I’m a total sucker for Middle Eastern food and I was hoping to visit Terra Caffe when I was in Kigali back in March. But, alas, I only had two weeks and I had approximately 5,675 other things I had to do first before trying out new restaurants. I managed to squeeze in a few review visits, but Terra Caffe, tucked down the hill in Kacyiru, unfortunately eluded me on that trip.
Fast forward to August and I made it the very first stop on my long list of new restaurant and cafes to review. I’d heard some positive internet rumblings about this place and Terra Caffe has absolutely lived up to my expectations. I’ve been a couple of times since that first trip and I think it will make the rotations as one of my regular lunch spots.
As with most Kigali restaurants, Terra have an outdoor dining area with a lovely view of the golf course and lake below. If the owner is around he’ll usually come say hi and introduce himself and check that you’re enjoying your meal. I always love it when this happens as it’s great to meet business owners and to have a little chat about their place. It makes everything a bit more personable and it’s easy to want to support a business when you’ve been introduced to the person behind the operation.
But of course the food has to be good to want to keep coming back and Terra Caffe doesn’t disappoint! I’ve got it on very good authority that the grilled chicken is amazing and that the falafel are also quite spectacular. I have yet to try either but they’re both on the list for my next trip. One thing I can say for sure is that their bread is wonderful. Too many times I’ve been to Middle Eastern places here in Kigali to find that their flat bread is something resembling a tortilla. Sure, I suppose that’s the flattest of flat breads, but it’s not what I’d expect or want to be dipping into my hummus. The bread at Terra Caffe is the real deal and the best you’ll find.
On my first trip to Terra Caffe I was there early so decided to have some breakfast. They have shakshuka and anywhere with that on their menu is already a winner, in my eyes. But, truth be told, I’ve only ever tried this dish either as a home cooked meal by friends or in East African countries, so I guess I’m not 100% sure what it’s supposed to be like. This version was a bit different to what I’ve had before because it’s not so saucy and there was a lot of egg in it. It was still very delicious and I’d be curious to know how it compares to the real deal for anyone who has had this dish in the Middle East. I love shakshuka but it feels like I don’t really know it, you know?
On my second trip I was torn between trying a vegetarian meze (which isn’t on the menu but I’m told they’ll do it) or an epic meat feast. I was weak and opted for the mixed grill (Rwf 9,500) because I couldn’t decide between the various meaty offerings on the menu. The mixed grill was a spread of four brochette-style sticks served with chips, a small salad, and an amazing garlic dipping sauce. It was massive and it could be easily shared between two people. If you were to add a couple of dips into the mix, it’s a great way to sample a lot of different things at once and perfect for sharing.
The lemonade (Rwf 2,300) here is surprisingly good. I say ‘surprisingly’ because most places in Kigali seem to use those bitter green lemons that are common here and it’s hard to mask their taste, no matter how much sugar you pile in. I don’t know what sort of lemons they use or whether they have some magical way of making the bitter local lemons work, but their lemonade is quite magical. They also have strawberry lemonade and a tree tomato lemonade (Rwf 2,500) which, if I didn’t completely despise tree tomato, I would be super intrigued to try as I’ve never seen this anywhere else.
One of the more interesting choices that Terra Caffe has taken is to serve Illy coffee from Italy. This might seem a bit odd considering Rwanda and this region in general is blessed with fantastic coffee, but the more I thought about it the more I realised that anywhere that does something a bit differently is helping to set themselves apart a bit, and I think that’s always going to be a good thing. Plus, just because we’re in Randa doesn’t mean all of the coffee options have to be Rwandan brands. So if you’re into Illy coffee… this is your spot!
I’m a big fan of Terra Caffe. Besides the excellent, good value food, they’ve also got good wifi, a relaxed atmosphere, and the service is quite good. As I said, this will become a regular spot for me and I’m already planning my return to sample the chicken and falafel!