Somewhere near the leafy, green suburbs of Kitisuru lies an oasis of tranquil peace and serenity. No, I’m not talking about Karura Forest, but Hob House.
Hob House, a quaint, little guesthouse that sleeps two, is a charming place just 20 minutes from the Nairobi CBD. Directly translated into Arabic, “Hob” means love. Owned by the husband-wife pair, Peter and Kelly, two seasoned travelers, Hob House welcomes travelers to a home away from home. With two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, designed to European standards by Kelly, according to Airbnb, the space offers hot, fresh meals from the fully-staffed kitchen and daily laundry service, complete with a fiber-optic internet connection. And the best bit is the beautiful, lush garden to lounge in.
Of course, for Nairobians, their main attraction is their delicious food. And so a few months ago on one partly-cloudy, partly-sunny weekday, Diva, Mom and I headed there for lunch.
Since there were two separate steps to get inside, Diva decided to snap a few photos of their interiors while Mom and I proceeded to the garden.I’ll let the photos of the inside of Hob House do the talking as I didn’t go in.We had actually booked to sit inside but after realizing that it may be difficult once we got there, they quickly set up the garden seating for us.There was one private dining area in the garden and plenty of wooden furniture that can easily sit large groups outdoors. At the time, we were the only patrons dining there, till later on when other diners came.With plenty of space to run and play, Hob House seems very family-friendly. Listening to the birds sing as we ate transported us to a place of pure bliss, something we don’t often feel in the hectic Nairobi life.
The server, who was always ready to answer our questions and cater to my many whims, handed us menus. Their menu consists of a variety of authentic Lebanese dishes, which I believe are offered nowhere else in Nairobi. From Manoushe (Lebanese flatbreads) to Mezzeh dishes (shared Lebanese starters) to Mains and Soups, the menu also offers non-Lebanese options for picky eaters such as the classic Penne Arabieta.Their drinks menu offered unique variations of the usual drinks and included teas, coffee, juices, milkshakes and smoothies. So Mom and Diva got Lemon Barley Water, a light refreshing lemon drink while I got the Rose Sherbet. A refreshing cold milky drink with Middle Eastern rose flavor, the sherbet reminded me of the classic Indian faluda – a cross between an ice cream sundae and a milkshake. Not too sweet and cooling, the Rose Sherbet was absolutely divine, especially when the sun came out.As we waited for the food, I noticed that the linen napkins, placed in pretty wooden giraffe-shaped holders, were placed on printed placemats, which displayed information about where Hob House’s ingredients are sourced. I really loved this attention to small details.We decided to start off with Zaatar Manoushe, a delicious yeasty Lebanese pizza topped with Za’atar spices (a topping of ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac, salt and toasted sesame seeds) and diced tomatoes. This was unique to us as I have never had Za’atar before and found it to be a little overwhelming.Then from the salad section, we got the Tabbouleh, a salad comprising of parsley, mint, tomato, cucumber, onion and burghul (bulghur wheat). This is a classic that we always order at Lebanese restaurants, but this was one of the freshest Tabbouleh salads I’ve had. We could easily tell that the quality ingredients were fresh.From the Mezzeh section, we tried the Fateh and the Trio of Dips. The Fateh was a dish emulating the warm flavors of the southern Levantine countries. A cooked yogurt dish with chickpeas and chilli, served with toasted Lebanese bread, it reminded me of the Indian raita, albeit a warmer version as opposed to the cooler raita we usually have. It was definitely different and delicious but not my favorite part of the meal.The Trio of Dips included Hummus B’tahina (the usual chickpea hummus), Red Pepper Hummus (hummus with roasted red peppers) and Baba Ghanoush (a roasted eggplant and tahini dip). These were served with toasted Lebanese bread. Not only was the bread warm and toasty, the dips were all flavorful and moreish. I almost couldn’t choose a favorite. The key word being almost, as I absolutely loved the two hummuses, but the spicier red pepper hummus won my stomach heart.Despite almost falling into a massive food coma after stuffing my face with all the delicious homemade Lebanese food, I just had to get dessert. And with a range of homemade gelatos to choose from, I knew I had to try their Cinnamon Gelato. Not too sweet nor spicy, this was just perfect for a typical sunny day in Nairobi. It came with some edible flowers, which I devoured for the first time. The floral notes complemented the spice-based gelato.While I found the food prices to be on the higher end, the ambiance and service were great, but then again, we were the only patrons at the restaurant. And I particularly appreciated the owner, Peter, coming to check on us to see how we were doing.
Now, I’m not exaggerating when I say this, but by the time I got home from the Hob House, I was already counting days to my next visit!
Photos by Diva Shah