January 2016

By the lakes of the Great Rift

Lake Oloidien with Mt Eburru

My plate, the Ploughman’s lunch is an artist’s delight with the colours of freshly picked salad, a chunk of cheese, cold ham and a wholesome slice of bread and sauces. We’re dining al-fresco on the lush lawns of the Ranch House Bistro in sight of Oloidien, the little lake that goes from fresh to salty depending on the levels of its neighbour, the fresh water Lake Naivasha. At this point this little lake is fresh, filled with fresh-loving water birds instead of the crimson-coloured flamingos that relish the algal bloom when the lake’s salty.

The Ploughman’s platter is sumptuous and goes to the days of old when farmers toiled over the land doing using sheer muscle  – the chunk of cheese, ham, onion and bread kept the energy levels high. I feel justified to have the platter having been up at the crack of dawn for a game drive in the Oserengoni wildlife sanctuary that boasts some of the world’s rarest wildlife like the Grevy’s zebra, white rhino, the big cats and of course the African wild dog (something l have NEVER seen) and aardvark.

Nice place to dine by Lake Oloidien in Naivasha

That’s followed by a tour of Oserian, the famed flower farm and a walk around the lake shores. It’s spectacular with flotillas of pelicans, the African fish eagle swooping with talons outstretched to grab a fish from the lake and dainty jacanas, herons, storks and a few more hundred birds that go to make Oloidien and Naivasha a bird watchers paradise.

As the name goes – the Ranch House – there’s a big focus on quality meat with juicy steaks and burgers.

Al fresco dining at Ranch House Bistro

“We opened doors in November 2014,” Theodora Spyropoulous the manager of the bistro tells. “A bistro suggests a relaxed and informal environment rather than a more formal restaurant and the idea is to provide home-style cooking using fresh, local ingredients to produce delicious and nutritionally healthy recipes in a ranch style setting.”

Formerly an old Italian house and dairy farm with spacious lawns, the matriarch of the Oserian Flowers June Zwager and her granddaughter Louisa Ker transformed the quaint old building into the beautiful bistro complete with culinary delights and signature cocktails.  The white-washed interior of the ranch house shows of exquisite brick-work, with old farm machinery like wagon wheels and axles used as art-deco. The veranda boasts a brick oven for the quintessential Italian pizza.

“The menu focuses on freshly prepared home-styled cooking using the best available ingredients with many grown and sourced from our own farm,” continues Spyropoulous. “The menu is not large but it focuses on quality food that is freshly prepared.”

Exploring new dishes like the Spanakopita is exciting. The prosaic spinach is transformed into a yummy spinach pie the way the Greek do it with – of course spinach – onions, cheeses and herbs in a crispy, flaky dough.

Then there’s clay-oven pizza, rolled chicken, raspberry mousse, pepper steak and pulled pork.

“Sunday barbeque lunches are popular,” tells Spyropoulous. “The new menu features pulled pork cooked nice and slow until tender. And there’s also the rotisserie chicken.”

It’s an interesting lunch with a clientele of sorts popping in – elands, warthogs, zebras and gazelles grazing on the grounds between the lake and the bistro with white tails hanging from the acacias of the leaf-chomping, arboreal colobus monkeys.

“Our dairy cows are always looking for an excuse to sneak into the ranch house gardens,” jokes Spyropoulous. “And the vervet monkeys and baboons keep the staff on their toes at times.”

And I’m enjoying every minute of the bistro lunch twixt the lakes.

Bistro Bites

I love the Ranch House Bistro because it’s very affordable setting sumptuous platters.

It’s a perfect day out along the lake shore of Naivasha –  contact ranch.house@chuisafaricollection.com or call 0700 488475 for reservations.

Check in at Chui Lodge or Kiangazi House www.oserian.com and enjoy the wilderness of Oserengoni wildlife sanctuary. The kitchens of all the outfits are culinary delights – so be warned.

Have time? Book a tour of the Oserian geothermal plant and the flower farm that produces the finest roses in the world. With more time, hike up Mount Longonot, explore Hell’s Gate National Park, visit Elsamere the home of the legendary Joy and George Adamson who set the stage for rehabilitating lions, leopards and cheetahs back to the wild. Or simply enjoy a boat ride, fishing or biking around to work off the calories.