Hemingway's Nairobi is fresh out of the blocks, and like a filly in training - albeit one of the most beautifully groomed I've come across - there are a few hurdles yet to be conquered. With a sweep of 45 rooms marching down the hill, this is a seriously ambitious project. And the ambition starts the moment you turn into Hemingways' driveway. Security is taken seriously - a man named John introduces himself, and asks if we have a booking. In anticipation of a flurry of Sunday lunch daters such as ourselves, I have a table reserved, so John radios reception and lowers the bollards so we can pass. The entrance hall is magnificent, with two staircases sweeping up each side, and views out to the dancing water fountain beyond which must be the outline of the Ngongs. Except of course it's Nairobi in July so we can't see the hills.
The restaurant spills outdoors onto a verandah, and below that a 'grassed' terrace - inverted commas because it's fake grass, but works well. Whilst the menu isn't enormous, it covers most aspects - some Italian options, a few English staples, and a great deal of beef.
To start, we decided to share a Fishcake with tomato and fennel fondue, and tartar sauce. It came with layers of flavour, topped with a light but tangy sauce, which was offset by the most robust notes offered by the tomato and fennel. If I was going for a light lunch, this would be ideal. As a starter, it was perhaps a tiny bit heavy, but it all depends on individual appetites...
Intrigued by the many meat options and the Josper Oven, I chose the cut of the day as my main course, which was the Onglet - known in English as 'the skirt'. Add béarnaise sauce, a side of fries, and some wilted spinach and you have yourself the perfect steak lunch. I have to admit, it's probably the best steak I've ever eaten. Perfectly charred on the outside, with subtle spicy flavours from a what must be the chef's special marinade, inside it was juicy and succulent. It was far too much for me to eat but fortunately Hemingway's have thought about that and brought the leftovers out in their specially branded 'Doggy Bag'. Nice touch.
Finally, because somehow at the end of a meal like this you find space for pudding, we went for our all time favourite - and often the menu item we judge a restaurant on - creme brûlée. Hemingways goes for shallow but enormous with this pud, and the flavours certainly didn't disappoint. We crammed it in, crunchy smooth mouthful by crunchy smooth mouthful, and then regretted the bloat of our stomachs. Fair retribution I would say.
After all these indulgences, which I feel sure Ernest himself would have enjoyed, we rolled down the slope to view the William Holden Suite. Each unit of rooms (I think there were six in each) comes with its own butler, who is your point of contact throughout - a man Friday type ready to make reservations, call up taxis or order you some of that delectable food from the Brasserie. The rooms we looked at were both very similar - four poster bed decked out in slumbersome looking linen; a trunk at the end of each bed that cleverly conceals a flat screen TV until you want it; a desk, and finally something that would have kept Mr Hemingway happy - an extremely well stocked mini bar. Once you've finished indulging (again) in the minis, your white marble bathroom awaits, replete with swanky walk in wardrobe and all the bits and pieces you would expect.
All in all, it's very appealing... just make sure you've ordered the golf cart to take you back up the hill, especially post Brasserie blow-out.