A New Afro-pean Menu Has Landed In Nairobi
Courtsey: Brioche Table D'hote
In this part of the world, Brioche sounds like a sassy name that a sassy mum would consider for her sassy newborn girl. It’s the kind of name that would make for great conversation starters: “So how exactly do I pronounce it?” Sassy mum would be asked. She would flash her perfect white teeth and with a wink in the eye say “Bree- Osh”. She would draw out the Breeee… and add the right measure of posh to the Osh for effect. She would relish these moments, because they would be the kind of moments that would lend credence to her sassiness.
In other parts of the world, I am not sure the name would have quite the same impact. If you lived in France for instance and called your baby girl Brioche, people would look at you a little funny. It is not every day you come across a parent who names their child after bread.
Think of Brioche as the 2.0 version of bread
Because that is exactly what Brioche is. Well, maybe not exactly. While bread is basically flour, water and yeast, Brioche includes eggs, butter and sugar i.e. all the good stuff. So it’s a kind of bread/cake/pastry. Think of Brioche as the 2.0 version of bread.
Now imagine the 2.0 version of your typical Nairobi restaurant, and give it this name– Brioche Table d'Hôte; a sensible name for a restaurant I must say, more so than for a child.
The founder of Brioche Table d'Hôte being half Rwandese and half Belgian decided to channel his roots by introducing a fusion of African and European dishes to the Nairobi dining scene. Given the dizzying rate at which this city is growing, a restaurant that caters to the highly discerning, cosmopolitan palate could not have come at a better time. With items like Waterzoi of Kuku and Brioche's Nyama Choma on the menu, this restaurant gets the attention of the curious mind open to trying out something different, something new.
On a recent visit to their Karen-based restaurant, I was introduced to their version of Chicken Mafe, a chicken stew that no self-respecting West African, will not have tried. The Brioche version is braised chicken leg with peanut sauce. Mine was served in one of those pots that come with a lid and retain all the heat throughout your meal (don’t you just hate it when your food gets cold on the table?!). It was tender, it was succulent, it tasted fresh and it offered flavours that packed a punch. It was prepared, presented and enjoyed in a way that would have made a traditional West African grandmother proud.
The chicken mafe is one of the restaurant’s new menu items along with the Salad Nicoise, Croque Monsieur, Fish Bar Victoria, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, Brioche Nyama Choma, Galette, Mozzarella Tomato Panino and Goat Stew.
Courtesy: Robert Njathika, Nairobi Now
I was curious to know why Brioche introduced so many new items on the menu after less than a year in operation. Had they been doing it all wrong? Were they rebranding or had their chef eloped? I wondered. Well as it turns out, none of the above. The revamp was necessitated by the four most important words in the service industry: listen. to. the. customer.
Feedback was solicited, considered and executed. Promptly.
Indeed, when you walk into Brioche Table d'Hôte, you feel like you matter. Not in the way our politicians feel like they matter but in an authentic, no-frills kind of way– you’re still a regular mortal yet you are not inconsequential. The country director, Francois Watine is all charm. This charm has clearly rubbed off on his team and together, they make customers feel… well, like customers should feel but quite often don’t. Word has it that the restaurant is jam-packed at breakfast and lunch and all day snacks. Dinner, not so much.
“It’s so out of the way”, you will hear
me the typical Nairobian who doesn’t live in Karen say. And they are right. Brioche is out of the way for lots of us. If you live on the other side of town, navigating the Nairobi traffic to Karen in the evening is a tough call to make. I’m not sure I could do it more than once a month and even then, it would only be because of the promise of something great on the other side– a great dining experience perhaps.
But Brioche is more than just a great dining experience. They bake their own bread and promise some of the best pastries in town, naturally. I’m happy to report that their bakeries are within reach for most of us. There’s the pop-up bakery at the Organic Farmer’s Market every Sunday in Kilimani. So if you are Kilimanian, Lavingtonian or Westlander i.e. if you live on the other side of town– you’re covered. And if you live even further down on the other side of the other side of town, Brioche has a bakery inside the Nakumatt at The Village Market. For the LA and Mombasa Road crowd, the Karen restaurant has you covered (lucky buggers).
But locations aside, if you love good food, are up for something different in the Nairobi dining scene or would just plain kill for some great bread– Brioche Table d'Hôte has got your back.