#KlaRestaurantWeek: Café Mebanas
Is Mebanas a town in Latin America with really good coffee? Well, no. We don’t think so. Mebanas is an acronym for the first names of people who mean a lot to the owners of this charming café on Kafu Road. On the ground floor of Twed Plaza is a shaded outdoor structure fortified by black iron shaped as bamboo shoots and banana leaves that is the origin of the tell-tale strong smell of dark coffee that kick-starts many mornings in this patch of Nakasero. This year as part of Kampala Restaurant Week, they have put together a menu of specially designed dishes at specially designed prices, and we had the pleasure of sampling a few outstanding items on your behalf.
The Grilled Goat Chops with Roasted Potatoes are a sight to behold and a delight to devour.
The sizeable pieces of beautifully charred meat are stacked up with huge chunks of multi-coloured bell peppers crisscrossed with dark lines left by the grill and garnished with green specks of fresh parsley.
Goat’s meat happens to be a muchomo favourite in Uganda because it is a lot less stringy than beef, but has the richness of flavour associated with red meat despite its being (you won’t believe this,) white meat.
A little pineapple, mchuzi mix, pineapple and scorching from the grill are all it needs to enhance its taste, with a serving of apple and red wine sauce on the side. The combination of sweet and savoury, with the slight acidity of red wine gives a whole new dimension to grilled goat’s meat, a staple of the Ugandan barbecue scene most commonly sold on sticks by the roadside.
Another Ugandan classic has to be whole tilapia, fried, with a side of kachumbali.
At Café Mebanas it is reimagined as Boneless Fish on a Bed of Seasonal Vegetables. “Nawe, that’s just fish fillet!”, I can hear you say, but it really isn’t.
This is not fish fillet which is already bought cleaned, filleted, pre-packaged and generally processed to the point of blandness. What you have at Café Mebanas is fresh, whole, tilapia. The bones are painstakingly removed on site and the fish deep-fried so that it retains the flavour and texture from its skin and the imperfect grooves of its bones.
A side of mushroom and tartare sauce gives the traditional tangy fish accompaniment (fish and lemon juice, fish and tartare sauce) a twist by adding mushroom sauce’s peppery, earthy flavour.
Cafés are best known for their coffee and confectionaries cakes, so it only makes sense that you finish off your meal with a slice of Café Mebanas’ Chocolate Cake.
The light brown chocolate is separated into layers by a well-balanced creme (neither too sweet nor too buttery), topped with paper-thin lemon slices cut into quarters and garnished with a drizzle of sweet chocolate sauce. Don’t sleep on those lemon slices; they counter the cake’s overall sweetness with a delightful zest that makes for a well-balanced dessert.
Photography: Julius Caesar Kasujja