14 January 2011

Habesha

I love me some good Ethiopian food.  And as a favorite of locals and expats alike, I consistently hear Habesha referred to as "the best Ethiopian restaurant in town."  So of course I had to try this place out.

Photo credit: http://www.wix.com/aladorgod/zembaba-2
Location: Arwings Kodhek in Kilimani and Utalii House off Uhuru Highway behind Laico Regency Hotel in City Centre 
Price: A bit pricier than other Ethiopian fare; you pay for the atmosphere.  One large platter, meat dish, shiro, and drinks was 1850KSH (approx. $23)
Atmosphere: Kilimani- The outdoor seating in the garden is great, lots of space for large groups, but separated enough you don't feel like you're surrounded by other patrons.

Of the two locations, I can only speak to the one on Arwings Kodhek, however I hear the downtown restaurant has great music on the weekends.  You can read a review of Habesha II here.  The Kilimani Habesha is ideal for large groups and has a lovely seating area in the garden with fire pits and plenty of greenery.  Security has also been tightened since July and there is a guard posted at the entrance to search all cars upon entry.

Photo credit: http://ddmcfly.wordpress.com/
The food has always been great, the only thing I have noticed deteriorating over my past few visits was the quality of service.  Of course you get used to a certain level of lack of service when dining out in Nairobi, they are definitely not as conscientious as their Western counterparts, but particularly good and glaringly bad service always warrants a mention.  A visit in September with a mid-size group of both Kenyans and expats was less than pleasant with incorrect food being delivered to the table, bills including numerous items that had not been ordered, and an argumentative wait staff that was not particularly willing to fix their errors.  And it hasn't gotten any better of late, upon my return from an extended stay in the States, this was the first place I dined.  As always, the food was excellent, however the service was still lacking and it was next to impossible to get our waiter's attention as he seemingly turned a deaf ear anytime we beckoned him.

Despite the poor service, I know I will be back, not because I will particularly enjoy the dining experience, but the food is tasty, the atmosphere is great and accommodating to large groups, and all of my friends love this place.  I think it's really just a matter of picking your battles and crappy service won't keep me away in this case.

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