And the best restaurant is

Last week saw Kampala’s first Kampala Restaurant Award held at the Kampala Serena Hotel and not surprisingly, the Pearl of Africa restaurant scooped the first prize for the Best Dining Award in a fairly evenly contested section competing against the Seven Seas of the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Il Patio, La Patisserie and Mediterraneo, they deservedly won this accolade.

With King of Toro, Oyo Nyimba as chief guest, the black tie event was tagged at Shs300,000 per person with a superb four course menu and wine, compliments of Robertsons (and it came as no great surprise that they were the winners in the category for the best wine) and kudos go to the main organisers viz. Done Deal and Hello food for having (hopefully) raised the bar for the food standards in Kampala.


However, some of us were puzzled by some of the seemingly mismatched nominees a case in point being the Best Value for Money category. In my way of thinking, pitting Bon Apetit along with Brood and Mega Gastronomy and Chock di Thai and including Cafe Javas was bound to be a total mismatch with none of the participants standing any chance of beating Cafe Javas.

When we examine value for money, we must also look at the price a consumer is willing to pay for services and in this case food is the ticket. Assuming that Cafe Javas is in the Rolls Royce class, then truthfully one cannot speak of money’s worth and lump them in the same class with Bon Apetit who are a Toyota Raum. At the end of the day, as the saying goes, you pay for what you get and it becomes a case of comparing apples and oranges. Not to beat a dead horse to the ground, but the Cafe Javas clientele is unlikely to even remotely consider patronising Bon Apetit so the comparison was totally unfair and a misnomer.

Veterans in the trade ignored?

Similarly, in the category of ‘Best Ugandan Cuisine’ there was a conspicuous absence of titans such as All Sisters Restaurant in Ndeeba, Nalongo of Katwe, who has been around for well-nigh 70 years and still going strong, or the venerable and impressive 2K Restaurant formerly located in Bakuli (they have been around for more than 15 years) who boasts of having an air-conditioned lounge (no one else serves local food in such luxury) with a buffet unsurpassed and rare to find in Uganda, and their very own modern, imposing and multi-storied building on Hoima Road. Still, it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good and it was gratifying to see that Shaka Zulu, a relative newcomer (and they are very good)ompared to the Nalongo’s and 2 K’s came out the winner.

Some of us, who have known the Lawns Restaurant ever since they opened a few years back, cannot recall branding themselves as serving African cuisine as is the case with say Mama Ashanti. Possibly, apart from The Lawns serving posho to their staff, I doubt if one will find such as African food as Fu Fu, gari or even plantain on their menu. If anything, they are known to have a strong bias towards serving food from the Indian sub-continent as well as continental fare. On the other hand, they are renowned for being the only joint in town that serves game meat from South Africa but to say that The Lawns is an African resto is pure fiction. Mina Patel, the owner, would cringe in despair to label her cherished as an African brand! Lucky for the Lawns they even managed to bag the Best Customer Service Awar’ for which I have absolutely no quarrel whatsoever.

In the best Indian food category, Khana Khazana was a tough act to beat and won hands down while KFC had no rivals in winning the Best Food on the Go, and Mediterraneo scooped the overall winner for the Best Restaurant of the Year Award.



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