Wondering where to head for brunch this weekend? Soni Adriance shares her top three cafés with a little afro-twist.
Photos by Karan Khalsa
In any major city, brunch is a cornerstone of any weekend. It’s the late morning into early afternoon opportunity to catch up with friends, exchange weekend antics and, to be frank, a socially acceptable excuse to have a drink before noon. Nairobi is full of good weekend brunch spots perfect for everything from bottomless food and drinks to tried and true cafes. When the weather is as good as it has been, how can you pass on an opportunity to dine, drink and be merry in the sunshine? In recent years, a few stand out quirky brunch options have sprung up around the city. If you’re looking for a different brunch experience, one that offers unique cuisines or allows for a pleasant Sunday morning drive, here are three spots you’ll want to check out:
When six of my closest friends from university told me they would be visiting Nairobi over Christmas, Wasp & Sprout was
immediately added to our to-do list. I knew it was the perfect outdoor café to take them to for a relaxed Sunday plan. Being from Brooklyn, they would appreciate the African hipster vibe and the Instagrammable granola served layered in a mason jar. Weekends are generally busy at Wasp & Sprout so we booked our table in advance and enjoyed a couple of Bloody Marys and Rosemary Gin Fizz cocktails sporting big sunglasses and small hangovers.
The restaurant buzzed with young couples and groups of friends chatting over Baghdad Eggs and Sweet Potato Waffles while waiters, trying to keep up with demand, darted between tables and dogs off leashes. Chris, one of the personable owners of the café went table to table greeting guests. Chris is the kind of person who will remember your name and order on your second visit, making you feel right at home. This cozy neighbourhood café is popular for good reason and if you are looking for a leisurely brunch plan, this would be it.
Even with the assistance of Google Maps, The Nook is hard to find. A small SQ in an apartment complex in Kilimani has been converted into a cozy café, open from Wednesdays to Sundays with a menu that changes weekly. Every Tuesday, The Nook releases their themed menu on Facebook. I had heard a bit about The Nook from friends in the know and decided to check it out one Sunday morning. I was lucky to get a seat as with a capacity of about 20 people, the restaurant is often fully booked on weekends. When I arrived, all the courtyard seating (around 6 seats) were taken or reserved so my date and I sat in what I imagine would be a bedroom with two small tables in it.
The themed menu of the week was Vietnamese and for Ksh 1,000 I got a brunch meal and drink: beef pho and a green tea latte. As we wrapped up our meal, my date looked at me and said, “That was really cool! We should check out the next menu on Tuesday and come back another weekend,” which is when I realised this spot will up your cool factor. Come here with adventurous friends or someone you want to impress.
People often ask how I find the restaurants I go to and the honest answer is: friends, the Internet and Instagram. Crave Kitchen was one of those spots that I had seen a couple of people post about and one or two friends had insisted I try. Crave is an unassuming restaurant in Kikuyu off the Southern Bypass. The storefront blends in with its surroundings and unless you know it’s there (or you’re paying close attention) you might miss it. The interior is dark and reminiscent of the many kibandas found in the neighbourhood. Simple wooden furniture lines the large open space and towers of pastries, fresh baked goods and bitings line the counter.
By all accounts, Crave Kitchen may be a kibanda; you’ll eat your fill for less than Ksh 500 per person over brunch, ordering a main, side and three drinks. Ifthat seems like an oddly specific example, it’s because it is. I ordered one of the best omelets I have ever had (the ratio of egg to veggies was at least 1:3), a side of pancakes, juice, water and coffee all for Ksh 390! When
I sat down and read the menu I honestly thought there may have been a misprint and some zeros were missing. As much
as the kibanda storefront prevails, there is a Western (or hipster) approach to the aesthetic and operation of the business. If it wasn’t as much of a drive, I’d be here during the week, working on my laptop or just enjoying a cup of coffee and people watching. If you’ve got the time, I’d recommend taking a drive out to pay Crave a visit for delicious food on a budget.
While these spots may not be as quirky, we can’t mention brunch and not include:
If you know me, you know About Thyme is a staple in my brunch arsenal. The salmon omelette has never let me down nor has the lush green Down Thyme garden. It’s an oasis in Nairobi where I escape to for some quiet and a hearty meal.
I don’t think there’s a more sophisticated brunch feeling than a basket of assorted French pastries and a steaming hot cup of coffee. Add a glass of champagne and now it’s a deleted scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Sitting on the balcony of Le Grenier having brunch just feels like you’ve got your life together and sometimes that’s all the reassurance you need to fight the Sunday scaries.
River Café is so popular that if you show up on a Sunday without a reservation they’ll forewarn you that you may only have your table for 1.5 hours. Luckily, that’s more than enough time as the service is quick. Their brunch/lunch menu is vast but
I’d recommend the Eggs Benedict, a classic that’s never let me down at this spot.