If you’ve been around Nairobi CBD long enough, you probably have heard about this iconic joint; Sonford Restaurant. Haven’t you? I actually don’t know what makes it that famous. But it is.
It’s a modest (well, pretty much a functional fast food joint) that majorly sells French fries (chips) and chicken at a shoestring budget price. It’s nothing wow, just another stop in a chain of fast food joints mostly in downtown Nairobi. It’s on Moi Avenue if you’re wondering. Right opposite the Bata shoe shop in Bazar Plaza.
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I met up with Reina in the evening a few minutes past 5pm. I was picking her up then we head for a class we’ve just joined. You see, I’m a sucker for love and romance. So basically, I dig Valentine’s Day. I’d take Reina to a beach in Seychelles to celebrate our love if I could. But when you’re low on the mullah, there is little you can do to give your Queen a blast on this day of love. And like she always says to me, “its not where I am, its who I am with that counts. Muindi, you are my best company.”
So, when she said she’s hungry, I offered to buy her a meal at Sonford Restaurant. A quick bite as we tried to make it to class on time.
She was bubbly and happy. She kept on goofing around and clinging to me as we walked in past the security check. We made our order at the cashier and got the food; chips and a quarter chicken. She also ordered tomato sauce and kachumbari sachets. Inside Sonford, they have this big banner that serves as the menu, with all the food and prices listed. Below it, are the cashiers and attendants. The cashiers are always in a haste. They squeamish at any hesitance you make. Be sure to know exactly what you want before you step in the que.
We walked up the metallic staircase which made a thud at every step. Theres this lovers corner on your right just after coming up the stairs, but it was already taken by two love birds. We looked for a different spot and sat elevated on the stools surrounded by the many mirrors perched on the walls. I keep wondering what inspired having the many USA states signage souvenirs fixed on the walls. Probably the owner lived in the states and exported the heritage back home. I don’t know.
Reina and I began to dig in. Mostly her. I’d already taken a heavy lunch earlier on. A few bites sufficed it for me. The thing is, when you share one too many meals with the love-of-your-life, you end up noticing how she eats. For Reina, she always starts with the meat. She’s a carnivorous this one. A die-hard meat lover.
As she was munching the deep-fried chicken, and feeding me a few bites of it, she asked me to mix up the sauce and kachumbari with the fries. By the way, at Sonford, you dont get a fork or knife. Not even a plate. The food is packed in some plastic paper bags and the chicken is wrapped with plain paper wrappers. Its you, your hands and toothpicks (Kenyan chopsticks) if you fancy that.
I mixed it up the fries. Then she noticed something. The kachumbari was somewhat stale. It had a ka-smell she picked up. She took a bite and said, naaah! This stuff is bad. We need to complain about it.
Actually, I was willing to overlook the fries and not raise it up with the ‘management.’ Reason being; thing about eating at cheap food joints is, you should (and you’re also required) to keep your expectation guards down. I mean, what do you expect, cheap is expensive, right?
But not Reina. She wasn’t buying into my opinion. She called one of the ladies and complained to her politely. Her name was Shiko.
Shiko: ‘Poa sana.
Reina: ‘Uko tu?’ (sounding like they know each other.)
Shiko: ‘Eeeh, niko tu….. (smiling expectantly not knowing what was coming her way.)
Reina: ‘Hii kachumbari yenyu ni mbaya. Hata sijui kama ni kachumbari ama viazi.’
(Ha! Kumbe chips ni viazi.)
Reina asked her to smell the fries, which she did. Shiko then offered to go downstairs and raise it with the management. I wasn’t really expecting her to do much, but, I was shocked to see her come back with extra fries, same amount we’d ordered with no extra kachumbari in sight. She admitted the kachumbari was bad and offered us the extra fries for free. To be honest, I was pretty much impressed.
That’s not something you expect to see from such joints. She didn’t justify or bullshit us that the food is good and its us who are too sensitive. She simply admitted and did the right thing. Now, that Amigos, is customer centricity! No matter how small it looks, it is enough to make us go back there.
Well, obviously, Reina rubbed it on my face that people listen to a Queen and all. And that I shouldnt fear complaining when given bad service. That at the very least, I shouldn’t settle for less.
You know what, she was right.
Check out Sonford Restaurant one of these fine days. Sit upstairs, its less noisy. Trust me, you won’t feel a pinch in your pocket.
PS: Hey Amigos, I’ve started this new segment here on the blog. I’m calling it; The Muindi’s At…..Reina and I will visit restaurants and other places and tell you about our experience there. Hopefully I’ll post a new review each week. Cheers!