Susan takes a two hour drive ending up at the shores of the beautiful Lake Oloiden, home to La Pieve Farm Shop where warthogs and antelopes pop by.
Farm-to-table is an emerging menu trend that has grown so popular it has become the new norm. Many Nairobi restaurants are using produce sourced from local farms for freshness and sustainability, but when you need to drive two and a half hours to a farm just to eat, that brings a whole new meaning to farm-to-table.
Beyond the gate, the drive was long and shaded, protected by tall and vast acacias like a canopy of parasols. The path leads you past La Pieve Farm Shop, which is stocked with organic produce and decorated with antique farm equipment in an old converted structure. Manicured lawns then lead to a meandering stone path up a short incline where an expansive view of Lake Oloiden welcomes you. A steady hum of conversations emanate from the al-fresco dining area. White metal tables with mosaic tabletops accentuated with purple seating cushions dot the lush green grounds, a large fireplace anchors the inside of the restaurant, and a wood-burning pizza oven sits proudly next to the bar.
Located on Lake Naivasha’s little sister Lake Oloiden, Ranch House Bistro is an idyllic, quaint and charming restaurant that uses fresh ingredients sourced directly from
their farm, and serves a Dawa of utter perfection. Menus arrive on clipboards, creating a relaxed and welcoming setting. After a long and hot drive, Dawas and Homemade Lemonades were on our mind. The Strawberry Lemonade, which tasted more like a strawberry juice, was less exciting than the Dawa which had a great expression of honey, and zing from both limes and vodka.
We began with the Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlet accompanied with a Beetroot Salad that arrived hot and delicious. Flavourful caramelised onions added a subtle sweetness to the melting goat cheese. The light pastry broke at the touch of the knife, and the cheese oozed beautifully. Perfectly seasoned, the plate was devoured in seconds.
As we waited for our mains, I found myself staring into the horizon. The sun had cast a beautiful glow on the lake. A family of warthogs trotted past our table as a herd of antelopes grazed unbothered. The staff rushed to set a picnic blanket for the children from another group. They wanted to lounge on the grass, and enjoy the birds flying overhead. The staff was attentive, warm, and accommodating. The view also easily made me forget about my pending office to-do-list, the stupid traffic police that stopped us along the way for nothing, and even what we had been waiting for… the food.
Wood oven slow-cooked pork shoulder, dressed with mint, arrived pulled into strands and sandwiched in between toasted buns. The menu had written that the pulled pork would have some red chilli, but that flavour was completely absent. Served with homemade BBQ Sauce, don’t forget to drizzle that over the pulled pork to balance the saltiness and ensure that every morsel is moist. The Coleslaw was beautiful and fresh but under seasoned. The French Fries served in a miniature tin pail, were crispy, not greasy, and were still soft in the center – absolutely delicious! The Grilled Fillet Steak with Pepper Sauce served with Mash Potatoes and Creamed Spinach arrived as a massive portion. However, the perfectly cooked medium rare fillet was swimming in the sauce – I wish it had come on the side. Despite the sauce being quite tasty, the pepper in the Pepper Sauce was incredibly subtle – perhaps too subtle for some. The creamed spinach was faultless – fresh, rich and savoury all in a comforting portion. The Thai Fish Cakes arrived with coconut rice, a cashew nut cucumber salad that had a kick of chilli, and a honey sauce.
The fish cakes were quite dense and had an overpowering tartness from probably some lime juice that was incorporated into the raw ingredients before frying. Finally, a stunning piece of Tiramisu, soaked with espresso, completed our lunch.
Our meal wasn’t perfect, but it certainly still felt enjoyable and was profound. Home cooking with fresh produce harvested from the property, and incredible surroundings – you really can’t go wrong with that. A meal at Ranch House Bistro is about firmly living in the present.