After a long first day with our new Gate 1 family, we headed to The Talisman Restaurant on the outskirts of Nairobi in an upscale are called Karen.
The restaurant was built in an old home which opens into an incredible courtyard, has stained glass, wildlife photos and features a seasonal menu mainly from their organic.
The group was seated at two long tables with banquettes on one side, filled with big pillows in African prints.
As per the norm with Gate 1, we were offered bottled water as well as either one glass of wine or a beer. Tusker Beer, an African lager, has been out go-to as it’s light and refreshing and it comes in large bottles.
We were actually surprised that they did not hold out a group of 17 to a limited menu, but rather let us order from their regular and seasonal menus.
For his starter, Chuck chose the Feta and Coriander Samosas with a Chili Ginger Jam. They were listed on the menu per piece and thinking he could get two or three asked the waiter for two and was told he could have six. So there was plenty to share.
They were deep fried, crispy, and delicious. However, one of the things we have found is that some of the cheese selections we are finding are a little different than home, feta doesn’t seem to be brined, salty and wet but drier like a ricotta salata. Overall, it was delicious.
I opted for the Zanzibari Seafood Soup as my starter, it was a creamy, rich broth with lots of ginger, lemongrass, and peppers as well as lots of fresh local fish and fresh coriander. It reminded me of Thai Tom Kha soup, which should not have surprised me since several dishes were lists as Thai seasoned. (The Thai Chili Prawn appetizer had rave reviews too).
For dinner, Chuck had the Swahili Fish Curry with Pilaf Rice, Kachumbari, a light, fresh tomato salad and spinach in coconut. It was nicely spiced with plenty of filets of fish and drizzled with a fragrant mango ginger chutney. Everything was fresh and well balanced.
I was really torn with my entrée as there were a lot of options for us, the Slow Cooked Lamb Shank Wrapped in Phyllo Dough with Braising Jus. It was crunchy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside and the braising jus added a lot of flavor. It was served with Roasted Butternut Squash, with Walnuts, Sprouts, Miso, and Pureed Carrots. Really an incredible, well-balanced dish with excellent texture.
For Dessert, I had the Talisman Gold and Apple Almond Sponge with Vanilla Ice Cream. It was baked in a small iron skillet, so it was crisp around the edges, crunchy from the almonds on top and soft and moist inside with cold vanilla ice cream.
Chuck went with chocolate, of course, they offered a Chocolate Brownie as a Dessert of the Day. We’re not sure exactly what was in the description with it had a crunchy layer in the middle, and the flavor was not really appealing to Chuck.
All in all, a really fantastic meal. It was fun to experience with new friends. Our only complaint had nothing to do with the restaurant or the tour really, because of our jam-packed schedule, Nairobi traffic and sunset times we arrived at the restaurant in darkness and were not able to explore the impressive grounds.
We figure that our dinner for the two of us would have been approximately $82.50 US before tax and service charge. Not a bad first meal as part of a tour package.
Our experiences with Gate 1 Travel’s selection of hotels and meals in other countries has been pretty awesome, so we’re excited about what’s to come.