Sunday, July 12, 2015

Eating Out in Niamey

The number and variety of restaurants we have in Niamey never ceases to amaze me.  I am equally amazed by the number of patrons each restaurant has! There are a lot of people eating out in Niamey on any given night. Niamey has every thing from tables by the side of the street where one can buy rice and sauce, roasted meat, or fried bean-cakes or doughnut-like cakes to restaurants in little shacks where you can sit down and eat a meal for around $2.00 to more expensive European-style restaurants where you pay anywhere from $8.00 - $20.00 per person.  We have African food including varieties from all over West Africa, Chinese food, Indian food, Lebanese food, Italian food, and French food.  We're still waiting for a good Thai restaurant and, of course, a good Tex-Mex restaurant!  (There you go for a business as mission idea!)

We usually eat out about once a month at a nicer restaurant.  We do often buy a meat/French fry sandwich off the sandwich stand down the street for $1.00. But we know we can eat a lot more cheaply at home, so we don't eat out frequently.  While we were on our stay-cation we ate out a lot more though.  Here is where we ate and what we thought of each restaurant.  I'll just take them in the order in which we visited.  Remember, this is personal opinion and you need to visit to form your own opinion!

The Shangrila, aka The Sahel Restaurant -- This restaurant is behind the Sahel Hotel.  One can sit on the patio overlooking the river, in an air-conditioned room, or on the roof-top overlooking the river. In our opinion, they sell the best brochettes (I think called shish-kebobs in USA?) and fries.  The fries there are absolutely fresh....you can see the guys sitting there peeling potatoes.  The meat is always tender.  And they have this great hot sauce for dipping your meat in.  It's so hot, I just kind of dip my meat but some people roll their meat in the sauce and really get it covered!  Some nice things about this restaurant are the view of the river/sunset, there is a playground for kids, the food is the best, and it's reasonably priced.  The disadvantages are that sometimes their music is really loud and the service is a bit slow (but then that's because they're peeling all those potatoes!  But sometimes we wonder if they're out killing the cow, too.).  Also, if you want something other than brochettes and fries, you'll have to go elsewhere.

La Cabane -- I believe the people running this restaurant are Lebanese and they sell quite a few Lebanese specialties.  They have a nice garden area for seating, an upstairs open-air seating area (overlooking a busy street), and indoor dining.  We have eaten in all three areas.  The upstairs area is actually the bar, but the night we ate up there, nobody was at the bar.  The garden area is really pretty with palm trees and grass.  The wait staff are very friendly and competent.  The food is o.k., but not fabulous.  I guess if you like smoking a hookah pipe, this is the place for you because there's a lot of that going on there!  We personally feel that it's over-priced for the quality of food you get.  Also, the waiters seem to disappear when you want them to bring you your check!  La Cabane is in walking distance from our house.

Cote Jardin -- This restaurant is run by a Brazilian family.  They have indoor dining, but the garden is so beautiful that I can't imagine choosing to eat indoors.  The owners have arranged the garden so that plants and tables are arranged in little alcoves with wind-chimes here and there, they have decorated the tables with colorful runners, cloths, and napkins, and made the entire setting feel private and romantic.  The first time we went there we weren't overly impressed because service was so slow.  But it was opening night, it was Valentine's Day night, and you could tell the staff were still figuring out what to do and how to do it.  This time when we went, the service was great, the food was fabulous, and the atmosphere was so enjoyable.  I don't have anything negative to say about this restaurant.  I should add that there is a play room for kids.  This one is also in walking distance from our house.  Just a side note...back in the day when Daniel and Suzanne were little and we lived in Niamey, I had a friend whose husband worked for USAID.  They lived in the house where this restaurant now is and every week we had mom's Bible Study/play dates there.  

Le Terminus -- We went swimming every day at the Terminus Hotel.  So one day we ordered our meal and ate by the pool.  The food was pretty good, but lacking in salt.  What was really nice was just staying in our swim suits and being waited on by the pool.  It felt like we were really living in luxury!  The price wasn't bad, either.

Le Pilier -- Le Pilier's menu has a mix of French and Italian food.
LOL....yeah, in May it's hard to look fabulous.  This picture is from May 2009.
 I always, yes always, order the spinach ravioli.  It's that delicious!  The restaurant is nicely decorated with a lot of earth-tone colors like you see in local village homes where the walls are coated with a smooth covering of mud.  They also have the work of local artists on the walls and use a lot of local weavings, baskets, and metal bowls to decorate.  

May 2009
Eating there is always a good experience.  They also have dining on the patio, but we prefer eating in the air-conditioned room.  It seems to be one of the favorite restaurants in town as nearly every table was filled.  This one is also in walking distance from our house.

Chez Chin -- Chez Chin is a Chinese restaurant and an old favorite.  I ordered the menu du jour which included neems (eggrolls) and something else, rice and a ginger-pepper beef sauce, and one scoop of vanilla ice cream.  John got a chicken coconut sauce that he said was awful, but edible.  The meat was tough and freezer-burnt and the sauce was tasteless.  But my meal was delicious, so if you go, just don't order the chicken coconut!  We and another small group were the only ones there.  This was one of the first days of the fast, so it may be that other customers came later in the evening after breaking the fast. They have both indoor and outdoor dining, but we chose indoor for the air conditioning.  

And as much as I like to take pictures, you'd think I'd have taken pictures of all our restaurant forays, but I took not a single picture.  All the pictures you see here are from other times.

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