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Of Peacock, deer and hot stone meals

For lovers of beef and salmon eaten at serene environments and courtyard wildlife views, Dari Restaurant offers the perfect opportunity

Njeri Maina @PeopleDailyKe

peacock saunters in, dressed in all its colourful glory and stares at me dead in the eye. I almost bolt away from my cocktail, my table and the peacock in terror. Despite peacocks being beautiful birds, I am slightly terrified of them, my terror being directly proportional to how beautiful they are.

I find the bird a bit peculiar. Facts such as that peacocks can fly with all their plumage for short distances and can live for up to 20 years, that is seven years longer than the average dog life, firmly cement my irrational fear of the bird.

“It cannot harm you,” the head chef at Dari Restaurant, Gift Mwasho reassures me with a chuckle. I decide otherwise so the peacock and I continue eyeballing each other until some deer walk into the gardens to feed. Oohs and aahs escape from my colleague and Iover how cute the deer look as they graze peacefully.

The peacock, probably jealous of the attention that its four-legged peers were garnering from us, saunters away and leaves us to enjoy our drinks.  We are waiting for hot stones so that we can prepare our beef and salmon.

We are at Dari Restaurant, off Ngong Road next to St Christopher’s School in the suburbs of Karen. It was a slow afternoon days before Christmas last week when my colleague and I took off from the office and headed off for Dari with hunger whetted by anticipation and long minutes of negotiating the parking lot that is normally Ngong Road.

We chose a seat near the gardens so that we could have some privacy, but most importantly, people watch. As we deliberated on the menu, we ordered some cocktails to while away the time.

I nursed a thick strawberry daiquiri, wondering how much alcohol one should take before eating. We settled on their signature dish, salmon and beef cooked on hot stones.

The stones are first heated in an oven at 350 degrees Celsius,  then taken to customers to cook the meat to their liking. My worry was that the hot stone could not get my beef well done.

To my surprise, however, my beef was cooked through and through. I almost asked in wonder whether the hot stone was a sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous stone; see taking Geography lessons in high school was not a complete waste of time. The hot stone cooking experience was a delightful experience which made me feel like a real chef, a tour de force, as I negotiated my meat to well done.

The hot stone dish is normally served with accompaniments of the client’s choice. We chose rice and French fries and sat down to enjoy our dinner in the grass as dusk fell.

The salmon was fresh and tasty while the beef was so beautifully marinated that one could not tell that it had simply been seared by a hot stone. We cleared our plates then waited for dessert even as we ordered for our second cocktails.

The desert, Tiramisu dessert, arrived with compliments from the pastry chef Robert Ouko. It was a delightful mix of textures and flavours with a slight bitterness of coffee liqueur being balanced by the sweet, freshly made cream.

The eatery is surprisingly quite affordable, with cocktails ranging fromSh600 a pop and the food ranging between Sh1,500 and Sh4,000, depending on what you order. After settling our bill, we left, the peacock still at my heels.

I thought of its beautiful feathers as hair accessories and wondered if the bird would like me better the next time I walked in if I wore some of its plumage on my hair. I will get a peacock feather and update you on how my next date at Dari with ‘major side eye the peacock’ goes.  Happy New Year!

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