I have been to The Hilton Hotel Nairobi too many times to count, yet if someone asked me which restaurants are in the Hilton, I wouldn’t have a clue. This is because my visits there have mainly been to the conference rooms on the first floor. So it was that when I got a call from them inviting me for lunch, I realised I had no idea what Hilton had to offer. Intrigued, I grabbed two of my colleagues and headed there one Thursday afternoon.
The Hilton Nairobi is one of the oldest buildings in the city and serves as a landmark for those unfamiliar with the capital. Upon entering, one is immediately struck by the vintage bicycle cart design feature and a reception staff who appear to have worked there for a solid number of years.
The Hilton Nairobi has four restaurants. Cafe American, located next to the lobby, is the place for coffees, teas, pastries, sandwiches and other light snacks. Themed around classic Hollywood, pictures of actors and actresses from the 50s to 70s adorn the walls.
The main restaurant, Travellers, serves international cuisine. Living up to its name, antique suitcases and travel bags decorate the walls as do an assortment of vintage tools which include sewing machines and metal sieves. Even more nostalgic is a section of the restaurant whose design resembles seats in a train, complete with luggage space on top. Elsewhere in the hotel, their Italian restaurant, Sale e Pepe comes with a wood oven for pizzas.
On the topmost floor of the Hilton is the Pool Garden restaurant, where we have been invited to have our lunch. The patio setup features hanging flower baskets, flower pots, a bar and a swimming pool. We have been invited for an exclusive tasting of a selection of new dishes that Executive Chef John Muriithi intends to include in the new menu. To start, we are served a Caesar salad with sautéed garlic prawns, asparagus with gribiche dressing and mursik cheese; smoked salmon with crushed avocado on toasted rye bread and fried chicken wings served with tomato and barbecue sauce. Both the salmon and the chicken wings are cleared from our plates in no time.
Smoked salmon with crushed avocado on toasted rye breadOur mains include: medium rare beef fillet steak, baked salmon, grilled lemon chicken breast and spiced pork chops, all served with chips or potatoes to our liking. The pork chops, Chef John tells us, are from the shoulder and not the more commonly-used loin. He explains that his reason for using meat from the shoulder is because it doesn’t dry up. It is a flavourful dish, mildly spiced and the hint of rosemary made the meal more pleasant.
Dessert includes bite-sized baked cheesecake, chocolate macaroons which we all agree would have been a treat had they been softer, mini lemon meringue pie and homemade chocolate petit fours. Stuffed as we are, we exit the Hilton happy and satisfied to have been guests of this not so hidden spot.
Winnie Wangui was a guest of the Hilton Pool Garden Restaurant