Dave’s Garden and Kymm’s Gardens

It was late on Friday afternoon, and we were getting ready to close the office.

‘How about if we go for a sun-downer?’ one of my colleagues said. ‘We haven’t done that for some time. How about trying that new place, Dave’s Garden – it’s just down the road.’

So that’s what we did.

The road is James Gichuru Road. And Dave’s Garden is on the left if you are travelling from Waiyaki Way, and not far short of the Gitanga Road junction. It’s in what was a typical Lavington house and garden. But there is now little that is Lavingtonesque about Dave’s Garden.

I was surprised, and rather put out, when a sub-editor working on one of my articles once described the Lord Errol restaurant as a joint. It isn’t – far from it. But Dave’s Garden is a joint.

The lawn is strewn with white and yellow plastic chairs, set around tables covered with shiny black and gold plastic cloths. There is a bar under an awning at the front of the house, and more tables under cover. The smell of roasting meat was pervasive and appetising.

There were plenty of customers that Friday evening. One group we guessed was an office party; another was a pre-wedding meeting – confirmed when a chairman figure in a white cowboy hat stood up to make a speech.

Yes, that white cowboy hat – I have often wondered about the fondness many Kikuyu men have for those hats. Was it the influence of American country music on the Kikuyu singers of the 1960s and onwards? Whatever – the broad and high white hat fitted the place.

As the daylight faded, as the garden lights came on, as the jikos were placed near the tables, so the dreadlocked disk jockey started up his music – but not too loud because, after all, this is in the heart of Lavington’s residential area.

We had intended just a quickish sun-downer drink, but the smell of the nyama choma was too tempting. So we ordered an ujamaa plateful. It arrived at the table within the promised twenty minutes. The goat’s meat was sweet and tender; the potato wedges were filling – and the place took on a more warming and appealing feel for us.

We asked our waitress about the price of the rooms. ‘They vary,’ she said, ‘from seven thousand, six thousand, to five thousand – and three thousand for short time.’

Hmmm! Yes, Lavington is changing.

There’s another new place, just round the corner in Gitanga Road: Kymm’s Restaurant and Bar. My wife and I hadn’t made plans for a Valentine’s Day celebration. We didn’t fancy joining the red brigades in any of the up-market and hyped-up places; so we decided to try out Kymm’s.

Anne, the hostess, welcomed us and showed us round. The ground floor of the spacious white house has a pleasant maze of easy chair lounges, a rather stark dining room and a more intimate bar – each room decorated in different colours . Upstairs, there is a hairdressing salon, a barber shop and massage rooms.

Outside in the rear garden, there is an array of unusual small bandas, shaped like crusader tents, with transparent plastic sheeting that can be rolled down if it is chilly or if it rains. Soon a children’s play pen will be ready. A nyama choma area is being fitted – with a huge spit on which can be roasted a 300 kgs bull. In contrast, there are plans for a sushi bar. And very soon, Kymm’s Gardens will serve breakfasts from 6.30 am.

I went back on my own the following day – for a late Sunday lunch, for taking photographs in daylight, and a chat with the enthusiastic Manager, Daniel Opondo. It was also a chance to restudy the menu.

The bitings range from honey basted or turmeric chilli spiced chicken wings, to chicken or beef mishkaki, to beef sausages and samosas. From the grill, one kg of goat’s meat costs Ksh. 850; a half chicken costs Ksh.800. A whole tilapia comes with coconut sauce, or it is lemon basted, deep fried, and served with coriander. Otherwise there is a fairly wide range of burgers and sandwiches. Most of the prices are under Ksh.1000.

With the Artcaffé in the Mall, Mambo Italia in the Curve, the Tokyo Japanese restaurant by the Shell petrol station, the For You Chinese restaurant in Gitanga Road, La Salumeria in Valley Arcade – and now these two new places – Lavingtonians are becoming spoilt for choice.

Published in Kenya’s Sunday Nation