Look, I know it says "Kigali Restaurant Reviews" up there, but if you've ever arrived here expecting anything resembling a restaurant review you may have been a little bit disappointed. My usual gonzo meanderings even inspired one particularly blockheaded anonymous commenter to register his/her shock and disappointment below the line.
So here's a proper restaurant review. No circular references, wordplay, literary quotes, metatextualising, or dodgy metaphors. I promise.
The Bistro at Urban Hotel
The new Urban 'boutique hotel' has a somewhat polyfillered take on the tropical modernism style that looks so good on Papyrus. The open feel and warm colours seem to embrace both modern and traditional ideas without resorting to hokey safari-chic. If a few more buildings like this go up in Kigali then we might see a bolder, truer, architectural identity taking hold of the city that looks beyond the hideous Dubai-esque monoliths and joyless red-brick bungalows.
(Sorry, I'll get on with the review now)
Tomato bruschetta comes with an unexpected scattering of coriander. Has the kitchen run out of basil or is this a deliberate South Asian touch? Some sort of jazz bruschetta? Either way, it tastes like the kind of half-baked recipe you'd find in a diet book. Something green and red to look at while you wait for something better to happen.
(OK, not bad. Talk about the main courses)
Things improve with the arrival of the main courses. A handsome fillet steak comes cooked medium rare as requested, tasting a little on the sweet side. The accompanying baked potato doesn't look much like anything I've seen growing in Rwanda - a Kenyan expat perhaps? There's also a coffee-encrusted steak threatened on the menu, but there is no reason ever to order something like that. It's an insult to the fine animal that died for your dinner.
(I don't think anyone will notice the dig about agricultural imports. It's going well.)
Chicken cordon bleu is definitely not from the diet recipe book. Oozing with Emmental, this dish conjures up the kind of heart-attack inducing schnitzel you'd be glad to find waiting for you on the other side of a snowstorm. Sadly the bar at the Bistro doesn't stock Schnapps, which would have rounded things off nicely. Accompanying veg are the neatly carved lozenges popular in the 1980s.
(Inadvertent wordplay. I'm sorry. Too late now, we'll just crack on with the puddings)
A trio of crème brûlée fails to get it right three times over. Vanilla has an almost perfect texture, but an eggy taste, while Amarula balances the flavours well, but has the texture of scrambled egg. Coffee crème brûlée smells like the last flavoured condom in the pack, and is an eating experience not dissimilar to being waterboarded with cold nescafe.
(No! I've fallen right into the dodgy metaphor trap! I can't end the review with that. Perhaps I should talk about drinks and service).
While service is generally fine, cocktails lack sparkle and take far longer than they should to arrive. House red by the glass turns out not to be house red, but the dreaded Domaine Bergon available at all bad supermarkets for half the price.
(Managed to get through that without using the phrase "OK for Kigali". What now? Some sort of star rating? How about a Spoon rating?)
The Bistro gets 3 spoons out of a possible 5.
The Bistro at Urban Hotel
Tel: 0788 304 155