There’s something about trying out a new restaurant that excites me. When I enter I’m quietly rooting for them. Delicious food and good service make a dining experience delightful and makes me want to recommend the place to my family and friends. And all of this happened last weekend at newly-opened JIAH Restaurant.
My friends and I decided to have one last 2016 get together and chose JIAH as the place. Before we went we checked out the menu and were salivating in anticipation.
Apart from being confused about where the entrance is (the address takes you to the back of the restaurant so you have to walk up some steps to get to the front), I stepped in and was warmly welcomed by the staff. The decor is trendy and modern, yet welcoming at the same time.
I realised a couple of my friends had already arrived so it wasn’t hard to find our table. At first we thought it would be just us inside the restaurant as it was quite empty. The tables outside were occupied, but it was windy so we chose to stay indoors. As the afternoon wore on though, the place started filling up and from the atmosphere around us, people there seemed to be enjoying their experience as much as we were.
Eventually we were all there and had a tough time selecting a meal from the delicious sounding menu. I kept going back and forth but settled on a lamb burger. More about the food in a bit.
We ordered and carried on catching up – when we get going we don’t stop talking because it’s hard to get us to find a date that works for all of us – and before we knew it our mains had arrived. Lauren’s took slightly longer to get there but the waitress kept updating us on the food’s arrival and told Lauren she’d go down to the kitchen to wait for it.
The service was excellent (apart from the slight wait for Lauren’s main – but she addresses this in her review), the food was superb and the cost didn’t break the bank.
Here’s what we ordered (mains and desserts) and what we thought of our experience.
Ulpha: Noticing all the hype around their launch on Instagram, I was really eager to try them out. Having amazing friends who love to eat, I was very happy when we chose Jiah as the place to have end our 2016 meetups. Good decision. The entrance and address doesn’t match so it causes a bit of confusion when you first arrive but once you find the entrance, you are immediately greeted by such a lovely classy place.
The first part of the menu that caught my attention was their extensive mocktail menus. It’s nice to be offered a variety other than just a mojito or strawberry daiquiri. The drink that caught my attention was the Cosmo crush – a refreshing fresh lime shaken with curacao orange extracts and chilled cranberry juice. Served tall over crushed ice and garnished with a citrus twist. Sold! It tasted as amazing as it looked. I was rather disappointed that I didn’t order one more just before I left.
With my tummy rumbling, I was ready to order. My taste buds had a tough time deciding between the prawn chaat and the lamb burger with mint, coriander, chilli, tzatziki, fries and onion rings. In the end, the battle was won by the lamb burger with additional avo. Beautifully served on a wooden board – the 10 minute wait wasn’t even noticed.
When it was time for dessert, I was yet again faced with a conundrum. So many options – so little tummy space. Opting for the cannoli crepes was a good choice. Filled with cream and Lindt choc chips was a great way to end the meal off.
I really wish I could flaw them on food or service but I can’t. I can’t wait to go back and try more amazing off their amazing menu.
Lauren: So I’m always a little wary of trying a new restaurant. I’ve been to a few too many places recently that look good – really good decor, decent-looking menu – but then the food turns out to be average or below average. Jiah is different. The food was really good and I have no shame in admitting that I stuffed my face! I got the lamb korma with roti. My order came about 15-20 minutes after the others but I didn’t mind because the waitress let me know and I think because it was lamb pieces it had to cook for a bit longer to get properly soft. It was de.lic.ious. I didn’t even need to add salt or pepper.
Then for dessert I had the cheesecake. It was really tasty but I regret that the waitress didn’t let us know about the cheesecake on the stand by the bar. (Editor’s note: we really need to go back for that cheesecake.) It looked like a chocolate cheesecake.
Mmmm… If you’re looking for a good lunch/ dinner venue with good decor and service and divine food, Jiah is a good try.
Shaheema: I’m always keen to try new restaurants so was very intrigued to see a fully halaal restaurant with a menu as extensive and mouth-watering as Jiah open up just down the road from Bo Kaap.
The menu really is something to behold, covering all the bases – seafood, salads, pizza, pastas and burgers – as well as some really awesome steak options (I could eat meat all day so can’t wait to work my way through the Grills section) and a range of spicy dishes that were also calling to me. I plan on trying everything on the menu at least once. I am not kidding. I never kid about food. But this being my first time at Jiah, I went with one of their specials – the ribs with 2 sides (their sides menu includes mac and cheese, creamed butternut/spinach, fries, tempura onion rings, roasted veg – and lots more. Trust me, this menu is *deep*).
As I said, I love meat, but don’t get to enjoy ribs very often so had high expectations. The ribs were yummy, well grilled in a nice basting sauce but would have preferred way, way more of the basting as a coating to keep the ribs moist. I like my ribs to be almost dripping in the basting, running down my arms as I chow down with my hands. But as it was the ribs were dry. The mac and cheese and fries sides were ok, but tiny portions (esp at R25 a pop!)
For dessert I opted for the Banana Split, which was very more-ish – I would have licked my bowl clean had I not already treated my friends and other guests to the sight of me eating ribs with my hands – though would have preferred if they’d gone the extra step to caramelise the bananas and not serve them ‘fresh out of the peel’ as it were.
The entrance of Jiah is stylish and inviting and the venue is perfect for lively get-togethers and big groups – though wouldn’t recommend for intimate date nights as it can get a bit rowdy in there with kids and low ceilings and closely packed tables and every sound wave just bouncing its way back into your eardrums. Though the outside dining area seemed more chilled.
Service was good and attentive service and would recommend to Jiah (and every restaurant out there) to ensure that their wait staff know the menu and food inside out and can make informed recommendations to guests. It makes all the difference.
Me: I opted for the lamb burger and asked for additional feta to be added. The burger comes with mint, coriander, chilli and tzatziki and tomato so I thought the addition of extra feta would complement the Mediterranean flavours. It is served in a wooden board, and served with onion rings and the fries come in a wire basket. The lamb was juicy and tender and delicious. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
For dessert I opted for a crème brulee. I was absolutely blown away by the presentation on its arrival. It’s served with the pretties of sugar baskets. The custard was impeccably creamy and set and the burnt sugar at the top had the perfect crack to it. It’s not often that restaurants get crème brulee right but JIAH certainly delivered. It also came with a biscotti and I’m now realising I should have had some coffee with it. Next time…
Overall the bill for the four of us came to about R800 so it was an average of R200 per person for mains, desserts and virgin cocktails.
We’ll all keen to return to try more items on the menu.
Have you tried JIAH? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below.