On a Saturday night, a few weeks ago, my husband and I were able to have the kids baby-sat. It doesn’t happen often so we decided to make the most out of that outting and have food in a special place. That place was Le Virunga, the new African Restaurant in Montreal.
“We were blown away by the whole experience”
Ladies and Gentlemen let me introduce to you Montreal’s finest African Restaurant. We entered this small yet extremely cozy space. We could here African music playing and we noticed some beautiful art pieces on the walls. To tell you the truth, we were blown away by the overall experience. First, we were welcomed by the very sweet and friendly c0-owner, Zoya. She was the only waitress that night but made us feel like we were her only customers. She took the time to answer our questions and to give us details about the dishes. My husband and I being originally from West Africa, we were not familiar with some dishes from other parts of the continent. She made suggestions and was extremely patient with us.
I started off with the Virunga salad (some dishes might not be available anymore since the menu changes every six months). Shrimps, mango, papaya and avocado all in the same plate. Absolutely delicious! My main dish was the Cuisse de Poulet Soukoussou: chicken leg, peanut sauce and pureed plantain. I finished with the Mikatés. It’s a dessert made of three delicious doughnuts (plain, caramel and sugar) known in almost every African country but called differently depending on the region. I must say that I was overwhelmed. Being the picky eater that I am, I was surprised by the level of emptiness that my plates had reached after I was done!
After we sent our very empty plates back to the kitchen, we decided to have a little chat with Zoya. She and her mother, who is her “partner in crime”, have a clear vision of what they want the restaurant to be. They want Africans to go out to eat African food. Too often, African food is associated with “mom’s food” done home eaten home and not being taken out. They want us to rediscover our food and to put it up there, where it belongs. According to her, African food should be seen as gastronomy and less like comfort food only. Zoya’s mother is the chef. She has extensive experience in the kitchens and the degrees to support her knowledge. They nailed it by not only focusing on the food but by putting themselves in their ideal customer’s shoes? What does that customer want? The experience. The whole experience from the food, the food presentation, the music, the decor in that restaurant brought us back to the Africa that we love and that we want more of: warm, delicious and welcoming.
When I contacted Zoya to let her know about the article that I was about to write, she insisted on having us back to make us taste more of her good food. We went to the Taste of Africa event that they held at the restaurant to celebrate their 4th month of opening. We had a great time and got to experinec more of that nice restaurant. Keep up the good work ladies!
Le Virunga, 851 Rue Rachel Est Montreal, Qc H2J 2H9.
Photo credit: Le Virunga’s Facebook page