27 March 2014

Eagle's The Steakhouse at Ole Sereni with a prelude at Black Gold Cafe at The Panari Hotel

This is the Restaurant Week meal that almost wasn't. Initially, my friend (who I've decided to nickname Hot Pastis for the purpose of this post) and I decided to visit Black Gold Cafe at the Panari hotel off Mombasa Road despite warnings from one Curry Delight that he thought the hotel was worthless and it was a waste of our time to drive all the way out towards the airport just to try out their restaurant.

Never one to take advice without experiencing something for myself, we ventured ahead. After sitting in crazy late evening Nairobi traffic, Hot Pastis and I finally arrived at our destination to discover that the restaurant was little more than a glorified cafeteria cafe with a fancified menu for the event. Strike one came quickly: despite claims that the cafe "will give it the feel of a street cafĂ© at the same time a comforting atmosphere of a game lodge as it faces the National Park", the ambiance was at best, lacking. The only view we had was of a florescent Korean Air sign and Mombasa Road. As Hot Pastis pointed out, "If I'm spending this much money on a meal, I don't want to stare at an airline sign." Strike two was close to follow and probably should have sent us running, but it was late and we were hungry. The entrance of the cafe featured a glass heater case full of meat pies and pastries that appeared to be "a bit dodgy", but we convinced ourselves that the Restaurant Week menu would be better than what was on display. Undeterred, we allowed ourselves to be seated and attempted to order a drink off the menu only to discover that just because their menu lists wines by the glass, does not mean that they will actually serve you wine by the glass. Looking around we slowly realized that of the handful of patrons in the restaurant, not one was eating. We took this as a sign and quickly skedaddled without committing to an entire bottle of wine. 

Now, I'm not saying never go to Panari. I hear they have an ice skating rink for the kids. And their website shows another restaurant, Red Garnet, that might have more promise. (It does boast a buffet option, if you're into that kind of thing.) Or if you're willing to experiment with day old pies left sitting out, in an albeit warmer case, give it a whirl and let me know how that turns out for you. 

Fortunately for us, we realized that Ole Sereni was just a hop, skip, and a jump across the highway and hightailed it over there before they closed. Located on the fourth floor, Eagle's Steakhouse, was a breath of fresh air compared to the "competition" across the road. With an actual view of the park and a lounge dining room it was noted that "at least it feels like a real restaurant". The ambiance was quite nice and you almost forget that you're in a hotel. Hot Pastis and I settled into our booth and got comfy with a glass of wine we ordered from an iPad wine list. The selection was decent and we settled on the South African Boschendal which was delightfully crisp.