The sun woke me up last Sunday. It was a day for lunching out. And I fancied a drive.
I had heard good things about Ranch House Bistro at Lake Naivasha. In fact, anticipating the sun, I had rung the place the evening before.
A Ms Lydia answered the phone. She told me it was a good idea to reserve a table. I asked for directions to the restaurant on Moi South Lake Road. “That’s easy,” she said. “We are at the end of the tarmac.”
I enjoy driving. But driving to Naivasha is not much fun these days, thanks to roadworks and many diversions.
I decided to take the much steeper old road, where views across the Great Rift Valley are even more dramatic. Also, the Moi South Lake Road has giant potholes.
When I met Lydia, I told her the Lake road ought to be repaired. Anyway, with all the resorts and flower farms lined up along the road, it’s bound to be resurfaced before long — hopefully!
Ranch House Bistro is one of the facilities of La Pieve Village, with its farms and a farm shop.
Before you reach there, you pass Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary, so I was not surprised to see zebras grazing and young impalas leaping across the road.
Lydia explained that the sanctuary is also home to lions, leopards as well as the less common Grevy’s zebras.
There are two lodges: Chui Lodge and Kiangazi House. All these are imaginative and conservation-conscious spin-offs of Oserian flower farms founded by Hans Zwager in the early 1980s — known as the pioneer of Kenya’s flower export industry.
I arrived at Bistro at midday. There were no other guests. So I teasingly asked Lydia why she had advised me to reserve a table.
But she was vindicated by the fact that the place was quite full by the time I left two hours later. “It’s because of the good food and superb ambience,” she said.
As for the food, I agree — Lydia is right. I chose one of the specials - the traditional Cumberland sausage and mash served with mashed potatoes and onion gravy. (Just the other day one of our cheeky young staff said mashed potatoes are for children and old men in her community).
I could have had less English-style dishes such as homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli, or the whole baked Camembert on Focaccia baked with garlic and drizzled with honey.
My disappointment was that I was so full with sausage and mash that I had no room for one of my favourite desserts — the sticky toffee pudding, which the menu promised to be a ‘secret family recipe of date sponge served warm with a toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream or farm fresh cream.
Or I could have indulged in high tea English scones served with homemade strawberry jam and Jersey cream.
About the ambience, there can be no doubt that it’s splendid. The building is, yes, an old ranch house.
There are shaded tables set out on the terrace and on the lawn, from where you have a view of the sister lake of Naivasha — Lake Oloiden.
If you would like more information, the website is oseriantwolakes.com. Or you can ring 0700-488475.
And, by the way, I learnt too late that a less frustrating drive to Naivasha would have been to take the Banana Hill Road, passing the Kentmere Club and joining the Nakuru Road just before Limuru — checking the route on Google Maps.
I know there’s no accounting for taste, but I reckon very few, if any, will regret the drive for lunch at the Ranch House Bistro.
John Fox is Chairman of iDC