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A taste of Beirut in central Kigali

Aug 26

A taste of Beirut in central Kigali

In the past five years, Lebanese restaurants have invaded Kigali's gastronomical scene, replacing Chinese restaurants with shawarmas as the first choice for a quick lunch or takeaway snack.

I did not have to look hard to satisfy my appetite for Lebanese food as I chanced upon the Beirut Sky Pool & Bistro in the Kibagabaga neighbourhood along the KK 249 Street next to Caiman Restaurant and the Thirsty Ape nightclub. It is about 15 minutes’ drive from the city centre and the international airport.

The restaurant is on the rooftop of a building set atop an escarpment overlooking Nyarutarama and Kimironko.

The bistro's exterior and interior are adorned with red motifs resplendent with the Lebanese flag.

The bar and lounge areas are decorated with red and black leather cushioned seats with wooden bar stools on the bar counter.

The lights are covered with ornate designs of latticework lampshades that light up the room in all shades of colours.

I settled in and it took more than 10 minutes for a waiter to come my way. With my first impression of the place gone south, I resigned to entertaining myself with a game of football that was being shown on one of the many flat screen television sets dotting the restaurant, clearly to lure football fans. Maybe I looked more of a football fan than a hungry patron.
After what seemed like an eternity, a waiter came to get my order. At this point I was so famished that I settled for the first thing on the menu that looked familiar. This was the Shawarma mix which was served with french fries and a vegetable salad.

The Shawarma mix is shredded pieces of spicy chicken and beef, tender but too dry for my liking, wrapped in wheat tortillas. The fries were a generous portion and came mildly hot and slightly crunchy. The cucumber, carrots, onions, kale, lettuce and tomatoes making the vegetable salad was fresh and crunchy.

Beirut restaurant also serves local dishes and contemporary American and Italian dishes. Their starter options include plain humus, motabal avocado, cheese and sausage, chicken wings, fish fingers and merguez.

The Beirut specials called “Beirut Platas“ consist of Shawarma mix which is Shawarma beef, Shawarma chicken, mixed grill of grilled chicken taouk, grilled kafta and grilled kebab. The Shish taouk, kaftahs and kebabs are offered separately.

Also on the menu are salads, snacks, steaks, soups, burgers, pizzas, grills and brochettes.

Food prices range from Rwf3,500 ($4.3) to Rwf13,000 ($12.7). .

The bar at Beirut Sky Pool Bistro serves a wide range of soft and alcoholic beverages with local and imported beers, ciders, house wines, champagne, aperitifs, brandy, gins, vodkas with premium and deluxe whiskeys.

The ample parking is a plus and the swimming pool adjacent to the bar and lounge area offers spectacular views and open for all for Rwf3,000 ($3) per person just in case you want to take a cooling dip before quenching your thirst.