Finally! He he...This is the review for Blanco's exactly as it appeared in the Sept-Dec issue of Kenyan Kitchen.
I’m solar powered. This I discovered much to my chagrin in the last 2 months. Thanks to the reluctance of the sun to grace us with its presence, I have found myself sniffling my way into June, July and even August. Talk about Winter Kenyan style. Suffice to say that finding a place to appease my taste buds this last month or so has been nothing short of an uphill task. You see, for me eating out is figurative. A place where I can sit out in the sun, or shade when it’s too hot is as close to bliss as I can get.
And this is how I stumbled on Blanco’s. After much persuasion by a friend I agreed to go eat at the said place with threats to storm out as soon as there was a hint of cold. Located on the ground floor of Timau Plaza, the new building off Arwing’s Kodhek road, Blanco’s is not hard to find. I’m not sure if it was because both times I’ve been to this establishment it’s been early evening, but we found ample parking. A small steel staircase on the side brings you to the entrance of the restaurant, which is warm and welcoming. Earthy tones greet you as you’re ushered in by the hostess and it’s immediately evident that you can comfortably stop by Blanco’s for a casual drink, as you would for dinner.
The waiter/s, attentive and courteous are at hand with napkins and the menus which contain a different special for each day. The dishes are in Kiswahili, with an English translation, and the reason I now know that starters are called Viamsha Hamu and desserts Vitinda Mlo. As usual, my first option (call me unadventurous if you will) is Fish Fillet. Our waiter, very well versed in how they make Sarara ya Samaki, approved of my choice and recommended that I order my fish with Blanco’s Special Source. I like to be surprised so I settled on Chipsi za Mseto, a very interesting sounding medley of arrowroots, cassava, sweet and regular potatoes. My dinner companion, who believes the proof is in the beef ordered Char grilled Fillet Steak, with the day’s mashed potatoes (aside: if you're looking for a more authentic African taste, matumbo ya kukaangwa (stir fry tripe) is a perfect choice). After the excitement of making our orders, we sat back and truly appreciated the relaxing ambience; from the rich colors, metal sculptures, wall murals, everything blended together perfectly. The main dining areas can comfortably sit parties of two, even up to 10, and they are arranged such that privacy is guaranteed. There are also a few tables on the outside, the perfect place to sit when you want to feel a bit of breeze on your face or when the sun makes its advent.
In no time, our food is ready and we have accumulated enough of an appetite to dig in straight away. And we are not disappointed. To start with, the chef must have flair for detail; the dish is so visually appealing that you want to just look at it and not spoil the perfect symmetry. But my hunger pangs remind me yet again why I’m here. My Fish Fillet, fresh and soft, is a dream to dig into. And I am truly pleasantly surprised by the medley of arrowroot, sweet potato and cassava chips, it must be the most enjoyable plate of chips I’ve ever had! Special Blanco’s sauce and some greens and parsley on the side, and I’m heartily tucking into my meal. The stir fry tripe, served steaming hot with spring onions, string beans, ginger, and soy and accompanied by rice is also quite tantalizing. Blanco’s definitely have a way of making even bland meals (at least I though tripe was bland) with a twist to bring out a great taste. The beef, served with an interesting mashed potatoes that have a hint of ginger, sweet potato and margarine is also quite rich. We however recommended that the chef use butter instead of margarine as the latter taste can get a bit overwhelming. I love that Blanco’s pay so much attention to the main meals and the accompaniments alike. Dessert comes too fast, as it is with the nicer things. I settle on a fruit salad, and this is probably my only disappointment. Opting not to have ginger syrup, the fruit is a bit bland; apple, pineapple, melon and slightly bitter mango. My friends have chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, and I end up eating half of theirs after snubbing my dessert.
Sitting back with the freshest passion juice I have drank yet, and listening to the strains of piped jazz, I’m pleased with myself. Will I be coming back to Blanco’s? Most definitely. Lovely ambience, great service and reasonable prices; you can get a great dish for 1000 bob as well as one for just below 500, a place you can easily hang out with friends, or with your whole family. Or you can just go in for coffee while waiting out Nairobi traffic. Really, what’s not to like?
Jade on Patrol, Kenyan Kitchen Sept - Dec 07
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Additional info: There's also a Blanco's lounge, which is separate from the restaurant, but they serve alcohol in the restaurant too. Prices for beers range about 120-150, cocktails 300-450, hot and cold beverages 150-300. Basically, the drinks prices are pocket friendly.