Lavana is a relatively new kid on the Kigali restaurant block, but it’s arrived with quite a bit of a splash. They’ve been really active on social media promoting a lot of cool weekly events and I’ve taken notice. As a result, Lavana was at the top of my list of places to visit on this trip to Kigali and so far I’ve stopped by twice for food.
They’re located in the same spot that Cleopatra used to be in which I’ve always thought was a cool space. But, despite being in what I think is a great location in Kimihurura, businesses in this building seem to open and close fairly quickly. But I’d say that Lavana will break that curse! The food here is very good, it has a nice atmosphere when it’s busy, and they’re really doing a lot to get people’s attention with regular events.
Plus the pizza here is among the best in the city! Lavana is owned by an American and it seems like they’ve put a lot of love into their pizza, especially the crust. Best of all, they have a lot of interesting topping combinations like fig and prosciutto, Tolula Lake (fennel pork sausage, red onion, imported mozzarella, and white sauce), Blue Mushroom (mushrooms, blue cheese, truffle oil, white sauce), and they even have a Chicago deep dish pizza option. Pizza prices range from Rwf 5,900 up to 9,000. Lavana also offers a pretty great midweek, three course lunch deal for Rwf 6,500 and a few good desserts including some pretty epic chocolate cookies.
As a starter, the cucumber and mango salad (Rwf 6,900) was a bit of a risk and not normally something I’d order, but when I review restaurants I like to try a few dishes. I’m taking risks so that you don’t have to! (I’m just so selfless like that.) Well it was super light and refreshing with a wonderful, zingy sauce and a bit of a chili kick as well and I really loved it. They menu said it had peanuts which would have added a nice crunch but I didn’t seem to have any on my salad, or maybe there were super small. It would have improved on what’s already a pretty great salad.
Due to a lively evening spent with friends drinking wine at Brachetto, I arrived at Lavana for lunch with a medium hangover and I was craving something meaty and pasta-y. The Pacherri Ragu (Rwf 8,900) seemed like the perfect fit, even though I had never heard or seen the word ‘pacherri’ before in my life and had no idea what I was in for. It turns out, ‘pacherri’ is the type of pasta that’s a sort of short but huge tube-type noodle. While it’s a bit difficult to eat because you have to chop them up, the pasta was perfectly cooked and it was certainly substantial enough to help with my hangover affliction. The sauce was wonderful as well and I was very pleased that I took a chance on this mysterious meal.
Lavana has a full selection of cocktails ranging in price from Rwf 7,000 up to 10,000, including some interesting drinks like Harlan’s Blueberry Smash (whiskey, blueberries, lemon juice, mint, and simple syrup), Harrison Henry (vodka, ginger beer, lime, and a slice of ginger), and the Chad (tequila, Cointreau, lime, grapefruit juice, and symple syrup). They’ve got a decent selection of wine by the glass (Rwf 4,000 to 10,000) as well as a bunch of bottles of wine. In short, the food is good and it’s also a fine place to come for a few drinks.
The food isn’t super quick but it seemed to come out at exactly the right time, both for my starter and the pasta main. Pizza is a bit quicker if you’re in a hurry, but it’s definitely not one of those places that takes forever to serve your meal. I was also impressed with the friendly and efficient servers and it was nice when one of them asked if I had any suggestions for the chef. I didn’t! The food was delicious.
I’m really excited to have a place like Lavana in Kigali that has good food and seems to have a focus on regular fun events. You can keep updated on what’s happening by following their Facebook page. They’ve got a quiz and bingo night, movie nights, live music, and I even noticed a talent show once. It’s a creative, fun place and you should give it a try sometime soon.
Hours: Monday, 5pm – Midnight, Tuesday to Thursday, Noon – Midnight, Friday to Sunday, 10am – Late
Phone: 0782 062 653