Paladar Venceremos

Paladar Vencermos

Paladar Venceremos has closed down and reopened at the Inema Arts Centre as the Inema Cafe.

Disclaimer: Paladar Venceremos offered me their six course dinner for free and they’re currently advertising on my website. I only accept advertising from businesses I would recommend, so I had to try them out first. This review is my honest opinion of the restaurant but I wanted to also disclose this for transparency’s sake. (But seriously. It’s a great place.)

I’d heard about a mysterious restaurant run by a Cuban chef for a couple of years before I finally walked through its doors. It seemed like some secret supper club and I kept forgetting to join their email list, so I’d only hear about it from friends. Each time I heard a story about the great food and atmosphere I’d be ‘Ah, that place! I really must give it a try!’ and then I’d forget to join the email list once again, which eventually led to two years of missing out. Well Paladar Venceremos has ventured onto Facebook for one and all, and you can check out their weekly dinner and bi-weekly lunch menus there without needing to know a secret handshake or a password. It’s out of the shadows and waiting for you to make a booking.

Being quite inexperienced in the ways of fine dining and tasting menus (Kigali will do that to a person), I wasn’t too sure what to expect. The six course menu can sound like a lot but it turned out to be a perfect amount of food. The meal starts of a bit nervously with the first  courses being quite small. They’re perfectly sized creations full of flavour but the eater in me was ‘hmm… are they aaaaall going to be this size?’ As the dinner progressed, though, the servings became slightly more substantial. The ravioli dish was just right and the main course of filet steak and potato croquettes was just enough to fill me up but with a bit of space left for the two final dessert courses. Looking back on the menu as a whole, I think the sizes were all just right and I came away from the meal feeling full rather than gross. Like the way I do when I devour that entire Sol e Luna pizza even though I promise myself (every time) that I’ll take half home, and don’t. I didn’t feel like that. And that’s good.

Ravioli

Reservations are required for dinner at least a day’s in advance or a few days if you’ll be a large group of 10 or more. The whole place caters to a maximum of 20 diners which makes for an intimate experience where the chef is able to visit at the table and talk about his dishes. Chef Carlos is an experienced chef with some serious credentials) so getting to chat about his creations is a nice opportunity and makes the experience that much better. Paladar Venceremos manages to have a very welcoming and friendly atmosphere and there’s nothing at all stuffy or uptight about the place. It’s great food in a relaxed and open setting. And of course there’s a wonderful view of Kigali to add to the ambiance.

At Rwf 35,000 for the full six course meal (or Rwf 28,000 for five courses), it’s a pricey option for Kigali, but it’s also the best food you’ll find in the city and actually a good price for the quality and the experience. I love that the menu changes regularly and that the chef makes everything from scratch. You really feel like a lot of thought and care has gone into each course and it’s nice to go to a place where you can truly appreciate and be surprised by what you’re eating. It’s a unique dining experience for Kigali and I’d recommend giving it a try.

Salads Table

Lunch is a bit more casual (no reservation required) with cheaper prices and only soup, a salad bar, and sandwiches on the menu. As with dinner, the lunch menu changes regularly so every two weeks you can look forward to a new creations. Soup and the salad costs Rwf 5,000 which is a bargain considering the quality of the items on offer. One week there was even a bowl of pistachios as a salad topping. Pistachios! Those things are expensive here and having unrestricted access to these little gems was exciting to me. It was hard to control myself, but I managed to refrain from tipping the bowl into my purse.

Sandwiches cost between Rwf 5,000 and 6,000 and come with delicious plantain chips. There are usually three to choose from, with a vegetarian option and you can add soup or salad for Rwf 7,500 total. For the unique options and quality of the food, I think these lunch prices are quite good. Soup and a salad at Bourbon, for example, would cost more than Rwf 5,000 and, I’m not sure about you, but I’ve never met a soup at Bourbon that I’ve liked. Plus if you get soup or the salad with your sandwich… it’s a lot of food. I always end up taking half of my sandwich home.

Paladar Vencermos

Taking some of your sandwich home leaves you space for dessert and that’s a good life choice. I have to admit that I have a hard time accepting that non-chocolate items are dessert. I mean… what’s the point of a fruit sorbet when you can have chocolate ice cream? Well, now I see. I don’t know how he packs his sorbets with so much flavour but they’re delicious. Same goes for the creme brulee. Custard? Ew. But no! It’s really great. Then there’s the chocolate brownie which looks similar to other brownies I’ve had around Kigali. So I was obviously dubious, having tried about 40 too many horrible, dry brownies in this city. Well their brownie is ridiculous. Dense. Moist (and I hate the word ‘moist’ and using it makes me feel icky, but I just had to in this case.) Super chocolatey. Though the brownies of Kigali have wronged me in the past and have collectively turned me bitter and mistrusting in the brownie department, Paladar Venceremos has brought me back from those depths. It’s a damned fine brownie.

Creme Brulee

I think it’s really exciting to have a place like this in Kigali! I’m just sorry it took me so long to discover it. I was a fool. A damned fool! But I’ve made up for it by eating there about four times so this month. So I’m sure things will even out soon. Service here is good and the view is, of course, amazing, but Paladar Venceremos is really about the food and it’s been an excellent experience each time I’ve eaten here. Give it a try!

Hours: Lunch from noon – 2:30 pm, Monday to Friday, Dinner 7 pm onwards (by reservation only), Friday and Saturday
Phone: 0786 790 635
Email: carloscaula2000@gmail.com
Website: http://www.venceremoscafe.com/Home_Page.html
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/PaladarVencermos

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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.