In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, William Shakespeare writes, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” He meant a different course obviously but we chose to look at it in culinary lens.
And if so there are a few romantic restaurants serving courses that run smoothly. BDLife asked a non-foodie Jackson Biko to pick some top choice romantic restaurants.
Mercado — Mexican Kitchen & Bar
There are restaurants you remember for its ambience and how it defined a moment. You remember the view and the crispy battered red snapper. And you carry with you these moments in your pocket and you never want to go back because you are afraid they will mess it up for you. And so as long as you have that memory in your pocket, it’s yours.
Who opens a bar in Kikuyu, in a dusty street, sandwiched between a welder and a garage, in a house that was formerly a famous local bar back in the day, a ceiling-less room, kitschy artwork on the walls (for sale), with simple wooden chairs and an open kitchen and a creative and playful menu that keeps changing? Who? A man who is sure that you will drive all the way. A man who is sure of his food. To mean a man who is sure of himself.
Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant, Diani
The genius of this place is that it feeds into our primal “caveman” instinct. You are enclosed among ragged walls, at tables that could be anywhere in the world, eating great food, drinking fantastic wine and looking up at the starlit sky and thinking, “16 Century couldn’t have been that bad.”
Jiko, The Tribe
Great food is good memory. Here are two words for you; lobster ravioli. In the menu you will find it under “pasta.” It’s mushrooms, leek bouillon and a healthy pinch of magic. You might not even be a fun of pasta or even of seafood, but sometimes these things suck you in and they haunt you.
Tamarind Dhow Restaurant
It is the singing and the dancing on a moving jahazi. It is the coastal bands pelting cheesy touristy ballads. It is the signature dawa cocktails going around as you cruise past the enigmatic Fort Jesus and the twinkling lights of Old Town Mombasa and the post-sunset skies the colour of an old penny.
Nothing will ever say “authentic” better than a dhow restaurant.
I asked a good friend and a keen foodie (whatever that is anymore) why she likes About Thyme so much and she said, “because it has managed to strike a good balance between bourgeois and regular. It reminds me of myself.”
I love it because of the food but also because one day — many years back — I was eating there and was talking to my grandfather on the phone in mother tongue and when I was on my way out one of the waiters told me in my mother tongue, “hearing your speak on the phone made me miss my dead grandfather so much.”
The man is long gone, but I still go back for the Chicken Pot Pie.
Sierra Burger +Wine
Because a good thing deserves to come in doubles. So they opened this second joint in Nairobi’s Westlands. You go if you want to make an impression. I love how dark it seems without it being too dark. I love how even when all the tables are taken at dinner it still manages to retain a silent aura. I love that it’s intimate. My friend who loves About Thyme? She wouldn’t fit here, because it’s not regular.
Sevens Seafood & Grill
There is the way the whole room curls in design like it’s the body of a sea animal. The lines are soft on their own, but at night the blue lights curl them gently, showing their low spines. The chandelier looks like a squid. The cylindrical bar glows like that fish that generates electricity. Not an eel, that is ugly, the beautiful one. Yeah, jellyfish. Thankfully the food matches the ambience.
Graze Steakhouse — Sankara
They know steak. They understand its temperament and its temperature. They also happen to enjoy steak. They enjoy it so much they want you to see how they enjoy it through their open kitchen.
The tables are close together but without you finishing the sentences of the person in the next table. The service is unstained and unmatched. Sure, there is seafood but who goes to Graze for seafood? You go for the aged beef which when you chew it tastes like a happy cow.
When you think of a romantic meal you mostly think of dinners. What this place has managed to do is also make all the meals of the day feel romantic.