BON VIVANT: Tasty fare South African style

By: BON VIVANT

The soft launch of this international restaurant locally has already met with considerable buzz in the foodie community. Friends who are already familiar with their menus from their visits to South Africa seemed excited to try the Nairobi chapter.

Kenya marks their sixth country in Africa since their inception 20 years ago. Along with a group of like-minded food lovers, I put them to the test.

They are inside a brand new building on the corner of Ring Road and Chania Avenue. There is plenty of secure parking.

News Café has a modern brickwork theme of pale neutrals offset with bold dark accent hues.

A large bar is set at the centre of one dining indoor area, and quieter nooks are set to the side of the hall, separated by pillars.

The washrooms are conveniently located right inside the restaurant so you do not have to go outside and start wandering around the large shopping mall to wash your hands.

Outside there is ample seating but our Nairobi winter means it can be quite draughty at this time of year. Our waiter brought the menus and took our drinks order.

He disappeared for a while before bringing them out. The portion sizes are generous and one of us who had allergies was relieved when a member of staff responsible for assembling the beverages came to the table to explain the exact composition of each of the beverages.

EXACT WAIT TIME

After ordering the food, I was impressed because the waiter informed us of the exact wait time. Thankfully, they did not delay.

Their burgers looked amazing but I personally loved their succulent grilled pork ribs, and their Mediterranean-style side salad. The presentation is excellent and the ingredients were fresh and bursting with flavour.

They make skinny crispy gourmet fries served in a miniature ice-bucket chrome container. Perfectly seasoned, the fries did not even need ketchup.

The salad dressing was also really flavourful – garlicky and rich. Be warned that the side dishes are tiny, but the mains and platters are generous and perfect for sharing. The Cajun potato wedges hit the spot. I did not love the smoky charcoal flavour of their barbecued chicken wings.

Children would likely enjoy the mild taste of their chicken nuggets.

Notable choices on the menu include all-day breakfast from 8 am, vegetarian offerings, their generous milkshakes which contain four scoops of ice cream in a 300 ml glass, and a wide variety of cocktails.

Their cocktails are so famous, they’ve won Cocktail Bar of the Year Award in South Africa every year since 1999. Their price range is high-end but not exorbitant.

A main course, with an extra side and non-alcoholic drink would cost you Sh2, 000 per person.

Interestingly, News Café do not serve dessert. This is a bold move since dessert is the norm in high-end restaurants.

However, culinary publications show that dessert today is not generally profitable for restaurants but most offer it due to patron expectations.

Whether their rationale is budgetary expediency or preference, I applaud News Cafe for having the courage to dance to their own beat.

Ratings:

Food: 4.5/5

Service: 4/5

Hygiene: 4.5/5

Value: 4/5

Ambiance: 3.5/5

Child-friendly: N/A