When one sees “brasserie” in the name of a restaurant, “elegant” does not necessarily come to mind. Brasseries, although they do serve wine and other alcoholic beverages, tend to be unpretentious, small restaurants or cafes that serve simple food.
However, the Pango Brasserie, located in the quiet haven of Nairobi’s trendy Fairview Hotel, is a stylish eatery. Scratch that: the décor is stunning, from the intricate wood-inlay mosaic of ocean fish on one wall to the doors opening over the garden.
In the taxi on the way to the Fairview, I was a bit worried. The hotel’s neighbors include the Kenya Bureau of Prisons and other government offices — completely deserted after business hours. Once through the front gates, however, it was all tropical foliage and birdsong on the Fairview’s five acre site.
At my table, I was offered a complementary glass of wine (their wine cellar is the stuff of legend). When the staff noticed that I’d taken out my flashlight to read the menu, they brightened the overhead lights and brought me an amuse bouche of strawberry gazpacho. A basket of tasty house-made breads was accompanied by olive oil and vinegar, not butter.
Choosing from the menu of “rustic contemporary” options was difficult, but I decided to start with a green salad festooned with diced dates, chopped pecans, matchstick slivers of green apple and crumbles of blue cheese. Yum! My main course — duck with a fruit glaze– was perfectly cooked, and came garnished with a tiny puff pastry duck.
I couldn’t resist dessert: the crêpes Suzette were flambéed table-side, just as they would have been in an elegant 1950s stateside restaurant, and served with Grand Marnier-flavored ice cream.
The Pango is a bit on the expensive side: expect to pay at least 2500 KES for dinner.