This place has always been mysterious to me. I arrived in Kigali almost two years ago and have heard about the existence of a Greek restaurant in town, but had never met anyone who’d ever been there. So I figured maybe it had closed or was a figment of everyone’s imagination and forgot about it. Then I’d heard rumours of a Greek restaurant in town with a brothel attached. Intriguing. But still, I’d never seen the place or met any of it’s upstanding patrons. Then I finally met a person who had been there (they recommended the fish) and I had to assume that, perhaps, this place exists.
So, almost a year after meeting one customer, I finally set foot in the restaurant/hotel to find a pretty Greeked-up decor complete with ‘ancient’ concrete columns and a boat in the middle of the floor. There’s a deck with a beautiful view of the city but it was raining so we found a spot inside.
When we arrived at 1pm all of the lights were turned off and there were some shady looking characters sitting in the darkness in the corner. When we moved inside to find a table, the lights were switched on and, right after we finished eating and left, they were turned off again. Strange. There were cats running around the place and batting around a dead mouse when we were there. Being the sickos that we are, we found this amusing but I can see how this might not be everyone’s thing.
The food here is pretty good and it’s nice to have a bit of variety from the usual Kigali fare. But, fear not! You can, if you so choose, still order spaghetti bolognaise… a staple in Greece, I’m sure. Bizarrely, there’s no Greek Salad on the menu. But maybe Greek Salad in a Greek restaurant is just called ‘salad’. We didn’t order it, so we’ll never know.
We ordered a starter which ended up being a small plate with a few different little snacks. Olives, tomatoes and cucumbers with tzatziki (yum!), a pale pink dip (I’m not up enough on my Greek food to know what it was), a stuffed vine leaf and some white cheese that we assumed was feta but was actually just a tasteless rectangle of soft cheese. The starter was tasty but the disappointment of the phoney feta was slightly traumatic. Our starter was served with four warm, delicious bread rolls which we dipped in the tzatziki… very tasty.
Between the four of us we ordered two gyros (made with pork) and two moussaka. While the pork was tasty, served up on a pita with tomato, onion and cucumber, it was a bit dry and needed a lot more tzatziki than came with it on the side. When I asked for more I was told it would take too long to make. So I had to make it last. If you love the stuff like I do, maybe ask for some extra on the side when you place your order. Each of our dishes came with fries which were tasty but they were pretty skimpy with the ketchup portions. The moussaka got good reviews.
Our two waitresses were very good and between them speak French, English and Kinyarwanda. The food took around 30 minutes which is under the Kigali restaurant’s usual 45 minutes to an hour. We had a leisurely lunch and never felt pressured to hurry up.
All up, I liked it. It’s a bizarre little place in the middle of Kigali with some good food at decent prices. They even offered us one of their cats! So if you’re looking for a feline friend with fine mouse-catching skills… make a lunch stop at Hellenique.