THE DISH: A quintessential New York experience

The Jolly Goat in New York with a little bench outside for customers with pets. Pets are not allowed inside. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

What you need to know:

  • There was a collection of what appeared to be pencil colour drawings on the walls, and they looked hand-drawn.
  • It was early in the morning, so when HBM said he had to check whether he had tomatoes for my bagel, I was momentarily confused.
  • It was too early to be running out of bagels and two if you're out, perhaps it should be erased from the menu.
  • But I did enjoy my breakfast.

I was in New York for a day, and getting to do everything you want to do in New York in one day is a pretty impossible feat, so I didn't even try – I had gone to attend a conference I wrote a report for, and so most of that day was taken up with meeting wonderful people and learning wonderful things from said wonderful people.

By the time that was done, all I wanted to do was sleep sleep sleep, considering I had only clocked in an hour and a half the night before, which, I might add, if only to state the obvious, was extremely unwise.

But I got up, however, to meet my friend Abdi, even though I hadn't slept nearly as much as I wanted to. I had given my word and he had an appointment right after meeting me.

The hot chocolate, and of course real organic pressed orange juice. What is it with Americans and organic, wholesome, fresh-pressed, farm ready food? It makes me question whether most things are fake out there. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

We went downstairs to have breakfast at the hotel I was staying at, but he wasn't too impressed by the breakfast choices. So using handy GPS (which, by the way, I never bother with in Kenya, because...I don't trust GPS in Kenya. The last time they led my brother to Mukuru kwa Njenga instead of Imara Daima; I lost all faith in their African services).

But in New York (New Yooooork!), that's a whole different issue. We walked for a bit, crossing the scary streets, first stopping at a place that had no seating, then at another joint that had a nice little section at the very front of the cafe.

I felt like a total hipster as soon as I walked into the wood-floored place. First of all, it was called The Jolly Goat. I don't like goats, how they smell, how they taste, or how they look, so I assumed it was named after a pet goat who was so precious to the owner – and clean – that when it died – from being eaten – a coffee shop was named after it?


There was a collection of what appeared to be pencil colour drawings on the walls, and they looked hand-drawn and printed as opposed to created on a computer that produces stock photos – what I'm saying is that they looked like a person, not a robot, pulled something futuristic and Henry Sugar-looking out of their minds and pushed it onto paper.

The art on the wall of The Jolly Goat in New York. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The place had funny signs around it, and it was warm (I just want to say summer is over, and I am struggling. Now it's just rain rain everywhere and beautiful autumnal shaded trees) and I am Kenyan, so that is a plus.

They did have a bench outside, but I obviously didn't want to sit outside. The main fare offered from the chalkboard behind the handsome black server was hot drinks and bagels – we had both, then sat next to the window looking out onto the street to watch people and catch up.

It was early in the morning, so when HBM said he had to check whether he had tomatoes for my bagel, I was momentarily confused – it's too early to be running out of bagels, one, and two, if you're out, perhaps use a duster to erase that off the menu, no? Anyway. But I couldn't be actively vexed at that time of the morning so it was let go.

I did enjoy my bagel, by the way, and I also very much enjoyed the hot chocolate that accompanied it, and the ambience of the warm little cafe. It seemed to be pretty popular as well – after we walked in, the steady stream of people, both coming in to order and waiting outside on the bench for sustenance did not abate.

The bagel with cream cheese and tomato. It tasted much better than it looked. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Some of the people who were sitting outside did not enter because, in another funny sign, The Jolly Goat – ironically – does not allow pets inside.

I loved that they also had reading material on their small counter (everywhere in New York seems either small and squished or giant and dizzying), but Abdi says it wasn't that great and we'll have to do a real breakfast the next time I'm in the Big Apple. And of course I'll write about it...


Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in 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.