Every so often, it's a good idea to check out the spots that you recommend to other people often.
When you eat as much as I do, and eat out as often as I do, people tend to ask you about the places you go, and what was good where; what cuisines were good and whether the service was absolute tripe – no pun intended - but the food is worth it.
For instance, I visited one of my old haunts the other day while passing by Yaya, waiting for traffic to pass by.
This one is one of my favourite places. They have the best steak in town, hands down – flavourful, tender, dripping with the juices in the way I like. Generally, they do lovely things to meat. And they used to do amazing things to a good burger patty.
I don't know if it is that I haven't been there in so long that I did not notice the gradual degeneration of their burgers – it would appear so.
I was shocked when I ordered for a basic beef burger and instead received an underhanded excuse for the same.
For the record, I consider a basic beef burger bread that doesn't fall apart, a juicy patty and a few onions, tomatoes and lettuce – and if the place is trying to go above and beyond the call of duty, a few pickles thrown in for good measure.
They were most definitely not trying to go above and beyond the call of duty.
I got soggy bread, made soggier by what they claim was a 'special sauce', and a juicy patty. Yes, I will give them that.
The patty was still very tasty.
But alas, I can never have the original beef burger there again. I stared at it, astounded, and promptly took a picture then called the waiter – as is the millennial way now, don't you know. Not even a slice of tomato. Shocking, really.
So you can understand my apprehension when I was invited to another favourite old haunts – the Bhandini restaurant at Intercontinental Hotel. I'm a big fan of Indian food with ambience.
Yes, Diamond Plaza has its charms, but I'm looking for comfort and relaxation, as opposed to willing to fight off attendants in a competition.
Bhandini is nestled between two restaurants: the Plantation Cafe, which is for hot drinks and sweet treats, and the Terrace, which is where all their delectable brunches happen.
If you walk by too quickly, you'll miss it, but after you walk in, the mood lighting and mellowed hues will make you never want to leave – but leave you must, at 3pm, when they close because the lunch time service is over and soon they're going to be full again with the dinner time crowd.
In fact, should you be looking for a little romance outside of the usual Valentines' Day brouhaha, Bhandini is perfect for an intimate setting, especially late in the day.
I love that I have never received a greeting any less that understated enthusiasm every time I walk into this place, whether it is from the discreet hostess, or the smiling waiters.
Anthony, who was our waiter that day, made frequent recommendations as we nibbled on fresh papadum, and that combined with his cheerful demeanour made us order and eat far too much – but I am not complaining.
I have been to Bhandini before, but for some reason, have never tried the starters, as I am usually trying to get to the biriyani. I did however try the corn rolls this time, and did not regret it.
The mango chutney to the side adds a sweet zest to the tongue as well. My companion had a spicy chicken soup, for his cold, and it had the desired effect on clearing his nose. Starters range from Sh700 to Sh1500.
For the main, we had butter chicken – of course – and mutton rogan josh. I am not a fan of mutton generally, but I can tell when it tastes the way it's supposed to, which it did here – it was well cooked and fell apart easily to the slightest bite, which is how I like my mutton when I like my mutton. The butter chicken was delicious as always.
I greedily wanted more naan, but that never works out, because I had already stuffed myself, as you read before, with the corn rolls, and I was trying to leave space for dessert.
For the record, I did not do justice to dessert at all. The Indian desserts were not available, and the ice cream was a lacklustre. But I suppose you shouldn't come into an Indian restaurant and ask for ice cream?
All in all, it was an experience that reminded me why I stray towards the familiar in the first place. Some oldies can still be goodies – and that's why we keep going back.
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.