So Payprus, Kigali’s most popular nightspot, was closed down in August 2011 (Papyrus Cafe next door is still open, though) for noise complaints or parking issues or some other mysterious reason only to re-open several months later as a toned-down version called Ogopogo. Why it was named after Canada’s equivalent to the Loch Ness Monster, I will never know. But, in reality, it should have been named Papyrus II because it’s pretty much an exact copy of the old place minus the dance floor (which has been turned into a wine shop with an unusually large stock of Amarula) and bruschetta bread.
So Ogopogo is essentially Papyrus before it went all nightclubby, which is great. All the good stuff about the old Papyrus without the phone theft and hookers. I guess if you’re into stealing phones or acquiring hookers then this isn’t the place for you but, if you enjoy good Italian food in a nice setting, then it’s one of the best choices in town.
One of my favourite things about Papyrus was that, if you’d spent an amount of time socialising in Kigali, you were always bound to bump into a bunch of people you know. This meant that a quiet midweek dinner would sometimes end on the dance floor at KBC. Well… that was just one time. But it’s nice to go out for a drink or dinner and see familiar faces. Well, it seems that the familiar faces have gravitated back towards Ogopogo and I’ll often see people I know here any night of the week.
The menu is pretty much the same as Papyrus’ with pizza, various meat dishes, lasagne and a variety of pastas and sauces on offer. Pizzas can be had for around Rwf 4000-5000, the meat lasagne for Rwf 5500 (probably my favourite lasagne in Kigali) and, my usual choice at Papyrus, pork chops in a green peppercorn sauce for Rwf 6,700. It was pretty salty the last time I had it, though. But that sauce is so damned tasty! Some more starter and snack-type things on the menu would be nice. The cocktails on the last page of the menu with semi-sexual descriptions are a nice touch, though I’m yet to indulge.
The best part about Ogopogo for me is the wine. Sure, it’s probably the usual Drosdty-Hof in a box but, firstly, it doesn’t have the mysterious powder floating at the bottom of each glass like you’ll find at Downtown Bar, secondly, it doesn’t taste like ass like at White Horse and, most importantly, a huge glass only costs Rwf 2,000. That makes it the best place in Kigali for affordable wine that isn’t gross and doesn’t have things floating in it. Add the nice view and the under cover open air patio and you’ve got a nice spot to sip some vino.
If you’re more into your sports then Ogopogo usually has something playing on the TV behind the bar. Sometimes it’s a major football match and sometimes it’s women’s professional wrestling… but it always seems to be one sport or another. It’s a popular place for watching football so if there’s a big game on and you want to watch it with a crowd, it makes a decent choice. I haven’t come here on a weekend night yet, so I’m not sure whether the patio turns into a crowded dance party like in the days of Ye Olde Papyrus or if it stays calm as the party-goers shuffle up the hill to Sundowner instead.
As with most restaurants in Kigali, service is pretty average. Everyone is nice but it’s hard to get the waiter’s attention, especially when you’re competing with those football matches. Food here has come out super fast on some occasions (under 30 minutes qualifies as ‘super fast’) and has taken an hour other times.
So until the new, real Papyrus (the owner is building a new version of his old place just next to Flamingo in Kimihurura) is up and running, I’m happy its back, disguised at Ogopogo.