We take many things for granted. I hark back to how it took a pandemic lockdown for Nairobians to fully appreciate green spaces that they zoom past regularly without a second thought.
That was my emotion when I made dinner reservations at this restaurant.
Anyone who has been to Westlands is familiar with the firebrick-clad building with a jutting mace feature holding up the spire sign Mövenpick adjacent to Sarit Centre mall.
Although I was acquainted with the Mövenpick Hotel & Residences building having attended a product launch or two hosted there, I, oddly enough, kept shelving dining at The View restaurant-its famed rotary engineering notwithstanding.
We are notorious for our herd mentality so I figured this highlight would be best enjoyed mid-week, fingers crossed that it would live up to its rotary hype.
I confirm that indeed The View is a rotating restaurant. While I will save you the spoiler of the mechanics that makes this feat possible, I will let drop that it takes a nonchalant 84 minutes to make one complete rotation.
From this perch, as I waited for my dining company to arrive, against the concerted effort from grey clouds, the magnificence of the capital city was revealed.
On one front, newly-constructed skyscrapers like the Global Trade Centre Office Tower competed for attention against the old guard embodied by the likes of Kenyatta International Convention Centre and prismatic Britam Tower beyond.
On yet another front, I found kind words for the snaking expressway with its pagoda-like entry gates and on another quite enjoyed watching children kick floodlit football on Oshwal Centre’s neat artificial turf.
My favourite view was that of the Karura Forest canopy that stood out resplendently in defiance of the land grabbers who have incessantly heaved off her perimeter. Like Karura, my fair dates were a breath of fresh air and on their cue, the food orchestra premiered.
More plates mean more dishes to sample and each starter including my baked mushroom cappuccino soup, as well the sliced beef tagliata and grilled prawns laden with ocean aroma that the others ordered impressed me.
Even more enthralling was the food presentation and plating beginning with the bread whose colour sections of brown, green, pink, and yellow represented plain, spinach, beetroot and cornbread respectively.
One of us ‘knows’ people and that is how I was introduced to Chef Sehrish Rajani who surprised us with the tastiest smoked salmon amuse bouche that made me drop my snapper mains choice for the anadromous delicacy.
Small talk yielded that Mövenpick brand was conceived when its hotelier founder, the late Ueli Prager, was strolling the shores of Lake Zurich with a friend. He had been searching for a name for his new restaurant concept – a ‘dining bar’ where guests could relax and eat high-quality food.
As he considered the possibilities, a seagull (or Möwe in German), swooped down to skilfully pick up food mid-flight. That one elegant movement encapsulated Prager’s vision and so ‘Mövenpick’ (Möwe pick), was born.
The talk gave way to the tender dry-aged prime beef rib eye and grilled rack of lamb that fell off the bone. While the flavour from the gift of the land aced it, the pan-fried salmon did not match the high and my gut tells me that the red snapper option would have fared better.
For the sides, I recommend you go for the creamy buttery mashed potatoes that ‘slapped’.
With a group seated next to us, I expected the ambience to be crowded but for some reason, our space was not breached. Truly every aspect of the evening, the pricing included, was phenomenal.
I missed the sommelier on this occasion and was convinced that the Mediterranean menu could do with a touch of Kenyan if anything for the non-nationals who patronise the space.
While dessert consisting of a decadent vanilla Pavlova, punchy dark chocolate mousse and a poised tiramisu would have been the fitting outro of the night, my plug ushered us into the cigar bar for what would be an exhilarating finale.
Discreetly buried a few steps below the restaurant is an intimate lounge lush with gentlemanly air that screams for a shared experience.
On this night we crashed the GMs, Michael Flint’s, shindig and boy didn’t it rock. A leg was broken and as I attempted cigar smoke rings with a fine scotch in hand, I could not think of a more flawless evening.