Being a vegan in Nairobi is not exactly a good thing if you enjoy eating out. In recent days some restaurants here and there have decide to acknowledge our existence or at least care enough about vegetarians and we get to ride on that. Whenever I go out, I end up eating fries or rice and veggies. Don’t get me started on drinks, as a teetotaler I am always offered soda (I am not crazy about) or juices with very high concentration of sugar(also not crazy about). So, when Mwende Ngao invited me to join her for dinner at the Nairobi Serena Hotel for #SeaFoodFriday, I was a bit skeptical as I had no idea what they would offer me.
Every Friday, the Nairobi Serena Hotel hosts a Sea Food buffet with 8 courses from 7pm to midnight at Café Maghreb for Ksh. 4,500 per person. I know you are probably wondering, why is this vegan going on about seafood? Let’s get down to it, you’ll see what I mean.
On this particular Friday, Mwende and I decided to check into the Nairobi Serena Hotel an hour before the buffet opened to at least grab a drink. We found ourselves at the Aksum Bar, a beautifully decorated space with a good vibes only type of feel. Aesthetically pleasing wall art inspired by the former Kingdom of Aksum which spread across present day Ethiopia and Eritrea. This is not a bend over type of bar but a space that is great for a drink with your girls as you catch up, with your significant other or even with your family. The atmosphere accommodates conversations unlike most bars and serves you some beautiful jazz tunes by a live band. Under the umbrellas (zantela) hanging from the ceiling, Mwende enjoyed a glass of Chardonnay while I sipped on some Rosy Pippin, a mocktail I had no idea existed before this day. To be honest, their mocktail list is the longest I have seen so far. They offer a wide variety for teetotalers. Turns out a virgin mojito is not the only mocktail in the world. For pocket friendly prices you can enjoy several drinks without breaking the bank, mocktails ranging from Ksh 350 to Ksh. 500 and alcoholic drinks between Ksh.600 to Ksh 1100.
We walked over to the poolside bar through a stunningly lit garden for some cocktails before diving into the buffet. Mwende enjoyed a glass of Dr. Baraza, a spin-off of the usual Dawa drink served in most coffee joints with some strawberries and of course alcohol and I enjoyed the Green Alien mocktail. Dr. Baraza is a creation by one of the bartenders at the Nairobi Serena and it has become an in-house signature drink. The cocktails here range from Ksh. 350 to Ksh. 900 and their list is quite expansive which means you will definitely find something that suits your taste buds.
The Nairobi Serena décor is in line with a Pan-African theme that can be experienced throughout the hotel. Each space representing/inspired by a certain region in Africa. Café Maghreb is no different. Walking in, you are awestruck by classic Moroccan designs on the walls in patterns and even metallic ornaments. Colourful handwoven mats hang on wooden planks to serve a dividers. The atmosphere in Café Maghreb is very chilled out and inviting. Perfect for a dinner party.
We were fortunate enough to meet the Executive Chef John Getanda who walked us through the buffet which included a stir fry station with all fresh ingredients, Indian cuisine, grilled fish, salads and even dessert. I was very impressed at how fresh their vegetables were. At the stir fry stand, I got to choose the vegetables I wanted as well as pasta which the chefs prepared while I waited. They offered 3 kinds of pasta sauce. A tomato based one, milk/cream based one and of course one for the chilli lovers. This station is not exclusive to vegetarians or vegans as you can also choose the type of fish or meat you would like to be added to your stir fry.
I went for pasta and a variety of vegetables prepared in tomato sauce, if I didn’t need to satisfy my sweet tooth, I’d have gone back for a second serving but the dessert table was calling me.
The dessert stand had baked goodies as well as fruits. I am a sucker for fruits. I chose to have a mix of the baked goodies as well as some fruits. I opted for a Papaya slice, pineapple crumble (it beats mine), mango mousse and some melted chocolate.
My first Serena experience was one to write home about. I plan to invite Nick for a sea food dinner as this is something he would be in to. If you are a fan of seafood this should be on your must try list.