Everyone always tells you – okay, the people I talk to always tell me – that there are specific restaurants that you should always always go to when you're in Nanyuki. Always!
And they sing this refrain every time recommendations are asked for, and every time anyone is travelling.
And so, in order to speak from a point of knowledge, I like to actually go to these restaurants. Just to be clear whether or not these people are telling the truth.
I am here today to tell you that while you should always go to places on recommendations – it's a good idea to confirm for yourself – always go with a healthy measure of managed expectations, in case you don't like the joint. But at least you've cased it.
And don't blame the person who recommended it to you. Maybe they have dead taste buds, or they went on a really good day. Not every day is a good day.
That being said, the three most consistently recommended Nanyuki restaurants are Trout Tree, Soames and Barney's, near the airstrip.
On a trip back from Sieku Glamping in Laikipia, we decided to crown the journey with a lunch there. I called ahead to reserve a table, and the reservation process was smooth enough to be promising. When we arrived, a group of six, there was a helpful guard on location to guide us through the small parking spot, and in to the restaurant.
GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE
Entering Trout Tree is quite prosaic. The entrance descends into what feels like a scene from George of the Jungle – a restaurant suspended amidst trees and curious wildlife, with the smell of fresh fish wafting all through it that you detect as soon as you cross the bridge into the main seating area.
Trout Tree itself resembles a treehouse, and it is quite easy to imagine a non-white saviour-like Tarzan swinging through the trees – but for the benefit of reality, in true Kenyan fashion, we had monkeys instead.
We sat at our long table and the service came quickly to hand out the menu, but little did we know that that was probably the fastest service we were going to get throughout the entire meal. We took some time to decide on drinks and a main course, and had to flag our waitress down to tell her so.
Though she was conscientious, it seemed like she was swamped – the place was packed, as it was a Sunday afternoon, and for families and visitors alike, Trout Tree seems like an ideal spot for the traditional family lunch.
There isn't a lot on the menu in terms of options for vegans or vegetarians – nothing that looks exciting enough to be attempted, anyway, which I presume we should have concluded before we went to a restaurant clearly called Trout Tree.
It would be nice to see restaurants evolve with the times – even Carnivore has options for people who don't eat meat – and it's called Carnivore!
The vegetarian on our table chose to eat fish, as she is more pescatarian that vegetarian, and so her meal was sorted.
It would have done us good to ask, as I was calling ahead, what they had in terms of vegan offerings, because when the vegan in our party ordered a pasta dish, and asked them to hold the cheese, they held everything else as well.
What was brought to her was a cold, limpid, unexciting pasta dish, with none of the things they said would come with it – a tomato sauce, and a spinach, and something other than what she could make at home. She sent it back.
When the plate returned, it looked much more colourful, but we were at a loss of what to do with our impression of the first plate that was sent out. Because a chef did actually look at that...and send it out, yes?
I had trout (I mean...we were at Trout Tree, after all). Aside from having too many tiny little bones – and I must add here, that I am accustomed to picking out bones, thanks to my mother and her love for good, fresh fish – I found the trout rather boring to eat, taste-wise, or maybe I was already annoyed at the whole experience from seeing my friend's plate.
Or maybe I just don't like fish, and was expecting more from this recommendation, particularly as we didn't get to catch our own fish either, which is, I hear, one of the attractions for the place.
I'm still checking out Barney's, though. I would love to eat next to an airstrip. Hopefully there's nowhere to go but up...ha!
Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in and around 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.