A Touch Of Ireland In Nairobi

written by Susan Wong 30th March 2018

Susan Wong often feels nostalgic on St Patrick’s day and loves the fact that there now is an Irish bar in the city she can visit whenever the mood calls.

For some, St. Patrick’s Day is the observance of the death of the patron saint of Ireland. For others, it’s a day where across the world, partygoers celebrate Irish culture, special foods, beer and a whole lot of green. For me, it’s my sister’s birthday so, every year, I add a birthday cake to that mix. My sister isn’t much of a drinker but she’s socially dynamic, charismatic
and popular. In university, I remember celebrating her birthday at pubs despite her no drinking policy. Surrounded by pints of green beer, we’d celebrate Sarah’s birthday by “drowning the shamrock”. We’d revel in delicious foods such as a good hearty Irish Stew, Apple Cake with Custard Sauce and a gigantic gooey brownie as a birthday cake.

In Nairobi, on St. Patrick’s Day, I often look for a restaurant or bar for a dose of nostalgia. This year, The Tav Irish Pub and Eatery will be celebrating its second year of serving-up Irish flair to Nairobians. Located at The Mirage building, this massive laidback watering-hole features a broad terrace with a bar. Barrels and stained wooden tables and chairs and corrugated metal give the space a rustic feel. Strategically placed flat screens make this an ideal place to watch live sports. Inside, another bar opens up to a cavernous loft space while upstairs, more seating is available, features black and white photographs of coopers, and overlooks a vibrant wall mural. The staff is relaxed, engaging and very helpful. Mind you, when I went there with my companions, there were only a few tables. So during a happy hour rush, things could be very different.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings and Dublin Spud Skins were the first to arrive. When ordering chicken wings, tucked in the back of my mind, I always worry about chewing on dried and overcooked wings. Thankfully, in Tav’s case, the Teriyaki Chicken Wings were not only flavourful, but incredibly moist. The Teriyaki sauce was balanced of savoury and sweet, and similar to the Japanese classic glaze that’s become a mainstay in kitchens all over the world. The spud skins arrived crispy and caramelised, loaded with cheddar cheese, red and yellow bell peppers, smokey bacon bits, mashed potatoes, and served
with sour cream. A crowd favourite, these spud skins are perfect for an evening of drinking.

I’m happy to report that there are no watery stews here! The Irish Stew arrived steaming hot and aromatic. Like all traditional folk dishes, the exact recipe of Irish Stew is rarely consistent from place to place. But what remains consistent
is the combination of mutton or lamb, carrots, potatoes, onions and parsley. In the Tav’s version, coriander featured heavily, which I didn’t mind. The stew is gorgeously thick, almost like a thin gravy. The flavours were deep and complex. Perfect for a blustery March day in Canada or after a tiring and long work day in Kenya, there’s no greater comfort than a
hearty Irish stew.

Aside from the name, I’m not sure what makes the Celtic Beef Burger, Irish. But when this impressive tower of burger, bacon, sausage and fried egg arrived to the table, none of those questions mattered. Beautifully stacked, this burger had the flavours to match. The beef was overdone for my liking, but the seasoning and flavours were really delicious. I personally prefer a coarser chuck, but the texture of the patty was still enjoyable. The patty to bread ratio was balanced, and the chips that came with the burger were delectably crispy.

To finish, the Apple Crumble did not disappoint. I only wished there was more! As for the Gooey Chocolate Brownie, the moist chocolate square was rich and revealed a gooey center as promised. If you’re looking for a bit of Irish flare this month, The Tav is a good place to begin. In fact, if a Green Party is what your heart desires, Dj Kace will be on the decks this St. Patrick’s Day.

I’ll finish this with one piece of cautionary advice: wear comfortable footwear that has good grip. The owners of the building chose an incredible slippery tile for the space that can send you flying if you’re not paying attention (I unintentionally went skating). So, if you’re planning to head to The Tav for an evening of Irish merry making, leave the heels home and go ready to have a long night of fun!

Susan Wong was a Guest at The Tav

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