The Charity Dinner I attended on Saturday was a blast. A lot of money was raised for a worthy cause and I got to eat some African cuisine while enjoying myself, not bad at all for a Saturday night out.
I did not get a chance to talk to management as everyone was rushing around serving customers, taking orders and trying to maintain calm. So you guys will get to hear from the owners of Nivla Restaurant, Camberwell Road at a later date.
As far as I'm aware and some of you may disagree with me on this - but South East London might as well be called 'Little Africa' it's a bit like Washington DC (chocolate city) or Maryland (Freetown No.2). A community of Africans from across the continent have chosen to settle and raise their children in the area. There are many African businesses, churches, mosques, community centre's and other social outlets that adorn the streets of the South East but none more so than 'eateries'. I think there are even more African places to eat than there are West Indian, which is something I never thought I would encounter in my lifetime. As I drove along Camberwell Road past the many chicken takeaways - and yes.... there were many, I have to say I missed Nivla Restaurant and called in for directions. Although it was on the main road, it wasn't obvious and didn't stand out as much as the restaurant adjacent called K AND P Restaurant.
Nivla Restaurant is truly a family affair, the staff were pleasant and they really made the Nivla experience an enjoyable one. The stereotype of miserable African women who get aggressive when questioned Or look bored as hell while your eating Or the whole look-you-up-and-down-before-I saunter-off-to-the-kitchen-to-gossip-about-you attitude didn't exist. I was also pleasantly surprised at the set up - the bar (very important) was bang in the middle of the restaurant. So you can just give the chair a short 'tilt' to ask for another drink if you are in the middle of biting off a chicken leg. That's not much to ask for...is it.
The decour inside was a little stoic with not many African 'artifacts' or cultural decor hanging off the walls. I do think it's time African artists were given some encouragement from restaurants, bars and politicians don't you? I would love to walk into an African restaurant filled with amazing African Art that took my breath away and made me feel as though I was going to experience something special...but I guess that's another story. We had 'akara' (banana fritter type thingy) for starters with some adorable pepper sauce and the main meal was Jollof rice served with stew and salad. If you have been reading my posts, you will know I am not a huge fan of Jollof rice - but at least the stew wasn't greasy and the meat wasn't sinking to the bottom. The food was just right amount without any kind of gravy overkill. The funny thing was after the Jollof rice - we got served Prawn Crackers!
Now, I am not sure if that is because Sierra Leone as a nation don't do deserts..... we do bake cakes. I might stress and there is rice bread but I think because African food is full of carbs and protein, I think deserts for us are not necessary. So the Prawn Crackers may have been an after thought...something for the sake of it.
Seriously though what is the deal with African Deserts? We don't have any do we....?
I leave that one open for comments.