As for the “customer base” I couldn’t tell whether they were “aspirational” but they seemed a fairly typical mix of youngish Nairobians, out for a late Sunday breakfast or early lunch. I couldn’t properly appraise the “premier beverage choices” because it was too early for that. But I understand that the wide range of cocktails is a News Café speciality.
However, I can say something about the “world class food offerings.” I sampled the English Breakfast. I can’t say it was world class because the French fries were coldish and hard – and the eggs were hard-Kenyan not soft-English style. But it was a nice touch to offer a choice of streaky or back bacon. The coffee was OK, too.
I should say, the menu is very extensive – from ten kinds of burger to seven different wraps – as well as salads, steaks, grills and all-day breakfasts. For socialising over a meal there is the “top seller” platter, with a full portion of bbq ribs, chicken wings, sausages, served with Cajun potato wedges. It serves up to four people for Sh4,500.
Why are these places called News Cafés? In the Kabalagala district in Kampala there used to be a bar called Telex – a place bombed by terrorists back in 1999. I was told that, during the times of civil strife under Idi Amin, it was the place where you went to find out what was going on. In Nairobi, I understand, the place for news (or well-informed gossip) used to be the nyama choma joints of Kenyatta Market.
The News Café in Hatfield had blown-up newsprint on the walls. I didn’t see any similar media stuff on display in the Kilimani News Café. But the décor is cheerful. I guess it deserves the label “contemporary’ though “vibrant’ might be too strong a word. As for “relevant” – I’ve no idea to what it is supposed to be relevant.
To be fair, maybe I should try this place in the evening, when it is full of its aspirational customer base and I can try a couple of its cocktails to make myself more vibrant. Though I guess I might still not be relevant.
John Fox is Managing Director of iDC