Manali’s favourite watering hole the bar, lodge, restaurant & spa of Johnson’s

Baked Trout – umm yummy !

When planning for Manali I was told that the Baked Trout here is the most famous dish to eat here. I was pointed towards the famous Johnson’s Lodge and Restaurant. I got their easily  wading through the bustling market and town centre of Manali, a few minutes away from the road to the Hidimba Temple. The road was dotted with some really good looking bars and eateries. The touristy nature was quite evident and looked like the usual downtown of most most of the places I had been visiting till now. I spotted Johnson’s and decided I would attempt a food review for my blog today .

The Johnson Bar and lodge is a big property with a British design bar and a setting area of cushion’s and wooden benches. It was started in 2004 by Mehul Johnson who is a director with a real estate firm.

There is garden at the back with alfresco seating to enjoy the open sky. The bar is well stocked with the best liquor in the world. I noted a wide selection of single malt, scotch blends, gin and some of the best vodka. I ordered my usual large peg of Glenlivet single malt on the rocks and drink in hand I walked upto who seemed to be the manager of the bar. He was a Korean gent called Kim (aren’t they all) and mentioned my travel blog and said I wanted to review his bar and restaurant today. Admittedly Kim looked a tad puzzled if not unsure. I pulled up my blog on my phone and showed him my tales from Korea. That worked well and we connected instantly and he thanked and encouraged me to do the review of his property .

The Alfresco Seatout

The Alfresco Seatout

I ordered  a large plate of Fish Fingers which where indeed large and rather crisp. The batter and the bread seemed to have been uniquely put together though I couldn’t put my ‘finger’ on what it was! I am a bit unsophisticated that way and smothered them with the excellent house tartare sauce and a delicious topping of mustard (which should have been Dijon but probably was not) to get my gastric juices going, whet my appetite as it were. After walking around a bit taking a few pictures of the bar and restaurant area, I got down to my second peg of some world class single malt. I was feeling chatty and started speaking with a German gent called Von. He mentioned  he’d just finished a course at the Manipal University and had since been travelling to Kashmir,  Jaipur and finally now at Manali. He shuffled his glasses and looked me in the eye. “Manipal University is a bit if a how do you say ‘donation college’ from the beginning. It was the university for rich parent’s and diplomat’s to send their kid’s, anyone could get into this place by paying a donation.” Von smiled as if getting that stigma off his chest “but I liked my stay there”.

The bar at the Johnson's

The bar at the Johnson’s

I took another fish from my bowl “and made some small talk about Klinsman the footballer and my personal belief that they had pilfered our swastika and see what they did to it! We chatted about Sanskrit and the German language. The Paris bombing’s cam up and I mentioned that it was a shame and a big tragedy and how my heart goes out to the victims. But what can you do to some one who is ready to blow himself up Von remarked. I was getting a bit hungry around now and I walked unto the bar tender and asked about the food. We had a  brief discussion on the menu and I tried to sound knowledgeable and  finally ordered Shepherd’s Pie. I guess I was suddenly feeling pangs for London during my childhood there where Shepherd’s pie every Thursday at the Christ’s College at Blackheath.

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

The pie was smooth and rich with the mashed potatoes and the meat was done and diced I felt to the right texture. I enjoyed it with oregano and chives with mustard and the tomato sauce. It was succulent with garlic bread to go with. The portions were all large, perhaps to appeal to the European palates and sizes!! I most certainly was full by the end of the meal and yes I am bit of an eater. I thanked the German, Von for his company and downed a bit quickly my third peg of the whiskey – perhaps deliberately insulting it. The tab was Rs 3500, about US$ 55 or € 50 in all at today’s rates I noted.

I turned to Kim and asked him for  20% DISCOUNT for reviewing his Bar on my blog. He looked reluctant but agreed to 10% discount and we shook on it. I am not saying I needed it but just felt like it was worth it. So there I was all full and satisfied by the hospitality of this cosy and wonderful Bar and Restaurant and their token discount. Johnson’s also a lodge and room’s are priced from Rs. 3500  to Rs. 5000(€ 72,  $76) and of course the spa to relax in. All in all a very satisfying experience and oh yes also the 10% discount.

For Booking’s and further detail’s contact: Ranjeet Nagi the General Manager and reach out to them here: Tel:+91-1902-251523 : +91 9816045123 : +91 9816210302 and e mail: and I have linked to their web site earlier here.

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