I may be a woman who wants my food ‘right now,’ but from time to time, I’m happy to play the waiting game, especially when it comes to great comfort food. Even if it means spending some minutes convincing men in uniform, with a confused face, that really, I didn’t break any traffic laws – just one of the few quirky things you will discover and come to find amusing at Aero Club of East Africa Restaurant.
The first time I ate Neil McCarthy’s food, in the swanky boutique Tribe Hotel, I thought it was a thing of beauty. It was drenched with finesse, but also robust and was decidedly masculine. And now, at a time when everybody seems to be pimping fine dining, McCarthy’s burgers and a classic diner menu is making new waves in Nairobi.
Nestled inside the “home to aviation in Kenya,” Aero Club of East Africa has been at the heart of all private and commercial light aircraft activities since 1927. Wilson Airport is still the busiest light aircraft airport in Africa and remains the home to the glamourous spirit of aviation, and now, delicious grub.
Holding the clipboard of pages of our flight plan, rather our menu, I blushed with excitement. Hot dogs, burgers, wraps, salads, fish and chips, apple pie and even nyama choma – no truly greedy person could ever have the self-control, the simple moral rectitude necessary for holding back. Greedy for a grand foot-long hot dog and a mouth-watering burger, I could not hold back. At the sight of these bad boys arriving to the table, only a simple thought came to mind: I must and will conquer you, both.
There was the Roasted Tomato and Basil soup (Sh 550) with three delicious and aromatic pieces of homemade garlic bread. Apricot-glazed Dry Fry Buffalo Chicken Wings (Sh550) with a yoghurt herb dip were small in size, but splendid in flavour. The popular Slow Roasted Chicken & Avocado Salad (Sh 850) was a refreshing and light starter. Tender strips of chicken, slowly roasted for about three hours, delectably laid on top of a bed of crispy lettuce, avocado and black olives.
Reminiscent of the size of an American classic, the foot long hot dog, Aero Club’s The Really Hot Dog (Sh 750) and its double choma sausages is the next-best-thing in Kenya. Slightly smoky, topped with homemade tomato chilli relish, mayonnaise and melted cheddar; one bite brings back nostalgic childhood memories of watching a Major League Baseball game. The Tusker Beer Battered Red Snapper (Sh 950) served with hand cut chips, coleslaw and tarter sauce was a crispy package of moist and flaky fish. Then there was the Timau Lamb Burger (Sh 1,050) smeared with an unctuous condiment full of baba ghanoush, minted yoghurt and feta cheese. The delicious tower was speared together with an over-sized toothpick branded Creative Kitchen, and removing the tiny flag from the burger felt like a momentous accomplishment, liken to capturing your enemy’s flag from their barracks. It demanded to be gulped direct from plate to mouth – ultimate satisfaction.
For dessert, the Warm Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream (Sh 550) plumped up our tummies some more, puddling over with comfort. The New York Style Passion Fruit Cheese Cake (Sh 500) was velvety. And then the deep, luscious Caramel Bananas arrived with ice cream. Again, my greed took over me…it was a bowl full of maternal instincts.
Incidentally, Aero Club of East Africa Restaurant is clearly the hip thing in Nairobi right now. Currently ranked second on Tripadvisor, I hear people are whispering about their Eggs Benedict and flocking to Wilson Airport for Sunday brunch. Sit outside in the shady garden, and watch aircraft land at the busy airport. Opened daily to the public from 6am to 6pm for non-members, police checks and separate bills from the club-owned bar won’t stop hungry diners from rediscovering this culinary gem.