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“half half” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Talisman

Talisman
P.O. Box 834 Ngong Road, Nairobi 00502, Kenya
+254 705 999997
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Ranked #1 of 318 Restaurants in Nairobi
Cuisines: Continental, Café, Asian fusion
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Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Romance, Doing business, Special occasions, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Delivery, Late Night, Dessert
Description: Recently reopened after extensive renovations, the Talisman is located in Karen just on the outskirts of Nairobi in an old colonial building among lush beautiful gardens. Relax either indoors or outdoors or outdoors on our beautiful patio. Chef Marcus Mitchell, who has trained in France and Spain, brings his own unique touch to each dish and has gained acclaim for his fabulous continental and fusion menu. Talisman's service team is also renowned for its hospitality.
2 reviews
“half half”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2013 via mobile

this was our 2nd visit at Talisman since its re-opening. Ambience is just beautiful, first course- feta samosas- were breathtaking... Main courses rather disappointing. Staff very friendly but sorry to say... incompetent all through. It started with wrong price information on wines, upon our request for red wine we were offered savignon blanc... we ordered 2cold beer but got warm beer instead. we ordered 2indian beef curry medium spicy but got it extra mild... food was cold when it reached our table. Desserts and first courses were outstanding good, the rest not good enough. for a 16000ksh meal for 4people i truly expect more. Surely we'll give it another try over the weekend:-)

  • Visited April 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
J C, Public Relations Manager at Talisman, responded to this review, April 24, 2013
Thank you for your detailed feedback. We're very sorry we've disappointed you and will certainly strive to do better next time. We've hired a lot of new staff and are stepping up training, particularly on the wine list. Do come and give us another go. Chef Marcus has added several new menu items and is creating new and exciting specials each week that we'd love for you to try.
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396 reviews from our community

92% Recommend
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Rating summary
    Food
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    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Nairobi, Kenya
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Disappointing.. again”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2013

It was another disappointing trip to Talisman, we thought that because of the refurbishments and it recently opening to the public again, we would try it out again.

It was a Wednesday lunch, pre-booked table for our family of 8 who were celebrating our father's birthday.

We arrived early and there was only one other table with clients sitting down.

3 x Burgers well done with French fries
1 x Mutton Curry
2 x Salads (they call the salad bar)
1 x Fish Fingers and chips to share

Typically, the food took ages to arrive from the kitchen, we were constantly asking the waiters when it would arrive, and by then, the restaurant had started filling up. Other tables received their food before us, even though they arrived after us!

Anyway, it finally arrived and the three burgers were more like beef tartar, and they came with wedges and not French fries. Ironic, because the reason for the food taking it’s time was because of the burgers…
The salads were not what we ordered; they were identical even though we placed different options.
The curry was overpowered with ginger. Now, the person that ordered it is a true curry eater and can take a lot of heat and spices, but the ginger overtook the dish. The air around the table smelt of the ginger too.
We were so fed up and tired that we even skipped dessert.

The 'head' chef, who hovered around inside and went to the other tables to greet clients, did not come to ours.

The restaurant supervisor/host, was kind enough to remove the curry from our bill.

It was another disappointing meal at Talisman.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
J C, Public Relations Manager at Talisman, responded to this review, April 17, 2013
We're sorry to hear that your party booking didn't come off as expected, but we'd like to offer a few observations to help you plan bookings in future:

1. Talisman is not a fast food restaurant, and this is doubly true when you book a large group (6 or more). Because we serve everyone at the table at the same time, this means everyone's food cannot be brought out until the last dish is finished.

2. If several people order the same item (like fillet steaks or sushi dishes), it takes us longer to prepare everything, since we usually have one chef dedicated to each major station. If three orders come in for one dish, that's definitely going to take more time than if one or two orders come in. Due to the volume of orders in recent weeks, we have hired an extra Sushi chef, which will help speed things up. Talisman prides itself on cooking fresh food, making everything from the start with the best ingredients...and that takes time.

3. If a party of two comes in after a large group and orders two different dishes, those people will often receive their orders before the large party. Again, only two dishes have to be plated and served together--not eight or ten at once. While half the large party's meals might be under the warmer waiting for the other half, the dishes for the party of two are finished and ready to go. That's just the nature of the kitchen. Coming in with a large group does mean a longer wait for food.

We do take all suggestions to heart, and we're looking at some ideas to help the wait time for larger groups, including offering small bitings right after you are seated or allowing you to pre-order bitings before arrival. We will announce these changes when they are available.

As you noted, you were given a refund for the curry dish that was too spicy. We are always happy to make things right when you bring them up with your server or the chef, which is one of the things that makes Talisman special. Never hesitate to ask for a waiter if something is wrong. Our goal is to make sure every customer leaves satisfied. Please come again and let us show you!
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Nairobi, Kenya
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
34 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Number 1 in Nairobi?”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2013

This is what Talisman clams quoting one of newspapers' reviews. I agree, it is one of the top restaurants in Nairobi but it is debatable if it is truly number one.
The ambiance is great and my wife claims that recent renovation made it look much better. I couldn't see much of a difference. That's probably gender driven ;-)
After re-opening I was expecting some new ideas in the menu - surpisingly it seems not to have changed at all. Still a perfect fusion, from east to west, from south to north. A bit lengthy - when will Nairobi chefs realise that it is not the number of courses that brings quality? Some of the items (a burger!) don't really fit the image but I can understand that if about 10% of the customers are from the US you must offer something they can relate to :P Having said that, what you finally receive on your plate looks great (not very typical for Nairobi) and the taste is right. It is one of very few places over here where the words "rare" and "medium" have their meaning.
Wine list is as long as the menu. Unfortunately, there is nobody amongst the staff who knows anything about combining food and drinks. Most wines are quite pricy but then you may opt for house which is decent and very reasonably priced.
The staff is friendly and very attentive. Nothing to complain about.
But can you really claim to be #1 restaurant anywhere, if the disco music at the bar plays so loudly that you can hear it in virtually every corner of the restaurant?
Talisman - you are good but you still have some work to do to claim your #1 badge.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
J C, Public Relations Manager at Talisman, responded to this review, April 16, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to post these constructive criticisms. We were #1 in Nairobi on TripAdvisor until they broke Nairobi down into neighborhoods (which now places us #1 in Karen), and Chef Marcus was named Heineken Chef of the Year in this year's Taste Awards, so we're working hard to maintain that status but also grow better over time.

Chef Marcus has actually changed several items on the menu, adding Pan-Seared Ostrich Fillet and Gratin of Emmenthal, Spinach and Thyme to the Mains and Potted Salmon and the Salad Trolley to the starters. But we do keep the favourites in place, as there would likely be an uprising if we got rid of the signature dishes that have earned us our reputation as a gastro-pub for foodies. You can read through the full menu (with photographs) on our website as well.

We are working on more intensively training our staff to be wine-savvy so they can help you pair what's on the list with what you eat. Thanks for your patience as we continue to hone our skills in this area.

Finally, Friday nights when we have a DJ or band in the house are most definitely louder and more crowded than other nights, but we're going to start the music up later from now on to give diners in the other areas more time before things get rocking. If you'd like a totally intimate, quiet dinner, we do also recommend booking any other weeknight. Weekends in Karen are for partying with mates, and Talisman is a popular destination for both locals and tourists who want to hear great music and mingle with friends.

We hope to see you back again soon!
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Nairobi, Kenya
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Consistently terrible!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

In spite of a great ambience, the menu is uninspiring, the food is bland and too often has to go back to the kitchen. The chef is incompetent and rude, service is sluggish, and this is no way to run a restaurant! Very disappointing.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
J C, Public Relations Manager at Talisman, responded to this review, April 16, 2013
Steve, you do not mention precisely what you ordered or how it was prepared incorrectly. We truly strive to make each guest welcome and prepare their food perfectly, so specific feedback is far more constructive than verbally attacking our staff in blanket terms. Our chef is open to all comments/criticisms and treats customers with respect, so your insistence that he is "rude" just doesn't match up to the consistently positive reviews we've received for excellent service.

We want each customer to leave satisfied, and we'll continue to work to make sure that happens each and every time. Chef Marcus has asked me to personally extend an invitation to come again and receive a meal to replace the one you did not enjoy. Let us demonstrate what makes Talisman a genuinely wonderful place to eat.
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London
Top Contributor
103 reviews 103 reviews
38 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
88 helpful votes 88 helpful votes
“Re-opened!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 10, 2013

The Talisman has re-opened after a two month refurbishment. The new, improved Talisman is all the things about it that so many Nairobians know and love with a few but necessary upgrades. The new loos are lovely, the fireside area works even better now and the booths in the covered part make it much less corridor-y if you are sitting there. The food is fantastic - as ever - but even the regular menu items seem to have had a very subtle, but positive upgrade. The new 'cafe gormande' desert taster is a good idea but not 100% 'there' yet, in my opinion. However, Marcus, the chef at the Talisman is not afraid to try ideas like this and regular Talisman-ites love the regular flow of new ideas and tastes. The service at the Talisman is impeccable - Charles, the head wine waiter, Alphose - the head waiter and all the other staff are fantastic. Eating at the Talisman is always a pleasure and I am very relieved it is open again.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
J C, Public Relations Manager at Talisman, responded to this review, April 11, 2013
Thank you so much for taking the time to post this lovely review and the detailed comments. We're enjoying Chef Marcus's adventures in foodie-ism, too, and we can promise there will be a lot of new tastes presented as specials in the future. Thanks for the compliments on our staff. I'll be sure to pass along your kind words to Charles and Alphonse in particular. Come back again soon!
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