Kevin's Review ‹ Back to Charlie's Bistro CBD
The sign on the wall of Charlie's Bistro features a quote from Charlie Chaplin, whom I am guessing inspired the owner to name the place: "I like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying." Crying is EXACTLY what my visit to Charlie's Bistro makes me feel like doing. The food, service, cocktails, ambiance and value are all atrocious. I can forgive a place with less than good service, and with a discombobulated decor that defies any theme (especially if the place was named after Charlie Chaplin), but I can't forgive food that is of poor quality, prepared poorly, is mismatched with accompaniments that do not belong together, i.e rice and salsa and steamed vegetables with what the menu called chicken parmigiana. Weird. I would even forgive that IF the said chicken parmigiana blew my socks off. Instead, said chicken parmigiana was tough, pinkish in color, overcooked (yes, the pink color had nothing to do with the meat being undercooked), lacked any tomato sauce, and the supposed mozzarella cheese that the menu described as "smothering" was most definitely not mozzarella cheese. The rice accompaniment was dry, and it seemed sacrilegious to add the salsa to it. The chef later explained to me that the salsa indeed was meant only as decoration.
The happy hour cocktails on offer were basically colorful cocktails with lots of sugar. I had to return my blue curacao-based whatever it was called cocktail because it basically made me want to regurgitate. I was forced to go with bourbon on the rocks because I couldn't trust the bartender who was offended that I criticized the putrid cocktail she had served me.
Re: the decor, it was a mix of faux grass on the floor and some walls, Thai decorations, the aforementioned Charlie Chaplin quote printed on a latex banner, a crystal chandelier, wicker tables with wicker stools, smaller dining tables with white plastic chairs, and old-fashioned light-bulbs. No rhyme or reason to any of it. And may I add, a missed opportunity if indeed the name of the place was inspired by the one and only silent film star, Charlie Chaplin.
The prices were a bit on the high side for a restaurant of this type, were not bistro prices. The term "bistro" is said to derive from Russian soldiers, who, when in Paris, demanded food "bistro, bistro": "quickly, quickly" in Russian. Thus casual, informal dining spots where one could get a good, relatively inexpensive, and quick meal became known as "bistros." Charlie's Bistro, using this definition, is NOT a bistro: the food is NOT GOOD, it was NOT QUICKLY SERVED, and it was NOT RELATIVELY INEXPENSIVE.
BTW, people are raving about the view? Of what? T-Mall? The Langata/Mbagathi Roundabout?!