Update: Both locations of Blanco’s Lounge & Grill, including the one at Timau Plaza, have been permanently closed.
In place of the Blanco’s at Timau Plaza, you’ll now find a Subway, the famous submarine sandwich shop.
I had been wanting to go to Blanco’s for a long time but had never managed to until recently.
If you have no idea where Blanco’s is, it is a lounge and restaurant located in Timau Plaza on Argwings Kodhek, diagonally opposite Yaya Center (in the new building where Prime Bank has its new headquarters).
Blanco’s had been taunting me for a long time.
I would see it almost daily while driving on Argwings Kodhek, whenever I was in the Yaya area, but somehow never found myself there socially.
One night, when the temptation became too great, I decided to drag a group of friends there to see what it was like.
The beauty of Timau Plaza set the stage for what we were to see the rest of the night.
A truly beautiful building, Timau Plaza is designed to have running fountains at the front of the building.
Blanco’s takes full advantage of this design by having partial glass floors on its balcony, under which these fountains run into.
The night I first went there, the Timau Plaza fountains were not operational. Still, I could imagine how beautiful a place the balcony at Blanco’s could be.
It was a bit nippy that first night, so my party and I sat in the bar lounge area.
The lounge was tastefully and thoughtfully designed and had a cozy, enveloping feel.
We sat in a nook that took away the reality of the world outside – we, in no way, could feel how close to Argwings Kodhek we were.
There, we truly felt like we were in a world of our own.
For drinks, we had a few cocktails.
We tried the Daiquiri and the virgin fruit punch and were happy with both.
The cocktails were well priced, well mixed, and well sized.
Unlike similar cocktails in other upscale establishments in Nairobi, these cocktails did not make us feel like asking for our money back! 🙂
My friends and I were not very hungry, that night, so we opted to have snacks instead of dinner.
We were presented with a beautifully designed menu where all dish names were in Swahili.
Blanco specializes in gourmet Kenyan food.
The Swahili names of the entrées were so sophisticated that even we, Swahili speakers, relied mostly on the English translation to order food.
We ordered samosas, chicken wings, and meat skewers that were very tasty and well presented.
The portions though, like those in most gourmet restaurants, were quite small.
I went to Blanco’s again soon after that first night, for dinner.
On the second night, I was even more pleased with what I saw than I was on the first.
I had friends in from out of town and thought they would be interested in having some good yet authentic Kenyan food. Blanco’s did not let us down!
The dining room at Blanco’s is as well decorated as the rest of the establishment with the dining table and chairs particular favorites of mine.
My one qualm with the ambiance in the dining room is the brightness of the lighting.
I find the room would do better with dimmer lighting such as candlelight. This, I think, would fully weave a spell of charm on diners.
More concretely, let me tell you about the food.
For starters, my friends and I had a beef consommé.
This beef consommé was unlike any other in that it had a sprinkle of beans, chickpeas, and been sprouts.
The beans, particularly, gave it a distinct African flavor.
I had never eaten anything like it before.
For the main meal, I had ravioli of local greens and cheese, while my friends ordered fish and a char-grilled steak.
The presentation of the food was outstanding!
We all “oohed” and “aahed” as our plates were placed before us.
My ravioli was good though not excellent. What amazed me most was the innovative local adaptation of such a typically Italian meal.
With each bite, of ravioli, I tasted a distinctly Kenyan flavor.
I am not sure, but I suspect that the ravioli filling was kale (sukuma wiki).
My friends enjoyed their meals better than I did.
The fish eater was delighted with the tomato sauce that accompanied her fish, which was typically Swahili spiced, while the steak eater was delighted with the ugali, a favorite of his that he rarely gets to enjoy outside Kenya.
Overall, dinner was more than just good…we oohed and aahed all through it tasting little bits of each other’s meals.
Last but not least, allow me to mention the desert. It was well worth mentioning.
As we were all full by the end of the meal, we decided to order one desert to share.
We ordered a chocolate cake.
Mmmmm…it made me think of the chocolate fudge cake at Sierra (one of the best I have ever tasted). Moist and fudgy with ice cream on top, a third of this desert was satisfying enough for each of us because each bite was a piece of heaven!
Overall, on a scale of 1 to 5, the dining experience at Blanco’s was a 4.5 for me – clearly above very good but not yet stellar. Maybe it was my choice of meals. I will only be sure on subsequent visits.
Still, I recommend it highly.
The food was good and imaginative, and the ambiance was fantastic.
All together, it was a truly fine dining experience. To top it all, it was a truly fine KENYAN dining experience.
Please try it out whenever you have a chance. I am sure it will be like few other experiences that you have had in the past.
Allow me to warn you, though, that Blanco’s is not an inexpensive restaurant, though neither will it break the bank. Just be forewarned and carry more money that you usually would. I think it will be well worth it.
Photo Credit: TripAdvisor