Kigali is justly regarded as one of Africa’s fastest rising cities. Its attractions being its meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions activities; its past and being the place where all the action is happening. But until recently, the city would never have featured on anyone’s list of gastronomic destinations. Happily, things have changed, and Rwanda has learned to appreciate its national produce and splendour.
A new wave of pioneers such as Y&T cocktails and creperie, and its more formal newly-opened sister establishment, The Secret lounge, have transformed Kigali’s eateries.
The gradual regeneration of the sector, which had been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis, has led to the emergence of a lively gastronomic scene eager to make up for lost time. The easing of the lockdown, has resulted in new breed of epicureans’ eager to try out new eateries, simply to get out of the house.
In search of a new treat, I chanced upon The Secret lounge, the newly opened top-end establishment.
Tucked in the upscale neighbourhood of Gishushu along the KG 599 St, this romantic hideaway is just right opposite Sole Luna.
It is a good 15-minute drive from the Central Business District and is far from the crowds.
Descending down the stairs that leads into the Secret, one is lured in by the colourful turquoise exteriors. The lounge goes for a luxurious chic look with its plush womb chairs with stronger shades like velvet green juxtaposed with neutral colours like grey and off-white muted with a blacker shade.
The sleek interiors borrow a bit from Classic French fusing it with contemporary chic to reach a pinnacle of quiet elegance.
The Secret’s crowning glory is its vibrant meticulously designed rose garden dining area, which erupts into a canvas of bright white, pink, purple, and coral flowers. Also of note is its gold accents on its tables and panelling, the vibrant turquoise metalwork that houses the lounge and the glossy artificial grass flooring that reflects off the afternoon sunlight.
Some sweet pop music was playing in the background setting up the mood for a lovely afternoon when I got there.
After soaking in the visual splendour provided by the ambience, I proceeded to take my order. I settled on roasted potatoes with chicken served with a side of vegetables.
It took quite some time for the food to get to the table.
Meanwhile, I waltzed around trying to find the best shots of the restaurant. The chicken with roasted potatoes did not disappoint when it finally arrived at the table. The presentation of the food was superb.
The roasted potatoes had been prepared with garlic which magnified the charms of the knobby potato. It was well seasoned and was perhaps my favourite part of the meal.
The chicken was tender, adequately seasoned and just fell off the bone but lacked that distinct tick that would knock it out of the park.
The vegetables were fresh and made for a wholesome meal.
I also tried some cocktails For my first visit I enjoyed their mojitos served in a highball glass.
which was particularly potent. By the time, I was on my second glass I was already up on my feet dancing. I enjoyed the Blue Lagoon on my second visit which was part Beefeater London dry gin, Cointreau and Parfum menthe garnished with a lemon peel and mint. It was visually striking and tasted equally good.
All in all, The Secret is a lovely addition to Kigali’s gastronomic scene. Despite the limited options on the menu and the service which can be wanting particularly when it is a full house. I can’t fault the establishment for anything else. Chris, who is actually from Cameroon, continues to push the boundaries with each new hospitality establishment.
The Secret lounge is a tranquil escape ideal for a wine or cocktail drenched afternoon and bubbly-soaked sundowners.