The Artcaffé outlets are mostly the same. You have to look closer to see the subtle differences in each one. The one at Westgate has a small sitting area upstairs that’s a perfect reading nook for book lovers and a great vantage point for people-watching.
The one at the Oval has the best outdoor ambience of any of the ones I’ve been to (before the dust from the road construction descended that is).
Some are even a quirky combination of an express service interior with a purely outdoor sitting area like the one at Galleria.
I was however quite taken with the new Artcaffé in Kitengela.
Located in Kitengela mall this shiny (literally) addition to the Artcaffé Group outlets can seat up to 130 people. But the size is not what got me when I attended its launch, the use of windows did.
Immediately you enter, you will notice how glass has been used to separate the different areas and at night when the light bounces off them it makes everything sparkle.
Suffice it to say its definitely a place for a first date. With the right lighting and vibe any two people can hit it off.
That’s another thing about this Artcaffé, it has a buzzing vibe inside that is heavily contrasted by its small outside sitting area.
The tiered hanging plants and high stools of the outside make it better suited for sunny afternoons and causal lunches.
WELCOME TO KITENGELA
As I looked around from the door already impressed by the look and feel, we were ushered in with a welcome mimosa.
I love a mimosa as much as any girl, but the next cocktail had that little extra punch I look for in a good drink. Artcaffé’s white wine sangria has a spicy kick to it that is even more delicious when served cold.
As I sipped my drink and took in the ambience, I felt optimistic that this time the food would be different. You see the thing is…
Being a vegetarian in Nairobi is a challenge when eating out. I have to say that I do not particularly enjoy Artcaffé’s vegetarian selection outside of the breakfast menu. Its often a hit or miss with each outlet’s recipe seeming different from the next or varying with each chef.
I just want some standardisation, is that too much to ask?
Falafel for example is usually a safe bet because it’s an uncomplicated vegetarian staple. But despite my positivity the Kitengela branch added to my ever-piling disappointment.
The falafel burger I was served was poorly seasoned and dry. Now before you launch into a tirade of how beans cannot be moist anyway, remember that’s what sauces and toppings are for.
But all was not lost! The situation was salvaged when I opted out of finishing my burger and trying the Margherita Basilico pizza.
The saucy three ingredient pizza was seasoned well and just short of the ideal amount of mozzarella.
ALWAYS HAVE DESSERT
After a half great and half not so great main course experience, I was ready for dessert. Of Artcaffé’s bakery, coffee shop, bar and modern casual dining restaurant, the first two have always been my favourite.
I am one of those people who really appreciates their pastry and coffee offer. Its only 350 bob which comes in handy for breakfast meetings when you’re on a budget (which is most times).
True to form, dessert was outstanding. They started us off on the passion and white chocolate cake which is not only pretty with is top layer made to resemble the inside of a passion fruit but also refreshing in a way you wouldn’t expect cake to be.
Then to top of the sugar rush and commemorate the occasion they brought out their signature salted caramel cake. Decadent is really the only way to describe it, not to mention the perfect way to round off the evening.
Despite Artcaffé’s less stellar aspects, you can’t deny the convenience it affords as a growing social hub that has something for everyone.
Kitengela locals can now pick and choose which parts of it they prefer without venturing far from home. Happy pickings Kitengela!
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