It’s been a while since I’ve come across a garden like this one, Tipuana Gardens. But, with a name like that, expecting anything less than a serene and lush masterpiece would make me a fool.
Tipuana Gardens is a picturesque restaurant in Nairobi’s leafy Karen neighbourhood, realized in acres of gardens and open spaces, spacious parking and cottage-like décor. It occupies a generous plot across from Bomas, dreaming only of ambiance fit for romantic movies in the park.
The menu, sealed with an embossed piece of leather, reads a bit of everything. Tipuana Gardens claims to be a “fine-dining” restaurant, a proclamation that I would consider to be embellished, but the eatery definitely offers a posh yet laid-back experience.
With the exception of dessert, Tipuana Gardens’ cuisine samples deliciously well, and for those who appreciate friendly portions, theirs was generous. For this standard of cooking, the prices were as gentle as a caress. The staff was well-mannered, helpful and passionate. The generous deck and patio seating, lounge and private rooms created an intimate setting. The charming cabin-like building and its original wood-burning fireplace glowed of an atmosphere, as everything else, unique.
To start, the large creamy bowl of Carrot and Ginger Soup (Kshs 300) arrived velvety smooth, finished with a drizzle of fresh crème. The ginger, adding a delicious ‘Je Ne Sais Pas’ to an otherwise simple and hearty soup, was subtle.
The Tipuana Seafood Platter (Kshs 2,350) comfortably fed four with succulent king prawns, crispy fish fingers and calamari – all fresh from the closest bodies of water. There was the neighbourhood favourite, Tipuana Chicken Wings (Kshs850), tossed in a savoury sauce highlighted with fresh coriander, served with a mixed salad and golden French fries. The Brown Rice Paella added a nice healthy twist to the Spanish favourite of mouthwatering medley of spices, juicy prawns and smoky sausages. However, it lacked the flavours and texture that only cooking in a two-handled cast-iron skillet could give.
The surprising favourite was the plate of Margret of Duck Confit (Kshs 1,050) on a bed of aromatic caramelized red cabbage and surrounded by droplets of reduced red wine syrup. The flesh of the bird – tender and fragrant – tasted of herbs and patient preparation. Unlike most duck dishes, this one was far from drowning the palate of richness – a perfect balance of savoury and flavourful.
Memorable food, great service, and the priceless sense of serenity; the only thing to suffer at this great place is your patience from all of the road construction. If you can handle it, or you’re in the neighbourhood, then a visit to Tipuana Gardens, aside from attending events and weddings, is definitely long overdue.
More photos continued…