THE DISH: The devil is in the details - Daily Nation

THE DISH: The devil is in the details

Wednesday October 10 2018

A beautiful seating area at Nyama Mama Capital Centre.

A beautiful seating area at Nyama Mama Capital Centre. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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I would love to run a cafe. It is one of my many dreams that I sit and imagine, often.

While many people like to daydream about the décor of their wedding, the preaching and fabulosity at their funeral a la Aretha (who else wants four costume changes? No? Anyone?) or the magnanimity of their future households, I like to think about what I would do if I was given a bit of space and a bit of money to do what I would love to do in the dog eat dog world of the Nairobi foodie scene.

It really is a fickle scene, by the way, and I admire those who have managed to keep at it for so long.

NOT BUSINESS MINDED

And of course it doesn't help that I write this article on a bi-weekly basis. I mean, sure, it is great that I do what I absolutely love and get to go and see and eat at all these wonderful places while spending all my salary – but that also means that I feel the very real envy of watching people who dare to do something else that I would equally love to do.

Then I console myself and tell myself that I have never been a business minded person and this would never work anyway, most businesses in Nairobi fail in three years, and most food-oriented ones even quicker.

Then I feel bad when I start thinking about some of my favourite places that have simply ceased to exist because of bad planning...

Back to the imaginative décor at hand. I have said often, in the past two months, how interesting it is that Americans are so dedicated to their décor and styling. They pick a theme and they stick with it, regardless of whether it's corny or extreme. They die with the lie.

Some of the art pieces on the walls of The Jolly Goat, New York.

Some of the art pieces on the walls of The Jolly Goat, New York. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

However, over here, it is impossible to keep people attracted and excited unless you keep offering something new, fresh and exciting, to look at and to eat on the menu and off it, if possible. Eating with their eyes, is what I mean, obviously! Ha!

I've gotten a bunch of little interesting insights on what I would and would not like in my imaginary cafe. The bagel shop in New York, for instance, had a couple of cute little signs peppered all over the small space, right under the wall art. I definitely want cool wall art, and probably signs.

One of the hilarious signs at The Jolly Goat, New York.

One of the hilarious signs at The Jolly Goat, New York. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Another hamburger joint had, for absolutely no reason at all, a vintage car perched atop its drive-thru just for fun. I'm not sure what attachment the owner had to vintage cars, but to be quite honest, I don't think it was necessarily bringing in the bacon because that drive-thru line was rather empty...

See what I mean about the empty drive-thru?

See what I mean about the empty drive-thru? PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

When I think of pleasing surroundings in Kenya, I think of Chop House at Radisson Blu in Upper Hill (I haven't been to the Park Inn one, but I hear it is also quite delightful).

I think of the beautiful little and not so little nooks I have been to, like Nyama Mama who are trying to completely change the game in terms of detail-oriented settings.

Seating at the Chop House, Radisson Blu.

Seating at the Chop House, Radisson Blu. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Then there is the quirky cafes like the Nook Cafe in an out of the way literal nook in Hurligham , and the additional benefit we have of living in a tropical country and so getting to add greenery to scenery that adds to the mood.

Kentmere Club, Tigoni

Kentmere Club, Tigoni. PHOT| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I think of all the amazing places I have yet to explore – like Soames in Nanyuki, which everyone sings incessantly about, and more out of the way joints that I have to ask a guide to help me discover.

And sure, America has years and years on us, but I'm comforted that we still have something. We still have a spark, and we don't need to catch up when we're forging our own paths – and not just for food.

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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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