I was running late for this date with Reina. We were meeting at Crave Kitchen in Kikuyu town for breakfast. I asked her to go ahead. I’d catch up in like twenty minutes or so.
Crave Kitchen is a beautiful artistic, rustic themed cafe that seeps of simplicity and ambition. It’s mildly interesting and somewhat adventurous with its vintage touch. To put it differently, it’s like that gorgeous sexy lady you have a crush on but she’s so complicated, you wonder where to draw the line, to love or dislike her. But you’re still drawn to her nonetheless.
Spoiler Alert: This is going to be a roller-coaster review, full of good and not so good experiences which, I’ll let you be the judge.
I walked in and spotted Reina in a red hoodie, seated at a corner next to the pastries display section. From your first view, Crave Kitchen will impress you with its genius blend of art – paintings and artifacts hang around the cafe – and the food, that’s made in the open kitchen area. You step in there, from the streets of Kikuyu town and feel a unique atmosphere embrace you.
Crave Kitchen is a cut from a different cloth, no doubt. It’s distinct.
Reina stood to hug me, we sat down as I apologized for my lateness. She was having chicken soup that was served with toasted slices of bread.
She couldn’t taste the chicken flavour in the soup and asked me to try it. Yeah, the chicken taste was a bit far off but I liked the soup. I convinced her to change our spot to a different table across the room. As we stood up, I asked one waitress to help us move the soup to our new spot. She briskly did that. Reina and I have a knack for spotting, uhm, weird waiters. This particular one was ice-cold.
We sat down and Reina helped me skim through the menu for an order. She suggested having the ‘workman’s breakfast.’ Which had; eggs, bacon, baked beans, a sausage, avocado guacamole and a hot drink. Obviously I chose white coffee.
Miss Ice-cold, served the coffee first. The remaining order took a bit longer and when it was brought, I was a bit disappointed to see no starch and so I ordered for a pancake and a samosa. We enjoyed the meal, Reina baffled at the scenery. I’d been here before but it was Reina’s first visit. She liked it so much and from where we were seated, we could see the open kitchen. It was rather obvious who was the Head Chef judging from the team.
My coffee had become cold (obviously from the wait) and I signaled Miss Ice-cold to come over to our table. She took her time, hehe. And when she finally came, I asked her to kindly warm my coffee. She gave me that bewildered look as if I was speaking French or something. As she picked it up, I requested her to ask the chef to stop by for a word if he had a minute. Again, the bewildered look.
You know what, if you’re going to be a waitress, at least show some hospitality. Don’t make it feel or look like I, the customer – who is always right by the way – is bothering you. And stop been in a goddamn hurry when I’m making my request to you! You could be in the pause of a sentence and just then, Miss Ice-cold has hurried away, like; ‘please warm my coffee a bit, its cold – pause – and…’
‘Where the heck did she go?’
Its hospitality and waiting on me that counts. And please smile. (Now I sound like a disgruntled wife, geez!)
That said, we still had a good time. And when Tom, the Head Chef stopped by, we enjoyed the short banter we had. Turns out he’s the owner, has worked across Europe and the UK for close to 14 years and is bringing it all back here. Making a splendid fusion of fine dining and café culture. He has a vision to grow the place and his team. As he admitted to us, he said, ‘it all comes down to the team. I’m really working hard to develop and merge a good solid team to work with.’ Crave Kitchen will soon add fine South African wines to their menu to accommodate for the ritzy taste of wine lovers. You should have seen the smile on Reina’s face when Tom said that.
‘All the best Tom, your vision is enchanting! Godspeed.’
We stole a few more minutes talking about the beauty of Crave Kitchen. When it was time to go, we walked up to the counter, paid our bill, made a tip and left.
The funny bit is, we were eager to go back there for dinner, and we did, a couple days later. The music was right, the dim lights and lit candles complemented the ambience. This time round the service was much worse than the first time. Is it any wonder Miss Ice-cold was our waiter, again?
Despite all that, I’d still ask you to check out the place. The pricing is quite generous. It’s a nice budding café that’s definitely up to something marvelous. And though it’s not there yet, it’s getting there, slowly and that’s all that makes the difference. But be prepared to take in some disappointment with the service, not the food.