The farm-to-table concept is popular these days, the idea of sourcing local produced, organic ingredients, prepared in imaginative ways. The one restaurant that really gets this is Cultiva Kenya in Nairobi.
Cultiva, located in Karen, was recently refurbished and has reopened after the Covid shutdown, and I really like the new look. It is a warehouse structure akin to an oversize greenhouse, with spacious interiors and plenty natural light from translucent roofing sheets.
Too pretty to eat
Cultiva’s menu is a fusion of South American and international dishes, with lots of fresh ingredients and a noticeable influence of Asian cooking. A stone pizza oven at the kitchen fires up smoky flavoured pizzas. Microgreens in pans grow on the kitchen counter.
For starters, whose pricing averages between Ksh900 ($8.2) and Ksh1,200 ($11), we chose a platter to share, of vegetarian Aya of avocado, lentils, Korean kimchi and tofu cubes. It was garnished with rucola leaves and colourful petals of edible flowers, and served with thick slices of oven charred bread. The dish was almost too pretty to be eaten but I’m glad we did as it was delicious.
All starters are served on locally woven flat baskets. Other options include a mezze of Mediterranean dips and breads, and an Italian platter of cold cuts and burrata cheese.
Afterwards, the Baked Camembert topped with microgreens, and the sweet and savoury mix of flavours was delightful. Then Pork Wantons (stuffed Chinese dumplings) in a clear sauce, so delicious we ordered a round of Chicken Wontons as well. Chilled white wine was my beverage of choice and Cultiva has a nice variety of wines and spirits.
My friend enjoyed her Kingfish Ceviche very much, and the lobster is usually well received. Their latest crab dish is a bao (Chinese open bun) stuffed with crispy soft-shell crab. I say latest because they introduce new dishes regularly depending on what ingredients are in season. And since ‘you eat first with your eyes’, everything is so beautifully presented on the plates.
Recommended as a shared dish for a group are the Paella Seafood Plancha, a Spanish rice dish with seafood cooked on an iron griddle. Vegans would be delighted with options of tomato carpaccio, plant-based chicken, buckwheat soba noodles and vegan dumplings.
Dessert is a selection of home-baked sweets, sourdough pies and croissants dribbled in coloured sauces, ideal for with coffee. Main courses range between Ksh1,200 and Ksh2,000 ($18).
The Ice cream bar
Cultiva also has an ice cream bar with customised flavours like sesame and Canadian bourbon or caramel, bacon, and peanuts. I opted for a berry tart of blueberries, grapes and fresh cream, paired with a cup of dark Americano coffee.