Entering down the escalator gives you a sense of a magical place below. Reception staff were friendly and welcoming. Despite having a reservation, they initially couldn't see it as they had changed the first letter of our name on their system.
We were shown down to our table, and left with a brief menu. The reason we came to Shaka Zulu was because we were given a voucher for Christmas. Voucher obviously means that you don't get the full menu. Now, I must say, sometimes a brief menu is ok. Sadly at Shaka Zulu it was not. This is a South African restaurant, but there wasn't a great deal South African about the menu, in fact much of it could apply to many nations. I had had a sneaky look at the sample menu on their website earlier in the day and saw Zebra, and there was a YouTube clip where they were cooking Kudu - so I was quite excited about Shaka Zulu.
So, the menu. Starters Lamb Shank Samoosas, Mackerel pate or game tarine, and mains a Bean Stew (is how the waitress described it), sirloin steak or Sea Bass. Now you might see my point about the disappointment when compared to the possibility of having Zebra or Kudu.
The voucher entitled us to a Champagne cocktail, which transpired to be a choice of a champagne based or rum based cocktail. We had one of each, which were ok
We went for a pate and a samoosa for starter, both of which were actually very nice. For mains we had a sirloin steak and a bean stew. The steak had a lovely bit of gristle through it which sadly just added to my disappointment. The steak came with sprouting broccoli - no potato. The bean stew, was very tinned tomatoesque - that did come with rice.
We decided to have pudding, and had a cherry and chocolate brownie - not entirely sure there was any cherry in it, and a Gooseberry Brandy pudding - which lacked a taste of gooseberry..
We asked for two Amarula's to go with pudding (we had discovered this when we were in South Africa). I can only say that you would get a lot more Amerula for your money if you were in South Africa as opposed to this restaurant in Camden. £4.50 each, for what was maybe a quarter of a shot.
Atmosphere was nice, we had a table for two, although in a busy thoroughfare it wasn't in the way and we felt that we had privacy. The restaurant had girls in leotards putting themselves in bendy positions, and one walking around with a snake that you could stroke (the snake, not the girl).
The waiting staff were very laid back yet attentive. I did begrudge a 12.5% service charge - some will say 'welcome to Camden' I say 'its a cheek,' a way of the restaurant imposing a tax on its customers knowing that very few will refuse to pay it.
The exit is very bizarre. You leave through a door that honestly looks like a fire exit. The lift wasn't working, and the doorman explained that they had put a block on it (not sure that is overly good for disabled customers). Once you get up to ground level you exit to be faced with the queue to get in.
All in all an average experience. To say that we wont go back would be a strong statement, as I am sure the lure of sampling a proper menu may be too strong. On this visit though, a very average experience.
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