If you’re an expat living in Kenya — or a tourist visiting Kenya — The Talisman is the place to dine. You’ll hear every European language spoken among the customers.
It’s a laid back and well-appointed “gastro-lounge” with comfy seating on the open patio (lots of pillows on couches) or at tables sheltered by umbrellas in the flower-filled garden.
The artwork always is worth a look, and the same kind of care is taken with the decorating details (I especially liked the iron frog-shaped burners that provided extra warmth outside on a chilly day).
The menu includes a nice selection of well-prepared dishes, drawing from European, Thai and African cuisines. When I was there, lunch options included kedgeree (my choice), their “famous” samosas (with feta and coriander), English pub-style fish and chips, an “all American hamburger with all the trimmings” and a hearty chili.
Also on the menu? Curries, braised pork belly with carrot purée, homemade gnocchi in Roquefort sauce with arugula, Zanzibar coconut seafood soup and a mixed sushi and sashimi platter.
Their fish comes from the Indian Ocean or flown in on ice from Norway, and many of the spices come from Thailand. They use farm-raised duck and vegetables from their own organic garden along with locally-sourced ingredients. Everything is made from scratch, including their own chili sauce and mustard (from mustard seeds, cider and sage).
They make their own ice creams, but there were slivers of ice in mine (I think the chef was off that day).
Unusual in Kenya, both the restaurant and bar are open continuously from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Talisman doesn’t shut down between meals (as most upscale restaurants in Nairobi do), but it is closed on Mondays. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday, the restaurant hosts an organic farmers’ market — stop by for fruits, vegetables, honey and more.