The Lavington Rotary Club needed to find a new lunchtime venue. We established ourselves early last year at La Palanka, the restaurant of West African cuisine along James Gichuru Road. But once our numbers topped twelve there was no room there big enough for us.
We moved further down (or is it ‘up’?) the road to the Fang Fang Chinese restaurant by the Strathmore crossroads. The food was good, but there was no separate room, so either we were disturbing other diners or they were disturbing us.
Then we discovered Lavington Hill House, tucked quietly and sedately away, second turning to the right, off the Japanese-built bypass with the unpronounceable name of Olenguruone, which runs from James Gichuru Road at Saint Austin’s School. The house, standing in a lush garden, has a colourful history and a rather plush character. It was built as family home, but it was once rented by John Garang, the Head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – until he was killed in a helicopter crash in July 2005.
Lavington Hill House is now a guest house. It fitted our rapidly growing club perfectly. (Lavington was clearly ripe for Rotary, with its expanding offices and businesses, and the increasing in-filling of the one-acre plots.) But as a guest house geared to providing mainly beds and breakfasts, Lavington Hill House, when our membership grew to over thirty, became strained to produce our lunches at a competitive price. But, with its spacious rooms, excellent breakfasts, and very attentive staff, it is an attractive place for visitors to Nairobi looking for peace and relaxation away from the city bustle. (The website is www.lavingtonhillhouse.com)
So we explored. We were looking for a place with a large enough meeting room, a regular restaurant for providing lunches – and a decent stock of wine. Lavington, transforming fast from a sleepy residential area, with its shopping malls and offices, doesn’t yet have a hotel. So our search for a venue was not an easy one.
Until someone said, Let’s try the new For You. I guess you know the old For You – the Chinese restaurant at the corner of Gitanga Road and Ole Dume Road. I was asked once why that place is so popular. It certainly isn’t the location, because the parking is most uncomfortably tight and hazardous. It is something to do with the variety and plentifulness of the food. But I’m sure it is mainly to do with the personality of the owner/manager, who is so welcoming, so attentive, so bubbly – and so children friendly. But she has asked me not to write about her, so I will say no more.
Except to say that she has brought to her new place all that warmth of personality. The new For You is further along Gitanga Road, opposite Valley Arcade. The parking problem has been solved – there is plenty of it at both the front and the back.
The main dining room is long, but divided by carved oriental screens. At one end there are two small private dining rooms – and the other end is the bar. There are tables set out on the terrace, overlooking the garden, with its fountain. And at the edge of the garden there are the bouncy and climbing things for children.
But when my colleagues and I from the Rotary Club went to see if For You was for us, what attracted us was the banda in the garden. Provided our lunchtime speakers know how to project, and provided the pull-down bamboo screens work well when it rains or turns chilly, this place will work well for us.
There were 22 of us at our first New Year meeting. The meal that was served – at only Ksh.700 per head – was not only very varied and tasty but also more than enough. When we put the matter to the vote – Is this for us? – all hands went up.
I had a couple of recce lunches there before the main event. My impression of Chinese food was that it is quite bland – so unlike Thai or Indian cuisines, for examples. But what we had at For You was certainly not bland.
Three of us shared the following dishes: dried chilli beef, lemon chicken, vegetable rice and prawn noodles. The chilli beef had a lively bite to it; the lemon chicken was deliciously sweet.
It’s a good place, the new For You: great for a family lunch treat on a weekend; pleasant for a couple’s quiet dinner; more than possible for a club meeting or a party.
The phone contacts are: 0733-648724 or 0735-536090.
Published in Kenya’s Sunday Nation