THE DISH: A food revolution on Mombasa Road

Friday April 05 2019

I did have chips masala and sautéed sukuma wiki. Yes. I will not be judged. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA


There's a food revolution going down on Mombasa Road – at Capital Centre, to be more specific.

There's been a bit of a drought on this road and its environs since Charlie's was knocked down – if we're being polite – and moved into town. I still haven't tried that place yet, though.

I hear it looks beautiful, but I always thought the finishing was a bit shoddy, and the cocktails were meh, and the food was...okay, I guess. It didn't inspire much in me, in terms of encouraging a return visit. But we have been saved, we hope, by Nairobi's ever-changing food landscape.


I love the decor at the bar seating area at Nyama Mama. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

When one is thinking of where to do fine dining around Lang’ata Road, there's a distinct lack of options except for the obvious locals: Lazinos et al in Nairobi West, for example, for great nyama, or Pizza Inn and Co. across Carnivore. Of course, there is Carnivore itself, which I don't frequent as much, simply because, as I have stated before on this column, I'm not a big fan of their food any more, and I would rather go somewhere with more salads, if you know what I mean...


The Urban Gourmet Burger sign at the entrance. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA



So Capital Centre has recently witnessed the entry of three whole new food joints located where the old restaurants used to be. Java and the food court are still on the ground floor, and Mister Wok is still on the first floor. And if you count Naivas as a food joint, which you should because there's a lot of food in there, then that brings any shopper's total options to seven options, right?

Nyama Mama and Artcaffe are the newest introductions, with of course Nyama Mama having been around slightly longer. I've eaten quite a bit at Nyama Mama, and it has managed to remain consistent for me (even though I have to take into account that this is apparently, definitely, not the same for many other people).


This quote is a standard at Artcaffe branches and loosely translates to "The bread fed us, the light illuminates us." PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I recently visited their bar, to the side of the eating area, which I normally never do because I'm always trying to have their chapati quesadillas. But on this night, for some reason, I wandered over to the cute bar on the side. Nyama Mama, for me, always wins in terms of design, because the interior décor is executed so flawlessly. The bar is no different, with piles of old weathered-looking quaint suitcases lining the foot area, and moody tropical lighting.


My chapati quesadilla takeout. I like good takeout packaging and Nyama Mama's usually is. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Don't judge my food choices please, but I really wanted masala fries and a salad. The salad they wanted to offer me didn't sound too exciting – just lettuce and tomatoes, which I can make at home, honestly – so I decided to have masala fries and sautéed sukuma wiki instead. I know. Weird, right? It was tasty though. Hehe.


The best thing for me about having Nyama Mama so close nowadays is that it is going to be much easier for me to order in instead of going downstairs to McFrys, my guilty pleasure. Nyama Mama has these cutesy little wooden forks and knives that they send with every take-out order that I keep wanting to actually use instead of throw away...


The cutesy wooden cutlery that comes with every take out order at Nyama Mama. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Upstairs from Nyama Mama is Artcaffe and its sister brand Urban Gourmet. I love Urban Gourmet burger offers on Mondays because even though it isn't my favourite burger in the world, it is still so much bang for your buck, especially with the pickled vegetables.


See how huge this wall/screens look? This is what you see when you first walk into Urban Gourmet at Capital Centre. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I also love that they have giant sports screens at the Urban Gourmet – in fact, this newest Artcaffe is just generally humongous and expansive – I can easily visualise people coming in and getting a bit lost, from the wide balcony to the additional upper seating area and what I can already tell is going to be a great Happy Hour location placed smack dab in the middle of it all.


A view of the three restaurants from the outside on a potentially romantic evening. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

What new places have you tried, and what new places should I try? Let me know, on Twitter, if you've already tried out the new Artcaffe...


Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in and around Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.