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THE DISH: Good food, slow service at Osteria

Friday April 26 2019

 I wanted to have the lasagna with a side of spinach, which seemed a bit tricky for my waiter to comprehend. PHOTO | JEFFERSON RUMANYIKA | NMG

I wanted to have the lasagna with a side of spinach, which seemed a bit tricky for my waiter to comprehend. PHOTO | JEFFERSON RUMANYIKA | NMG  

ABIGAIL ARUNGA
By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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I've been to the Osteria in Malindi a few times, both the one at the ocean front and the one toward the interior, on Sea Front Road, which sound like the same thing, but aren't.

There was actually a bit of confusion for me for some reason when I was trying to locate these places with Google Maps – the location pin led us to a random place that was serviced apartments, as opposed to the taste of Italy we were looking for.

It bothered me enough the two times we got lost and went to other restaurants to try and change the actual location on Google Maps – which I should probably check on, to see if they actually did change it.

NOT DIFFICULT TO FIND

The Osteria in Nairobi, fortunately, is not as difficult to find. I have fond memories of the one that opened up for a very brief spell across City Hall.

I would go there for lunch, back when I was employed, when I was feeling supremely indulgent. Why? They had big ass portions of food, and wine.

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Which resulted in two things when I went back to the office – me being happy, and me being sleepy. As you can imagine, I really wasn't the greatest employee. Ha.

My cousins and I wanted to do a fancy dress up dinner because you shouldn't only wait for special occasions to wear the nice dresses in your closet, right?

We had trouble finding a place that fit our budget and our look, and catered to the vegetarian and lactose-intolerant family members in our midst (poor dears. Hehe. But honestly, not a lot of places cater to those of the vegetarian variety, and if you're vegetarian, it's pretty annoying. Be nice to your vegetarian fam this Easter, especially in this season of slaughtering goats that may or may not be symbolic of Jesus).

We settled on Osteria because since it is on Lenana Road, it's pretty easy to get to, and the pricing is usually quite friendly.

LOVED THE AMBIENCE

When I first walked in, I loved the ambience. It’s basically a house that's been converted to a restaurant, which, in Nairobi, is quite common.

The lighting is dim and enhanced by candles, which make it perfect for a romantic evening, or an evening spent with loved ones as well. We were shown to our seats and given the menus.

My cousin promptly asked how high they were going to fill the wine glass if she ordered a house red. Satisfied with the answer, she went with that. I wanted a rum and coke, but they didn't have the Havana Club (of course I wanted something that had Havana in it), so I had the Captain Morgan Black instead.

My cousin warned that it would taste like molasses, but when my drink came, I didn't mind the slightly sweet slightly rough edge it had. I would have still preferred some Havana Club, though.

The rest of our group came and we decided to order. I wanted to have the lasagna with a side of spinach, which seemed a bit tricky for my waiter to comprehend. I figured if it is on the Sides menu, I should be able to order it regardless of whether or not it comes with the intended meal, right? And I also feel like when I go to an Italian restaurant, I should always order the things that are classically Italian that I can't make in my house (to be fair, I can only cook three things anyway). So in an Italian restaurant, I'm probably having a pasta dish, or pizza. Lebanese? Hummus. Mexican? Tacos and a big ol' margarita. You get the drift.

My lasagna was really good, as was everyone else's food that I tasted – a vegetarian pizza, and a gnocchi dish.

The meal went fine, and we sat talking for a bit, until the waiters and owners started hovering to try and get us to leave.

I often find this very impolite, because I think there's a nicer way to say please leave, as opposed to ghoulishly hanging about. Anyway. We ask for the card machine to pay our bill and the waiter enters in an extra digit in my bill, sending my bill into the tens of thousands. Of course I was upset, but it was partially my fault as well – after he keyed in the first few numbers, I didn't look back to check what he had keyed in again. I do, however, find the wait staff at this particular Osteria a bit slow. I don't know if it is because they are one of the older establishments, or they're nervous because the owners seem to be micromanaging them quite a bit – whatever the case, I wasn't pleased with the service, and not just because of my bill.

A word of caution – don't park in the spot right next to the entrance. They have a tree that grows there that will drop poop-like fruit on your car as a goodbye gift that you don't want.

 

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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.

 

 

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