internationally in July 2003 as
First published in
079 35 2538/070 254432
Located at the bottom of the lane between the Chinese Embassy and the main UNDP Compound on Foreign Affairs Ministry road.
Elbow Room: cocktails, club steaks and security clearance at
A welcoming entrance is decorated in sea greens and leads into a
bright, spacious bar area of stools and high tables where the best cocktails
Frosty-cold canned beer costs $3 and bottles are $4. A Guinness fetches $5. There are also several types of wine listed as well as chilled champagne (Moet) in the fridge for special occasions, along with the usual line-up of spirits.
The British owners of Elbow Room, Jamie Adamson and Gareth Edwards, have spent a year renovating and decorating the premises. They readily admit the project wouldn’t have been possible had they not found a discreet, secure location.
“This property backs on to [
To start the venture, the pair sold their homes back in the
“We enjoy the challenge. It has been tough getting the supplies,” admits Jamie.
“Most of the furniture for the restaurant and kitchen appliances had to be purchased in Pakistan and the bureaucracy involved in setting up has been an eye-opener,” he says, adding, “However, our aim is to get people out of their guest houses and give them somewhere to meet, eat and have a social drink after work, to relax and have fun.”
The crowded bar and restaurant are noisy proof of the success of
this vision. Lurking beyond the bar,
however, is the first false note in the place. An over-lit lounge area
complete with tacky, velvet plush, brown sofas caters stoutly to lovers of
From the lounge, diners step up to a spacious restaurant area, with 16 tables covered with clean, white linen table cloths and napkins. A lower-level room runs alongside ceiling-to-floor windows, overlooking a small lawn boasting sporadic clumps of flowers and fledgling bushes.
While savouring a tangy Margarita or two, diners can chose from a menu that offers simple international cuisine that includes a choice for vegetarians (the Vegetarian Caribbean Chilli with baby corn, carrots and mixed beans in coconut, pineapple and tomato sauce, $14, was delicious).
The $8-salads include a classic Greek salad with feta cheese, black olives, tomatoes, onions cucumbers, but unfortunately they lace it with boring iceberg lettuce. A better choice is the Elbow Room Salad that includes smoked turkey breast, roast beef and roast chicken as well as delicious buffalo cheese topping the salad.
The Elbow Room Club Steak at $19 is the most expensive item on
the menu, but any serious carnivore will tell you it’s worth it. The meat is
bought from international suppliers based in
The presentation of all the dishes is stylish and fun with
geometric shapes decorated with squiggles of sauces and fruits and
“These are tough conditions to work in, the kitchen is small and I’m trying to train the Afghan staff and, at the same time, prepare the meals,” Alfonzo says. “It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m happy to be passing on my knowledge to the people helping me. It’s also great to hear people compliment the food.”
There are plans to expand the menu and provide a lunchtime service. Decadent deserts are also heralded. For now, ice cream or crepes are the only options available.
The service is friendly but over-stretched at peak times. You should book a table in advance to ensure you get seated.
There is plenty of parking inside the Elbow Room compound for embassy vehicles as well as secure attendant parking on the main road.
A key element to any restaurant experience is the lavatory, which at Elbow Room is marble-floored and spotless. Best of all, Elbow Room has been given UN security clearance. The Elbow Room seats 80.
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