Kenya in general has a lot to offer when it comes to food, with many inﬂuences from around the world, it is not difﬁcult to ﬁnd your favourite dish. But if you are looking for
something which offers more than just delicious food, then Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant could be the perfect place. The restaurant not only offers a selection of tasty dishes, but the whole experience is unique and offers something for all. As the name suggests, the restaurant is based in a beautiful
cave along the coast in the small town of Diani, south of Mombasa. The restaurant is certainly on the higher end but provides guests a one in a life time experience, which is certainly worthwhile, especially if you are on holiday in the area or want to celebrate a special occasion!
The restaurant offers every guest excellent service before you even step through the front door, providing all guests who book transport right from your hotel or residence. The driver arrives promptly, and you are whisked away to the restaurant. As you walk into the restaurant you are welcomed with calm music, ambience lighting and a friendly host. You ﬁrst need to make your way down a staircase to enter the cave. The beauty of the restaurant hits you as soon as you make your way down. There is truly something magical about being inside a cave, the uneven sloping walls, rough to touch, but almost mesmerizing, as everywhere you look there is something new to see. Although simple in décor, the restaurant has a mix of Arabic and Swahili charm, which ﬁts the environment perfectly. As you step down from the
restaurant reception and bar to the restaurant area, your eyes are immediately drawn to the ceiling where the starry evening can be observed through the caves large natural openings above, the setting is perfect and as you sit down, cozily at your table and gaze at the stars, you really do get a feeling of peace and serenity.
The restaurant, often busy throughout the evening, receives people from all over, with families, couples and small parties wining and dining. Although every table is ﬁlled, it is on the contrary, a rather private dining experience. The menu has a great selection of food, wines and cocktails and really does have something for all, including a separate menu for vegetarian's, which has to be one of the best selection of vegetarian options I have personally seen. As I order my food, choosing a starter and a ﬁsh dish for my main, I decide to enjoy a cocktail in the restaurant bar. Sitting at the bar, I again ﬁnd myself staring at the rocky interior, and admiring the small Swahili seating that is scattered around the bar area. You can't help but wonder how such a place has come about, which I soon came to learn from information available at the bar. It is believed the cave is between 120,000 to 180,000 thousand years old and is part of a series of interlinking chambers, going as deep and 10 meters below ground level. There are caves dotted all along Kenya's shoreline, and the cave restaurant is part of a larger cave structure that pierces miles inland. Furthermore, the cave which was formed in coral reef limestone, would have historically been underwater, at some point being home to the diverse marine life found in the Indian Ocean.
Apart from the necessary changes needed to allow the cave to function as a restaurant, the cave has been mostly untouched. The only addition to the restaurant is the stone ﬂoor, along with furniture, lighting and sound effects. The natural holes which allow diners to sit under the starry night has a sliding cover, so to protect all during times of bad weather.
I make my way back to my table and I am welcomed with warm fresh bread while I wait for my food. My starter arrives and is both tasty and nicely portioned. As soon as I ﬁnish, the waitress promptly takes my plate away and my main is served shortly after, impressed by both the friendly staff and efﬁcient service, my main course does not disappoint. The ﬁsh, which is both fresh and ﬂavorsome, goes down well and the waiting staff time everything right, always serving you with a smile and never too far to top up your wine but just far enough to give you privacy while eating. I watch as others order food which is rolled out on a hot grill and cooked and served while eager diners watch, other diners take the opportunity to photograph the beautiful surroundings. I ﬁnish my experience with a delicious dessert and a coffee. It is worthwhile noting that during the whole dining experience no plastic straws or bottles were used. With the water served in a glass bottles and paper straws provided instead of plastic. On departure, the host arranges for my pick up, again another bonus to eating at the restaurant, as you are safely returned back to your residence or hotel.
The Ali Barbour Cave restaurant did not disappoint, with great food, service and overall beautiful ambience. It certainly should be on everyone's to do list when in Diani, although on the higher end of the dining experiences along the coast, this old and beautiful cave which happens to have an excellent restaurant within, is certainly worth a visit.
To avoid disappoint please book ahead, by either calling or
asking your hotel to call the following number
(254) 0714 456131.