Dining and wining at the ‘peacock’

Njeri Maina @PeopleDailyKe

Indian music plays in the background, as a beautiful hostess clad in blue and black shows us to our table at The Mayura restaurant in Westlands.

Nairobi is dreary and cold outside, but the hostess instantly makes you feel welcome. We choose to sit near the children’s play set and are just in time for the evening meal, which starts at 6pm and runs till 11 in the night. My colleague and I order juice and bottled water as we wait for dinner.

The juice arrives freshly squeezed and with a lemon wheel for garnish. Jeff, my partner, swears by his orange juice and tries to convince me that I made the wrong choice.

I take my chilled water, cheerfully ignore him and focus on the décor. The walls have intricate peacock feather designs, in different forms and sizes.

One wall is adorned with a large magnificent peacock that I think is mesmerising, while another has a peacock design that lights up from the inside. We get a chance to enquire from the director Rajiv Seagal about the running peacock theme.

“Mayura is Sanskrit for Peacock. We chose the peacock as it is the national bird of India and hence it is fitting as the name of an authentic Indian restaurant. The peacock is a beautiful bird, so we aim to create similarly beautiful unforgettable experiences through excellent service, good décor and great ambience,” Rajiv smiles.

Soon our starter, Banno Kebab, arrives accompanied by a salad. It is sumptuous and the skewered chicken is tasty, while the creamy egg coating gives a welcome contrasting crunch and creamy taste.

Our main dish is Palak chicken and butter naan- (a leavened, oven-baked flatbread found in Asian cuisines). The naan is warm and yields with the slightest tug while the palak — boneless chicken chunks in a creamy spicy sauce with spinach— is quite sumptuous.

General manager Sanjay Singh, Chef Surendra Prasad and Director Rajiv Seagal. Photo/JEFF MUTHEE

We wolf down all the naan despite a spicy curry and are content to sit in silence too full to indulge in our usual bickering.

Instead, we play with the miniature trolleys which contain serviettes and sauces and are easily wheeled across the table.

The bill is less than Sh3,000 for the two of us.

Surprising, given the great ambience and quality of food and service. But we are not complaining, just elated. Since we are all happier when we are full, we gladly oblige to Rajiv’s request to show us around.

Chef Surendra Prasad, who has more than 10 years of culinary experience, is more than willing to give us a short tour of his kitchen and a crash course on Indian cuisines. The kitchen is fitted with tandoor, which they use to make skewered chicken and other delicacies.

On the first floor of the restaurant there is a marked air of coziness and privacy, with a boardroom for meetings or friendly card games over whiskey or beer.

One corner has been cordoned off, thematically decorated, all ready and waiting for a birthday party. The restaurant works like a well-serviced car; with all parts working in tandem to achieve a common goal. “It is important for the staff to be both disciplined and highly motivated.

That is why we have regular trainings to make sure that we uphold world standards,” says Sanjay Singh, the restaurant’s manager. We decide we need to enjoy the Mayura experience one more time.

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