BON VIVANT: A taste of heaven

Friday April 24 2015

Despite wanting service, this restaurant serves

Despite wanting service, this restaurant serves the best Kenyan food in the city. PHOTO| BON VIVANT 

By BON VIVANT
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Baraza Cafe Restaurant,

Shalom House,

Ngong Road,

Nairobi.

 

Opposite Jamhuri Park on Daniel Komboni Road, there is a large guesthouse named Shalom House. Baraza Cafe is one of two restaurants in the premises.

The other offers Italian cuisine. Baraza Cafe offers African food, and it provides breakfast for overnight guests staying at Shalom House.

They are rumoured to have the best chapatis and mandazis in town so my colleague and I decided to try them out.

CLUELESS WAITER

There is plenty of parking, with a large, well-equipped playground inside a beautiful garden.  We chose to sit outdoors at a table shaded under a makuti umbrella, where we could enjoy the gorgeous weather. We sat for over half an hour before a waiter stumbled out to us and casually asked what we would take. He had no menu in his hands and looked clueless.

He asked if we wanted something to eat or to drink. The exchange was rather random; he listed drink choices and he eventually brought us a soda.

About half an hour later, we decided to try to order food.

The menu was a framed blackboard inside the dining room. It listed their daily specials with prices. They offered five different mains, three standard accompaniments and one type of vegetable.

We ordered their roast chicken with rice, and chapati with beans, colloquially known as “chapati dodo.” I looked around inside the cafe – it is similar to your usual three-star establishment, but with TV screens, plenty of seating and an open-plan kitchen.

The kitchen had several simmering aluminium pots and pans on a large gas cooker within the main island.

The kitchen and interior dining room looked reasonably clean, and all the food is freshly prepared.

Their bathrooms however were not as clean as the rest of the place. The cleaning person may not have come in yet, so one of the stalls looked rather scary. Thankfully, there is plenty of soap and water so you can wash your hands before eating. 

The food arrived quickly and when it did, we were impressed. The “madondo” or stewed beans were delicious – simple Kenyan food with fresh ingredients and minimal spices. I inferred from their creamy texture and pinkish hue that these were freshly harvested beans.

The rich flavour of these succulent beans is not one you can coax out of the hard, dried packet beans you buy at the supermarket.

The accompanying chapatis did not disappoint. These flaky, melt-in-your mouth layers of softness disappeared quickly from our plates. The roast chicken was also amazing. Most Nairobi restaurants serve exceedingly dry, overcooked fowl and label it ‘roast chicken.’ Baraza Cafe got it right – they scored and marinated their chicken then roasted it in an oven.

This resulted in a flavourful, crispy skin while the meat remained tender and juicy. Our meals came to Sh400 each, great value for money.

 

Ratings:

Food – 4/5

Hygiene – 3/5

Service – 3/5

Value - 4.5/5

Child friendliness – 4/5

Ambiance - 3.5/5