A Table for two

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From the words of John Updike, “We are most alive, when we are in love”

I will let you in a little secret about fine dining…Nairobi is a flourishing gastronomic scene with a mélange of restaurants offering specialty cuisines from all over the world. What stands out is a culinary experience that will leave you with tantalized taste buds. And there’s nothing that makes me marvel than a well thought out menu paired with the best wines.

Allow me to brag a little about my tasting experience of Valentine’s Day menu I recently had at Mandhari Restaurant in Nairobi Serena Hotel. The first encounter with the restaurant began well before my dining when my reservation was well received with warm staff.  This already created a mental picture of my expectation and that left no room for any disappointments.

You see, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, romantic gestures go a long way in saying ‘I love you’. Mandhari Fine Dining Restaurant is well prepped I must say. Upon arrival with my friend Simon, we were warmly welcomed with a glass of bubbly before we were led to our designated table. The warm restaurant Assistant Manager, Mary then handed us our curated Valentine’s Degustation menu.

At first site, I was blown away by the inviting set-up of the restaurant and the magnificent views of Nairobi by night. Luckily our table was adjacent to the window which allowed us to take in views of the beautiful skyline reflected in the well lit hotel’s swimming pool.  As we made our preferred choices on the menu, there was subtle piano playing in the background. This definitely sets the mood for a romantic night ahead.

Simon and I were both fascinated with how the Chef had a lot of rabbits to pull out his hat. Speaking of rabbits, we were served with terrine of milk fed rabbit as a starter.It not only made for a pretty picture for my Instagram feed, but delicious. Imagine being served a surprise dish that wasn’t even on the menu but sits so well on the palate? It is like the chef knew you well before you made your reservation! Our the next course we were served Amuse Bouche giving you a glimpse into the art of cuisine and prepares you for culinary delight to come.

This particular amuse bouche featured gazpacho of tomato and strawberry with a whisper of chilies. It was as beautiful as it was delicious. I honestly wish I could tell you I said a word of prayer before indulging – I didn’t. But I can be better. I will be better. Please don’t judge me.

Next, came the cauliflower and baby beetroot soup. I know you are thinking two bowls. No it wasn’t. And the soups weren’t mixed either, only forming a thin layer of pink and white boundary where they met. At first, I did my best not to disturb that peaceful culinary coexistence by alternating my scoops on the left with those on the right. But that proved difficult when I found out the cheese crouton tasted better when paired with a mixture of both.

Then came the baby scallops. They were beautifully spread round the plate surrounding; the celery, apple and mayo mixture. It’s perfect for love birds who like feeding each other. And don’t get me started on the health benefits of celery.

At this point, both of us begun feeling quite stuffed; I was just about to wind up my glass of my Nedernburg Brut, when I saw the waiter approaching with a plate of salmon. (It could have been tuna, if it was Valentine’s Day, because that is what they will serve you).

My love for seafood couldn’t allow me to go with anything else on the menu for my main dish. So when I saw the timbale foaming underneath the salmon, I couldn’t wait to dig in. This was my highlight night.

What is Valentine’s Day without chocolate? Dessert was glossy chocolate balls. Add hazelnut, and cream caramelized nuts and red velvet sponge and you will have scored yourself extra points for ever thinking of bringing the love of your life to Mandhari.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


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