Charlies Bistro have a spanking new restaurant in the heart of the CBD and its massive! You know that song “cant hold me down” by Pdiddy & Mase – if there ever was an instance these words hold true it’s at the new Charlies because they’re back with a bang!
When I first walked into the restaurant the first thing i noticed was how grand it is – at 17,000 square feet Charlies Bistro is Kenya’s biggest standalone restaurant. There are many decor themes present in the space especially downstairs, from African paintings, Chandeliers, Scandinavian esque chairs to dark wooden furniture. Upstairs the decor is more streamlined with a lovely balcony that overlooks city mall.
Charlies Bistro has a very extensive menu that spans from pastas, steaks, pizza, burgers and many more. The vast array of dishes available can leave one overwhelmed, but the upside is that everyone’s taste preferences are bound to be accommodated here. There are many new dishes that have been added to the menu but a majority of the menu items from the old Charlies are still present.
Let’s jump to the Food! The first 4 dishes were had at the new restaurant and the rest from the old location but are still available on the current menu.
Truffle and Parmesan Fries 450/-
Have you had the same at 360 degrees pizza? If the answer is yes you will be disappointed with this offering. The potatoes were under cooked and coated with a creamy bechamely sauce which had very little traces of Parmesan or even an essence of truffle flavour (I don’t expect truffles but an essence or a hint of flavour from oil is what am after, and there was naaattthhhiinngg). The fries are far off from what they should be and I recommend you give this a miss.
Spicy Minced Beef Crisp Chips and Cheese 570/-
This has the makings of a great dish but it fell short based off minor things. The mince was very flavourful and tasted great but the biggest let down were the fries which were stale. If the fries were freshly made like they should be then this would have been a great dish.
Spicy Chicken Wings 670/-
These were horrible. The wings came to the table lukewarm and were overcooked and topped with a sauce that was watery and far from spicy . Don’t order these wings.
Mediterranean Crispy Chicken 940/-
I feel like the name of this dish doesn’t accurately reflect what you end up getting because this is far from crispy or Mediterranean in my eyes. Any dish labelled Mediterranean is usually light and fresh with vegetables and herbs. You could say that there is much more to Mediterranean cuisine than i’ve described, but I’ll throw it out there by saying battered chicken coated with a creamy mushroom sauce isn’t very Mediterranean. If I judged this as chicken in mushroom sauce I would rank it highly because it was tasty, but as crispy Mediterranean chicken this was a let-down. The chicken is accompanied with ”truffle mashed potatoes” that tasted like plain lumpy mash.
Chicken Parma 1070/-
I really enjoyed this meal with the highlight being the chicken itself which was flavorful compared to others I’ve come across. My only criticism is the portion size which I found way too small.
T-bone Steak 1320/-
The sauce that’s doused all over is the cornerstone to this steak. It literally made us overlook the fact that the steak was tough. With the right balance of sweet and savory the sauce was delicious and rescued the dish.
Harissa Lamb Chops 1190/-
The lamb was way too salty and chewy. We had to return this to the kitchen and when it came back nothing much changed.
Lebanese Beef & Cheese Burger 950/-
A good solid burger. The patty was great because of the sweet barbecue sauce on it. I wish they would use a more substantive bun that would hold the burger better, otherwise this is a good choice from the menu.
Strawberry Mojito Mocktail 400/-
I deliberately ordered this to compare it to the one at CJ’s and I can report that the CJ’s mojito tastes better but the charlies one looks prettier. The mojito compared to CJ’s was watery due to the high amount of crushed ice used. This doesn’t mean that it’s a bad drink I’ve just had better.
The service at Charlies is fantastic, with servers who are very pleasant and attentive to your needs. Its obvious that the staff is well trained and for a place this size i highly commend the management.
For the most part the food at Charlies Bistro is average but nothing extraordinary that will blow your socks off. With a main meal averaging 1,200 the prices here are on the higher side making it one of the more expensive casual dining restaurants in the CBD. I feel like attention to the small details is whats missing here especially with the food. The concept in general is good, but Charlies needs some refinement to take it up a notch because the price tag and what’s on offer don’t match.