My friend and I decided to celebrate the recent International Women’s Day differently by treating ourselves to a fine dining restaurant.
After browsing the Internet checking out reviews from customers who’ve been to some Nairobi restaurants, we settled for and made reservations at Tatu Restaurant at Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel on Harry Thuku Road near the University of Nairobi. Amelia Chodha, the restaurant manager, welcomed us and even though we had just met for the first time, it felt like we had been friends for years.
Walking into the hotel, a wide corridor leads you to Tatu restaurant, which is adorned, with impeccable African art, giving this place a homely feel. “Tatu is a leading steak house in this town, that’s why everything including our design points to that fact,” said a proud Elijah Githinji, our waiter for the night as he handed us lemon grass warm towels to wipe our hands.
The Norfolk was built in 1904 and Tatu is one of the oldest restaurants in the city. Samburu and Masaai paintings dominate the walls, taking me back to the colonial era when the restaurant was first established. Tatu means three in English and so it fuses ambience, personalised service and great food.
Fine dining restaurants are not loud, but intimate places where people who desire to have a perfect date or even business meeting. Loud phone calls and noisy children are discouraged.
We were clueless about the menu! Githinji, our ever-smiling waiter, explained everything, showing us which ones we could enjoy and which ones depended on individual preferences. Fine dining eateries offer exotic menus, so if you aren’t an adventurous eater, ensure that you understand exactly what you are ordering. The table was lighted as a signal that dinner was ready.
For starters, we opted for welcoming bites of Amuse- bouche, which we were told is given to all the guests as a pallet closure. The crunchiness of the apple chips was a welcome surprise to the creaminess of the hot soup. “We are also keen on ensuring nutritional balance in the portions served,” said Githinji, our waiter.
I chose lobster bisque and, being a seafood lover and prompted by a spirit of adventure, I also tried out their crispy crocodile dish. “It takes 24 hours to prepare the croc’ meat to make it tender,” said Githinji as he served us. Being the less adventurous one, my friend watched me from a distance as I indulged in croc’ meat.
She settled for their soft and juicy beef, which Githinji said had aged for 21 days before being prepared. It is this beef that makes the restaurant a contemporary American steakhouse and it comes all the way from Morendat Farm, Naivasha. I tried their ostrich burger too with fries as my main course.
Sadly, after everything that I had eaten, my stomach was too full and my friend sat laughing at me. Though the portions may be small in fine dining restaurants, the food will generally be of a higher quality.
The chef on duty, Denis Ireri, was meticulous and his attention to detail could be felt with every bite. A meal here ranges from Sh1,300 to Sh1,800 for starters while main courses meals cost between Sh2,000 and Sh4,000. So you need Sh5,000 for meals alone.
Good food often goes with great wine and while I enjoy sweet red wine for its mildness, I was advised not to as it wouldn’t complement my palate.
A glass of wine will range from Sh800 to Sh1,100. At the end of our dining experience, we were given a token of appreciation a purple buffalo made from soapstone. My advice to all those who wish to dine at Tatu is to plan to spend more time and money in order to enjoy a full fine dining experience.