How often do you get to see how a meal is prepared at your favourite restaurant? Never, thought so.
Well last week courtesy of my friend Rachael and the lovely team at Nairobi Serena Hotel I had the priviledge of visiting their kitchen. Not only did we get engulfed in the hustle and bustle of chefs trying to ensure they send out impeccable dishes to the customers but we also got see how some meals are prepared.
Cafe Maghreb at the Nairobi Serena Hotel was my first stop for the Nairobi Restaurant Week #NRW2015, surprisingly it was not on my radar for the restaurants to visit but I utterly enjoyed their meal.
The executive chef, Chef Roy was there with us to take us on the tour of their kitchen. Would you believe at any given time they have over 24 chefs working in the kitchen? I know , whatever happened to too many cooks? Despite the number of people in the kitchen I have to say things were being down seamlessly. The kitchen has various sections and just like the human body each sections works well to ensure the whole kitchen is functional.
It was interesting to learn that the Serena Hotel kitchens prepare their own meats, in that if it is filleted fish they do the actual deboning. Another interesting fact, the serving for meats on the á la carte menu are different than those served in the buffet.
Also it’s good to mention that they pride themselves in making their own breads and buns, so whenever you dine there expect freshly baked bread for your soups.
Since we had gone to sample their restaurant week menu, Chef Roy took us through the preparation of some of the items on that menu.
For the starters, they had the salmon nicoise salad which is basically steamed salmon with truffle and anchovy dressing, soft boiled quail eggs and walnuts.
Some of the salad greens that went into the salad. The middle pack contains edible flowers, yeah you read that right.
They were also serving mushroom soup which had already been prepared. The mushroom soup was made from three types of mushrooms; button, oyster and porcini. Porcini mushrooms are a type of wild mushrooms, the Chef was quick to assure us that they contract only skilled people when it comes to foraging for these mushrooms.
For the main course, lemon chicken was served. The Chef took us through the preparation of the chicken which was marinated in lemon juice, salt and black pepper. The marinated chicken is then grilled, starting with the skin side to ensure it gets the perfect grill marks.
Once grilled the chicken is put in the oven to continue the cooking. This will ensure a perfectly cooked and moist chicken.
Next the art of plating a meal, first the greens.
Next, they added a spoonful of orange couscous which served as the bed for the lemon chicken.
Things were moving pretty fast as meals were being assembled to take to the diners.
Finally the dessert, this had also been prepared before hand. We also met the Pastry Chef, Chef Steve.
The tour was over and finally we could eat.
First we had the salmon nicoise salad.
The salmon was fresh with a clean taste that surprisingly reminded me of the ocean, the dressing worked well with the salad greens, I found the black olives to be a bit sharp but all in all the salad was good. 3.5/5
Next we had the mushroom soup, the lack of a photo should serve as evidence of how divine it was. Oh my taste buds, the blend of the three types of mushrooms was heartwarming, first the taste of the button mushrooms hits you then you are left with the lingering taste of the porcini mushrooms. Honestly the soup was just heavenly. 5/5
Onto the main course.
As promised by the chef, the chicken was moist and well seasoned. The lemon taste added the right amount of tang. The thyme sauce was a lovely pairing for the saffron rice. The sweet orange taste in the couscous balanced well with the thyme sauce. I loved the vegetables, cooked just right. Rachael didn’t quite enjoy the creamed spinach she felt it needed to be more creamy
Overall the main course was worth it, plus it was filling. 4/5
And now my favourite part of any meal, the dessert.
The vanilla panna cotta with strawberry sauce and flavoured crispy macaroons. The macaroons had been made using ground almonds and they were crispy to the bite and chewy on the inside. The panna cotta was creamy and blended well with the strawberry sauce. 4.5/5
In general, I enjoyed my meal at Cafe Maghreb and I would totally urge you to try their restaurant week menu. You can either have the 3 course for Kes 1500 or the 4 course for Kes 2000
Unfortunately their restaurant week menu is not varied thus no options in any of their courses and sadly no vegetarian option.
Disclosure: The meal was courtesy of Cafe Maghreb at Nairobi Serena and I have received no compensation for this post and the opinions I’m expressing here are solely my own.
Photos courtesy of Rachael of Safari254.