A terrace of extremes
Posted Saturday, July 14 2012 at 01:00
- Your experience at this restaurant could swing either way, depending on what time you go.
This review is based on two extreme experiences, one disappointing and one good, and the grading of merely Good (not Very Good or Excellent) is the average of both.
The atmosphere of La Terrazza changes remarkably between day and night. At night, it is very quiet and what most people would call romantic. The open terrace, the palms throwing long shadows and the light dancing over the swimming pool create a quixotic feel.
However, if you are in a group, as we were on our first visit, romance is out, and being the only table on a Friday night felt a bit eerie. On a second visit for a business lunch, I got to appreciate the quietness and the place transformed into a scene from a coastal hotel.
Contrary to what the name may suggest, La Terrazza is not an Italian restaurant. There are pasta, pizzas and risotto, but that is just a third of the menu.
The rest of the menu comprises of the biggest breakfast selection I have seen in Nairobi, snacky stuff like sandwiches and burgers, soups, salads and main courses that include curries (Swahili, Indian and Oriental), steaks and chops. Comparatively, the dessert section is brief, but their four-page bar list is longer than that of most of the bars I frequent.
The first visit was an experience in unpreparedness. Half the menu items were unavailable, and what was available was prepared without any culinary finesse.
We had pizza as a starter. The Pesto Pizza contained spinach leaves, basil, olives, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan and what looked like luminous green paste.
The few pastas that were available were so overcooked that they were a congealed mess. The only pasta dish cooked correctly was the Rigatoni Peperonata, rigatoni pasta in tomato and sweet pepper.
The meat dishes were much better, although the portions were minuscule. My Filetto Al Pepe Nero, grilled beef fillet in tasty but salty black pepper sauce, was cooked to the perfect medium I had requested.
They had run out of desserts, but conjured up something with stale pieces of cake and cream.
In all fairness, La Terrazza is not open to the public in the strictest sense. It is primarily meant to cater for the residents of Wasini Homes, and is only open to outsiders upon prior reservation. However, we had reserved our table 36 hours before.
Giving them the benefit of doubt, I returned with a work team a few weeks later at lunchtime. We enjoyed the Coriander Fish Fillet – fresh fish fried in batter and smothered with coriander.
There was a Light Chicken Salad which had chicken strips, sweet corn, tomato, lettuce, yoghurt and mint dressing for the weight watcher, and I had soup and a burger.
My soup, Butternut and Cinnamon, was ideal for the cold weather – thick, with the cinnamon providing a break in the rich taste of butternut.
The Wasini Forever Burger, juicy well-cooked beef with sun dried tomatoes, bacon, cheese and mustard, was delicious.
During the day, the service seems alive and efficient and the place looks a lot more appealing.