There are spots I've been going to for years that get their essentials right.
You know, for someone who eats out a lot, it is surprisingly difficult to find a restaurant that I like, consistently; that stays consistent, consistently.
I've had several restaurants that I go to and one day the service is excellent, the next day it is nonsense (About Thyme); one day the food is great and the next they've changed the chef (sorry, about Thyme again); then of course there's the little issue of cocktails. Some days the bartender knows exactly what he's doing and the next day it's clearly ‘bring your child to (do your) work day’ (Sigh, Picazzo).
But there are a couple of spots I've been going to for years that somehow manage to get their essentials right. Some of these places, the service is good, but the food remains top notch – others, if you're looking for a good drink, you won't be disappointed.
Here are my favourite places, in no particular order:
1. Artcaffe Westgate, for their Chin Chin cocktail, particularly at Happy Hour. Look, a lot of people dilute their Happy Hour cocktails with water (here's looking at you, News Cafe), hoping that, after the first one, you won't notice the large amounts of ice and lack of alcohol in the second.
The Artcaffe at Westgate, specifically, never does that. I don't know if it is the bartender there (I was under the impression that they regularly rotate their servers) or that they know my face. I'm hoping that it is the latter, because I want everyone to be able to experience the glory of a good cocktail.
2. Steak at Sierra. My, oh my. I have waxed lyrical on this restaurant several times before about the quality of the meat in their burgers (though with a distinct lack of accompaniments) and the tenderness of their tenderloins.
My particular favourite is their rump steak with a side of creamed spinach and mashed potatoes, because Sierra tends to make me a bit greedy. We all have our vices. I thank the cows who had to die for the 15 minutes it takes me to lick my plate clean. Thank you, cows. Thank you so much.
3. 360 Degrees Pizza. Not the Rosslyn Riviera branch, the original branch at ABC Place. Now, while I love Dominos Pizza (yes, I said it. Sue me.), consistency isn't their strong point. There are too many people with raving reviews about their menus (try the chicken peri peri) and too many who got Pizza Inn pizza – i.e. bread with hoho lightly sprinkled on top and a touch of tomato paste for garnish.
At 360, however, I haven't been disappointed – even when they're doing that event they do every year for breaking their record of how many pizzas they can make in a day. And while we're still at 360, let's throw in their salted caramel milkshake as well. S-L-U-R-P.
4. Java. Now that I have mentioned milkshakes, I suppose I have to mention Java, reluctantly, I assure you. While Java is not high on my list of eateries, I still haven't found a place that does a chocolate-vanilla mix quite as well as them, and it still manages to be a shake – not just a milk.
I like the kind of milkshake I have to struggle with. The kind that isn't going down without a fight. The kind that I have to really suck at the straw for. If I wanted chocolate milk, that's what I would have ordered. And Java gets that. Which is why, occasionally, you will see me darkening their doors for a truly thick milkshake fix.
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.