A Bohemian Eatery in Karen

The vegan chocolate mousse came with a pansy flower on top – striking purple petals with a yellow face.

‘Can I eat it?’ I asked my wife, Lut.

‘Yes, you can,’ she said. ‘And if you don’t I will!’

So I did.

We were at the Boho Eatery, beautifully set in the grounds of the Ngong House along Ndovu Road in Karen. It had been well-recommended, and we can now understand why.

We had gone there the shorter but longer way – along the clogged Ngong Road, instead of through town and down Langata Road, or via Wayaki Way and the Southern Bypass. Before leaving home, I had also just received a frustrating work email from Mogadishu, so I wasn’t, anyway, in a good mood as we sweated in the traffic queue. But, once inside the garden – and especially when the chilled Sauvignon Blanc was brought to the table – my mood chilled, too.

We had chosen a table in the garden – a really magnificent garden. In the nearest tree, a paradise flycatcher was eying us. An African goshawk flew low across the lawn. And, in the distance, an olive thrush was singing – with a voice almost as mellow as Eric Wainana’s, who was sitting with his wife, Sheba, at the neighbouring table. They had their little Yorkshire terrier with them, enjoying the garden and the sunshine in a very well-behaved manner. It’s that kind of place – relaxed and unconventional.

And that explains the name. Boho is short for Bohemian – meaning unconventional, a bit hippy, and rather arty.

Certainly, the menu is out of the ordinary. There are many vegetarian dishes; which well-suited my vegan wife. But there were also a few meaty ones, well-suited for a carnivore such as a Fox. Let me give you some examples.

I saw they were serving breakfast all day, and I looked for the conventional bacon and eggs. I should have known better. I could have had the 3-Egg Omelette, with sundried tomatoes, goat’s cheese, olives, salad and toast. I felt I really should have done proper justice to the place by having the Boho Wellness Bowl, with its healthy mix of crispy tofu or poached egg, sautéed greens, golden hummus, roasted pumpkin, edamame (young soybeans), pickled cabbage, avocado, and spicy peanut sauce…

But my meat-eating habit got the worse of me, and I went for the Bliss Burger, with pulled beef brisket, crunchy cashew slaw, lettuce, pickles and (oh, yes) fries. Lut was much more in tune with the vibes of the place. She chose, and very much enjoyed, the Falafel Platter, with its hummus, baba ghanoush (cooked eggplant with spices), pickles and pitta bread.

And then – after a suitable pause and a nice chat with Sarah, the owner and the chef – came the Vegan Chocolate Mouse (without cream) for me, and the Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake (without cheese) for Lut. Delicious. And the leisurely coffee was good, too.

So the Boho Eatery is a very special place. There are other garden restaurants around, but none with such a distinctive menu. Right now it keeps office hours: open from 8 am to 5 pm. But Sarah says in November it will stay open on two evenings a week – two of Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

You have the choice of eating inside or outside – a very obvious decision when the sun shines on such a magnificent garden. And there is a small room looking out to the lawn, which would be ideal for an ‘out of the office’ brainstorm.

Alongside the restaurant, there is a small, fine art photography gallery. It’s called Upepo. After the lunch we went to have a look round. We met Cyril Villemain, the photojournalist based in here in Kenya, who opened the galley a few months ago. But there are the works of different photographers on show – and all the pictures are from Kenya.

Some of the photographs are of wildlife; some are of people, doing ordinary and non-wild things – all are of good quality. I have seen many photographs of animals in the Nairobi National Park – but none as striking as the one in Upepo, with a lioness foreground left, looking disdainfully at the city in the distance.

All the photographs are originals, and they are sold in limited editions of 50 prints, all numbered, with a certificate of authenticity. ‘Everything here,’ said Cyril, ‘is 100% made in Kenya!’ I failed to ask him why he called the gallery Upepo – Wind. I will, next time I go.

And if you want to go to Boho Eatery or Upepo Gallery, Ndovu Road in Karen/Langata is off Syedna Mohammed Burhannuddin Road, which is off Langata South Road, which is off Langata Road… but I suggest you check the directions on www.facebook.com/bohoeaterynairobi or www.upepo-gallery.com.

Published in Kenya’s Sunday Nation

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