3 November 2018

East Africa: O'tamarillo for a Table d'Hôte

Table d'hôte is a concept where guests are invited into the host's home for an intimate dining experience with a set menu.

The concept is popular in France with various adaptations in Belgium, Sweden, India, Spain, Romania, Russia, Japan and Italy.

O'Tamarillo, one of Kigali's premier table d'hôte restaurants is located in Kiyovu estate, along the KN 43 Street.

As you drive through the steep driveway, you notice the picturesque views of the hills from Gikondo all the way to Kacyiru. The idyllic location is coupled with a beautiful setting; moonlight, stars and the bright city lights on the hills provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

O'Tamarillo is housed in a single-story bungalow with a wide veranda. It has a minimalist interior with highly polished lacquer tables, and kitenge print on the chair cushions, napkins and locally made tablemats.

Their menu changes every two weeks. They have to plan their meals carefully in advance so they do not accept walk-in guests. They only take in 16 guests at a time.

As I walked in, I was welcomed graciously by the hostess Suzanne who directed me to a table for one.

On the menu was a starter of ravioli of ricotta served with brunoise of butternut and onion with a Parmesan crumble.

This was followed by a main course of beef fillet with pepper sauce served with a sweet potato purée of cardamom, and a dessert of passion fruit mousse on mango salad.

With mellow French music playing in the background, I lost myself in the ambience.

The starter made for a savoury dish with the slightly sweet taste of the ricotta blending well with the brunoise of butternut and onion.

The beef fillet, cooked at low temperatures, was well-done. It was tender, with caramelised meat juices, balancing taste, texture and aroma.

The pepper sauce gave it added flavour. The sweet potato purée with cardamom complemented the beef fillet and the broccoli.

The sunny colour of the passion fruit mousse and the tropical flavour were brought by being served in parfait glasses. Coupled with the mango salad, it was a good way to end the feast.

Chef France Kohl was trained as a graphic designer but had a lifelong passion for cooking. She trained at L'Epicurien in Kigali before going to France for a six-week workshop with the late three-star Michelin chef Paul Bocuse, after which she opened O'Tamarillo in 2016.

Prices range from Rwf15,500 ($18) for a two-course meal to Rwf20,000 ($23) for a three-course meal.

O'Tamarillo is open from Wednesday to Friday, and one should make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance.

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