Sarova Stanley’s Thorn Tree Café unveils all-new menu

sarova stanley thorn tree cafe mango duck salad photographed by susan wong kenya

Since 1902, the Sarova Stanley has hosted some of the world’s most acclaimed luminaries including Ernest Hemingway and Gregory Peck, indulging their guest’s with great hospitality that the historic hotel has come to be known for.  And, a bit of that hospitality was once again showcased last week with the culinary team at Sarova Stanley unveiling an all-new menu at Thorn Tree Café.

The Thorn Tree Café first famed for its ‘tree mail’ – a message board that wrapped around a majestic acacia tree – has become quite the watering-hole for business executives, tourists and friends. Though the original tree has since been replaced by a younger sapling with permanent message boards shielding its trunk, Thorn Tree Café still remains the ‘heart’ of the city in many ways aside from its central location in Nairobi’s Central Business District with its old charm and historic features.

The Sarova Stanley is located on Kimathi St, CBD, Nairobi, Kenya. TEL: +254202757000

The new menu still arrives in Thorn Tree Café’s familiar leather-bound covers. Aside from a few of the restaurant’s classics like the Braised Lamb Shank and Tilapia Pili Pili, aptly listed under “Good Old Favourites,” the rest of the menu has been entirely revamped.

To begin, there was the Roast Duck and Mango Salad with Sweet Chili Sauce (KSh 1,055) that arrived with tender marinated slices of duck breast and wedges of sweet ripe mango on a bed of crisp salad leaves. The toasted sesame seeds added a delicious earthy flavour to the bright vinaigrette laced with coriander and lime juice.

The Pan-Seared Salmon (KSh 1,719) was paired with a rich basic potato mash, wilted spinach and a sweetened caramelized onion sauce. Unfortunately, I was never asked about how I would like my fish to be cooked, and what had the potential of being morsels of flavourful, pink, and supple flakes of moist salmon turned into a dry plate. An oversight by a waiter who was most likely overwhelmed by the lunch rush ended with my salmon as collateral damage – a shame.

The Beef Stew a la Bourguignone (KSh 1,219) was by far my favourite during this meal. A meal that will definitely sit-well with Kenyan palates, the old-styled sautée of diced beef is stewed in a red wine sauce slowly until tender and plump with rich flavour. I was certainly happy to see that the mushrooms and the rest of the vegetables were not overdone, their textures still intact.

The service was on the slow side with a 25 minute wait before the starters arrived. But, given that I sat down at the height of the lunch rush, an allowance is understandable within reason.

If you haven’t been to Thorn Tree Café in a while, this is definitely the perfect time to revisit and sample a well-curated new menu. The new menu is a cut above the rest of the options available in Nairobi’s CBD. Lounge and linger as you take in a little bit of Nairobi’s history at the restaurant that never stops humming of activity.

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