In a quaint modern dining room that subliminally suggests the Parisian vibe, I hide my face in one of my favourite brunch items. After a chilly and damp evening, nothing lifts my spirits during Nairobi’s rainy season quite like a classic Eggs Benedict served on an oven-fresh, still hot to the touch, and an irresistibly flaky croissant.
Above me, dramatic chandeliers hang, whilst vintage French film posters adorn the walls. The modest yet elegant bakery and café is accentuated by pink accents and large windows wash the black granite floors with an ethereal natural light. A cute elderly couple adoringly sips on infused tea, young parents negotiate with their daughter what pastry she can have if she’s good, and a young man in a suit quietly enjoys his Americano – a lovely morning crowd.
My companion and I sit by the window – the ideal people-watching vantage point. Francophone pop and folk music hum in the background and instead of the parking exit of ABC Place, I imagine a Parisian street scene: cobblestone pathways and women cycling in their stilettos. However, I will admit that it is quite entertaining to watch drivers struggle to manoeuvre their cars once they realised they can’t pay for their parking at the exit.
Mama’s Fine French Patisserie & Bakery opened in 2013 when the new addition of ABC Place was still under construction. Its menu is French-inspired, and its strength is formidably expensive sweet treats and pastries, which its ingredients up until the moment it’s presented in the display case, have been imported from all corners of the world.
In a perfect world, I would eat my Eggs Benedict on Croissant with a Double Espresso three times a week, with no regrets and no plaque in my arteries or protruding belly. In Mama’s case, though as delicious as my Eggs Benedict was, I would stay away from the jello-like Hollandaise sauce, thankfully served on the side. There was also another breakfast classic French Toast, which arrived brown, crispy-edged, creamy on the inside, truly airy and delicately dusted with icing sugar. Served with a dollop of homemade crème fraîche, its subtle tang balancing the sweetness of the strawberry sauce, the French Toast was delicious. The French usually boast they’re the best at everything when it comes to food, and in the case of reviving “lost bread” or pain perdu, they are. On the rest of the menu, Mama’s keeps it uncomplicated. Mama’s doesn’t always duplicate its finesse from the bakery throughout the kitchen. The Bruschetta Platter of tomatoes, avocado, basil, olive tapenade, eggplant hummus, feta, mushroom with parsley seemed determined to leave no impression at all. Sandwich choices are straightforward and expand beyond the French inspiration with nine options, some with a more Mediterranean influence. The morning was saved by Mama’s pastries.
Mousse de Fraises, also known as Strawberry Mousse arrived as a pillowy rectangle in a beautiful light shade of pink and tasted of lazy summer afternoons. The Passion Fruit Cheese Cake looked exquisite and had flavours to match. The individually-sized pastries offer gourmands a taste of the good Parisian life in Nairobi whilst showcasing the finest seasonal ingredients from the region.
Mama’s offers the growing bakery and café scene in Nairobi a unique boutique culinary experience that will transport you to the streets of France. Mama’s décor is a one-of-a-kind blend of Parisian artifacts and modern interpretation. The small dining room usually hums with polite conversation from people who act like regulars. Not a big fan of the short outdoor trek to the ladies’ or gents’ thanks to the property managers. The service is practiced, and with patience, especially during peak hours, can be charming. But what keeps me coming back, especially early in the morning before they’ve sold out, are the fresh breads and croissants – their sweet and yeasty aromas still linger in my memory.
Mama’s Fine French Patisserie is located at ABC Place, Nairobi, Kenya.