Six of Lavington’s best restaurants

Lavington, Nairobi

The at Steak Out garden restaurant in Lavington, Nairobi.

Photo credit: John Fox | Nation Media Group

A few days ago, someone asked me which restaurant I would rate as the best restaurant in Lavington. I thought for a bit and said, “It depends, first, on what you mean by ‘restaurant’ and, second, on what you are looking for.”

The conversation was over a glass of wine, so I quickly ran my mind through six restaurants – and what reason I would have for going to each of them.

Kengeles was the first name that came to mind because it was the first restaurant to open in Lavington. So, it has the honour of having kicked off Lavington’s continuing change from a sleepy residential to a lively and more complex area.

And, talking of kicking off, I would go there above anywhere else, as I did recently during the World Cup, to experience being in a crowd watching football or rugby matches, rather than watching them on TV at home. I also go there for the best chips in town.

For a work chat with someone I would be meeting for the first time, I would choose the Artcaffé in the Lavington Mall for a coffee or even a brunch – because their breakfast menu is excellent.

 However, I regret the refurbishment that has found more space but made the place less warm and less interesting than it used to be. I miss that French quotation on the wall that meant something like, ‘Bread sustains you but wine illuminates you.’

Glass of wine

As I said at the beginning, it was a glass of wine that was illuminating this piece. And, of course, I was having it in La Tasca on the first floor of Lavington Mall. Whenever I take someone there, I hope that the founder/owner Maurizio is also there. It is Maurizio who gives life to the place. When you are there, wherever you are sitting, you feel part of a community that he has brought together.

Across the road from the Mall is The Social House, a quirky and vibrant place that I enjoy. There, you have choices: having a relaxed lunch in The Other Room by the pool; splashing out in Copper, the fine dining restaurant; partying in Inca, called the rooftop melting pot. In all three, the quality of the menus is assured by Anibal Torres, the ebullient Peruvian chef. Actually, there is a fourth option – the Living Room with its coffee, pastries and cakes.

For a special and quiet lunch or dinner, I would choose La Salumeria, the Italian restaurant on the ground floor of the Dhajay Apartments in Korosho Road, which runs behind Valley Arcade. Once inside, you can imagine yourselves in a restaurant in a small town in Italy. I have been going there for many years, and I have found the food and service consistently good.

My sixth choice is Steak Out, a restaurant at 102 Manyani East Road – the last road to the left if you are approaching Waiyaki Way along James Gichuru Road. There are two reasons why I would go there: first, to have a steak of guaranteed quality; second, because it is a proper garden restaurant; it is a splendid Lavington house that is set in a beautiful Lavington garden.

I went there with a friend for lunch on New Year’s Eve. I had been singing the praises of the steaks, but in the end we both went for the grilled salmon. It was delicious. As was the grilled mango, banana and coconut sandwich, with a dollop of cream.

The sun was shining, the garden was green, and the noise from the expressway was hardly audible. It strikes me as ironic that I have chosen a place that is an example of the peaceful old Lavington that the other five have done their bit to transform.

Let’s hope that Lavington succeeds in maintaining a balance between its old and new selves.

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