African star really shines the brightest

A warm welcome is guaranteed from Jambo chef Francis Thyaka
A warm welcome is guaranteed from Jambo chef Francis Thyaka
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Ever since the Jambo Grill opened for business in Grahams Road late last year, my colleagues at The Falkirk Herald have strongly suggested that I should pay a visit.

Not because I was a strong advocate of African cooking – although I certainly am now – but more because that I am a unabashed supporter of Hibernian FC.

12-09-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. GRAHAMSTON. Grahams Road. Jambo Grill. Restaurant review.

12-09-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. GRAHAMSTON. Grahams Road. Jambo Grill. Restaurant review.

Many of you will know exactly where I’m going with this, so be patient while I explain to those who don’t have interest in football.

Hibs have a rivalry with their city neighbours Hearts, whose supporters are known as Jambos.

Jambo is also a traditional greeting in Kenya.

You see?

Let’s move on.

The Jambo restaurant is a very welcome addition to Falkirk as it offers something a bit different compared to the many Italian and Indian eateries in the district.

It’s the first solo venture by chef Francis Thyaka, who has worked in restaurants across the UK for more than 15 years.

The menu offers a range of traditional Kenyan dishes as well as some more familiar favourites.

Lamb, beef, goat and fish dishes are the house specialities but veggies are still well catered for. Irio, a Kenyan mash made from peas, corn and potato, is delicious and the vegetable curries looked excellent.

I visited the Jambo for lunch with Falkirk Herald sports editor and brown loafers aficionado David Oliver.

We were both in the mood to try something new. After much deliberation, I chose Nyama Choma – roast lamb on the bone with irio mash and spinach – while David went for Katogo, a beef stew made with bananas.

The servings were generous to say the least. It’s safe to say you’ll never go hungry at the Jambo.

The quality of the lamb was excellent, but the real revelation for me was just how well it worked with spinach and irio. The latter is something I’ll definitely be trying to make at home.

David’s Katogo stew looked impressive, and the sports chief wasted no time in declaring that it had achieved pole position among meals out he’s enjoyed in Falkirk.

We chose Plantain for desert – slices of fried sweet banana with strawberry sauce, which is worth visiting for alone.

It’s rare that I can say I was so bowled over by a restaurant that I’m already planning my next trip. But Jambo really is that good.

So good, in fact, that I can even overlook its name.

Jambo Grill and Restaurant, Grahams Road, Falkirk, (01324) 612493