In Summary
  • At first, the space at Que Pasa? feels a cavern in the side of a building, with a few scattered tall tables and stools.
  • From the list of four mains, I selected the least messy sounding option: Norwegian grilled salmon steak on a bed of mashed sweet potato.

I do not drink whisky neither do I care for the affectations of the many whisky drinkers I know who feel that to drink it is to possess some delusional badge of honour. But when a premium whisky brand partners with a famed gastropub to host a fabulous dinner party and you’re on the invitation list, you show up. So I recently found myself driving across Nairobi to Que Pasa? Bar & Bistro. Despite having a well-established brand and faithful clientele, the management at Que Pasa? recently overhauled their menu and arranged a sampling event which included a tasting of whiskies from William Grant & Sons of Scotland.

At first, the space at Que Pasa? feels a cavern in the side of a building, with a few scattered tall tables and stools. But then you discover larger back chambers which are set for proper dining.

After an introduction to the whiskies on display, the first of the three food courses was brought out. It was a charming little platter with pumpkin ginger soup in a shot glass, a fruit and nut salad and prawn on a wee chicken rosti. I found this innovative approach to serving starters impressive and the pairings could not have been more apt. The soup was a little light but I relished the candied ginger bits in it. When I needed to cleanse my palate I turned to the strawberry, nut and spinach salad, which was oh so divine.

From the list of four mains, I selected the least messy sounding option: Norwegian grilled salmon steak on a bed of mashed sweet potato.

Norwegian grilled salmon steak on a bed of mashed sweet potato, while beautifully presented, turned out to be a complete disaster. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

While beautifully presented, it turned out to be a complete disaster. The skin was seared to buggery and the soggy inside crumbled immediately on touch. I suspect it had been microwave-defrosted before being put on the grill. I sent it right back from whence it came. The management was very receptive of my criticism and offered me the choice of ordering something else, or giving the staff another shot at the salmon. Weary of the thought of further disappointment, I decided to try the doughnut burger which was served with chips and a coleslaw salad. This turned out to be a winning idea most poorly executed. The sugar glazed buns against the juicy ground beef patty, acerbic gherkins and salty bacon with barbeque sauce created an unsavoury contrast so I ended up eating only the toppings – which were delicious.

I decided to try the doughnut burger which was served with chips and a coleslaw salad. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

By dessert time, I was crestfallen and sulking like a petulant child. But I was in for a treat! Again the dessert options were presented as a mini platter with Irish coffee which smelled like home and tasted even better. The vanilla cheesecake square and crème brulee topped with strawberries were a hit! The consistency of the crème brulee, perhaps from being in a rather deep dish, was loose towards the bottom so the custard base felt a bit grainy but tasted like heaven nonetheless. I thought the third serving was bizarre: chocolate banana samosas. As endearing as they sound to the tongue, it sounded like a tragedy for the stomach and I abandoned mine after the first bite.

The night was a grand display of great culinary inventiveness. While there were a few bumps in the road, I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of a community which dares to push the envelope. Look out for these guys!