Because I am a writer, I like visiting places that writers before me have lived, or frequented, or liked to go to.
Which is why, for example, when I was in Havana, I obviously wanted to go check out La Bodeguita del Medio, a bar said to have been frequented by numerous writers and celebrities; Ernest Hemingway, for one, Gabriel Garcia Marquez for another.
There is even an inscription in the bar said to have been written by Hemingway that reads – my mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita – another bar that he would frequent when he was in Havana.
When I was there though, the place was far too full to get a decent drink in, considering that I am not the only person who would like to have a drink where Hemingway did. I did, however, later visit another La Bodeguita in Trinidad, still in Cuba, and there was a lot more space there. You can read about that here.
While in Malindi, I had another chance to visit a Hemingway spot. As you know, Hemingway was said to have visited the East African coastline at least twice in his lifetime, and explored Kenya from Mombasa and Malindi all the way up to Machakos before heading to Tanzania, and thus it makes sense that there would be a seafood restaurant in Kenya named after him.
I’m quite frankly surprised that there are not more. I’ve been dying to come here but I’m rarely, if ever, around Malindi and its environs to bother. So, this one time, I made sure to visit all the places that have been percolating in my head to visit, from varied reviews and recommendations.
The Old Man and the Sea comes highly recommended for seafood, and I finally had a chance to find out why for myself. The night we visited was a quiet one – I think there was only one other table that was filled and so we had the whole place to ourselves, which was quite nice.
The linen was simple and elegant, as was the stately cutlery that matched it. I walked in expecting the place to be much bigger than it actually was, considering its rave reviews, but it is basically a house that has been converted to a restaurant, which helps it feel even more…well, homely, which I guess was the point.
Our waiter was very conscientious while still managing not to be overpowering, which is my favourite type of waiter, no? Where you don’t have to look too long for him to appear, and he is ready with advice on the menu and can explain the menu to you without having to go ask the supervisor what this dish is or what is in it? Those are a few hallmarks of good service to me, and small things like that are what make me go back to a restaurant. You know how irritating it is when the person who works at the establishment can’t explain what the establishment serves?
My companion had a piña colada, which was obviously too sweet, but well-mixed regardless. I’m not a big fan of juice-like cocktails. I had one of their special rum cocktails whose name I unfortunately can’t remember, but it definitely hit the spot.
After a long day, we were feeling greedy enough to have a starter, and a cocktail, and a main course, AND dessert.
For the starter, we had garlic bread – a welcome change from a version of garlic bread we had had earlier in the day that was basically toasted bread with visible chunks of garlic pressed into it. It tasted as bad as it sounded, and I was wondering if I was in the business of actively trying to chase away vampires with that overpowering smell. The Old Man and The Sea, thankfully, gets garlic bread right.
For my main course, I had prawns, which came with delicious coconut rice, and for dessert I had a scoop of ice cream – again, basic greed. I am not sure if I was riding on the hype, or I was particularly hungry, but everything I ate that night was tasty without exception – including the lobster I pilfered from my companion’s plate. I’m officially a fan of all restaurants with a Hemingway touch.
Wondering where to get the 411 on what’s happening in and around Nairobi’s foodie scene? There’s a lot of places you could go, but here’s where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.