Gigiri’s quirky Pallet Café

Pallet Café

The Pallet Cafe Gigiri. 

Photo credit: Jan Fox | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • With a climbing frame and a swimming pool at the bottom of the garden, it’s also a fantastic place to bring your children for an afternoon.
  • The inspiration behind the café’s name is clear as soon as you walk through the house and into the garden.

As more of us opt to work remotely, coffee shops and restaurants are becoming increasingly popular as convenient workspaces. Working from home has its benefits, but every now and then I find it important for my sanity to switch environments to somewhere with a livelier atmosphere, and with others behind laptops with a cup of coffee in hand. One such place that is especially convenient for me is the Pallet Café along Gigiri Close. 

Set within a large private house, and out across a long, terraced garden, there are lots of spaces to work or to enjoy a meal with friends and family. With a climbing frame and a swimming pool at the bottom of the garden, it’s also a fantastic place to bring your children for an afternoon. When I first went for lunch a few Sundays ago, the restaurant was jam-packed with families, and children happily clambered over the climbing frame. (Not a peaceful workspace you may think; it’s much quieter throughout the week.) 

The inspiration behind the café’s name is clear as soon as you walk through the house and into the garden. Most of the furniture has been fashioned from old pallet boxes. They’ve managed to do a lot with very little; there are tables made from wooden doors with the latches still on, and benches created from oil drums. The concept is simple and quirky, and it’s fun to look around at all the upcycled objects. 

Within the house on the ground floor are pallet seats with colourful African fabrics beneath African artwork on the walls. One of the members of staff, Steven Mwangi, gave me a quick tour of the upstairs, where there is a large room for meetings and events, and a terrace overlooking the mature garden and neighbouring properties. There is a salon up there, too, and in other rooms there is also a tailor and a shop. 

Breakfast menu

The restaurant’s menu mirrors its eclectic décor. There are plenty of coffees, teas, pastries, smoothies and snacks for those after a light bite. Otherwise, it offers a wide range of dishes – from salads, sandwiches and stir-fries, to tacos, wraps, pizzas, burgers and breakfasts. I’ve found it difficult to stray from the breakfast menu, which is uniquely well-suited to vegetarians and vegans.

A couple of examples that stand out: the ‘Shakshuka’ (which translates to ‘a haphazard mixture’ from Arabic) – two poached eggs in a hearty, spiced tomato and pepper sauce; and the ‘Pallet Breakfast’ – two eggs prepared how you like on a bed of grinded, pan-fried potatoes and zucchini, a grilled tomato and a side of guacamole and basil pesto. 

Those familiar with the original Pallet Café in Lavington will know that it offers far more than its food and its relaxing setting. As is written on their menu, ‘Pallet Café strives to promote the training and employment of disabled persons within the food service community’. They hire hearing impaired waiters and waitresses, and encourage customers to learn and communicate in sign language. 

When I spoke briefly to the owner, Feisal Hussein Sheikh, he talked about his drive to support the youth, and ‘those who have been left out’. This includes local musicians who have struggled in recent years with the closure of bars and events as a result of the pandemic. Pallet Café provides these musicians with a platform to perform every Sunday afternoon. There are weekly yoga sessions, too, in Lavington and in Gigiri. 

Head to @palletcafe_ke on Instagram, or www.palletcafe.co.ke for more information about these and other activities and events, and for details about their brand-new restaurant in Diani. 

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