Thursday, April 21, 2016

The River Cafe: Restaurant Review

I'd been to the River Cafe at Karura before with friends, but in my excitement at all the food (no surprises here), absolutely forgot to take usable pictures or make any notes.

Fortunately, we decided to have our April YWSE board meeting there, and so I warned all my fellow women in advance- be prepared to eat, so that I can do a review (and boy, did we eat)!

You'll also be pleased to know that this time, I remembered to take Bob along (my DSLR who's been in the closet far too long- literally).

First of all, for those of you who're not in Nairobi, Karura Forest is an absolutely beautiful location, and is very popular for hiking and events. The River Cafe is a recent addition, and the forest lends to the enchanting ambiance in a way that words can't really fully do justice to. The day we were there for lunch, it started off as being really sunny, but toward the end it became cloudy and rainy- and I LOVED it.






The River Cafe is usually pretty busy- reservations need to be made in advance, and if you're running more than 10 minutes late, you need to call and let them know, otherwise they can give your reservations away. Some people might find this a little harsh, but being a lover of timeliness, I find a strange delight in it. Another thing to remember- this is a cafe style restaurant, which I think people often forget about.

I was looking at the drinks menu, and completely missed the fact that they had Stella until after I'd already ordered some wine. Never mind- I know what I'm ordering next time. I decided to try the Leleshwa Sauvignon Blanc. Leleshwa is one of the (if not the) only wines made in Kenya, and I'd never had it before.



It was a pleasant change from my usual- I'm not usually a Sauvignon Blanc drinker, preferring Chardonnay or something sparkling when it comes to white wines, but I liked this one. It was smooth and sweet, with a pale strawish gold colour, and flavours of pineapple, guava and litchi.

Another board member ordered the Stawberry Caipirioska (pictures of River Cafe's menu can be found on my page here). It was fun and sweet, and something I may be inclined to try at some point.

Strawberry Caipirioska

By this time, the rest of the board had arrived, and we decided to get starters. We chose the spinach and artichoke dip with tortilla chips. To be honest, the tortilla chips weren't the greatest themselves- but the dip was amazing! I'd have happily had another bowl by myself. The salt was a little bit on the lower side, which is a good thing I feel, because people can add more if they'd like. However, dishes heavy in salt can't be rectified all too easily.




When it came to choosing the main meal, I was absolutely conflicted. There were SO many things on the menu that looked appealing. After going back and forth between a few options, I finally picked the Pan Fried Fish Piccatta (description from the menu: seasonal fresh fish fillet, lightly dusted in herbed flour and pan-fried and served with parsley potatoes and butter, lemon and capers sauce).

What did I think of my choice? I liked the fish, but I also think I'd have preferred a little more batter. Personal choice though, so don't let that turn you away from ordering this. The capers were a little strong, but then again- they're capers. I feel like the potatoes could've been more flavourful; some garlic maybe? They'd have complemented the fish even more perfectly. While I enjoyed the fish and the potatoes, I didn't like the salad as much. Some of the leaves were bitter, and this was echoed by other board members who had salad.

Pan Fried Fish Piccatta
Other board members ordered the following:

Fish & Chips (Battered white fish served with chips, salad and a side of tartar sauce and malted vinegar)

The Chicken Burger (Deep fried battered buttermilk chicken on a bun, with Russian mayonnaise, tomato, red cabbage coleslaw and chips)

Blue Cheese Burger (Brown's Stone Blue cheese inside 200g of aged, grain-fed aged beef patty served on a homemade sesame bun with balsamic-roasted onions, Coomete beef tomato slices and a side of chips)

The Veggie Burger (Sweet corn and chickpea burger with fresh coriander, cumin and paprika on a wholemeal bun, dressed with a yoghurt & cucumber sauce & served with choice of French fries or side salad)

Mint & Chilli Grilled Thai Beef Salad (Sauteed beef fillet in a mixed salad served with a chilli-kaffir lime dressing)

Some general feedback from them on these, although I'll let them add more in the comments if they feel like. Blue cheese burger- the beef was good, but the bread wasn't very fresh. Veggie burger- this was yummy, and had some elements of sweet corn. Mint & chilli grilled thai beef salad- the salad was good, the beef was REALLY good, but some of the leaves were bitter. 



I think on the whole, everyone had positive experiences with their food, and we all agreed that we'd go back. 

Fish & Chips

Blue Cheese Burger

The Chicken Burger

Mint & Chilli Grilled Thai Beef Salad

The Veggie Burger
Now, it came time for an important part of the meal- dessert. Yes, after eating all that, we did still have room (although I'm not going to pretend we weren't all groaning afterwards). Being six women, we did the natural thing, and ordered six different desserts (there are 8 on the menu, so we had quite the sample).

We got the: 

Bread & Butter Pudding (Me)
Chocolate Brioche Pudding (Alia)
Chef's Semi-Freddo of the week (Rosie)
Creme Brulee (Nats)
Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice-cream (Ranjeeta)
Mixed Berry & Mint Sorbet (Rachel)

While all the desserts were really good, I think the sorbet and the brioche pudding emerged the favourites- I actually liked all the other desserts much more than mine. I was pleasantly surprised by the sorbet. Mint and mixed berried were not a combination I'd have thought would work for a sorbet, but they did. It was SO good. I have my dessert for next time's visit all planned out! 




Note to readers: By this time in the review, the inevitable hunger pangs are upon me. It's only just 7:15pm, so dinner's a good 45 minutes away at least. I WAS supposed to work out, but somehow I don't think that Shaun T and hunger pangs get along very well, so I've compromised and grabbed myself a glass of Jameson- maybe it'll help? 

Bread & Butter Pudding: No worries Chin, this wasn't Supa loaf drenched in custard ;)
The service at River Cafe was a little slow, but polite. Understandable because from what I've seen, they're never NOT busy! 

I absolutely enjoyed my experience, and can't wait to go back. The ambiance itself would have made even a mediocre culinary experience worth it. Have you had a look at the menu yet? What should I order next? On that note, which restaurant shall I review next?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a very thorough review. Loved it

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