Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant
ALI BARBOUR'S CAVE RESTAURANT DIANI
Many people explore natural caves to mine or learn history and physical geology. It never occurs to them that caves can become five star hotels. You have to visit Ali Barbours caves restaurant to believe.
This happened to me on the second day of this year, when I paid a call to this restaurant, which is in Diani beach, thirty kilometers south of Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city.
A wave of evening coolness swept through me as I meandered down the ten meters long wooden staircase. . A man and woman of black complexion were inside the counter,
arranging bottles of spirits and beer on the shelves.
“Have you made reservations?” The man smiled genuinely.
Before I answered him, I heard sounds of feminine footsteps running down the stairs. A middle aged white woman appeared.
“I ‘d like to make reservation for six people at seven today.” She said in a Briton accent.
“We’re fully booked for the remaining days of the month. Try the neighboring, Forty Thieves Beach Bar.” The barman said and bid her farewell.
After I explained to the barman that I was collecting materials for an article on their restaurant, he introduced himself as Mr. Elias Kenoi and his colleague as Gladys Zainabu. They allowed me to stroll inside the cave before we had a chat.
The cave has two compartments. The upper chamber is a bar and lower cubicle is a dining hall. It’s well lit by red candles and bulbs on glass lampshades. The reflection of lamplight on the coral and stone tiled floor create a serene atmosphere which cant be found anywhere in Africa, perhaps in the whole world. It’s like light in the stomach of the earth.
The open roof allows diners to see the clear African sky as they eat international foods and take world-class wines with moonlight in their head. If rain decides to imitate the moon, the restaurant staff, protects customers by sliding a canvas roof over their heads.
Round and rectangular tables and their immaculate clothes, wine glasses and skillfully arranged cutlery make it an ideal scenery for married proposals, ignite dwindling flame of love or make an apology for wrongs done to a loved one.
This restaurant serves international haute cuisine. However it majors in seafood. Customers can enjoy snapper, prawn and crab pate with warm toast at a price of six hundred and fifty shillings. A prawn cocktail cost seven hundred and fifty shillings.
Kenya residential who are not used to international dishes, can combine spaghetti with fish or chicken.
Wines and spirits are available in plenty. This restaurant mostly imports the best wines, which can be found in South Africa. According to Mr. Elias, in the dark era of history, Ali Barbours cave used to be a passage for slaves on their way to boarding ships. There used to be a channel, which stretched and ended near Diani Airstrip, on the shores of Indian Ocean. The entrance was blocked and made a cul-de-sac. Today, the restaurant entertains international faces- Europeans, Americans, Canadians and Africans.
It opens daily, apart from Christmas. It starts operating at three, serves dinner from seven and closes at midnight. Dinners must be dressed in smart casual- no shorts, baseball caps or vest.
Ali Barbours cave restaurant is a place where every person should compete to spend an evening at, even if once in a lifetime.
HISTORY OF ALI BARBOURS CAVE RESTAURANT
In 1983, Mr. George Barbours lost his beloved dog. He started looking for it in a forest, which was a part of his sprawling land, in Diani.As he combed bushes and tittering branches of trees, his nostrils were hit by strong smell of rotting carcass.
He studied the vicinity and discovered that he was standing on a cliff of a coral cave. He followed the smell to the cave’s floor, where he confirmed that his beloved dog was dead. And right in front of him was its decomposing body.
Together with Jackie, his wife, he excavated the cave, turned it into a restaurant and christened it, Ali Barbours Cave! With his sharp business acumen, he constructed a kitchen and toilets to serve the restaurant.
This turned the ill-fated cave into a treasury cave, similar to the cave of the legendary Ali Baba and forty thieves. Unlike Ali Baba’s cave, which opened after a person said, ‘Open sesame,’ Ali Barbours cave opens to anybody who makes a reservation.
ORIGIN OF ALI BARBOURS CAVE
Geologists believe that Ali Barbours cave developed in the upper Pleistocene period, two hundred and fifty thousand years ago. It was formed by subterranean and solution beneath the water table. With time, it was breached and modified by dramatic changes in sea levels and tidal and wave action engagement.
TEL: + 254 (0) 735 331 002
+ 254 (0) 254 (0) 40
FAX: +254 (0) 403 202 223
P. O. BOX 53,