If you're anything like me, you're trying to avoid Burger Fest, because you're trying to find value for your hard-earned or hard-washed money.
One of my favourite burger places, Sierra, has actually ignored that whole burger festival concept (i.e. they choose to have great burgers all year round) and thus, do not participate. They even went ahead and built an entire other restaurant predominantly dedicated to an expansive and delicious burger menu.
But this is not a Sierra appreciation article. This is an article to tell you about where exactly you can still get good deals, if deals are what you're looking for.
Yesterday, on a best friend date, my friend and I were wandering about Karen, looking for something to eat. I haven't been to Marula Mercantile in a good long while, but the last time I was there, it was very good, so I figured, why not?
We branched down Karen Road, only to find out that alas, Marula Mercantile has been closed for ages, and I didn't get the message.
My bestie suggested the Hub as an alternative, because there are several outlets there to eat at, and I thought about which one I hadn't gone to yet. Turns out I've never actually been to Mayura, even though I keep meaning to go and the reviews are generally good.
We walk past La Cascina and its tasty gelato to Mayura, and as we enter, we notice a ‘We Are Closed’ sign hanging outside, which we thought was strange, seeing as there were clearly people inside the establishment. When we walked in, we informed the hostess as such and she said it wasn't their sign, it was the next door restaurant's sign. (It wasn't.)
What also caught our eye was the offer outside: a starter, a main course with an accompaniment and a drink for Sh1,500. Before we even looked at the menu, we knew that was what we were getting.
Because we were avoiding the cold, we chose to sit upstairs instead of downstairs or outside, nestled away from the winds of a Nairobi winter. The waitress brought us the menus. I decided on a butter chicken (which was decided in the car, because if you're going Indian, you may as well go Indian?) and my friend opted for the palak chicken, both with naan. Our starters were vegetable samosas for me and tandoori chicken wings for him.
The area we were sitting in contrasted a bit with the elegance of the lower level. Whereas on one side there is a beautiful accent wall with a gold peacock feather motif, the other side, for some reason, has butterfly wings and curlicues, which is a bit confusing (Mayura means peacock in Sanskrit, not butterfly).
I like that we could see what was happening in the kitchen from our elevated perspective, but did not like that I could also see, at close range, the little bits of repair work that need to be done.
When the food came, because it is an Indian restaurant, I expected a lot more from the vegetable samosas, which I did not get. It was the standard peas and potato mixture but not with as much flavour as I would have wanted. The wings, however, were very tasty.
All the food came at the same time, so as soon as I was done with the samosas I went to my butter chicken. It didn't taste like butter chicken in the traditional sense – there felt like there was a lot more tomatoey goodness than butter chicken normally has. I like tomatoes, so I was ok with this, obviously, and basically licked my plate clean.
My companion was also quite happy with his meal, as his plate was clean as well. We thought about whether we would be likely to come back to Mayura to pay the normal prices and decided that we probably wouldn't – Sh650 for samosas and Sh1,100 for 6 chicken wings seemed much to us; or maybe I felt like I was being charged too much for too little flavour? I'm going to check out the one at Kenrail Towers as well, just to be sure...
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.