New Bandal is the typical evening bar. Evening bar in that it is tailored to the tastes of that class of patron who prefers to drink under dim lights, if not darkness.
You know, the kind that want to pair and cozy up in public without necessarily having their cover blown by the city grapevine? The seating arrangement comes mainly by way of small, exclusive nooks that are strictly designed for one group each.
It is situated directed opposite the Kobil gas station in Remera, and from the main road looking in, what greets your eyes is the long, tunnel-like corridor that ushers you straight into the back sitting area, which is dotted with Primus branded plastic garden chairs; chairs that have seen days from the date of their manufacture – chairs that are teetering on the brink of becoming an eyesore. For their part, the tables here are good at doing what they do best: wobbling and dancing the Intore dance, if you catch the drift.
It is flanked by a grass-thatched garden bar to the left, and the kitchens to the right. Beyond the tented seating area are a fleet of nooks made out of papyrus reed and plywood.
A small corridor between these nooks and the kitchens leads one to the loos, Asian style porcelain squat toilets. The ladies’ and gents’ cubicles are both equipped with condom dispensers that have long abdicated their intended duties.
Scribbled on the frontal wall of the kitchens is the entire food and drinks menu, in that with its white backdrop, it looks like some kind of giant projector screen.
The main building, a residential house-turned bar, contains a mini discotheque, whose lighting theme is such that your neighbour won’t notice you as he bypasses you on the dance floor. Through an arch way out of the dance arena are two sofa lounges and a splattering of private rooms for the touchy-feely love birds. Another room is being developed for shisha.
At Rwf1,200, New Bandali perhaps has the cheapest buffet in town. It runs from 11:00am till 3:00pm, and serves up strictly local cuisine. The stainless steel food warmers had no fire beneath them on the day we checked in, which only meant having to make do with lukewarm food.
Come evenings, and the “Akabenzi brigade” floods the place in droves. The pork (akabenzi) at New Bandal is served with roast plantain for condiments, and at Rwf3,000 a kilogram is a traditional crowd puller.
New Bandali has a scruffy, never-going-to-change aspect about it, the kind of place one is likely to find lower cadre civil servants and anybody who is not a trend-chaser.