For close to a decade, I had heard nothing but positive reviews about this lounge/restaurant. Why I had never visited the old or new location beats me.
A few words were thrown around in description. Ambience, authenticity, consistently good food and service. I had to see this for myself.
Upon arrival, I was not immediately greeted by any host. It was not necessary. I was too busy admiring the décor. Whoever came up with the colour schemes, furniture, lighting…this was a fantastic job. The array of colours in tie and dye and batik table clothes and seat covers blew me away. The arrangement of tables, leather chests (some of them wine storage) and beautifully crafted chairs consumed me as did the soothing jazz seeping through the speakers. In two minutes I believed and concluded that this was one of the most beautiful restaurants I had visited….anywhere in the region.
I had to break from this reverie and focus on what my reason for visiting was. I descended into critic mode.
I approached a waiter at the main bar and we casually exchanged pleasantries. I asked for a table and he gave me the option to sit upstairs. This was a good choice. The view of Kigali City center is a plus. My waiter presented me with a menu. Not a complicated piece of literature, I noticed that the grill section dominates this menu.
The starters are industry standard in regards to the soup and salads but the spicy sausage and mustard caught my eye. I read on and with interest, noticed the house specials like the liboke fish and sombe. I’d seen tea and coffee listed on a menu as desserts in very few places, or crepes for that matter. But that did not present a problem. Different restaurants do different things.
I settled for a medium rare mushroom steak with mashed potatoes. I lie. The truth is I had already made up my mind upon what I was going to eat way before I arrived. Reasons? A restaurant of this standing should be able to provide great steaks. For myself, it is a mark of quality.
As I patiently waited for my meal, I noticed the dining area begin to fill up. It is true that Repub is a popular destination. Just google it.
My steak arrived a little after 25 minutes. Too long for a medium rare steak. The mushroom sauce was a little too watery and thus, played havoc on the plating arrangement. The chef was also a little too zealous with the fork markings on the mash but I was not to be dissuaded. The garnish was fresh and evoked a smile.
First bite and I was impressed. The steak was tender and unlike many I’ve had before, not chewy. The mushroom sauce, despite its liquid state, was very complimentary of the steak and mash. All three together cajoled my palate to take yet another forkful. Believe me I was looking for a negative. I got none. Perfectly seasoned and cooked just right, even the temperature of the mash was on point
I quickly dispensed of this meal and as I sat back, I agreed with all I had heard before. Arguably one of, if not the industry leader, Repub is a must visit. Its longevity should serve as testament to the loyalty it breeds amongst its patrons.
Located in Kimuhurira (restaurant and lounge central), prices are not too bad if you avoid the house specials. An extensive list of drinks is also available.
I urge an immediate visit for this place is simply delightful.