Nice location, serving the usual tourist fare but with some pretty bad dishes..
Nice location and atmosphere.
Chef cannot cook some dishes, but still tries to makes them with disastrous results.
The one good thing i like about the tourist restaurants in Old Manali this year (2012) is that most of them have started offering free Wi-Fi to attract customers, but the food still remains bad and the Shanti cafe is no different.
The cafe has a nice relaxed atmosphere. Its great to sit by the railing and watch the colorful characters walking along the promenade of Old Manali. I ordered a lassi and started working on my computer, checking Facebook and updating Kettik. The owner is from Keylong, a Nepali originally but born and bought up here in India. He spoke good English and we chatted for a while.
Everything was nice until i ordered my main course. I was in mood for some fish, and seeing that they had 'Fish Sizzlers' (i've never heard of it before) on the menu, i was tempted to try it. The owner suggested that i try the Fish Thali instead but i had my heart set on the fish sizzler. In retrospect i should've sensed the reluctance in the face of the owner and ordered something else.
Anyway what i got was like no sizzler i had ever tried before. I got a plate with 3 bowls made from cabbage leaves. The first bowl had fish in some kind of sauce, the second had some fried rice and the 3rd bowl was full of sautéed fried vegetables.
It was all good to look at, but when i tasted the fish i realized that it was just regular fish curry served in a fancy plate. Now who will serve fish curry in a sizzler and when i talked to the owner about it he defended the dish saying that that's how they cook fish sizzler. It was the most disappointing dish i had in Manali.
I learnt a valuable lesson from this experience. To check with the waiters, if their chef can actually cook the dish before ordering it. Hope it will save me from more such bad experiences in the future.