Camellia Tea House has rebranded as ‘Camellia’ and they’ve opened at least six other locations around Kigali but this location has closed.
This cafe hasn’t quite made it onto the expat radar in the same way as Shokola and Bourbon but it’s worth a look. It’s actually sort of hard not to look with the huge dome roof thing and the building’s garish green colour. Camellia’s Tea House is located near the Bank of Kigali in Kiyovu, across the street and down the road to the right (towards the Belgian School) about 100 metres.
The menu seems extensive at first glance but I suspect it’s one of those places that’s often out of most of the options. I wanted a pesto chicken sandwich but opted for my second choice when that wasn’t available. I, however, was pleasantly surprised with my beef wrap. The thing was big enough for lunch and only cost 2,000 which wouldn’t buy you half a meal at Bourbon! The wrap was packed with beef and fried onions and totally filled me up. The small salad on the side of onions, tomato, lettuce and grated carrots was really tasty too. It might have been better if the salad was on the wrap, but I did a little self-assembling it and made it work.
I have a slight addiction to iced mocha type drinks and have tried them all over town. Camellia’s version looks suspiciously like the offering at Bourbon and even comes in the same glass. It’s Rwf 200 cheaper, but not quite as good. It’s got the same yummy whipped cream on top but the drink itself seemed a bit watery. I think had I asked for a bit of extra chocolate, though, it could have been improved. It was still pretty good, just not the best. At Rwf 2,000 it’s one of the cheaper places to get an iced mocha.
The cafe has a great patio with pretty comfy seats and it’s a nice place to hang out and watch people go by. The inside is nice enough but when I was there it was being noise polluted with bad 80’s pop songs. Outside is the place to be. There wasn’t a single muzungu in sight while I was there and you’d do well to know a bit of French to make the ordering process run smoothly. The staff were really friendly but didn’t do much checking up on me. I was sort of tucked away around a corner though, so if I wanted attentive service I could have sat somewhere a bit more in their face.
One downside to Camellia’s is the lack of a free wifi connection although an MTN signal wafted in while I was there so that could be an option if you don’t mind paying. Overall I really liked this place and I plan to spend a lot more time hanging out on their patio.