Susan Wong falls in love when she brunches at About Thyme. Delicious food, great service, good friends and a bottle of G.H. Mumm Brut on ice are all the ingredients for a perfect brunch.
The familiar clink of elegant champagne flutes is followed by at first, some subtle lip-smacking and then a harmonious declaration, “So good!” with agreeable nods all around the table. With my eyes hidden behind my sunglasses, the sleepiness still weighing down my eyelids, being in the presence of like-minded people on a Sunday morning, is one of the best comforts life can offer. After a long week or perhaps an eventful evening, critical thinking or challenging conversations perhaps are not the most ideal ways to begin the final day of the weekend; but an effortless brunch sure is.
Stress seems to disappear with the uncorking of a bottle of chilled champagne: unwrapping of the foil, removal of the metal cage by untwisting each wire loop six times gently, deliberately and slowly. With each decisive effort to pop a great bottle of champagne, in this case an easy to drink G.H. Mumm Brut, your stresses and worries seem to fade into the distance. With each sip, dancing fine bubbles hypnotize you and tingle your palette with overwhelming pleasure; almost similar to when one falls in love – slowly at first, but all at once at the same time.
Falling in love can be easier for some, but when you find the right partner, everything falls into place. As for my chilled flute of G.H. Mumm Brut – refreshing, bright, fruity and harmonious on the palette – it found its match with the faultless Sunday brunch menu at Nairobi’s About Thyme.
My companions began with fresh juices, Mango with Ginger and Tree Tomato – both incredibly refreshing and delicious. With our healthy fixes taken care of, we indulged in a crepe, which arrived with salted caramel sauce drizzled on the delicately-thin crepes, filled generously with walnuts and bananas and accompanied by whipped cream.
There was a beautiful and vivid plate of Eggs Benedict with Asparagus. The softly poached eggs jiggled with the movement of the plate and piercing them with my fork revealed a stream of golden yolk. The emerald green asparagus were young and tender. The classic Hollandaise sauce was perfectly creamy and subtly tart, and the toasted English Muffin honeycombed with beautiful air bubbles, warm and soft to the bite.
The omelette encapsulated layers of ripe avocado slices, smoked salmon, Mascarpone, and spring onions – each morsel was a wonderful combination of flavours and textures. At first the omelette was overwhelming in size, but nearing the final bites, one would realize that it was so delicious that they wanted more, even if it meant being completely stuffed.
The Mediterranean Baked Eggs, which requires about 25 minutes to prepare, arrived with softened chickpeas lining the bottom of the casserole, black olives and peppers in a rich tomato sauce and finally topped with feta and a couple of eggs. This colourful and comforting dish reminded me of the Israeli specialty Shakshuka. The flavours were straight-forward but its simplicity really showcased the individual ingredients. Together, the casserole was too much for the warm pita bread – you needed a lot more to soak-up all of that delicious sauce!
The romance didn’t end at the food and champagne. Our table was nestled amongst lush ferns in the mature garden of About Thyme. With twelve years to their credit already, this was definitely home to one of the more beautiful and full gardens at a restaurant in Nairobi – dining al fresco is certainly one of the draws of this charming eatery. Above us were beautiful glass mosaic lanterns. Oscar, our waiter who had been working at About Thyme for more than four years, was attentive, patient, soft spoken, and had a quiet reassurance about him. He was never intrusive, but was always present.
And that’s how you have brunch – fall in love. Fall in love with the combination of two meals: breakfast and lunch. Lust over the food, champagne, surroundings and service. There’s a strong case to be made for spending a lazy afternoon with great company, incredible food and storied champagne. In fact, I urge and challenge you to make brunching an event because wouldn’t the world be a better place if we had more traditions based on falling in love more often?