At first glance The Bistro is easy to miss. Packed into Kisementi’s bustling square, larger stores such as Checkers and The Pavement have more prominent signs that easily overpower it. However, herein lies a major source of its charm. The Bistro is understated, it doesn’t try too hard, and so, despite being located in a major commercial area, it feels like an out of the way refuge from the chaos of Kampala.
Once you step into The Bistro you are met with soft Jazz from 1940’s era America and smartly dressed wait staff. There is a large outdoor terrace, which is sectioned off from the rest of the square with vines and wrought iron. This stylish partition helps one feel like they’ve removed themselves from the city. Despite the construction of another one of Kampala’s future malls just across the way, the only sounds you really hear are those of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.
Inside of the Bistro tables and couches are nicely spread out. It is clear that a lot of effort went into the design details of this dining space. Soft lighting and brick treatments for the walls tend to mimic the same era as the music, while still managing to work in more modern attributes.
Two large couches that face each other also play host to a coffee table with some interesting books for the restless customer. According to the owner, these were a bit of a last minute purchase, picked up at a second hand bookstore in town. She’d had the idea of people coming for some afternoon drinks and quizzing each other from The Encyclopedia of Everything or enjoying the picture books of Uganda’s National Parks. Indeed, people were doing just that when she pointed it out.
The entirety of The Bistro is clean and well maintained. This is not the place where you find cracks in the floor or washbasins that don’t work. Everything here seems held to a particular standard. It is the sort of place where you might expect the menu items to run quite a few shillings, but in actuality, it is similarly priced to its neighbors on either side.
For a Steak Salad, which, according to some, is one of the best dishes on the menu, it is 18,000 UGX. A burger or wrap will run you 15-20,000UGX and there are an assortment of tapas for 9-15,000UGX. There is an extensive drink menu where you can order everything from a latte to a whiskey. Fresh juice, shakes, and wine are also available, although the shakes are (as shakes tend to be in this town) fairly expensive, running 15,000 a glass.
On any given afternoon you will see the patio buzzing with people conducting meetings, enjoying a meal with friends, and working. Indeed, The Bistro boasts a Wifi zone with decently fast Internet on most days. It is on all day long, and it comes free of cost for the customer.
For those who prefer to work through their lunch, but perhaps have little battery life left, it is also nice to know that there is a plug at the first table to the left, just inside. This table, which looks out over the patio area with a large open window, creates an ideal environment in which to get your projects done.
All in all, The Bistro is a great place for those looking for something fresh and relaxing around Kisementi. Its stylish décor and soft music give s one the feeling of a living room or intimate space. That this is not a place for bustling teenagers, pounding music or loud, raucous groups, but rather a place for friends and family to catch up, for work, and for business meetings. It is the more sophisticate side of Kampala, and a much needed addition to Kisementi Square.