It’s not every day that you find an establishment that houses a wellness and fitness club as well as a restaurant in the same location. The Talisman restaurant in Karen is one of a kind. It was an experience worth sharing. The Talisman restaurant is situated in an old farmhouse, which belonged to Alan Root, a renowned wildlife photographer and filmmaker. The first impression that hits you of the Talisman restaurant is that of a cool chilled place. It is obvious that a lot of effort has been put into the décor from the artsy pieces to the glass pieces, which provide a perfect blend with the outdoor setting of the restaurant.
Before we could sit down for a meal, we visited the fitness and wellness club, which is a few meters past the restaurant. On your way there, you find a sizeable lush garden with trees, which contribute to the clean and cool environment. The Dojo Wellness Club is a unique fitness centre because it gravitates towards natural movements in their work out programs and offers healthy drinks too.
A tour around the gym from the hospitable duty manager Sharyl Apondi, made it clear that they are dedicated to the use of natural methods for wellness and fitness. The gym has different sections for yoga, boxing, cycling, karate and other work out routines. The number of clients per session is limited to about 8 people so that each person gets the very best. They also have a massage spa and a sauna.
If you are looking to escape from your thoughts for a while, the Dojo has a Zen room where you can just meditate and a Zen garden if you want a bit of sunshine. Another brilliant feature is that they have kids’ classes. So if you are a parent who is looking to work out and you don’t have a baby sitter or just wants to spend more time with your kid, the Dojo has classes for them too. They also offer physiotherapy sessions.
At the Dojo, they understand that working out alone is not enough to keep you healthy. So they also cater to your nutritional needs after your session through their world-class smoothie bar. The most impressive thing about the smoothie bar is that they actually grow the ingredients used to make the drinks in their garden.
With the exception of things like fruits, which they have to outsource, the other ingredients such as vegetables, natural spices and herbs come from their garden. The garden is organic and it also supplies the main restaurant with some of the vegetables. How many Nairobi restaurants actually grow their own food? Pretty cool, huh?
Once done with the Dojo we were now ready to explore the restaurant. There’s just something about having a meal in an outdoor setting with clean fresh air in the environment. Now add art to that mix, well-curated music playlist and you have a perfect ambience. All around the restaurant, in the dining area as well as in the bar you’ll see many art pieces on the wall. All of them are by Kenyan artists.
Curious about the art we asked one of the owners, Stuart Herd about it. He let us know that the art changes every couple of weeks. They display art from different artists. The artists present their pieces to them and if they match with the atmosphere at Talisman then they display them at the restaurant. So for artists out there, here’s an opportunity to showcase your work to the world, you never know who’s looking.
It was now time to get to the heart of the matter, food. The Talisman restaurant prides itself of producing a top-end fusion menu. They cater for meat lovers as well as vegetarians, vegans and have gluten-free meals too. The Talisman serves both local and international guests so their menu aims to accommodate all of them. Many people have raved about their feta and coriander samosas and with good reason. This is actually their best seller. The feta samosas come with chilli ginger jam, which really makes them even more palatable. At Ksh.150 per piece, you will find yourself yearning for more. This was definitely a favourite.
We also had a taste of the twice-cooked pork belly with honey glaze and charred vegetables. We also had the Talisman Nyati wings “mild, hot or Taliban” from their starters menu which came with blue cheese and chive dip and crudities. The wings were a bit dry but the dip was good. The dip has blue cheese, so for cheese lovers, this would be a delight. The Nyati go for Ksh. 1050.
We had a bit of the Talisman Thai Prawns served with chilli, coriander, tropical salsa and nam prik. I am not a big fan of prawns so I can’t speak much to that but the spice in them was well done. Everybody else really enjoyed the prawns. The prawns cost Ksh. 1050.
We then proceeded to have a number of main courses since we were a group. The executive chef, Chef Ray Cournede prepared char-grilled fillet steak which comes with potato bhajia, charred kale, wasabi and mustard hollandaise. The steak was really juicy and well done and the sauce was just perfect. To be honest, all the sauces were very well made. If you are crazy about sauces, this meal still tastes good on its own. For this meal, it will be Ksh. 2050 well spent.
We also had the grilled pork chops with port and berry glaze. So you know how people describe food as finger-licking? This was definitely that in the literal sense of that phrase. The pork was so tender, juicy and tasty. It came with smoked parsnip puree, apple sauce and broccoli and for those who don’t like vegetables, these will make you a believer. The plate of pork chops comes at a cost of Ksh. 1850. If you have nothing else at the Talisman, please try out these pork chops. They are fantastic. Our favourite dish of the day. We recommend it 100%.
For fish lovers, the fillet salmon was another good pick on the menu. Its preparation was rather interesting way because it was crispy on the outside yet still juicy on the inside. It came accompanied with sautéed spring vegetables, mashed potatoes, wasabi and mustard hollandaise and it definitely gets a thumb up. This is priced at Ksh. 2450. The wasabi and mustard hollandaise sauce were quite palatable and the combination of the sauce and the salmon was perfect.
The meals were quite filling but we had a little room for dessert. For dessert, we tried the crème Brulee, cope malua and chocolate fondant. The chocolate fondant which has Belgium chocolate, vanilla tuille and ice cream was a favourite. The mixture of hot chocolate and ice cream in the mouth left you yearning for more. The cope malua, however, took the trophy on this one. It had a blend of chocolate and fruit taste that lingered in your mouth after.
We didn’t get to experience the bar but they have a wide selection of alcoholic drinks. On Fridays and Saturdays, they have a Dj once a month.
Overall, it’s a pretty impressive place. The gardens, the ambience, the well-curated music playlist and the delicious food is reason enough to go to the Talisman restaurant as a family or as a group of friends. If you are planning a brunch or group dining, this would be a good pick. You will love it.