I have learnt a new word. We were ordering our lunches at Steak Out Restaurant in Lavington, Nairobi. Given the place’s name and also my previous experiences there, I said I would have a rump steak. “And what doneness would you like?” The waitress asked.
I looked up the word ‘doneness’ in my dictionary when I got home. It wasn’t in my Oxford English Dictionary. But Google definitions had it as ‘The extent to which food is cooked’. Great word. English has no equivalent. Must be American English.
T-Bone, Rib Eye, Sirloin, Rump, Fillet, Strip Loin – they are all steaks on offer at Steak Out; all are at 330 gms; you have a choice of five degrees of doneness. Steaks are a speciality of the house. Cheryl, the owner, loves steaks – and she had long nursed an ambition to own a restaurant that serves them.
However, despite the name, steaks are not the only attraction on Cheryl’s menu. Even my wife likes the place – and she is a vegetarian. There are a number of vegetarian options, and she went for the Chef’s Curry with butternut, peanut, spinach, coconut, cashew nuts and paneer cheese.
Steak Out certainly fits the definition. It is set in a well-matured, one acre Lavington garden, with a fascinating variety of trees and shrubs across a lawn that has thick grass to cosset your feet. There’s plenty of relaxing space, then, to meet today’s coronavirus social distancing requirements. (So as not to get Cheryl into trouble, let me tell you that the third chair in the photograph was pulled up only to hold my camera!)
Feeling at home, (I grew up on a shamba in England) I ordered a typically English dish of shepherd’s pie. Actually, it turned out to be a cross between a shepherd’s pie and a Cornish pasty because the filling was minced meat but the top was pastry and not mashed potatoes. But as Shakespeare once said, ‘What’s in a name?’ — a Shamba pie by any other name would taste as good. It really was very good.
The place was busy; there were lots of cars in the overflow parking across the road. I was not surprised. The menu has a wide variety of dishes; the food is tasty and generous. The clientele is well mixed. And you can bring along your dogs as well as your children. It’s that kind of a homely place.
Before leaving, we visited the well-stocked farm shop. I don’t think I have ever been so excited by a food shop. The varieties of adventurous jams and marmalades, the huge chocolate-chip biscuits, the cream-filled doughnuts…. I will be back.
Fox is chairman of iDC; Email: [email protected]