On Thursday evening when we arrived at Kengeles Lavington, we found the music playing at just the right volume for dinner conversations. By the time we were leaving, it had risen progressively throughout the night so the room was the perfect decibel for anybody looking to dance away the calories collected over dinner. After our meal, this certainly was a seductive option.
Sampling Kengeles’ St. Patrick’s Day menu, our party of ten tried two of their courses. The first course, a platter of canapés, consisted of prawn cocktail squares, sausage cheddar balls made in tomato concasse, sweet potato with avocado and shredded bacon, and a salami, olive and cheese sandwich. Arranged picturesquely around a board, the combination of flavours were designed to tickle an array of food-lovers’ fancies.
The prawns came served on toasted bread and covered in a cocktail sauce containing a mix of tomato sauce and mayonnaise. The bread was small enough to be eaten in three bites and tasted of hints of sesame seed. Slightly crunchy, its texture combined with the creaminess of the sauce and the chewiness of the prawns (two small ones on each piece), made this my absolute favourite of the lot.
A close second was the bacon bits on sweet potato with avocado. The slightly sugary starchiness of the sweet potato made for a hearty base upon which to enjoy the salty bacon, the avocado in between lending a delightful moisture to the entire creation.
Dotting the center of the platter were sausage meatballs coated with tomato concasse. The meatballs were soft to the bite, but not so soft as to fall apart in your hands. The tomato concasse added just the right amount of flavour to the meatballs without overpowering their taste. Lovers of salt would certainly be left smacking their lips after having the salami, olive and cheese sandwich, served as a trio on toothpicks.
By this point, our stomachs were quickly filling up; it was surprising how much of a punch these tiny canapés could pack, especially considering how rapidly we had devoured them. For the next course, we sampled the Kengeles meat platter: composed of chicken, choma sausages, beef shashliks and a chicken shawarma. Designed for those game nights when you and your friends want nothing more than to unwind while sipping on cold beers and watching your game of choice on the Kengeles screens, the meat platter typically comes with a side of fries or wedges. However, given that we were already half-stuffed from the canapés, we decided to skip the potatoes and go straight to the main attraction: the meat. The beef and the chicken were juicy, and the chicken shawarma had a bit of a kick thanks to the pap’s chilli within. The helpings were very large, and we comfortably shared a platter between two people.
As far as drinks went, we sandwiched our meal in between a starter jug of Bloody Mary cocktails and Strawberry Mojitos. Urban legend has it that the Bloody Mary is the perfect hangover drink; at Kshs 2,000, the jug at Kengeles offers adequate replenishment for five people to share. Teetotallers in our party also had their choice of fruit juices.
Recently renovated, the interior of Kengeles Lavington features exposed brick walls, oil paintings by the entrance, and fairy lights streaming across the room. Our sitting spot by the corner was a high table which offered a perfect vantage point to people-watch. In front of us, interspersed with the prism shaped menus, tiny succulents were growing out of clear glasses. Kengeles has come a long way since its opening in the 1990s, and its patrons reflect the rich and varied legacy of the 20 years since: it attracts its fair share of older patrons as well as a much younger professional crowd. Whether looking for a casual spot for that first or second date, or to unwind with friends after a long day at work, you will find that Kengeles has something to offer.