Brunch is life. Seriously. If you haven’t brunched, you haven’t lived. Brunch sits at a perfect time of day to accommodate laid-back weekend plans or get day drunk and avoid the Monday morning hangover. To me, it’s a great way to cap off any weekend. My friends and family know I love brunch, perhaps that explains their surprise when I told them I had never tried Artcaffe’s breakfast menu. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to Artcaffe plenty of times. Especially Artcaffe at The Oval (I love that place!) it’s great for food, coffee, or a quick drink with coworkers after a long day. Artcaffe has consistently good food and is also (in my opinion) good value for money. So naturally, when my friends insisted I try out the Artcaffe breakfast, I had high hopes.
Bear in mind, I recently moved back home to Nairobi from Washington D.C. In D.C., I frequented cheap boozy brunches (read: bottomless mimosas and bloody marys); there is no doubt in my mind my affinity for brunch was born there. Boozy brunch is so engrained in the culture, you see people of all ages sit at their brunch table at 10AM only to stagger home at 3PM. When I say stagger, I mean stagger. There were some Sunday afternoons I barely remembered the trip home… But that’s a story for another time.
Back to Artcaffe.
I knew I wasn’t going to find bottomless bliss at Artcaffe unless I wanted to shell out ksh 650 per mimosa (no thanks!) and leave the restaurant broke (you can’t just have one mimosa). But I knew I could at least expect some good food. My boyfriend and I arrived at Artcaffe Junction on a perfectly warm Sunday afternoon, a beautiful day for brunch. The restaurant was buzzing with activity but we got lucky and snagged a table outside. Artcaffe Junction’s verandah overlooks the parking lot. In most situations, this would be unappealing but Artcaffe has wisely installed potted plants that block the view of the parking lot when seated. Unfortunately, the pots don’t block the sound of cars cruising by but they have a good playlist and if you’re in good company (fortunately, I was) zoning out the cars is easy.
I ordered an iced coffee and pineapple mint juice to start.
** Disclaimer: I am very particular about my iced coffees.
Artcaffe doesn’t have iced coffee on their menu (I know, wtf) but the waitress said she was willing and able to accommodate for me. The “iced” coffee was lukewarm with fast-melting ice cubes rattling in my glass. Here’s what I think happened: because Artcaffe doesn’t have iced coffee — drip coffee that’s been brewed and left to steep in the fridge — the waitress had to pour hot drip coffee over ice. Good effort, but I would’ve preferred to know they can’t make me an iced coffee.
The result: lukewarm coffee and instant regret.
My pineapple mint juice was also pretty disappointing. Pineapple and mint is a classic flavour combination and should be a tangy, refreshing drink. The only thing hindering this beverage from being refreshing was it’s consistency. I got chunky fibrous mouthfuls of pineapple with every sip. The consistency reminded me of a poorly made smoothie. If they took the time to sift the drink after blending it, it would’ve been perfect.
The breakfast menu at Artcaffe is succinct but there’s a little something for everyone. They have eggs done multiple ways, pancakes, waffles, pastries, muesli and (most importantly) coffee. I ordered the Norwegian Breakfast; two poached eggs on eclairs with smoked salmon, parmesan cheese, and hollandaise sauce. The Norwegian Breakfast sat in the middle of a beautiful baby blue glass platter surrounded by all sorts of spreads and dips.
The main meal was also accompanied by a bread basket with fresh home-made grain and rye bread. My initial reaction was disappointment. For some reason, my eyes didn’t believe the food would be enough to fill me. However, after about 15 minutes, my stomach told a different story — it’s a lot of food.
The salmon on the eclair was delicious and fresh but if you’re trying to cure a craving, it’s a small portion of eggs benedict. The parmesan cheese adds a nice saltiness to the dish. Unfortunately, the eclair didn’t really taste like much and the bottom half was unappealingly soggy from the poached egg that rested on it. I ended up not eating one of the eclair pieces, it simply didn’t add anything to the dish the way a traditional biscuit would add flavour and texture.
From left to right there was cucumber tomato salad, fruit jam, butter, green olives, tuna salad, and tatziki sauce.
I love condiments. There’s an excitement in making my own flavour combinations with hands-on foods like sauces, dips, spreads. Needless to say, array of add-ons made me really excited.
Overall, the waitstaff is friendly and helpful. The only thing I would’ve hoped for during our meal was a little more attentiveness. I realize that it was a busy Sunday afternoon and I’m sure the waitstaff had a lot of tables to deal with. I would have hoped that regardless, someone would have checked in on my table just to make sure everything was going okay and we had everything we needed. I had felt a little rushed when I was placing my order.There was a good thirty minute wait before we got our bill. Small things like this made me wish there was a little more patience and attention to detail.
Artcaffe is a staple for me, a good go-to for consistent food and service. I’ll be back for brunch one day and maybe I’ll switch up my order and see how that effects the outcome. Until then, you can find me at Artcaffe for drinks (I have a high school reunion coming up there!), lunch, or dinner.