Nu Nairobi’s little gem
Our writer explores brunch options at a Nairobi restaurant and is surprised to find unique mix of African and European dishes served with art décor in the background
When we talk about little hidden gems of restaurants, most would assume they are only found out of town centres and tucked away in the suburbs. However, a foodie at heart knows how to uncover a few gems in or near Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD).
Lava Latte, located on State House Road, is one of such gems. Walking into the eatery, at first you might think you are at an art garage, with no restaurant in sight.
It has an art area, but you have to take a walk through to find the restaurant that almost feels like a backyard of a house in the leafy suburbs of Karen. It’s a hippie café, ideal for the urban crowd, dubbed Nu Nairobi.
The décor is rustic, with a modern touch and feel, as you can tell by the use of colourful chairs and wooden tables. They also have a cosy couch in the main sitting area, idea for an intimate meet up. In case you think you are lost, what your eye won’t miss is the personified Lava Latte tea bag on the walls.
In the main sitting area, there is an artistic dominant piece bearing the outlook of a beautiful African woman, with an Afro hairstyle. I was surprised when I found out later that it was done by my former high school classmate. We sat in the same art class for four years, but don’t ask me where my art pieces sit! Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t take Home Science classes instead.
What I appreciated most about this restaurant is how simple, yet intimate it is. If I was to choose between this and a lavish restaurant with many branches, I would probably go for Lava Latte.
When it comes to matters of the stomach, I learnt, this spot makes sure you have a healthy meal while away from home. I tried their new brunch menu and I must say it was worth that ride up State House road on a weekend.
So, the three of us, all foodies took on three different dishes. You see the brunch at Lava latte is a bit different; there is no buffet set-up, but it’s quick to order. Also, they have a specific menu for it, which has both dishes found in the lunch and breakfast menus.
On the table we had fried chicken and waffles, chicken avocado (avo) wraps and avocado bacon egg toast, all served with fried cuts of sweet potato. You can probably guess what my choice was, which is obviously predictable (I don’t joke when it comes to matters meat). I love bacon, but I wasn’t sure of that combo.
Chicken and waffles, chicken and pancakes both satisfy my pallet. The pancakes and fried chicken combo work because the pancakes are fluffy, the chicken is not too salty and the salt balances the sugar in the pancakes.
I loved the crunchy and crispy nature of the chicken in the pancakes, which meets the soft character of the pancakes. I also had a chance to taste the other two dishes ordered by my foodie partners. Between the chicken wrap and the avo toast, I definitely loved the toast. The spread of avocado helps when chewing through the fried egg and bacon. It’s also one of those dishes you can easily make at home and is so filling. The chicken wrap was also good, only I guess I prefer my chicken without any avocado spread. The sweet potato (ngwaci or viazi vitamu) cuts were a first for me in a Nairobi restaurant; usually, the option is potato French fries.
They tasted good, especially with a sauce dip. Also make sure you have it with a cup of tea or a soup, because they tend to be dry, especially since they are oven baked. Prices here are pocket-friendly, raging from Sh700 to Sh1,100. Nothing to damage your pocket.