Sunday, 2 May 2010

He's the one who likes all our pretty songs

The Don leans over and expels smoke from the side of his mouth.

"This is no place for men like us to talk. I know somewhere we can go and have rotating chicken".

A taxi ride away in Kimironko, we draw up outside the Bloom Hotel. The restaurant has a tin roof that rattles loudly under the rain. We won't be overheard. The Bloom Hotel does a 6,000 RwF rodizio menu at the weekends. Good Idea.

With Waragi procured, the Don grunts at the waiter "Bring me that Kenyan". The Kenyan arrives and we negotiate ugali and sukuma wiki on the side to keep The Philosopher happy.

"This is Brazilian Nyama Choma" I explain to general indifference.

It's not bad to be fair. The place is scruffy and simple enough to resemble a proper churrascaria and the grill is a fairly authentic looking piece of kit. There are no feijao or farofa though, and the choice of meat is limited to goat, chicken and cubes of lovely salty beef. We finish with huge chunks of grilled pineapple covered in cinnamon and lean back in our chairs to pick our teeth.

"I think I'd like it in Brazil" muses the philosopher.

Bloom Hotel Website

Yeah, there's a great truth you should know

Select is a proper restaurant. It is a cocktails in the bar, lashings of red wine, three courses, cigars and brandy restaurant. It is also, for Kigali, a bit on the pricey side (read: London mid-range pricing). If anything this improves the place somewhat, as it keeps out the young-gifted-&-white riff-raff who think it's acceptable to go out to dinner wearing flip-flops and a t-shirt with writing on. Instead you'll find senior civil servants, perhaps a politician or two, sharp-suited business men, and clean-shirted expats who don't wear baseball caps at the table.

There is a nice view of the city, as is compulsory these days, and the whole place is comfortably elegant. You know you're in a serious restaurant, but there is none of the stiff formality.

Most of the food is sourced locally, but a fair bit is air-freighted from Europe or the Swahili coast. I know this is naughty, but look at the menu: monster prawns, scallops, sea bass, Dover sole... and if you want to be really naughty you can order melt in the mouth foie gras.

Most dishes on the menu are European classics. Goat cheese tart is far better than it should be, and beef carpaccio is precise but perhaps a little too delicate on flavour. Did I mention the foie gras? Mains are pretty robust - how about a fatty, juicy heft of pork shoulder that is practically hanging of the plate (according to the owner, this is rapidly becoming Select's signature dish)? Coq au vin is traditional and without a trace of poulet bicyclette, and prawns comes as big as your hand. Oh yeah - the chips are good too.

The staff are charming and efficient. There's no need to double fist your Mutzigs here as the service is prompt and attentive without being pushy or lurking. The owner, Michel, has run restaurants around the world and welcomes you self-deprecatingly, while the head chef acts as his foil, making sure no lady's hand goes unkissed. A tour of the impressive kitchen reveals a relaxed and smiling team who believe in what they are doing.

Book a table. Go. Wear your best shoes.

Select Website