There are some interesting developments at the bottom end of James Gichuru Road. And by ‘bottom end’ I mean towards the junction with Gitanga Road.
In a short stretch along the slip-road, there’s Ebru TV, the Circle Art Agency, and the intriguing Euphoria Fish Spa. (I haven’t yet dangled my feet in the fish tank for them to be cleaned up, and no doubt tickled – but I will do.)
And now we also have a cluster of restaurants. At the top end of the slip-road, there’s the Spring Garden, the long-standing and always reliable Chinese restaurant. Then we have La Palanka, specialising in West African dishes. And, opening only a few weeks ago, we now have the Arbor Place.
EatOut describes the Arbor Place as an ‘eco-friendly garden café with an eclectic selection of food, and also a market place, in a tranquil garden setting in the heart of Nairobi’.
Well, I doubt that many of you will agree that James Gichuru Road in Lavington is the ‘heart of Nairobi’. But a ‘tranquil garden setting’ is what the Arbor certainly is. Yes, if you listen out, you can hear a gentle rumble of traffic along the main road. But that only serves to remind you of what you have removed yourself from. It’s like what Herman Melville says in his novel Moby Dick about being warm in bed. He says that you only feel truly warm when a bit of you – usually the tip of your nose above the blanket – is still feeling the chill.
To say that the Arbor is also a market place is something of an exaggeration. Yes, there are things for sale in the ground floor rooms of the two-storey white house. In one room there are items of wooden furniture – ethnic and rustic – and in another there are clothes, made of soft, patterned fabrics and also ethnic.
You can also buy the D’Vine skincare and spa products. Jasneel (Jazz) Dhanjal, who opened the Arbor only a month ago, is also a Director of Divine Essentials Ltd. These popular skincare products and locally produced; in fact, there is a D‘Vine laboratory in the house at the Arbor.
You will see seedlings for sale – mainly herbs and vegetables. But the main plot for the garden centre will be opened in a few weeks time.
As for being ‘eco-friendly’, yes, many of the materials in the garden restaurant have been recycled. The tables and benches are made from wooden pallets used for handling and storing goods. The coasters are of papier maché (‘chewed paper’) – bits of paper held together with glue or wallpaper paste. Most ingenuous, the tablemats are made from paper cement bags, with a panel of clear plastic for easy cleaning.
And now let me take you through the ‘eclectic’ menu.
There are a lot of healthy drinks on offer – fruit juices, lemonades and herbal teas. I was tempted to try the cucumber lemonade but thought worse of it and went for a glass of white house wine, with a sparkling water chaser.
The breakfasts are rather like the menu at the Artcaffé – Eggs Benedict (poached eggs and ham), Eggs Florentine (poached eggs and spinach) and, of course, the full English breakfast of ‘eggs to your liking’, bacon, sausages, baked beans, etcetera. There’s a vegetarian option – the same mix as the English but without the meat.
The good variety of bitings range from the Arbor Signature Chicken Wings (grilled chicken wings made with soy sauce, chilli, honey, sesame seeds, deep fried shallots and spring onions) to Ceviche (raw red snapper fillet marinated in lime, chillies, ginger, garlic and coriander served with sweet corn and sweet potato).
For foods more substantial, there are salads, sandwiches and burgers, pastas and Asian dishes. My wife, a committed Vegan vegetarian, chose the Pad Thai Noodles (stir fried rice noodles with assorted vegetables and egg garnished with bean sprouts and ground peanuts) – though for her it was without the egg. She much appreciated it.
I went for a more mundane-sounding Chicken Sandwich (‘made with 100% boneless chicken breast fillet, marinated with a secret blend of spices and herbs over peppers, onions and homemade pesto, topped with melted Mozzarella cheesy goodness over freshly baked artisan bread’).
Caught up in the spirit of the place, I went the whole rabbit and chose an accompanying salad instead of my usual chips. My taste buds were opened wide – it was certainly the most stimulating chicken sandwich I have ever had.
The prices? Very reasonable, I think. The Pad Thai Noodles was Ksh.500, and the Chicken Sandwich was Ksh.750.
At the moment, the opening hours are from 10am to 5pm – but, when things have settled down, the Arbor Place will open in the evenings. Another change is that, from today, the café will be open on Sundays and closed on Mondays.
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