The Talisman Elegant Gastrolounge


The talisman restaurant is one of the most exciting unique food destinations in Nairobi. It is situated at Ngong road, Karen. It is perfect for anyone looking for a restaurant away from the hustle and buzz of the always busy and noisy city that is Nairobi.

It is one of the best reviewed restaurants in Nairobi and has gotten the attention of the culinary scene from New York, won multiple awards on Trip Advisor, culture trip and taste awards and one of the nominees of the world luxury travel awards this year.

It has a rich historic background considering it has been established for more than 15years. It has that modern contemporary artistic ambience to it. One is easily taken in by the warm homey vibe it exudes. The restaurant is designed in such a way that everyone can enjoy themselves and feel comfortable. From those who want a warm relaxing atmosphere while sipping on wine or reading a novel, to the romantic couple looking for a smooth, romantic vibe and even the patron who wants to enjoy their meal outdoors. I would say it is very inclusive and they have certainly put a lot of thought and consideration for every client.

The most noticeable unique feature at the restaurant is not their carved wooden pillars from Pakistan or their beautiful refined Afghan rugs, charming fireplaces, stretched terraces and blissful gardens but rather the amazing art on the walls. Any tourist will be mind blown by the amazing pieces they have gracing their walls. I was even more thrilled to learn that they are all from African artists.

The talisman restaurant gives a platform for the artists to showcase their pieces and sale them to interested patrons. The pieces are simply breathtaking and very reasonably priced. They have pieces from different exciting up and coming artists to the renowned. It is really good to see such amazing talent from all over the east of Africa.

The talisman restaurant offers a wide range of food and a very inclusive all organic menus.  Having been in Nairobi for a while, they have learnt what works best and have played a huge part in enhancing and shaping the palate of the Nairobian. They source only for the best and fresh ingredients from Kenya and beyond. The talisman restaurant gets most of its sea food from Lamu in Mombasa and their spices from Thailand and it incorporates most of its ingredients from their organic garden.

I got the chance to see their picturesque garden and I was truly impressed. Most of the salad ingredients from tomatoes, carrot, coriander, strawberries and herbs (such as Jasmine and lemon grass) used in brewing herbal tea are all planted by the in-house by the restaurant itself. I was in awe to see that they rear their own organic chicken and actually offer organic eggs. The Talisman restaurant doesn’t compromise on giving the client a healthy yet mouth licking food experience.

A quick chat with the chef and you could clearly see that he truly loves cooking. As he speaks about food, his  face lights up like a child’s who has just gotten his favorite candy. You can tell that he cooks all his meals with lots of love and passion. He changes the menu based on season and availability of some ingredients. He tries to keep the creativity flowing while also giving the regulars what they have grown to love and constantly order.

The menu at the Talisman restaurant is broken into six main categories, first is the classic followed by seasonal, sushi, breakfast, afternoon menu and finally dessert. The best part about the menu is that you can also check it out online and can therefore see beforehand what the restaurant has to offer and it’s prices even before your visit.

Seeing as it is a gastro lounge, it obviously also serves the English pub-style fish and chips and a classic American hamburger with all the trimmings. They also have a fully stocked bar with drinks from every part of the world. In addition, they have a wine cellar with a variety of wine from the best wine farms in South Africa. It has an expansive cocktail menu especially for that perfect night out with friends. Its uniqueness is in the fact that they serve up to 20 different wines and champagnes by the glass. It is a great place for the wine lovers. The bar has that perfect authentic and cool charm that makes you feel like you are in a scene from a James Bond movie.

They also have events on different days and you are bond to meet great people who share the same taste or love for music and arts. The restaurant has the perfect multifarious and one of a kind enchanting atmosphere for events which they host. The Talisman an idyllic venue for events like wine tasting, intimate concerts and birthday parties, which it organizes regularly and provides the perfect ambiance for a variety of special occasions, from corporate functions to wedding receptions.

I had the opportunity to try out a few items from their menu and everything was exquisite! It was a rather chilly day and they led me to one of the warmest seat, near a fire place and got the fire going as some smooth music played on the background. I ordered a cappuccino and I immediately felt warm and cozy just like I was at home cuddled under a duvet. It was strong and foamy just the way I like it and it definitely hit the right spot. I would recommend it any given cold day.

For a starter I had the feta and coriander samosas served with chili ginger jam. It was cheesy and spicy due to the coriander. This is a perfect starter especially for the vegetarians. It is also great for the cheese lovers who like their cheese with a little kick of spice and pepper.

I also had a chance to try out their lamb. The Maasai in me was in awe. The Maasai community is renowned as meat lovers. The lamb was wrapped up in pastry and served with steamed veggies and it was basically a meat and pastry lover’s dream come true. The meat was fresh, succulent and fell off the bone just perfectly. It was tender, savory and rich in flavors. I also liked that they serve it with fresh vegetables; peas, sliced carrots and the creamy mashed potatoes. The restaurant also serves good portions and you don’t overeat.

Finally I had the blue berry ice cream dessert. It actually had fresh berries in it. It is the kind of dessert that just makes you forget all the problems in the world. It just makes you feel better and happy. It is just smooth, fruity and colorful. I love the restaurant’s food presentation. They set it in a way that showcases all the ingredients and has you salivating even before the waiter places your plate perfectly on the table. Presentation is key and they killed it!

I also had a chance to socialize with one patron who is a regular at the restaurant. He could not stop gushing about their chicken wings and burger. He admitted to being addicted to the chicken wings saying they are one of the best he has ever had . I believe the New York times captioned it best “The best place in town and the most happening place to see the local scene. With its low couches and beautiful gardens, the only thing needed to complete the scene is a Tusker or Dawa in hand” – O’ Donnell – The Spirited Traveler.

I had a great time at the talisman restaurant, their service is impeccable, the waiters greet you with smiles, they answer your questions with patience and are very helpful. They give you the necessary attention and make sure you are enjoying yourself and most importantly you are comfortable. Most of them have been here for more than ten years and they relate like a family.

The talisman restaurant gives you world class quality at a very affordable and worthy price. It is a great place to visit any day any time by tourists and locals alike. It is not just a restaurant, it is Kenyan culinary pride. I would say it is the Usain Bolt of restaurant here in Kenya, their culinary skills and experience is top notch and they most certainly have brought life to the Kenyan culinary scene.

This article was written CHRISTINE SIAMANTA KINORI

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About Author

Born in Zimbabwe and living in South Africa, Miriro is a seasoned publishing editor and writer, having worked with leading brands in investment, business leadership and entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa’s development, Miriro is also a dynamic marketing consultant with 10 years experience working with startups and large multinational corporations. With a heart for travel, Miriro spends her time discovering the nooks of crannies of Africa’s hidden gems, taking the roads less travelled, meeting the beautiful people and enjoying their food and culture. She enjoys tackling complex strategic challenges in the passion-to-entrepreneurship pipeline, particularly focused on the implications of 4th Industrial Revolution and workforce automation on Africa's travel and tourism industry. Miriro is currently the Managing Editor of Nomad Africa magazine.

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