Caiman

Oh Caiman… why must you be so far away from where I live? I would like to pursue a relationship with you but you make it so difficult with your ridiculous location. Kibagabaga just doesn’t work for me. But I’ll try. We’ve only met twice… but there’s something about you I really like.

Ok. Enough of that. My point is that Caiman is far away, but worth the trip. The food was good and the service was decent but, for me, it’s the atmosphere here that I love the most (my crappy photo doesn’t do the place justice). If I didn’t live on the complete opposite side of town, I’d be here all the time. Even though I live so far away I’m still wondering why I don’t come out here more often. The bar itself is under a covered area and is well stocked, looks like a ‘real’ bar and manages to have a cozy atmosphere. But it’s the giant lawn area that makes this place special. It’s dotted with tables and trees and there’s a tonne of space to spread out on the grass on a sunny day. I’m not sure if that’s something people actually do… but if you’re so inclined, the grass is there waiting for you.

The grass might actually be a safer option. The garden chairs here are a phenomenon worth noting. Yes, a phenomenon. They’ll fall forward at the slightest lean towards the table, so watch out or you’ll find yourself face-planting into your food. This curious lean meant that I spent the entire meal rocking forward and slightly back like a crazy old lady on a porch in a rocking chair toting a gun (without the gun and porch and with only moderate levels of old and crazy). But I couldn’t help myself for some reason.

Anyway. On to the food. I love it when I arrive to place to find that the meal has already been pre-ordered. Goat, fish, potatoes, salad. Done. Pre-ordering a meal in Kigali usually still means that it’ll take at least an hour and, unfortunately, Caiman is no different. The food took awhile but the feast that arrived was definitely worth the wait.

The nyama choma (Rwf 8,000) isn’t what I’m used to. Admittedly, I’ve only ever had it at Sundowner where an entire roasted leg or arm comes out all steamy and hot and wonderful and is chopped up in front of you and served with fleshy bits hanging off the bone. The nyama choma at Caiman, while tasty, was more like pieces of brochette meat taken off of the spike and served on a sizzling plate. It was delicious (although a bit chewy) but I think I prefer eating savage-style and knawing the meat off of the bones rather than having it served in nicely bite-sized pieces. So, while it was good, I’m going to stick with Sundowner as my nyama choma front-runner.

The salad (Rwf 1,000) at Caiman was pretty impressive. It had lettuce with salad dressing on it (a rarity) and the avocados were perfect. The kachambari was pretty good and the pili-pili was some of the best I’ve had anywhere in Kigali. Plus they gave me a good sized blob of extra mayo. The fish brochettes (Rwf 1,500) were good too.

The drink prices at Caiman are a little strange. A large Mutzig costs Rwf 1,300 which is expensive for a local style place. But a glass of white wine (albeit a pretty small one) costs only Rwf 1,500 which, I think, is the cheapest I’ve found anywhere in Kigali. I think my new plan for a sunny Sunday in Kigali is to hang out at Caiman on a precarious chair eating salad and sipping wine. I’m picturing it now… if only the sun would shine! Oh ya, and there’s a pool next door. With a bar.

Take note that the mosquitoes here are seem to be highly trained in biting you through your jeans, so beware. Perhaps come to dinner with some bug spray, or a mosquito coil, or a Hazmat suit because they were kind of distracting. Obviously no fault of the fine folks at Caiman (unless they have some crazy super-mosquito breeding programme going on) but just something to be aware of.

The toothpicks, I must note, are of the highest quality at Caiman. Smooth, firm, pointy, no splinters. It was an excellent teeth-cleaning experience, I must say.

I will finish this review with a quote from the great Niko Kalinic: “Let the goat settle.” Wise words, my friend. Wise words.

Phone: 0788 561 369
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About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.