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Restaurant where sign language is a must

Njeri Maina @njerimainar

I love spots that are big on great food and on empowering people. Pallet Café is exactly this. Located opposite Lavington Mall, Pallet Café is an artsy spot that has affordable meals served by hearing impaired staff.

The eatery has ample sitting space and the café has a garden set up with a high translucent roof. The first time I patronised the restaurant, I had the pleasure of sitting on a canoe-like table set with colourful chimes clinking in the noon day sun. Several drums had been converted to tables with high back chairs to match.

Two tiny penguins hugged out on the table ready to salt and pepper my food. Calabash lampshades with the word café carved out hang overhead alongside beautiful hanging green potted plants. Several people were hard at work on their laptops as a few kids slid down the slides in the play area and chased after each other.

Roasted nuts

The restaurant has menus with the first page having a few basic hand signs that you can use to order food. There is also a handwritten menu on a blackboard and in colourful chalk that details the day’s specials.

I settled for sign language, talking and pointing at what I wanted from the menu. There was also the option of writing out an order if I had a very specific order, say if I wanted a burger and my patty to be medium rare.

I ordered for a café latte and a detox salad. My coffee arrived first with a beautiful leaf swirled on the cream. It was soon followed by my detox salad, which was accompanied by ginger sauce and a grilled brown bun.

Fries and chicken wings. Photo/NJERI MAINA

The service is really attentive without being intrusive with the wait staff being just a simple hand sign away. Susan Watkins, the manager is also always nearby ready to engage and help out.

My coffee was hot and creamy that I took it without sugar. I am really pedantic about my coffee, so the fact that they got it right is something to wax ecstatic about. My salad had loads of avocado, with a mixture of purple cabbage, ginger and lettuce.

A liberal dash of roasted nuts gave the dish some much needed crunch and I polished the colourful dish in no time. Because no great thing can remain a secret for long, I was both surprised to be invited for a work-cum- lunch meeting at the same place by a friend a few days later.

Thumbs up signals

He settled on wings and fries with soda as I ordered a beef burger, fries and a coffee. Yes, I will have coffee in 30-degree temperatures if it is prepared right. Despite being certified foodies, we could not finish our servings at Pallet. I barely managed to eat half my burger, but I did polish off my masala fries.

That a portion of home fries goes for Sh150 is just unbelievable, especially in Nairobi where food is overpriced and overhyped. With less than Sh1,000 you can have either breakfast or lunch and work away in silence or simply people-watch. The number of thumbs up we gave the staff as they packed our goodie bags were countless.

And since there is no such thing as visiting a food joint too many times, I plan to revisit. I might order the wings and fries so I can hog them alone.

I might also order from the kiddie menu and go slide on the nearby slides and roll on the grass to acquiesce the kid in me. Either way, I am going back because of the food, the prices and to polish up the few hand signs I learnt.

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