THE DISH: Books and brunch at the Alchemist - Daily Nation

THE DISH: Books and brunch at the Alchemist in Westlands

Thursday July 26 2018

The English Breakfast at Brioche in Westlands, Nairobi.

The English Breakfast at Brioche in Westlands, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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Remember how I said I didn't particularly like or enjoy the K1 Flea Market, and at some point I was going to go check out another one?

Well, I had the chance to do so this weekend at Nairobi Flea Market's new home at the Alchemist Bar in Westlands.

If you've been to the Alchemist (which was my first time being in a club in that area) you know that it was once a tiny little spot with three or four food trucks.

The entrance to the Alchemist and Nairobi Flea Market in Westlands, Nairobi.

The entrance to the Alchemist and Nairobi Flea Market in Westlands, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

It has now expanded to a much wider, and in my opinion much cleaner, place, which can hold more outlets, and also host the Nairobi Flea Market, because of the new construction on the site – for more space, and even multiplex upstairs areas.

So now, the Alchemist, on top of it original trucks like Street Bistro and the delectable incomparable Mama Rocks, now also holds Burrito Bar and Brioche.

The entrance to the Nairobi Flea Market's new home at the Alchemist Bar in Westlands, Nairobi.

The entrance to the Nairobi Flea Market's new home at the Alchemist Bar in Westlands, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Brioche is a favourite brunch place of mine, which is why I was excited to go visit, considering I'm into checking eateries for consistency if they decide to go the semi-franchised route – semi because you're not really a franchise with two outlets.

I love the brunch at their Karen branch, especially their Belgian hot chocolate. I was hoping for more of the same at this event.

The event was hosted by Book Bunk, an initiative by publisher Angela Wachuka and writer Wanjiru Koinange to restore and renovate old libraries in Kenya. They were having a books and brunch session with a few women featured with them in the pages of Vogue. I was there to sell books.

A printout of the page from Vogue in which the founders of Book Bunk were featured.

A printout of the page from Vogue in which the founders of Book Bunk were featured. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

DISAPPOINTED

When the event was done, I decided to try the menu and see if there was anything new. In terms of their brunch/breakfast menu, the choices and pricing were the same. I didn't look at anything else on the menu, because at this point I was starving.

I had the English breakfast, as did my companion. My other companion wanted a Mama Rocks burger, so I didn't have the benefit of a shared experience.

The English breakfast is quite expansive, as are all their other options, and comprised eggs, baked beans, bacon, grilled tomatoes, toast, oats, juice, a hot beverage of your choice and a pastry of your choice.

Now, here is where I began to realise I wasn't at Brioche in Karen. The menus and waitstaff took quite some time before they attended to us. When they finally did and we ordered, my tea took quite a bit of time to arrive. And when that arrived, our pastries took forever. Then when the croissants came, they were cold.

We asked them to warm the pastries, and they took so long that by the time they came back, they were cold again.

The waitress also forgot our cutlery.

The inner seating area at Brioche in Westlands, Nairobi.

The inner seating area at Brioche in Westlands, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

When the pastries were done, and cleared at last, the oats were brought. Again, slowly. I forgot that I don't like oats and asked for the next part of my breakfast – something that I would have preferred all came together, seeing as each individual morsel was taking far too long!

My companion's food came after he was done with his oats, and my plate came when he was halfway through his meal – regardless of the fact that I had asked to skip to the next step faster.

I really don't like when food for people on one table comes at different times. It interrupts the flow of the meal. By the time I left, I didn't really feel like I had had a proper brunch. I think next time I'll just head straight to the flea market, or, perhaps, complain to the manager instead of writing about it online?

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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.

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