I won something! I can’t believe I actually won at a random chance competition. This is so unlike me. I’m the girl who can buy 30 raffle tickets and not win a single thing. I envy those who can win a vacation to the Mara with a single raffle ticket that they bought on a whim. In this case, I won a free burger from J’s Fresh Bar & Kitchen. Oh MAN I was excited. I had been to J’s once before when it first opened and it had a great vibe to it. J’s is a hole-in-the-wall open air restaurant with beautiful hardwood furniture. I was excited to go back and give their burger a try. So, last Sunday (I know, this is an extremely belated post) I had planned on going to the Nairobi National Park. I figured, head to the park, then stop by J’s to redeem my burger. A perfect Sunday plan and of course, I dragged my boyfriend along with me. We agreed we’d head out at 6:30AM on Sunday so we could catch the early morning animals…. LOL.
At 9:45AM we headed out the door, certain we wouldn’t see anything but a few antelopes and monkeys. It was around 10:30AM when we got to the National Park (we had to make a pit stop for coffee and a pastry first), the sun was barely peaking through the clouds. I climbed into the drivers seat and started the drive around the park.
15 minutes pass, we saw a few birds (yay?).
25 minutes pass, we had to double back, the road looked treacherous from the rains the night before.
30 minutes pass and we began to lose hope.
Then it happened. We turned a corner, avoiding another muddy road and BAM giraffe. There were two giraffes around three metres away from us. I turned off the car so we wouldn’t scare them away which apparently worked because they slowly began to approach. I’ve always thought giraffe were docile creatures, any animal that you can feed by placing a pellet in your mouth and puckering your lips has to be somewhat tame, right? Sitting in that car, watching these nine foot tall creatures walk (in what felt like) slow motion towards us, I panicked. As the adrenaline engaged my inner rally car driver, I threw the car into reverse and began to speed back. “STOP” my boyfriend yelled from the passenger seat, “calm down Soni, nothings going to happen”. I looked at him and began to howl with laughter, realizing I had probably over reacted. I calmed down, inched the car forward, shut it off, and watched the giraffe graze on the tall acacia trees.
After that initial sighting, we got lucky. We saw a kudu, antelope, ostrich, buffalo, and even a lion! I couldn’t believe our luck. I’ve never seen so many animals at the National Park. I guess the animals being out in the early afternoon could be attributed to a cool morning during the rainy season. If you haven’t been recently, I’d definitely suggest checking out Nairobi National Park soon. Do note that the entry fee for residents has gone up in the past year or so. Citizenss used to pay ksh 300 and now pay ksh 500…. It’s still worth it.
After an eventful day at the park, we headed to J’s for a much needed beer and a burger. We arrived at around 3PM yet the small restaurant was surprisingly full. It looked like people had spilled over from brunch, enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon at J’s. My boyfriend and I weren’t in the mood to share one of the communal tables so we grabbed a seat at the bar.
Of course I ordered “J’s Ultimate Chuck Steak Burger” which is topped with crunchy pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions and provolone cheese. Any good burger comes with a side of fries, in J’s case, they’re homemade paprika fries. I asked for the temperature of my burger to be medium which would give a nice pink tint to the middle of the patty. When I cut my burger in half, the patty was cooked perfectly. The patty was well seasoned and the bun was light and fluffy. Often I find that restaurants here will use store bought burger buns that are dense and overpowering to the burger. At J’s, the bun tasted fresh and was lightly toasted which added a nice crunch.
The fries were delicious too, lightly tossed in paprika and salt. They weren’t soggy with grease but crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. It was a delicious meal and the portion size was generous. I wasn’t able to finish my burger and fries and I ate well past being full because it tasted that good.
I started off with a cold Tusker which I usually wouldn’t take the time to write about (we all know what a good Tusker tastes like) but this one was exceptional. Maybe it was the three hours I had previously spent in a hot car without water (rookie mistake, always carry water) but the first sip of Tusker nearly brought tears to my eyes. It was colder than the arctic and bubblier than a 16 year old Valley girl.
Next, I had to have a J’s cocktail. I have heard a lot about J’s cocktails from friends who’ve been there before and their social media makes them look sooo appealing. I asked the bartender what the most popular cocktail was, she said the Austin Powers. The Austin Powers consists of basil, vodka, lemon juice and pineapple juice. J’s makes fresh juices so the cocktail was sure to be delicious.
When I took the first sip of the cocktail, I knew it was good. It’s no surprise to me that this is one of the most popular cocktails on the menu. It is light, refreshing, and not too heavy handed on the vodka. It tastes good and gives a good buzz. The basil adds a nice earthiness to the cocktail and a clean finish to each sip. The Austin Powers is groovy baby.
Overall the service at J’s was pretty good. The bartenders were attentive even though they were busy serving drinks to the rest of the restaurant. The food came out in good time and the overall ambiance was relaxing. I had a great time at J’s and it contributed to an overall perfect Sunday. J’s has definitely got their finger on the pulse of their target audience offering different local DJs a platform to perform every Friday night. It’s the kind of place that is great for families during the day and a fun lively experience on weekend evenings. I’ll have to go back for a lazy Sunday brunch. I can’t wait to explore more of their menu.
The food: 9
The drink: 10
The service: 9