FOOD: Fancy dining at Colobus Grill

Saturday November 9 2019

Colobus Grill Restaurant.

Colobus Grill Restaurant. An open view kitchen allows guests to watch the chefs at work preparing gourmet meals. PHOTO | COURTESY 

KARI MUTU
By KARI MUTU
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The Colobus Grill, a gourmet cuisine restaurant that opened early this year at The Fairmont Mt Kenya Safari Club, located on the slopes of Mt Kenya, is a pleasant surprise.

The snazzy elegance of the restaurant features a copper ceiling, leather seat booths, rich green upholstery and contemporary fixtures.

We sat at a table by big windows that face the hotel’s courtyard garden, favoured by resident peacocks. The window flower boxes were planted with cooking herbs, as were the clay pots that decorated the interior box shelves.

Like the diverse menu, the clientele were a mix of local residents and visitors from around the world. An open view kitchen allowed guests to watch the chefs at work preparing gourmet meals.

Executive chef Kiran Ramsaran describes his menu as high quality international dishes with local influences. He adds that the menu may vary from week to week depending on what vegetables and fruits are in season.

Earlier in the day, I passed by the hotel’s vegetable garden tended by local women who then sell the produce to the hotel. The initiative takes tourism benefits to the neighbouring community.

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Browsing through the menu, there was a range of classical dishes based on Kenyan ingredients, such as quinoa salad with chargrilled sweet potato, braised lamb, Mt Kenya trout with asparagus and caviar aubergine, and slow cooked beef farmed in the Timau region north of Nanyuki.

Even the Colobus mighty burger, with a homemade beef patty, has been fancied up with a brioche bun and onion compote. All menu items are conveniently tagged with icons for vegetarian, dairy, nuts, gluten and other possible food intolerances.

It gets chilly at night in Nanyuki so a bowl of pumpkin veloute garnished with an edible nasturtium flower was the perfect start to my meal.

The thick creamy soup with a buttery smoothness warmed me up nicely. I followed this with a delicious appetiser of smoked salmon, avocado and tomatoes, whose flavour was pleasantly intensified by horseradish. The fried panko crispy goat cheese and berries is said to be a favourite starter for many clients.

From the grill selection of steaks, baby chicken and lamb chops, I chose an ostrich steak popular for its low calorie but high protein content. I chose a pepper sauce, while my dinner companion opted for a peri peri sauce for the grilled jumbo prawns.

The medium-cooked ostrich steak was sublime, with a side of mashed potatoes and the greens that were grown in the kitchen garden. The recommended wine was a merlot, whose soft and slightly fruity flavour paired well with the subtle flavour of the meat.

Ostrich steak served at the Colobus Grill restaurant.

Ostrich steak served at the Colobus Grill restaurant. PHOTO | KARI MUTU | NMG

We took a breather after the hearty main course before delving into dessert. The waiter crumbed the table and placed fresh cutlery, a continuation of the excellent table service and attention to detail through the meal.

It’s hard to go wrong with Colubus Grill’s homemade ice cream selection, which included unique flavours like avocado, pumpkin and chocolate.

I was not disappointed by the beetroot ice cream that had an interesting flavour I could not identify. “Feta cheese”, Chef Kiran explained later. The feta is homemade, from milk bought from the nearby goat farms.

For a warm pudding, the grilled pineapple sprinkled with cinnamon is sweet and simple, and I also toyed with the idea of a lemon tart.

After dinner we retired to the hotel lounge by the fireplace where the barman come by to serve up much-needed digestifs. General manager Laurent Chadet says they want to bring back the prestige that Mt Kenya Safari Club once enjoyed. The Colobus Grill is reviving that reputation.