Friday night’s unappetizing dinner experience…Last trip to Nakumatt…Saturday night’s final dinner at Sails Restaurant…

While playing Gin on Saturday, this gecko appeared on one of the pillars supporting the roof. Its feet moved in a sticky manner, using each toe in the process seemingly all going in different directions.

To compare Friday night’s dinner at a popular local restaurant to Sails Restaurant was like comparing dining on a can of Spaghetti-O’s to experiencing a gourmet meal of fresh-caught grilled lobster tail, prepared to perfection.  There’s simply no comparison.

On Friday night, Hans and Jeri asked us to double date for dinner at a local haunt that typically has been good for them. Not for a moment would we question their taste in good food. However, it must have been an “off night” for the cook. Thus, we won’t attempt to tarnish their reputation by our dismal review by mentioning the name of the restaurant. 

That’s not our style. If we have something “good” or “excellent” to say, we don’t hesitate to mention the name and at times, include the link for travelers who may be reading from afar. 

In the event of inferior quality food or service, we tend to stay mum showing our disdain by not returning a second time. With a week remaining until we leave Kenya, a second visit would have been highly unlikely. 

Tom’s hair was blowing with his back to the wind at Sails Restaurant.  The cool ocean breeze was heavenly.

Thus, I felt compelled to share the first instance in Kenya of a challenge in getting my meal cooked properly to fit my way of eating. Also, for those of you choosing to embark on this manner of eating to improve your health, it’s important for us to share less than ideal situations in the event you encounter occasional dining out fiasco.  It is bound to happen.

Of course, Hans and Jeri, our dinner companions were as engaging as always and the conversation was enjoyable. Driving with them was a nice break from a taxi. Hans’ engine of his car blew long before we arrived and it is still in the shop three months later, leaving him no option but to rent a car. 

The restaurant, not on the ocean, had no breeze and was hot and humid. Dressed in our BugsAway long-sleeved clothing, the entire time we were in the restaurant we were sweating more than ever. It’s no wonder we love dining on the sea with the cooling ocean breezes! Being hot and uncomfortable, almost served as a warning to me that it was going downhill from there. Indeed it did!

I equally enjoyed the cool ocean breeze at Sails. Not so much at Friday night’s dinner at an off the ocean restaurant.

The menu was tricky.  Many items were in thick floury and sweet sauces. My choices were limited to grilled fish and vegetables, which I often order in one form or another, usually pleased with the result. Not on Friday night!

Ordering the grilled red snapper, after giving the server my restrictions list to show to the cook written in Swahili on my smartphone, he returned to the table assuring me that it was no problem. By the time our food arrived, it was 9:00 pm and we were all ready to dine. (We hadn’t left the houses until 8:00 pm since most local residents dine much later than our usual 7:00 pm).

Once the plate was set in front of me, I immediately knew something wasn’t right. The thin snapper fillet was covered in a browned batter, most likely coated in flour. Gently, I asked the server to go ask the chef what was on the outside of the fish. He returned saying, “A little flour.”

Again in a kindly tone, I said, “Please tell the cook to start over, grill the fish, no flour, no batter, no coating, just plain. Plus remove all the vegetables and replace them with freshly cooked vegetables. It is dangerous to my health for the flour to touch the food.”  

Moments later, we heard the cook raising his voice in the kitchen. Ouch! Was he rambling on about my food? 

I encouraged the rest of our table to go ahead and eat their food while it was hot and I’d catch up later.  A new plate of food didn’t arrive until 9:25. This piece of fish was flatter yet, perhaps 1/4″, .6 cm,  and was fried in some greasy substance, swimming in grease on my plate. It was so thin, it didn’t have any fleshy portion on the inside of the crisped exterior. The “new” vegetables were on a side plate, were also swimming in grease and grossly over-salted, inedible.

Not wanting to make a further scene, especially when everyone else’s food was palatable, I ate the fish out of desperation, never saying another word. (Hans tasted my vegetables and agreed they were inedible).

By 10:00 pm, after we turned down an invitation to accompany Hans and Jeri at the local disco, we chose the offered ride back to the house, where they dropped us off to go back out. With discos staying open until 5:00 am, neither of us could imagine spending the night in a smokey (smoking is allowed in bars and restaurants), a hot, noisy disco with no AC. 

Returning to our house, still wearing our BugsAway clothing, we decided to watch a movie after I grabbed a bowl filled with raw macadamia nuts, almond and cashews and turned on the fan. That was our Friday night.

On Saturday morning at 10:00, Alfred drove us to Nakumatt for our final grocery shopping, spending KES $8800, US $101, to include three more jugs of water and limited amounts of food items to complete the five remaining meals we planned to cook before leaving, dining out on the remainder.

At promptly 7:00 pm, Alfred, returned again to take us to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Sails at the Almanara Resort. Being our last time to dine at Sails, I decided to have the grilled seafood platter, the same entrée I’d had on our first visit. Tom had the Crab Au Gratin, the same item he’d had on a previous visit.

Tom’s Crab Au Gratin was as delicious as the last time he’d ordered it.

One would assume that a grilled seafood platter wouldn’t have flour, grain, sugar, or starch but I didn’t hesitate to ask the chef to read my list. As it turned out the chef didn’t speak Swahili.  We could hear the waiter translating it for him from afar, causing us to chuckle.

The seafood platter was smaller than the first time, saltier, and very greasy. Gee, did those two chefs from each night, talk to one another? I ate it anyway with nary a mention. So it goes. It’s only food. Right? I’m certainly not starving from a lack of nourishment.

As we dined, we both reveled in the cooling ocean breeze, wicking all the droplets of sweat seemingly stuck on our skin for hours. We sat at our usual table closest to the sea. The dining area is under huge canvas sails with giant windows that can be closed in the event of rain or inclement weather. A tourist couple opposite us started complaining that it was too windy for them to eat, insisting that the canvas be lowered to close the windows.

My dinner at Sails was too heavy on the oil, very different from the first time I’d ordered this entrée.

We were disappointed to lose the cooling breeze as the server hesitantly lowered it when he heard all of the other guests complaining about the shade coming down, blocking the wind and the view. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” so they say. 

How annoyed we all were with the squeaky wheel! At that point, we started sweating again, anxious to finish eating, and be on our way. Why tourists will make fools of themselves, demanding to do it “their way” escapes us. 

From Friday’s less than palatable dinner, for which we paid full price, to Saturday night’s less than perfect seafood platter, we’ve found that gracious acceptance goes a long way over demanding exclamations of annoyance. Also, one must consider that that complaining in a public environment could result in a dangerous situation.  We’re not chumps. We chose this life. Sometimes it is not what we expected or desired. We do the best we can.

Over a year ago, when this journey began, we decided we’d accept a situation as long as our health, well being, and safety weren’t at risk. 

Before arriving at this house in Kenya, we had no idea from the photos that there was no inside living room, sofa, or place to sit.  Had we known that, we’d have chosen another property. Would I now ask, whenever we rent a vacation home, “Does it have a living room?” Is that some lesson we needed to learn? 

But, in the end, we accepted the situation, adapting to spending 16 hours a day living outdoors, making some wonderful new friends, spending fun time with Jessie and Gucci, and experiencing the most amazing adventures of our lives while living in Kenya.

Perhaps, we’ve learned a lesson in the process. We may have become tougher than we’d have ever imagined.

Ouch, a bug just bit my foot. I swatted it off.  No squeal, no gasp, and only a slight mention to Tom, who shrugged. I grabbed the repellent and lathered up one more time.