#KlaRestaurantWeek: The Lawns
Since they moved to their new home on Acacia Avenue, a little more has changed at The Lawns than the location. The restaurant has retained its coastal influences and game dishes but morphed them to provide a more refined eating experience that is a feast for all the senses. This Restaurant Week they bring us a range of dishes from crocodile bacon to stuffed mushrooms and we have sampled some of their more outstanding numbers to give you a peek into what they have lined up.
Smoked Crocodile Soup
As mentioned before, The Lawns is renowned for their impressive spread of game dishes and they continue to live up to their reputation this Restaurant Week starting with this crocodile bacon based creamy broth. No, crocodile bacon isn’t crocodile meat wrapped in bacon, it is bacon made from a cut of smoked crocodile meat. The thick greenish-brown soup does not vie for smoothness points, remaining lumpy with zucchini, shallots, octopus and, of course, crocodile bacon; topped with garlic croutons and thin shards of deep-fried potato. Enjoy it with a toasted baguette.
Continuing the game theme is The Serengeti Platter, which includes medium-well-done cuts of Kudu, Springbok, Ostrich and Crocodile with labels attached to little wooden picks sticking out of them to indicate which is which. It is served with red wine juice and peppercorn sauce for gravy. Though the kudu and springbok taste like beef with some alterations to its DNA, the definite outlier in the bunch is the crocodile whose texture and flavour are in a league of their own. The grilled brown exterior is almost crunchy and gives way to a spongy interior with a slight smokiness that combines harmoniously with the red wine juice (despite being white meat). At this point, one begins to realise why portions of gourmet dishes seem so small; with multiple courses, it all adds up.
If all that meat isn’t really your cup of tea, you may go with the Feta-stuffed Mushrooms coated in a yoghurt based dressing and baked in a tandoor (traditional Indian clay oven) and served on a yoghurt mint sauce with a tangy yellow basmati rice infused with cumin and mustard seeds instead. It’s a mouthful to say, and a mouthful to savour. The stuffed mushrooms are a savoury and spicy, carrying the heavy pungency without losing the slight woodiness that is their original flavour.
The rice, made yellow by turmeric and zesty by lemon juice enhances the spicier aspects of the mushrooms’ flavour profile. While many a Ugandan may consider a meal incomplete without meat, the fleshy, almost-chewy, almost-crunchy mushrooms pack enough flavour and texture to hold this dish down as the headlining act.
It is a vegetarian meal you do not have to be a vegetarian to enjoy.
Presentation is a really important aspect of The Lawns’ new culinary policy, and one realises this by the time they make it through the starter and main course and finally to the Liquid Brownie, one of their dessert items. In one corner of a disproportionately large white plate is a cuboid of fudge-like dark chocolate delicately crowned with a wafer thin slice of itself baked to a crisp. In the other corner is a scoop of vanilla ice cream connected to the chocolate brownie with a stream of chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and crushed coconut biscuit. The brownie happens to be more of the darker, slightly more bitter chocolate variety, but its lack of overt sweetness is more than made up for by the vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.
Photography: Julius Caesar Kasujja