Weekend brings Base Camp Cafe kickoff

by Estephanie Aquino | 9/22/14 6:57pm

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Base Camp Cafe, which opened on Thursday, replaced Salubre in downtown Hanover.

In late August, the Town of Hanover bid farewell to Salubre Trattoria and made way for Base Camp Cafe, a family-style restaurant located on Lebanon Street. Last Thursday, the cafe — which serves Nepalese cuisine that uses local, organic produce — opened its business to Hanover residents and college students.

The restaurant, which sits across from the Orient restaurant in the Hanover Park Building, is dimly lit, with decorative statues surrounding the light fixtures. Base Camp Cafe chef and owner Bhola Pandey, who is from Nepal, said he was inspired by his cultural roots to create an authentic environment.

The menu highlights different varieties of momos, or steamed dumplings, to begin its offerings. Sauteed meals and types of chili and curry are among the restaurant’s dinner entrees, which are priced between $13 and $22.

Creating a financially successful business is not Pandey’s main mission, he said.

“We don’t cook to make a dollar or to make a million, we cook because we love it,” he said. “It makes us happy to create something that was not there before and to share that excitement with others.”

Pandey has a degree in research nutrition and obesity and 10 years of experience in restaurant management. He said he relates to college students, who tend to be open to trying new things.

He added that he understands it is hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle while at school.

“I had been wanting to open a restaurant in the area for about seven years, and finally this location opened up, so we opened,” Pandey said.

Pandey also manages the restaurant Cafe Momo in Manchester.

Town manager Julia Griffin said the transition from Salubre to the new restaurant has been smooth, with the cafe obtaining a liquor license within two-and-a-half weeks.

“Because the former owners also ran a restaurant, the permitting process has been simple and quick,” Griffin said. “The city management sent a letter saying that we have no concern about Base Camp serving alcohol.”

Griffin said she was not certain why Salubre closed. Dinner portions of pasta dishes were priced between $16 and $22.

Students interviewed were largely receptive to Base Camp Cafe’s opening and said they hoped to try out the restaurant’s offerings. None of the students interviewed had ever eaten Nepalese cuisine before.

“People absolutely bond over food — just look at Western phenomena such as Thanksgiving, going out to dinner, snacking, baking and cooking together.” Lily Xu ’18 said. “Having a somewhat cultural experience while bonding over food is a good way to gain exposure to other cultures and lifestyles.”

Samuel and Katherine Peters, a couple visiting the area from Washington, spoke highly of the new restaurant, adding that it was much better than chain stores in the area.

“We heard about the opening from the hotel staff and decided to give it a shot,” Samuel Peters said. “We were pleasantly surprised.”