It’s quite cold right now in Kampala and honestly all I can think about is staying in bed and watching The Good Wife. Lamentations aside, Kampala Restaurant week started yesterday and I planned to finally check The Explorer out since one of my friends has raved about it more than enough times.
I decided to swing by last evening after work even though every part of me just wanted to go home and drown in all kinds of tea. The Explorer is located at Kampala Serena Hotel and specialises in Italian cuisine and is one of the Signature Dining restaurants this week. The décor is impeccable and the lighting-oh my God, the lighting makes it warm and welcoming. Honestly, ladies, if someone asks you out on a date-this is the place you’d want to go to. It is quiet and cozy which technically makes it breeding grounds for the greatest vibe-if you know what I mean. You could also sit outside in the beautifully lit water garden for more scenic dining.
The service? Amazing. I was welcomed by the manager, Charles and attended to by a lovely lady called Rosenah, who not only knew the menu like the back of her hand but also knew the cooking techniques used for each and every single item on the plate. I love such people. They are always on top of their game and did I mention that she serves you with the warmest smile. Dear Kampala Serena Hotel management team, is it possible to give this lady a hefty raise? Charles too. And Richard, the mixologist. Those 3 are the dream team. I mean-it’s only fair.
Let’s dive straight into the food.
Starters; a basket of warm rosemary rolls with black and green olives embedded in them. I love olives so you can only imagine that I was on cloud 9 to see this surprise twist to this rather common appetizer.
Now allow me to talk about the tomato paste which in my opinion was the MVP of the night. I am not a big fan of tomatoes but alas, here I am, currently looking for anyone who sells sun dried tomatoes so I can make this delicious paste for my people. This paste is a combination of sundried tomatoes and olive oil. It is tangy, it pairs well with a ton of foods and if you really are done with the usual margarine, jam and butter bread spreads, it is a perfect healthy substitute. The black olives paste was great but I didn’t invest as much excitement in that as I did for the tomato paste.
Main course: Chicken Piccata set on pesto tagliatelle with sautéed mushrooms. The tagliatelle is just fancy Italian for narrow strips of pasta. This was served with pesto a sauce made of fresh basil, garlic, olive oil and cheese. if you love cheese like I do, be not afraid because you also get a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese on the side that you can sprinkle all over your pasta.
Upside to the meal? The chicken was boneless, soft and succulent and full of flavour. I understand that it was soaked in lemon juice but you may not ever get the hint of that lemon flavour. I personally can’t stand that flavour in chicken. The tagliatelle is molto al dente which is slightly undercooked pasta that has the ideal consistency as Italian contemporary cooking suggests. You’d certainly need to use your teeth because it is quite starchy just like all perfect pasta should be.
It’s Italian food and pasta at that so one serving is sure to give you the itis. The meal is also served with a Tusker Lite so for those that love that kind of thing…well..good for you.
Downside? The mushrooms are bitter because they absorbed the bitterness from the lemon. I took a wild guess that that’s what happened and the chef confirmed. I don’t think the mushrooms deserved that so if I was the chef I would not do that again. Ever.
Rating: *drumroll* 8.5/10….I mean, I love mushrooms and it was a little uncomfortable for me eating bitter ones. Thank heavens they were not a major part of the meal because that would have been most atrocious.
Thanks for passing by.
Have an amazing day.