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An evening at Relatives

Simplicity, sustainable ecology and a dash of homely feeling is on the menu at Distant Relatives

The entire restaurant went wild with excitement as we saw her hula-hooping. I left my sumptuous dinner just to get a closer view as the guests moved from their seats to cheer on Mwanase Ahmed, the General Manager of Distant Relatives Ecolodge, as she twirled the hoop around her waist, her neck and her limbs, the Itch band’s tunes playing along.

I once read a study published by the Journal of Culinary Science & Technology, which indicated that food tastes best to diners when served to a background of soft music and also when there is subtle background “chatter.” Furthermore, the study revealed that music detracted  from the “clink and clank” of cutlery, which most people found unacceptably noisy. 

If you are a keen reggae fan, you may have realised that the name of the Ecolodge is synonymous to Nas and Damian Marley’s album called Distant Relatives.

While establishing this amazing Ecolodge, the owners desired to enhance the Ecolodge’s socially conscious theme, which is to bring distant relatives from different backgrounds and cultures, races, religions, people who have no idea about each other, together.  And what better way than including music to do this, especially at meal times!

I was lucky to find their pizza night ongoing, something they host every Friday and the pizza chef, Maxmus Kitsao took me through the process of making the pizza before it was presented to me for dinner.

Being that Pizza is an international meal, the restaurant introduced it as the coastal town doesn’t have many options for affordable international cuisines. Friday also being a weekend night brings out the working Kilifi community to relax and keep that pizza oven burning.

American activist and poet, Hodari Davis, and musician Candice Antique were on stage that night and offered an eclectic performance. They were on an African tour along with Kenyan rapper Hustlajay and I loved their passion for music, which oozed as they danced on the floor.

Candice’s music is about liberation and the crowd clapped and cheered as they sang along to her deep tunes.  The tune literally became part of my meal. The whole vibe of the place made me feel cheerful, nostalgic and even made me appreciate reggae, one of my least favourite genres.

The second day I had an equally amazing time at the restaurant. This time I had an awesome experience with the Itch band and even joined them for a sing along. Live music has a way of bringing a particular burst of energy to the evening, uplifting it just from a meal to a memorable event.

I sampled their signature dish; pan-seared beef fillet with red wine mushroom sauce, something that I recommend to anyone visiting the Ecolodge or the restaurant. It was interesting watching Executive chef Dennis Mullo prepare it from scratch and later on generously give me the recipe to try at home.

Being that Distant Relatives is passionate about sustainability, the food is sourced from local farmers and some from the  in-house organic farm.  Fear not if you are a vegetarian as they also have something for you in the menu.

The interior design of the restaurant comprises tables and chairs made from recycled wood, old boats and adorning the walls, lots of Kenyan art.

The restaurant also serves a wide range of sea food options; from grilled prawns, to crabs, to garden grown salads, to kalamari, but just in case your taste buds desire something different, there are beef, chicken and lamb options in their large ala carte menu.

If enjoying the coastal food while viewing a great band sounds like a great plot for you then you should head to the restaurant as there’s probably a special place for you!

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