The sun woke me early last Sunday morning. It was a day for a lunch out. And I fancied a drive. I had heard good things about the Ranch House Bistro at Lake Naivasha. In fact, anticipating the sun, I had rung the place the evening before. Someone called Lydia answered the phone. She told me it was a good idea to reserve a table. I asked her how to find the restaurant along the Moi South Lake Road. ‘That’s easy’, she said. ‘We are at the end of the tarmac.’
I enjoy driving. But the road to Naivasha is not much fun these days with all the roadworks and the many diversions. I decided to take the low road – the much steeper old road – where the views across the Rift are even more dramatic. Also, the Moi South Lake Road is badly potholed. I told Lydia when I met her that the Lake road must be better beyond the tarmac. Anyway, with all the resorts and the flower farms, the road is bound to be resurfaced before long – hopefully!
The Ranch House Bistro is one of the facilities of La Pieve Village, with its farms and a farm shop. Before you reach it you pass the Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary, so I was not surprised to see zebras grazing on the grass verges or to glimpse a young impala leaping across the road. Lydia told me that there are also lions and leopards in the sanctuary, as well as the less common Grevy’s zebras. There are two lodges: Chui Lodge and Kiangazi House. All these are imaginative and conservation-conscious spinoffs of the Oserian flower farms founded by Hans Zwager in the early 1980s – known as the pioneer of Kenya’s flower export industry.
I arrived at the Bistro at mid-day. There were no other guests. So I teasingly asked Lydia why she had advised me to reserve a table. But she was vindicated by the place being quite full by the time I left two hours later. ‘It’s because of the good food and superb ambiance,’ she said.
As for the food, I reckon Lydia is also right. I chose one of the specials: the Traditional Cumberland Sausage & Mash, served with mashed potatoes and onion gravy. (Just the other day, one of our cheeky young staff said that in her community mashed potatoes is for children and old men.) I could have had less English-style dishes, such as the Homemade Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli or the Whole Baked Camembert on Focaccia, baked with garlic and drizzled with honey.
My disappointment was I was so replete with the sausage and mash that I had no room for one of my favourite desserts – the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which the menu promised to be a ‘secret family recipe of date sponge served warm with a toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream or farm fresh cream’. Or I could have indulged myself with High Tea English Scones, served with homemade strawberry jam and Jersey cream.
About the ambiance of the place there can be no doubt. The building is, yes, an old ranch house. There are shaded tables set out on the terrace and on the lawn, from where, as shown in the photo, you have a view of the sister lake of Naivasha – Lake Oloiden.
If you would like more information, the website is oseriantwolakes.com. Or you can ring 0700-488475. And, by the way, I learnt too late that a less frustrating drive to Naivasha, avoiding the roadworks, would have been to take the Banana Hill Road, passing the Kentmere Club and joining the Nakuru Road just before Limuru – checking the route on Google Maps. I know there’s no accounting for taste, but I reckon very few, if any, will regret the drive for lunch at the Ranch House Bistro.
Published in Kenya’s Sunday Nation