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Jiko fails to glow with its sloppy dishes

The Nairobi Restaurant Week ended yesterday and it was an affair that, though hailed with much pomp, failed to live up to my expectations. One of the restaurants I visited – the first, actually – was Jiko at The Tribe Hotel.

Jiko and The Tribe in its entirety has such beautiful decor and flawless ambience, I was hoping my experience would match the trappings. It didn’t. Indeed, Jiko was one of the worst restaurant visits I have had in a while.

We arrived at 8:30pm, with reservations, waited for the rest of our party to arrive, and ordered at 9pm.

Our first course came in about 15 minutes. I was having the leek and potato soup, which was tepid and coagulated. This should have been the first red flag!

Hoping that the rest of the meal would be better, I waited for the next course while eyeing other starters; the arugula was great, and the grilled calamari had five pieces of calamari flooded with salad. They should have just said salad with a touch of calamari.

Two hours later, our main course came. Yes. two hours. Mind you, we inquired about our food, complained, waited – indeed, we should have just walked out, but we had come all the way and we figured…yeah. Wrong decision!

The customers at the table next  had been waiting for three hours, which should have been the second red flag that something in the kitchen was going disastrously wrong.

When we finally got the food, the portions were uneven – meals that were the same choice were either extra-large or ridiculously small. The waiters seemed to have lost their uniforms as well, as one was serving us in a T-shirt and jeans.

I had the ribs which after three bites, made me nauseous because they were oily. I tasted the fish burger – not terrible – and the lamb chops which were tasty.

The restaurant had run out of desserts on the menu and gave us others instead – with free dessert samplers. The samplers were horrible. One tasted like baby food, the next like toothpaste, and I didn’t bother with the third, but it was too little too late.

Maybe they were having an incredibly bad night, or they just weren’t prepared – which is strange, as we did not visit on the first night of Restaurant Week.

Either way, it was a completely unsatisfactory night. Needless to say, no one was tipped.

Perhaps better preparation next time, or a more manageable menu? A more communicative and better-dressed staff? A new kitchen? A different restaurant?