In my opinion, J's is great when it's empty. I know how that sounds – what do I have against live performances and a great night out? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
But J's (formerly, Juniper's) has a certain charm when the sun is shining through the hanging plants, and there is basically no company there except when the lunchtime crowd starts kicking in, so much so that the bees and wasps feel comfortable enough to come right up to your table. And then you panic. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
One of my best friends is flying out, and so for a relaxed last meal together, I wanted somewhere relatively intimate that was close enough to her house for her to actually come (we're both quite lazy) but still had good food. I have been meaning to check out J's in the daytime – at night, there are too many factors like drunk people and loud music to really correctly assess if the service and food is good or not – and so this is where I suggested.
When I walked in, there was only one other table that had customers on it, but the staff were already preparing for nightfall – there were reserved signs on most of the tables, with evening times indicated on them. At first when I walked in I was like, wait what? All these tables are reserved for 12.30pm on a Wednesday? I was going to be rather impressed.
I decided to sit down right where the light would hit me and close to a socket as well, which I think all bars and restaurants should have in this day of technology and social media ruling our lives. It only makes sense. In fact, sometimes I write off places for not thinking about the fact that their customers need charging ports. It's a necessity at this point.
My friend was late – or lost, as she said later – and I was starving, so I decided to order a starter. I wanted to try their beef and vegetable samosas. I'm always curious about vegetable samosas, because I was vegetarian for a while, and I'm always curious about whether establishment's vegetarian options actually taste good, or they're just lazily slapping vegetables into everything and calling it a day.
But today was not to be the day I tested out their vegetarian option, because they were out of samosas or hadn't started making them yet. I then opted for the fish fingers, which were six or seven in a bunch. When you order them, they sound many – they're not, ha. And so I still had room for the giant burger I chose to have right after – at which point I discovered that I had bitten off much more than I could chew.
The tartar sauce for the fish fingers was interesting, in that it had large sizeable chunks of vegetables that you could actually eat separate from the fish. That was a bit odd to me, but overall, I didn't think that the fish fingers were really anything to write home about. My friend happens to be a very good cook, so I generally hold professional chefs to at least her standard, and I feel like this is something she could have easily made me at home. You know how you sometimes go to a restaurant so that you can get something you can't make? This wasn't the case here.
My friend had a steak that I wasn't impressed by. The food looked and smelled great but the steak was chewy to me. A medium rare steak is not supposed to be chewy.
The burger, though, was just right. The menu said that my burger wasn't supposed to have tomatoes, which I didn't understand – is it a burger if it doesn't have at the very least, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and pickles? Not in my book. I specifically asked my waiter to make sure there were tomatoes in my burger, which he did, and I appreciate. But I must ask why I had to ask for them. Sierra started doing that for their basic burger as well, and it makes me wonder how much money is really being saved by denying the customer three slices of tomato...
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.