Monday, April 6, 2009

Eating and drinking in Dili part 1

This can never be a final list. Competition here is savage, and I expect owners to go broke if they can’t successfully find and defend a niche. There are 2 sports bars, for instance and they go head to head on everything, even Sunday roast. On the other hand, there is one really fine restaurant, Nautilus, which has decided to unashamedly go for the top end on everything – food, wine list, staff training etc.

So bearing in mind the inevitability of some takeovers, remakes etc., here is the scene as far as I know it. Bear in mind that my research has been extensive, but not intensive and the views are mine. Many others disagree.

Also, this would be an ultralong post if I tried to include everything. Geographically, there are three main groupings – bayside to the west (bar/restaurants, some with accommodation), near all the embassies, in the centre of town, bars and restaurants often with accommodation as a primary earner, and bayside to the east (mainly beachfront restaurants).

We might start in the centre of town, for no good reason other than I live there. My home is the ‘One More’ Bar (motto “one more: why not?”), a sports bar with a nice feel. The meat here is always top notch and the food is traditional Aussie with a bit of fusion thrown in. You want a good snag, come here. They’re made on the premises. Cool, Van Morrison style music played soft and live on Friday’s and Sundays. Waiting staff are friendly and competent. It’s a really comfortable place to be.

Roo bar. Quirky, Aussie themed pub. For Australians, well worth a visit for the cultural icons collected and on display. When I get some internet back, I may return to the Roo Bar and do a stitch panorama. If 3 strokes wants to criticise my technique or technology he can keep it to himself. Or snicker behind my back on Flickr.

City Café. My favourite café and site of some morning breakfasts. I go there every day and had a pretty good dinner tonight. Staff are good, I don’t actually take to the owner much, and the food and wine list are very Portuguese themed. Stacks of UN staff there most days and I’m pretty sure a lot of them stay there.

Discovery Inn, incorporating Diya restaurant. Diya is the other fine dining spot in town that I am aware of. Expensive, very good wine and spirits list (up to Johhny Walker Blue!) and an odd but effective Portuguese, Japanese and Indian themed menu. Very slow, but that and the expense are about their only flaws.

Café Brasil. This is where Fully Loaded and I often hold business meetings. Good coffee, good snacks, often on Friday they hold a late night Brazilian event (only went once, was bored and left) and a beef carpaccio to absolutely die for.

Various Indonesian café/restaurants around the area. The economy option, they are largely indistinguishable from one another. Food is so-so, service is refectory style – point at what you want and some gets dumped on your plate, prices are low.

Sanan Ria Foun [New earth pot]. Interesting, newly opened restaurant. Food was OK but not spectacular, service was eager and I should probably have eaten outside, but hey, we all make mistakes. Met a friend and passed a very pleasant evening indeed there.

Sri Lankan restaurant. Oh boy, they had all the luck that night. Blackout. Generator malfunction. Sudden crowd of takeaway orders. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and go back one day.

Indian Megha restaurant. Keen restaurateur, nice food. The butter chicken was more tomato-ey and less buttery than I’m used to, and that was rather a theme with his food. A more angular, penetrating taste, perhaps, without being aggressive or overspiced. Very economical, and I should go there one Saturday so I can snooze in the afternoon without guilt ($4.50 for all you can eat – hi, Fidget!).

Moon Bar, My Flower Bar. Have been to one, not the other. Chinese ladies peel off the wall and gravitate towards you, accidentally touching you. Finished my drink and left quickly. Was told the other is pretty much the same.

There’s more, lots, lots more, but that will do for the city centre. Next stop, Embassy Row.

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