The Manor 540 – Modern restaurant in historic building
A mansion with a rich colonial past has been converted into a restaurant where you can get delicious African dishes and a huge serving of history.
The Manor 540 as it is now known is housed in a building where one of the colonial governors of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring, resided.
Despite some adjustments around the colonial building, it maintains its rustic and ancient look, a sight to behold on Westland’s Muthangari Drive.
If it is not the steeply slanted tiled roof that catches the eye, then it is the grey brick walls or the heavy mahogany doors that do the magic.
The Manor 540 co-director Jacqueline Magloire said some facelift was necessary to transform the three storey-building from a home to a restaurant.
“The place was a bit run down when we came in September 2015, but now customers love it for its food and the privacy it offers,” she said.
The restaurant prides itself on its cuisine, mostly from western, central and eastern parts of the continent.
Popular on the menu is the Cameroonian char grilled fish, ideally served with plantains, a pick Jacque says is loved by first-time visitors.
The original topography of the ground the building sits on was steep and devoid of a proper drainage system. The landscaper has since installed concrete steps that run through a well-manicured lawn.
The backyard has at least five canvas gazebos which add to the outside décor alongside a variety of plants, including bamboos.
As for the facelift on the main building, some of the windows had to be brought down to create large semi-circular open spaces that let in lots of light.
At the reception area, the old ceramic British tiles give customers a feel of what awaits them in “the Manor”.
“The high back reception sofa was picked to give the guests comfort and a feeling of belonging as they wait to be served,” said Eric Ijene, the interior designer.
A liquor spot sits right across the reception area, which is said to be the exact spot where the original owner of the house had his home bar.
Minimal adjustments have been done on the interior décor in efforts to keep its ancient rustic concept which has been boosted by the dark seats, wide heavy tables and floor tiles.
Eric said he played around with colour shades and furniture styles to suit the desires of the new occupants of the building.
“What is clear is that they did not want a contemporary look so I worked to achieve a rustic look through colours like gold, white and yellow, “ he said.
He chose white for the original dining room, which currently sits one of the numerous serving spots. It is those with a keen eye that can notice white strips on the white walls.
To bring the focal point in the space, he chose yellow shades for the fireplace. On the opposite end of the room, he installed two giant mirrors, each framed with decorated thick wood.
The mirrors help to break the monotony in the room while blending well with the patterned wooden flooring tiles.
Eric removed the curtain boxes and instead painted the window grills gold to give the setting its dated look.
He also added brown wall lampshades to give the room its cozy, homely but classy feel.
As customers eat, drink and chat away in the backyard verandas furnished with rattan seats and tables, some soft jazz music plays on.
The restaurant prepares its meals at the spacious kitchen. The kitchen veranda has been transformed into an extension of the cooking area to accommodate the numerous fire spots for the restaurant.
In total, the original house had 10 bedrooms which have since been converted into entertainment spots with cozy seats, bar stands and eating spaces.
The rooms on the subsequent floors have been layered with red velvety wall- to- wall carpet while the walls have layered textured wallpaper.
Several washrooms in the house were upgraded and partitioned to make them customer friendly so they can serve more people at a go.
The restaurant, which has 10 chefs , serves an average of 50 customers in a day.
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