Alluring Cafesserie: Coffee house lives to up its billing... and more

Cafesserie’s special of the month, Voi Salad that features grilled red snapper. PHOTO | POOL

When I asked Mombasa culture connoisseur Jamilla Hassan to recommend a few choice places to eat in her city, she did one better.

In addition to her personal favourites, she tossed the question to her multitude of social media followers who, in fewer than 24 hours, raised endorsements that almost overwhelmed me.

That is how midday of this past Wednesday found me seated on relaxed, brown brassiere seats backed up by wood and glass headboards with matching fans offering solace from the clammy coastal weather.

From my perch, I had a clear view of the entrance with a hole-in-the-wall counter serving pastry to mall traffic.

Anyone who opted to walk in could not miss the table stacked neatly with branded tee shirts decreeing Cafesserie 2011.

Further next to them was a distinctive coffee grinding machine that I would have loved to watch in action but the amiable hostess said that I was not in luck as this only happens before 10o'clock each morning.

When I requested room to place my unwieldy travel bags, I was pointed to the open space next to the grinder that I picked out acted as the designated parking space for the trolleys from the relentless stream of shoppers dropping in for a bite.

I agreed to the recommendation but only for a minute for my reservations, carried from the capital, wouldn’t let me sit still without having them close by.

Dear Nairobi, just know that by the end of my lunch, my faith in humanity had been restored.

With my view, I couldn’t get over the traffic Cafesserie on the ground floor of Nyali’s City Mall enjoys.

Cafesserie’s packaged coffee that is ground on site. PHOTO | POOL

It was even more fascinating watching the restaurant staff glide like clockwork on what was evidently a busy shift.

I counted six staff on the floor waiting for patrons who preferred the al fresco seating.

Then a strange thing happened. I simply couldn’t settle on what to order and not because the menu was in a language I did not comprehend but because of its overwhelming array of choices.

Beaten, I called on the hostess again, Angela Wairimu, who was kind enough to bring into line my confused palate.

First, she insisted that it would be a shame to visit Cafessarie and not try their original coffee blends and or their juices.

A fair proposition, I reckoned, and from the choice of Breakfast Kahawa and Kenya AA settled for what was a divine cup of House Blend cappuccino.

My friend I was visiting with had the stronger Kenya AA filter coffee that came in a cafetière. While at it, we delved into a chat about how they have managed to remain relevant since their debut in 2011.

“We create everything from scratch here; from the ice cream to the freshly squeezed juice and ground coffee, down to our purified water,” she acknowledged.

It is this intentional effort augmented by attention to detail and seamless service, that Ms Wanjiru, who has been with the brand for close to a decade, asserts has ensured that Cafesserie maintains repeat patrons.

It is not uncommon thus, she points out, for diners to drive down from regional fringe towns like Kilifi looking to get their pastry or pasta fix or for visitors to Mombasa to make a pit stop before checking in to their destinations.

To keep things fresh, they throw a spin to their menu with weekly specials added to the physical menu.

In my death by food contest, I jousted with the Voi salad with red snapper and lost. On my second go, the Carbonaro Tagliatelle, (a traditional southern Italian dish with bacon, pepperoni, egg, cream, fried onions and parmesan) floored me.

My associate did not fare any better with his prawns in rose a rose sauce choice either.

A freshly brewed cup of coffee at Cafesserie restaurant in Mombasa. PHOTO | POOL

Accepting defeat, we cut our losses with a shared New York cheesecake and by the time we left, made peace with the fact that the staff and management are truly deserving of their restauranteering decade-long success.

Should you live or are visiting Kampala, try one of the five branches descended from this Mombasa original, the brainchild of Isac Shpak. Tell us if they match the original.

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