It is unusual to find a fine-dining restaurant outside of a hotel in Nairobi, much less at what was once a farm. Located in the Garden Estate neighbourhood on the outskirts of Nairobi is 45 Degrees Kitchen.
Chef Harold Sena-Akoto from Ghana brings his 30 years of experience to the restaurant. The menu is fine-dining American with elements of African dishes and influences from Italy and France, where he trained in the culinary arts.
To get to the restaurant, you have to navigate through a dense commercial zone by the Thika Highway.
There are tables indoors, but since the weather was sunny and warm, most guests sat outdoors and on the rugged veranda. The red concrete floors, tall potted plants and soft music drifting in add to the comfortable, rustic ambience of the place. Harold and his wife Rose frequently come out to mingle with guests, a gesture that made us feel right at home.
I was part of a group that went for Sunday lunch, so we shared some plates of starters. The ones that stood out for me were the spinach tortellini with porcini mushroom sauce and the tempura fried chicken with avocado salad and teriyaki glaze. If it was a cold day, I would have tried the beef consommé with chives, which has received good reviews.
For the main course, I chose the Ghanaian-style tilapia with spicy tomato sauce, plantain chips and rice. It tasted wonderful, although it had a little too much tomato sauce. My plate was full, as I should have been satisfied with just one starch.
I also sampled, from other plates, the pan-fried salmon with saffron caper cream, and the Kenyan beans and mashed potatoes, which were tender and delicious.
I usually don’t like the flavour of duck, but their pan-fried duck breast with orange glaze, jasmine rice and bok choy is not too strong.
“Visitors to Kenya look forward to trying items from the African Story selection of the menu,” said Rose, who is the co-owner. She said they particularly like the fisherman’s stew, which has red snapper, lobster, shrimp, coconut milk and local spices, and the giant-cut ribeye steak from Morendat, a renowned local beef ranch.
The menu has suggestions for pairing wines with the starters, main courses and dessert. The wine list featured South African options as well as private collections from Italy, France and California.
Since 45 Degrees works on an “ingredient driven menu” with vegetables from their organic garden, the menu can change from week to week. There are several non-meat items, and a four-course vegetarian menu complete with wine suggestions.
The food portions are generous so I was too full to try dessert. But I think I would have picked the flourless chocolate cake with chocolate dipped strawberries.
45 Degrees Kitchen is ideal for a date, a special celebration or an extended meal with the family on the weekend. The children in our group quickly ate their pizzas, pasta, crispy matchstick potatoes and then went off to make chalk drawings and play in the bocce ball court.
“We have an increased number of customers who are tourists on safari, deviating from their hotel lunch and dinner itineraries,” said Rose.
Appetisers start at Ksh1,100 ($11) and main courses range between Ksh3,000 ($30) and Ksh4,500 ($45), and a bottle of wine from Ksh4,500 ($45) to Ksh9,000 ($90).
The good service, ambience and great food make it real value for money.