With things back to normal, or some semblance of it, restaurants have reopened with unbridled enthusiasm. They have learnt that customers really are king and without them they are nothing. Customer service has changed for the better.
After a month whipping up meals at home, I was craving Mexican cuisine. Mexican had weaved its way into Kigali’s gastronomic scene through restaurants like Meze Fresh. But no restaurant was authentically true to the cuisine until Lavana stepped up to the plate.
Lavana is a pizza and taco restaurant established in early January last year. The brainchild of Matthew Leutwyler, a renowned American film director, it is an off-shoot of his charity organisation, We Are Limitless. The charity helps orphans and street children get into school providing basic needs like tuition, food and clothes.
Lavana was set up as a business enterprise that could use its profits to help support children and as a place they could train at when they graduate.
The restaurant is located along KG 28 Avenue in the upscale Kimihurura, which has emerged as the gourmet restaurant capital of the city.
Lavana is unpretentious in its design opting for an understated elegance. It features brown leather banquet chairs and wooden tables. It is dotted with house plants in black and white vases.
I settled for the Korean BBQ Beef Taco followed by barbecue chicken pizza because I was rather famished.
The Taco was from house-made soft corn tortillas filled with strips of beef marinated in garlic, soy sauce, ginger and chilli. The barbecue was made of chicken, chicken house-made barbecue sauce, gouda cheese, pineapple, red onions and tomato sauce.
The taco was good. The beef was tender and well-marinated in the garlic, soy sauce, ginger and chilli marinade. The corn tortillas were crisp on the outside and soft in the outside. The only downer was the whole ensemble was a little dry.
The pizza on the other hand was quite a treat. One of the best pizzas I had tasted in town and that is saying a lot. It had a crispy outer shell that was not too thick or too thin. The toppings complemented each other with the umami taste of chicken boosted by the tangy sweet mixture of pineapples and tomato sauce balanced with the creamy gouda cheese. It was a good ratio of cheese, sauce and dough that was not overwhelming.
I also tried their cocktails from Becky’s Mint Mojito signature cocktail to their Harlan’s Blueberry Smash.
Lavana has cemented its place as one of the best places to grab a pizza in town. It has themed Taco Tuesday, game nights, live music on Fridays and screening of sports— football, rugby, basketball, and other major events on one of Kigali’s biggest HD screen.