Sunday Brunch at Nairobi’s Radisson Blu

If you’re reading this in Nairobi, and you haven’t made any plans for the day, I’ve got a suggestion for you. Every Sunday between 12.30 and 4 pm, the Radisson Blu Hotel hosts an extravagant brunch at the Larder Restaurant and Terrace. I say extravagant because of the sheer variety of food on offer; whatever cuisine you’re in the mood for today, they’re likely to have it. I tried it out myself a few Sundays ago, and was spoilt for choice.

The Radisson Blu Hotel is the cream building with large, evenly-spaced square windows along Elgon Road, in Upper Hill. The Larder restaurant is on the ground floor, and spills out onto a wide terrace overlooking the garden at the back of the hotel. Every Sunday, this terrace is transformed. The brunch is advertised as ‘classic with a modern twist’, but the food is rustically presented. The food stations are set up amongst wooden crates, hay bales, and hessian sacks filled with vegetables, and are spread across tables with cast iron wagon wheels.

At one end of the terrace is a barbeque serving a wide variety of grilled meats, and at the other is a stage for the live band. In between, there’s a taco station, a shawarma station, a pasta station, a koroga station, a towwer station (a large round charcoal grill), a tandoori oven and a Chinese-style stir-fry station. There’s more space inside the restaurant for soups, sushi, cold meats and other side dishes, juices and desserts – including a pancake and ice cream station. If that’s not enough to tempt you, there’s also a bar serving bottomless wines. Kids can enjoy their own buffet, too, and spend the afternoon in a World Cup themed play area.

The standout dish, for me, was the rich chicken curry from the towwer buffet. According to the Duty Manager, Cecilia Kimani, the quality and diversity of food at the hotel has improved since the arrival in 2017 of Executive Chef Wissem Abdellatif. Wissem, I learnt, has over 17 years of experience as a chef across Africa, Asia and Europe, and his creativity has certainly influenced the set up of the Sunday brunch.

If this has inspired you to try out their brunch, I should mention that the restaurant was quite full when I was there, so it’s probably wise to call in advance to make a reservation (0709 810 000). I should also say that it’s Ksh 4,000 per person, which I think is fair for such an indulgent experience.

The Sunday brunch actually capped off a great couple of days at the Radisson for me – my girlfriend and I were invited to stay at the hotel for the weekend. We were given a suite for the night, with a fantastic view south towards the National Park. The suites are ‘New York Mansion’ themed, with large windows, dark wooden flooring, charcoal grey furniture and turquoise walls. They are divided into two sections: an elegant lounge and a comfortable bedroom, both with widescreen TVs. Guests at this level of the hotel have access to the smart Business Class Lounge, with complimentary food and drink.

For dinner, though, we decided to try out the hotel’s fine dining restaurant – the Chop House – which specialises in African-inspired seafood and dry-aged steaks. All of their beef is sourced locally from Laikipia ranches, and their steaks are prepared in a Josper charcoal oven. The Josper is both an oven and a grill, that heats up to 500°C. Although it functions primarily as a grill, it has a front door to ensure that none of the natural moisture or flavour escapes from the food cooked in it. The flavour definitely didn’t escape from my 21 day aged fillet steak. Gabie enjoyed her Thai green curry, too – one of two main vegetarian dishes on the menu.

Before brunch the following day, we decided to treat ourselves to a massage at the hotel’s spa, the Revitalize Wellness Centre. I thought back to my last massage, in Bangkok in 2013, which was actually quite a painful experience. My fingers and toes were yanked out of their sockets, and my limbs were contorted into all manner of unnatural shapes. So this time I made sure to choose something more gentle, and opted for an hour-long Swedish massage.

We were then led into a darkened room to change into the customary nappies. Our masseuses, Emily and Grace, came back into the room as we made ourselves comfortable on the massage tables. The combination of warm oils, long soothing strokes, and relaxing harp music made for a far better experience than my traumatic Thai massage. Revitalize offer a broad range of massage, facial and body treatments, and also manage the gym at the Radisson Blu Hotel. You can visit their website, www.revitalize.co.ke, for more information. If you would like to book a room at the Radisson, they are currently offering a special East African rate of USD 150 for bed and breakfast.

Published in Kenya’s Sunday Nation