I always enjoy returning to a place I use to frequent and love – especially one that serves delicious plates of food worthy of sharing.
Tapas Ceviche Bar’s food effort is full of thought, respect for taste, heritage and common sense – just as I had remembered from my experiences when it was one of my favourite waterholes in 2013. It was common to find me either asking the manager why the delicious Churros were finished already, or with my head buried in a dish of tender Octopus, or sipping on a perfectly balanced, mildly peppery and citrus-hinted Margarita.
The interior of the restaurant has not changed much since reopening post-Westgate attack – striking wall tiles are cast into the wood-paneled walls; and the space is still intimate, charming and lively with daily specials sketched out on the blackboard above the kitchen pass. The spacious al fresco dining area subtly receives a new look with charcoal-coloured table tops, French-style bistro chairs, and a small garden that shields diners from the road.
The kitchen serves-up resonant miniature dishes designed with an emphasis of freshness – earning Tapas a legion of devout fans. Tender octopus, sautéed mushrooms with parsley and garlic, grilled prawns with sea salt, and cauliflower with anchovy sauce all arrived in bold and colourful earthen plates. The roasted cauliflower flowerets laced with the zesty sauce was our surprising favourite with the octopus a close second thanks to its tender and flavourful execution.
The sweet and familiar aromas of grilled prawns filled the air as a butterflied pair, beautifully charred on the edges, arrived to the table with sea salt, a wedge of lemon and unfortunately a few seconds overdone.
Sporting perfect grill marks, there was the seared salmon – moist and permeated with flavour – that rested atop a black bean and avocado salsa. Bright in flavour and at times abrupt thanks to the lime juice, the salsa complimented the savoury salmon quite well.
The Peruvian-style ceviche – fresh fish marinated with light citrus vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs – was subtle in flavour and incredibly well-balanced without being drenched in liquid.
On the starch side, of course, the Paella Classic with spring chicken, sausage, prawns and vegetables showed-off great rice that was rich with flavour, caramelized ever so slightly and still a little firm.
We finished with Churros – long golden-brown logs of donuts, fresh from the deep fryer and coated in sugar. Best of all was the pair of dipping sauces – chocolate and Dulce De Leche (a combination of caramelized milk and sugar).
When you walk out of the restaurant with a plump belly, you can’t help but feel a playful swagger creep into your step. A couple of years later, I’m rediscovering Tapas Ceviche Bar at Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. You should too.
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