Food & Drinks
Knowledge-hungry beef lover's paradiseFriday September 09 2022
The gang, a group of 10, had certainly looked forward to this outing as part of our quest to familiarise ourselves with Nairobi’s culinary scene. Gigiri was the destination and The Local Grill, the mission.
Once everyone sat and appetites whet with a delectable Sauvignon Blanc, then came the deliberation of choice. As the name suggests, the five-year-old The Local Grill prides itself in an extensive knowledge of beef.
I consider beef to be king of the meats because I can consume it all year round without suffering satiation, so when an establishment proclaims that “we don’t just put the steak on a plate; we’re all about paying homage to the bovine”, then my attention is piqued.
The restaurant is designed around a popular Johannesburg steakhouse also known as The Local Grill.
While the Johannesburg restaurant’s décor speaks more to the man with its raw brick walls adorned with cattle-themed photographs and its placemats etched with an educational beef cuts diagram, the Kenyan Local Grill tempers the steer fervour with what the proprietor Bhavna says was an intentional attempt to make it feminine and homey while using locally-made furniture and furnishings.
As such, every item, from the bar stools seated on wrought iron legs, to the old charm, custom-made, hand scraped wooden floors and outer walls clad in wood grain finish bears marks of an artisan.
Staff members are encouraged to take advantage of role rotation to improve their chances of promotion. Head chef Meshack Oduor, for instance, started as a fry cook and Ruth Wangare who started as a commis chef is currently the procurement manager.
Of particular interest to this column is that the Local Grill adheres to a strict ‘field-to-fork’ as well as a ‘nose-to-tail’ philosophy where they guarantee that every slice of meat can be traced back to the exact cow it came from and that nothing goes to waste.
To achieve this, they work with select farmers. In what many restaurants shy away from, The Local Grill opens its kitchen to diners where they dispense knowledge about the different meat ageing and preparation processes.
Here you are given a chance to explore the different cuts and the flavours attained by different cooking methods including grilling, slow-cooking or using smoke and Himalayan salt blocks.
Once you understand a little more about what it is you are devouring, then you can opt to enjoy either grain-fed or grass-fed beef that is either wet- or dry-aged on-site and spiced with a special rub. And you can even choose their specific slice of rump, sirloin, fillet, T-bone or rib-eye, which is then cut to order.
To wash down these steaks is a rich assortment of wine including a special sommelier’s selection list for those in the mood for a classic pairing. I also counted at least 30 gin varieties for those with a taste for juniper berries.
The shared starter consisting of a salad, beef carpaccio, and grilled octopus was a delight with the slow-cooked beef ragù cheeks being the unexpected hit.
After tasting all the entrée presentations, my palate leaned towards my offbeat choice of wild mushroom risotto littered with shaved parmesan. The beef short ribs slow braised in red wine were faultless with the grilled sirloin flooring the rump in my book.
While the house wine was of good taste, I felt the prices were steep but were content that the sides, at no extra cost, ensured that no stomach was left needy.
In a battle of the sexes toss-up, the ladies fronted chocolate fondant dessert while the gents were team affogato ice cream. Each team claimed victory but my coffee buds were swayed by the Italian picking.
Rumour has it that the restaurant will soon deliver aged cuts too.