Fairmont The Norfolk took me by surprise. I was last there 13 years ago- far too taken with dolls to have any impressions about the decor. Having been back one week ago, let’s just say that like many others, I never expected a restaurant built in 1904 to have such a contemporary feel (albeit while remaining true to its traditional colonial charm) that would appeal to me in 2015. Heck, even the charming Group Executive Chef Doxis Bekris (currently the Taste Chef of the Year 2015) with his man bun and sleeves decked in tattoos from all the countries he’s visited is testament to how perceptions about the place may be far from reality. After my evening at Cin Cin Bar, it is fast becoming one of my favourite spots to walk into for relaxed after-work drinks, soothing jazz music, room for conversation, excellent food and a river of cocktails.
Speaking of food, Cin Cin just launched a new Spaleba (Spanish and Lebanese) tapas menu. Because I live to eat, we had Chef Doxis pop into the kitchen and for the next hour, he sent us beautifully presented platter after platter of pretty much everything off the menu. But that’s the best thing about a tapas menu, right? You get to try small portions of everything! We started off with Andalusian fried olives which in theory, I thought might be too strong for the Kenyan palate, but the chef proved me wrong. This was closely followed by bonuelos and potato bravas which played the perfect companion to my passion fruit mojito. From the pescado (fish) section we had tataki cooked salmon glazed in maple soya, sumac and ginger, and served with crunchy asparagus and potato chips. It looked like a dish out of the kitchen at Tatu, Norfolk’s fine dining restaurant.
From the polo (chicken) section, we had chicken brochettes marinated in jalapeno then crusted with nuts and served with a yoghurt dip, fresh tomato salsa and Lebanese bread crisps. I could taste the little bits and bobs added by the chef to elevate each dish, and fell in love with the different influences blending perfectly on my palate. We also had grilled lamb skewers, smokey mutabel, yoghurt sauce and tortilla bread. Mutabel is a thick, creamy, savoury eggplant sauce with an almost airy fluffiness accented with nutty olive oil, perfect for anyone who likes more intense Middle Eastern food. As I was still raving about the pita bread that accompanied it, Chef Doxis brought us warm churros – fried spanish long donuts tossed with cinnamon and sugar and accompanied by a chocolate dip – and I was lost for words at first bite.