Food & Drinks

Night out at a street kitchen


President Uhuru Kenyatta takes a tour of Nairobi Street Kitchen’s collection of restaurants. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The usher manning the staircase leading upstairs was snooty and crude. There was a brief altercation. My friend said, “You can’t talk to clients like that. What is this, a bloody gulag?”

Anyway, a gentleman called Faizel whose card read, Chief Enthusiast showed up and smoothed things out. Thus started the evening at Nairobi Street Kitchen, on Nairobi's Mpaka Road, recently— with a bad taste in my mouth.

The street kitchen is a buffet of restaurants, bars, and entertainment joints; 11 unique zones, all avant-garde, all very bohemian if you like.

There are street murals and reclaimed interiors. You can buy wine and buy an African print dress. You can have dinner in a Mumbai-inspired bus or just sit upstairs in a bar overlooking Nairobi’s vista.

I stood at the bar upstairs and chatted with a barman called Stephen who was highly knowledgeable in matters of whisky. He said he went to a bar school in town and I said, “I know the owner of that school, I interviewed him. He’s in jail for murder!” Someone gasped.

We talked about whisky for a while as I sipped on a bourbon he had just introduced me to which was quite smoky. So smoky, I felt like I was drinking a burnt forest.

Later, downstairs I joined my friend opposite a wine shop; Nairobi Street Kiosk, and talked about cars and trees. The bad taste of the earlier altercation had melted away and we were having a very jolly time. A doctor joined us. My friend told her, “You don’t look like a doctor.”

Because doctors nowadays don’t look like doctors. They even have great handwriting. Everything is changing. Where the Street Kitchen stands was a Chinese eatery. [I think].

We ordered some bhajias and samosas that tasted amazing. The place by now was humming with lots of diners, and drinkers who did not look like they were leaving soon.

Great night; started on the rocks but ended up in the clouds.