and a pot of lemon ginger honey (50 rupees). The burrito was crispy and tasty, filled with sauteed bell peppers (capsium) and onions, kidney beans, and accompanied by half an avocado peel filled with a combination of mashed avocado, diced tomato and onion, and a bit of sour cream (or yogurt, I could not tell which).

The pot of ginger lemon honey was delicious and one of the cheapest in town at 50 rupees, filling my cup four times at 12.5 rupees (20 cents) a pop. In all, it was a light, healthy, yet filling lunch at an extremely reasonable price.

CombatCritic Gives Crepe Pancake Hut 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … Bombs Are Great!




Menu



Key Words: Crepe Pancake Hut, crepe, pancake, hut, crepes, pancakes, burrito, wi-fi, free, savory, restaurant, McLeodGanj, mcleod, ganj, Dharamsala, India, Dharamshala, CombatCritic, TravelValue, menu

CombatCritic Q&A: Dehradun Airport to Rishakesh (Transportation)


Dehradun to Rishakesh
29 November 2014, 15:59

Hi,

Can someone tell me the best way to get to Rishikesh from Dehradun airport & approximately cost? Is it easy to share rides?

I’m arriving approx 7pm.

Thanks in advance,

Josie, Melbourne, Australia



Re: Dehradun to Rishakesh
15 December 2014, 09:38


Josie,


I took a bus from Dehradun to Rishikesh just two days ago for 50 rupees that stopped at the airport on the way. Pay 700 rupees to the taxi touts giving advice if you like, but there are other much more reasonable options if price is a concern. 

I’ll be posting (free and objective) reviews on my blog http://www.CombatCritic.com if interested. 

Good luck!

Chris S.
aka CombatCritic

Re: Dehradun to Rishakesh
December 15, 13:32

Since Jollygrant Airport is on the way from Dehradun to Rishikesh, Uttrakhand Roadways has mandated that all buses going from Dehradun to Rishikesh or vice versa has to pass through the airport. So yes ! Bus a cheaper option, but you’ll have to wait for a bus….

K_Yogi, New Delhi


Re: Dehradun to Rishakesh
December 15, 14:33

The trip of OP is already over. He had hired a pre-paid cab at rs. 700/-.

CarLink, Mumbai


Re: Dehradun to Rishakesh
December 15, 17:40

Yes ! I saw that…

But the thread might be read by other people….

K_Yogi, New Delhi



Re: Dehradun to Rishakesh
December 16, 09:04

K_Yogi,

It’s nice to see someone interested in the benefit of the traveler posting honest information and not touting their or friend’s businesses. THANK YOU!

BTW, I’ll be in Dehli next week and have some questions about travel. How can I contact you?

CombatCritic, Lawrence, KS


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Key Words: asana, ashram, ashrams, bus, buses, cab, CombatCritic. TravelValue, Dehradun, dehredun, Ganga, Ganges, India, meditation, rishakesh, Rishikesh, river, taxi, transportation, yoga, 

A Tavola Con Te … Authentic Italian in Rishikesh, India


A Tavola Con Te
Badrinath Road, Tapovan Sarai (Laxman Jhula) 
Rishikesh 249192, India

Phone: +91-812-685-9654

Website

Prices: $$$$$


A Tavola con Te was recommended to me by Maria, an acquaintance from Columbia whom I met in Dharamsala. She told me that an Italian couple had just opened a restaurant and guest house in Rishikesh and that they made wood fire oven pizza, so I had to go there on my first evening in town.

The owners are from Milano (Milan) and have recently moved to Rishikesh. The property is up an alley off of the main road, so use TripAdvisor’s directions or GoogleMaps and follow the signs up the alley about 1oo meters and look for the gate with a sign on your left. From there you meander another 50 meters or so past some houses and through a garden to the restaurant and Namaste Guest House.

They have a small terrazzo (terrace) that is nicely done with bamboo roof and decorative cement pillars, overlooking the garden, giving the dining area a rustic feel, and making me feel as if I were in an agriturismo in Italy. There are also a couple of tables on the grass under the stars (or sun), but no indoor option.

They serve pizza from 5:30 PM on, so do not expect it any earlier as the oven is lit around 3PM and takes a couple hours to reach the proper temperature. I ordered the “Buffalo”, a 14 inch pizza with imported Italian (Vesuvio) tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella – a specialty of Campania, Italy), and fresh basil leaves, a favorite of pizza napolitana (from Naples, Italy) lovers, which I am one.

My pizza was very good although a little dry because the tomato sauce was very thinly spread and the heat of the wood oven had dried it out. A little more sauce (or fresh tomatoes) or some olive oil (preferably olio picante) drizzled over the top prior to serving would have been wonderful, but I wolfed down my pie nonetheless as it was very tasty and the best pizza I have had since I was in Italy last. 


My wife, being from Napoli (Naples), would complain about the crust because Neopolitans (napolitani … my wife will kill me when she reads this because she is actually Sicilian and refuses to admit that her family has lived in Naples most of her life) are pizza snobs because pizza was invented there and Naples admittedly has the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD. Pizza crust in Naples is a science and nowhere else on Earth will you find such soft, yet crisp on the bottom crust and fresh, flavorful toppings as you will find in Napoli.

The crust at A Tavola con Te is definitely “Northern Italian”, indicative of pizze (pizzas) in Rome and north and considering the fact that Il Pizzaiuolo (pizza maker) is from Milan, appropriate to the situation. I prefer the crusts in Naples, but who am I to complain because it was very good, not burnt, and crispy but still a tad chewy. Bravissimo!

I returned a few days later for my birthday dinner and everyone wished me well, very thoughtful of them to remember! I started with the pumpkin (zucca) soup, which was creamy, rich, and excellent, but just lukewarm, not hot, and accompanied by four slices of warm bread.

For my entree, I had the vegetarian lasagna (250 rupees/$4.00), a decent size slab that was, again, not very hot and layered with pasta, melanzane (eggplant), bechamel and tomato sauce, and cheese. The eggplant was a bit chewy and the lasagna needed a little more mozzarella, but otherwise it was quite tasty.

Having had the panna cotta after my previous dinner, my birthday dessert had to be the tiramisú (170 rupees/$2.70), layers of savoiardi cookies soaked in espresso, and encased in sweet mascarpone cheese, then sprinkled with cocoa powder … delicioso!


On my next visit I tried the Pizza Vegetariana (260 rupees/$4.10), coming topped with mushrooms, eggplant, onion, bell peppers, spinach, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. Again, the pizza was very good, but a bit dry and with a negligible amount of mozzarella. Being 50 to 100 rupees (80 cents to $1.60) more than the “average” equivalent pizza in many restaurants in India, I would expect a bit more sauce and cheese, even if they are imported and more expensive than the varieties most Indian restaurants use.

FYI – I am much harder on Italian restaurants than I am on others because Italian food is my passion and expectations are exceedingly high, particularly when Italians are in the kitchen. So do not get me wrong by thinking I was unhappy with any of my meals here because I was not and they were the best I have had in my two months in India. A few minor tweaks and this place will be THE BOMB …

1.  They could use some antipasti on the menu (bruschetta, cheese platter, olives/grilled vegetables, insalata caprese, etc) and bread because the pizzas and pastas are not filling enough on their own. 

2. The lights are a bit bright on the terrace at night, so some lower voltage bulbs and candles or lanterns would provide a cozier, more intimate feel.

3. Portions could be just a tad bigger for the price and attention to detail, ensuring that food is appropriately warm and not too dry, will go a long way in satisfying hungry customers.

I really want this restaurant to succeed because the owners are extremely nice and have positive, professional attitudes, the location has great “bones”, the food is very well done, and the prices are reasonably fair. Please visit A Tavola con Te and tell them CombatCritic sent you because I want to come back next time I am in Rishikesh … a presto (see you soon)!


CombatCritic Gives A Tavola con Te 8 Bombs Out Of 10 … More BOMBS Are Better!





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Title: A Tavola Con Te … Authentic Italian in Rishikesh, India

Key Words: Rishikesh, A Tavola con Te, tavola, con, te, Italian, restaurant, ristorante, food, pizza, pasta, Himalaya, Himalayas, Dalai Lama, dalai, lama, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, TripAdvisor

Lung Ta … KOWABUNGA!


Lung Ta … KOWABUNGA!

Lung Ta 
(Japanese/Vegetarian)
Jogiwara Road
McLeodGanj, Dharamsala, H.P. India 167219

A ridiculously cheap vegetarian Japanese restaurant next to my hotel. I stopped by for an herbal tea to wait for my friend, but decided to try the Potato Croquettes with Salad – 80 Rupees ($1.30). They were great!

The tea was 20 rupees (32 cents), bringing the total to a whopping 100 rupees ($1.62), likely the best value in McLeod Ganj or India for that matter!

CombatCritic Gives Lung Ta 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … Bombs Are Great!


Key Words: Lung Ta, lung, ta, Japanese, Japan, restaurant, sushi, vegetarian, Dharamsala, McLeodGanj, India, Dharamshala, Dharmsala, McLeod, Ganj, Dalai Lama, dalai, lama, CombatCritic, Travel, value

Seven Hills … A Taste of Korea In McLeod Ganj


Seven Hills of Dokkaebi
Jogiwara Road
McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, H.P. India
Prices: $$$$$

I had heard there was a good Korean restaurant in McLeod Ganj and it turned out that when I moved to a new hotel, Hotel Ekant Lodge, Seven Hills of Dokkaebi was right nextdoor.

The restaurant is situated down some stairs and around a corner just north of Ekant Lodge, so ask if you have trouble finding it. The dining room is nicely decorated and has a large fireplace which unfortunately was not lit on the cold evening of my first visit. The menu is large, but I came for the bulgogi, so it did not take long to order.

I ordered a pot of ginger lemon honey (100 rupees/$1.60) which turned out to be a good value compared to a cup (50 rupees/80 cents), having refilled my cup at least four times throughout my meal.

The full dinners are not cheap by Indian standards, but are an outstanding value considering the quality and quantity of the food. My pork bulgogi dinner (380 rupees/$6.15) was nearly enough for two and one of the best meals I have had since arriving in India. Unlike western meals, everything came at once, including assorted cold vegetables, kimchi (spicy, fermented cabbage), rice, a bowl of soup, and close to a pound of bulgogi. Although not the best bulgogi I have had, including meals in Korea and made by Korean friends, it was very good. The flavor was excellent and I was completely stuffed by the time I finished.

My entire meal set me back 500 rupees ($8.00), including tip, an expensive meal in India when you are used to paying $3 for dinner. However, a meal of this caliber in the U.S. would run $15 to $20 minimum, so it was an outstanding value which is what this blog is all about!

CombatCritic Gives Seven Hills of Dokkaebi 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD!


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One Two, Buckle My "Brew"


One Two Café
Temple Road (Across from Dalai Lama Temple)
McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, HP, India 
Prices: $$$$$

I have to admit that I have not ordered a full meal here because it appears that is not their forté. The first time I visited One Two Café was for a quick bite to eat and a coffee while waiting for my Buddhist philosophy class upstairs. While enjoying my caffe latte and spinach quiche (more to follow), a friend of an employee brought in a meal (that looked like thenthuk) from another restaurant. Not a good sign, particularly considering that they have thenthuk on the menu.

However, my spinach quiche was quite large for the price (100 rupees/$1.60) and very good although the crust was a bit difficult to cut through and the filling not all that rich, both likely due to a lack of egg and cheese in the recipe. Still, it was very enjoyable and savory.


I have returned for their caffe latte, made from espresso on an Italian espresso machine, which is very well done and an outstanding value at 60 rupees (95 cents) for a regular and 90 rupees ($1.50) for a doppio (large).


If you want an excellent coffee, tea, or light snack while visiting the Dalai Lama’s Temple, then One Two Cafe is an excellent choice.

CombatCritic Gives One Two Café 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

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Excellent Latte, Mediocre Sandwich, Moderate Prices


Moonpeak Espresso (Café)
Temple Road
McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, HP, India
Prices: $$$$$

I have been to Moonpeak a few times for a coffee and pastry, once for lunch, and have been relatively happy even though it is not anywhere close to being the best value in town.

They have decent, free wi-fi, an excellent latte (70 rupees/$1.15), and a modern, “Western” feel (if that is something you are after). Beside the requisite coffees, teas, lassis, and juices, their menu includes breakfast, pastries, sandwiches, and light (small portions) local lunch and dinner options.

I tried the chicken and vegetable (toasted) sandwich and was not the least impressed. The white toast with a few chunks of chicken, some veggies, and a little cheese was underwhelming and barely made a dent in my appetite. My vegetarian companion had the veg Thali which looked decent for the price, including pappadum, naan, curry, paneer, and rice.

There are better “value” options in town, but if you are transiting Temple Road coming from or going to the Dalai Lama Temple, it is definitely worth a stop if nothing more than for a good latte and to check email. 

CombatCritic Gives Moonpeak Espresso 6 Bombs Out Of 10 in Terms of “Relative Value”… MORE BOMBS ARE BETTER!






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