THE DISH: A tale of two restaurants

Tuesday May 22 2018

The wrap I had at Tazama. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The wrap I had at Tazama. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in Nairobi's foodie scene?

There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.

I was invited to a media show around of the lovely Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport. You know the one.

It's easily identifiable by right next to the ticket gate after you pass the security scanners. The hotel itself is beautiful, but that is tomorrow's article.

As I waited for soup at Marketplace. The pineapple mint juice to the side was good, though. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

As I waited for soup at Marketplace. The pineapple mint juice to the side was good, though. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Whoever did the interiors knew exactly what they were doing, from the enthralling architecture, to the sweeping ceilings and the verdant vertical garden that grabs your eye as soon as you walk in. More on that somewhere else.

What I'm focusing on, of course, is the food. I have been to Four Points before, courtesy of my good friend Kish, and we spent a languid afternoon at the rooftop bar. I'm getting ahead of myself.

Did I mention that we had bhajias? PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Did I mention that we had bhajias? PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Four Points has three restaurants – The Lobby Cafe, on ground floor, the main dining restaurant called Marketplace, and the rooftop eating area, Tazama. The afternoon I spent at Tazama was wonderful.

NEXT TO THE POOL

The restaurant is right next to the pool, with steps climbing up to the pool area overlooking the edge of the hotel. It costs 1500 to swim if you're not a guest.

And the view of the Nairobi National Park as you're swimming is quite simply everything that they tell you Kenya is supposed to be in the brochures, inclusive of the zebras and thriving floras. There's nothing like it.

I loved Tazama. I've never had prawn cakes that delectable in my life. They were so delectable, in fact, that we had two helpings.

I also had a wrap and a coffee, both of which were very tasty, and the 6 hours were whiled away just like that. I also love the decor of the place; the chairs are comfortable and it feels perfect for a sunny day.

You can't go a the way to the airport and not have dessert.PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

You can't go a the way to the airport and not have dessert. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The artwork on the walls is Kenyan, and is backed by the stylings of Bankslave on the wall that separates the kitchen area from the seating area.

I've been recommending it to anyone who will listen since, and even inquired about rates for a birthday celebration happening later this year. It's such a great spot to relax at.

But then, you can imagine my disappointment during the media showaround when we were taken to Marketplace and the food was not anywhere nearly as good as Tazama's.

The most amazing prawn cakes of all time. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The most amazing prawn cakes of all time. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I was trying to understand why there was such a difference in everything we had. First, the service was not to the standard of Tazama – except for Lilian, who tried her best to serve us to the best of her ability.

The plates stayed on the table as flies buzzed around waiting for someone to come and clear the course. The food was either cold, or unavailable – we waited for about 15 minutes for the soup tureen to be filled so we could start out first course.

The drinks display at the Lobby Cafe. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The drinks display at the Lobby Cafe. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

And then there were the overly seasoned starters – tough meat kebabs and prawns that tasted like someone had sprinkled powdered spice over them right before serving them to us.

UNIVENTIVE SALADS

The salads were uninventive – consider the brunch I had at Nyama Mama last week with a veritable surplus of greens – and the mains were underwhelming.

The wall art before the bathroom area at Tazama. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The wall art before the bathroom area at Tazama. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

It puzzled me that there should be such a difference between two establishments in the same four star hotel. Perhaps the buffet downstairs is for the people who are not the guests of the hotel, and so they don't feel the need to be as sterling as they are upstairs?

I'm not sure, but whatever reason it is, I hope they figure out a way to standardize the service and the food before too many people find out.

If you're staying at an airport hotel, more often than not, you're not trying to leave the hotel to then go find food somewhere else.

Coffee at Tazama. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Coffee at Tazama. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The options are restrictive. I hope Four Points will figure out how to match their food at Marketplace, specifically, to the rest of the hotel.

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Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.