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THE DISH: Definitely impressed the third time around

Saturday October 27 2018

Steak and fries.

My friend had a steak and fries at Ankole Grill in Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

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If you've read this page before, then you know I do the best I can to give every place I like to go – or don't like to go – a three-try minimum.

Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn't – particularly if I am so put off by the place after my first visit that I never want to go back again. I hear that's what happens with some people and their first degrees. Ha! But I digress.

The only times I will go back to a place I didn't like or I wasn't particularly impressed by is if I am planning a group thing, meeting a group of friends, for example, and I am outvoted by the majority who have read the hype of other writers and articles and/or influencers and decided that this is where they want to try out next.

My delicious spicy chicken stir fry with mashed sweet potatoes.

My delicious spicy chicken stir fry with mashed sweet potatoes. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA


This is what happened last week with Ankole – for the second time, which means it was my third visit outside of the first time I decided to check it out.

Now, usually, if I am right about the place, I try not to say I told you so as well, considering that my money was wasted also, and so I try to go into the experience with the hope that I am proved wrong.

The first time I visited Ankole Grill at Senteu Plaza, Nairobi, I was far from impressed. It wasn't too full, which I liked, and they didn't charge parking, which is always also a plus for me. The former is no longer true, and the latter, thankfully, remains.

Fried okra and plantain with a mango chutney and a pili pili sauce.

They're testing a new starter item - fried okra and plantain with a mango chutney and a pili pili sauce. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

We went on a theme night, during which there was a good DJ – DJ Fita – and so, the place was quite packed, actually, to the point that a lovely waitress had to save us by finding us an available table, as it didn't look like there was any.

I was already sceptical when I looked at the menu – the first time I was here, I had some good sized but very oily samosas, so I avoided anything that resembled that, and I wasn't trying the tiramisu either, which had felt like a good attempt at the real thing, but was still a miss.

I already knew I wasn't going to have a burger (which I had on my second visit) – if burger week and other restaurants have taught me anything, there's a limited number of places in Nairobi to get a good burger.

Rum is my best friend.

Rum is my best friend. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA


The cocktails at Ankole always look good, so I decided to have one of the rum-based ones, and go with the safety of a spicy chicken stir fry, as opposed to a coconut curry that was catching my eye.

I'm not very good at chilli, but the waitress said that it wasn't too bad, so I went with her recommendation.

Ambient lighting and pretty candles holders.

Ambient lighting and pretty candles holders made a huge difference. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Our drinks came in good time, and then we were presented with a test item on the starter menu – fried okra with a spicy sauce and softly fried plantain with a mango chutney.

They were very tasty, and I heartily support their addition to the menu – in fact, plantain should be a staple on all menus. Out with the French fries, I say!

The food came and it looked delicious, I must say. I was well pleased with the mashed sweet potatoes, and the stir fry was indeed spicy, but not too much.

I wonder what the articles on the menu that have a chilli next to them might taste like if this was what they call not spicy, ha.

Someone was trying to have tea and be warm while I was enjoying my rum cocktail.

Someone was trying to have tea and be warm while I was enjoying my rum cocktail. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I enjoyed my food – enough to be willing to come back to Ankole next week when DJ Jack Rooster is on the decks spinning African House Music.

And I will have to try a different cocktail, because, if we're being honest, that rum one did nothing for me.

Maybe I should have had a second one? Maybe I would have, if I wasn't driving...


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.