What to do with a stopover in Nairobi?
It's not exactly a best kept secret that a top travel tip for East Africa is to avoid Nairobi airport and Kenya Airways like the plague. Sorry Kenya, and sorry Kenya airways, but we've flown you 15 times in the past 5 years and have either been delayed, had flights cancelled, or things were stolen from our bags, every......single.....time. And we are not alone.
However, sometimes, passing through Nairobi is a necessary stop, saving valuable time and money on route to somewhere else. Having been numerous times to Nairobi, we know from friend's who live there that there are some really fun places to visit. So on a recent stop-over (can you guess why? Yep, our flight was cancelled!) we spent 24 hours in Nairobi. A friend recommended The Talisman Restaurant in Karen, a district close to the centre of Nairobi, but easily accessible by taxi from our dingy airport hotel.
Talisman Service - Exceptional
Firstly, we arrived in-between brunch/lunch, not realising that the food would stop. Ryan was sick with flu, and we were starving. Before we could even grumble at the waitress, a manager was at our table to note that they would make us anything we wanted from the brunch menu. Such excellent service! The food was also incredible - the menu contained a variety of delicious coffees, drinks, homemade lemonades (yes!), and of course a wide array of traditional brunch dishes, with a few Kenya twists. Having reviewed the cocktail and dinner menu, and chatting to staff, the commitment and passion of this team to serving flavorful and high-quality food is apparent. When we were there, the restaurant was getting constant calls to book Christmas and New Year's brunch, but sadly they'd been sold out for months. This place had such a buzz about it, and didn't disappoint.
A Quirky Gastrolounge in the Hip Karen District
The restaurant itself feels like walking into someone's quirky home, where you'd expect to find some hippy-dippy cat lady offering mint tea on her lounge cushions. You'd sit down and be transported to some relaxing villa somewhere, and that somewhere could really be anywhere, as her decor is fulled to the brim with oddities from around the world. From Afghan wall tapestries, to Omani-style Aladdin jugs, to Thai Buddha statues, to a mosaic stained glass cat light, this place has something for everyone.
And the restaurant is huge - indoor bar, indoor/outdoor seating, old cask kegs turned into cocktail tables, fireplaces, gardens and a children's playground, the setting is tranquil and serene, yet you can feel it's on the tip of switching at dusk to vibrant, live music. If you live here, I can see why you may have every party at this restaurant!
Next time we're in Nairobi we'll definitely be stopping by for longer to the Talisman, to taste the incredible evening menu, and to meet friends. Who knows, maybe you'll be there to say hi!
See some photos of our stop below - it was rainy, cold and empty on the day we went (being just before Christmas), and the photos are still lovely. I can only imagine how it is when full of hustle and bustle. Thanks to Marcus and the team for an excellent visit, we will surely see you again soon! **Sadly we've learned that Chef Marcus passed away. Our condolescences to his family, friends and all those at the Talisman.**