As new restaurants open, competition has shifted from the way the chef whips up cuisines to ambience. From lighting to tiles to wooden panels, restaurant owners are creating beautiful spaces to give diners more than just a good food experience.
With a growing upper middle class in Nairobi and social media providing an avenue for diners to share their experiences, investors in the restaurant business now understand that design and ambience matter a great deal. They are investing in unique low-hanging lighting fixtures, old-school furniture, to colours that are off the glossy interior decor magazines.
With this trend catching on fast, these are some the restaurants that have taken their design and architecture a notch higher, serving more than just food and drink. There are others like Boho Eatery and Marula Mercantile that are bringing the magic of the green ambience and quirky decor to eating spots.
CJs (Koinange Street)
When this restaurant first opened, people waited in line to get a table and they even had seats outside the restaurant, for those willing to wait for patrons inside to leave.
The thick glass wall at the front, the high ceiling, the iron rod inspired staircase and the dangling yellow bulbs create a perfect set-up for photographs. It is quite probable that a good number of Nairobi’s Instagram enthusiasts have taken a selfie or two at this restaurant. Their menu which doesn’t include alcoholic drinks offers cafe style dishes and drinks including curries, pasta dishes, steaks, curries burgers, salads, desserts, coffee, tea, milkshakes and mocktails.
BaoBox (Pramukh Towers, Westlands)
Run by a group of investors, Baobox offers over 100 board games. Its location on the 8th floor serves a view of the Westlands Skyline which unfortunately at the moment is filled with buildings that are under construction. The board games aim to keep people off their phones while at the restaurant. The largely wooden decor, the blackboard at the entrance with fun captions such as “WI-FI, Really? Talk to each other”, “Eat, Play Socialize”, and more, aim to entice patrons to socialise. Their low wooden patio furniture is accessorised by heavy Maasai blankets, which come in handy when it gets chilly in the evenings. The cosy terrace area transforms into a mini-theatre where movies and football matches are shown on the projector screen. Their menu features an all-day breakfast section, pizzas, sandwiches and snacks such as bruschetta, meatballs and more.
Coffee Casa (Doctor’s Park, Parklands)
“I feel good today” reads a sign on the wall which also has a bicycle forming part of the word “good”. Another sign states “I like big cups and I cannot lie” resonates to coffee lovers. Their black-and-white contrast theme in the inside seating area spans out to a cosier terrace seating area where everything from the bar to the seats provides a rustic wooden look.
Pillows designed in the shape of fruits such as sliced kiwis and oranges add a touch of colour. Burgers, soups, sandwiches, pasta and an extensive wine list are what you will find at this spot.
The View at Movenpick Hotel
If you are a sucker for views then this revolving restaurant on the 24th floor of the building which also happens to be the only one in Nairobi is a must visit. Revolving at a speed of 360 degrees every 80 minutes, this breathtaking restaurant serves a fine-dining Swiss menu. The floor to ceiling glass windows offer a remarkable sight during both daytime and night-time. The area where the tables and chairs are is the only part that rotates while the bar and front desk remain stationary. Majestic views are part of the menu here.
Sierra Burger & Wine (Rivaan Plaza, Westlands)
A fancy bachelor’s pad is what comes to mind when you enter this restaurant. The red brick walls, a black and gold theme highlighted by the golden tables, black seats and golden lampshades offer a minimalistic feel. Sierra is popular for their aged steaks, burgers and the extensive wine list that is bound to please the most demanding of taste buds.
Sevens Seafood & Grill (Waiyaki Way, Westlands)
The soft colours, hanging-squid-like chandelier at this restaurant makes the food taste better if it normal. The decor is elegant and homely.