What you need to know:
- Review. The Maze is a beautifully designed and well-laid out largely alfresco restaurant, writes A Kadumukasa Kironde II.
Historically and ever since Independence, here in Uganda, the serious Asian, Chinese and Continental dining out scene has been dominated by non-Ugandans for a number of reasons far too numerous to delve into here. Though truth be told back in 1996, Chad and Rhona Nakairu opened Crocodile Café and Bar over on Plot 21 Cooper Road at Kisementi ‘operated by two people who enjoyed cooking and desired to offer the nearby residents a place to have a snack while enjoying the tropical sunset.’ Indeed. From its inception The Crocodile was the in place for the then burgeoning expatriates flocking to Kampala as well as the growing middle class Ugandans who were no fan of our local food.
A few years later, towards the end of the century, the late Louise Kato tried her hand at opening an eatery called Parrots Café which had a short lived existence though sadly failed to survive after her tragic death in a car accident in Kenya less than a couple of years after it had opened. Then around 2003, the late Jolly Ngabirano, whose husband Henry was then then the Chief Executive of the UCDA, successfully opened Café Pap and defying all odds started a café which did not serve any booze and has survived to this very day!
However, the real trailblazer in the industry has to be none other than Haji Umar Mandela who in 2005 opened Café Javas which to date, has not only become a household name, but boasts of having over eight branches in Kampala and Entebbe as well as five in Kenya and growing in leaps and bounds. With the exception of Café Javas, for the want of a better word ‘exotic/foreign’ retail hospitality food business continues to be a non-indigenous based entity and since nature abhors a vacuum, surely it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good; Ron Kazooba Kawamara and his wife Cynthia Tumwine Kawamara have shown resolve to buck the trend. This was proven when they opened their first enterprise, The Patio Brasserie in October 2021 and since then have never looked back.
Two years later, this was followed by The Maze, which unlike The Patio is a partnership between Ron and Cynthia Kawamara, Hope Nowomugisha and Agatha Abaho. Originally Hope’s vision, supported by Agatha, Ron was able to come in with his vast experience and expertise and add value to the new venture and location. The group have come up with Kampala’s latest high end dining establishment which opened in December of last year, and by all accounts has become the talk of town. The Maze is a beautifully designed and well laid out largely alfresco restaurant which is located in the leafy suburbs of Mbuya which offers a quiet and serene setting. Despite having only recently opened, The Maze is proving to be extremely popular within the upscale neighborhood, and one good turn deserves another. Yes, a second The Maze restaurant is slated to open in Forest Mall opposite Jack and Drew before Easter. Last but not least, Ron and Cynthia also own the former Cayenne restaurant situate in Bukoto and renamed The Villa Restaurant and plans are at an advanced stage to open The Patio Isabella at the newly opened Arena Mall well before the end of the second quarter.
Ron and Cynthia are like two peas in a pod and work well together as a team with the former ensuring that the critical and often overlooked back of the house matters are handled and fully in place, while Cynthia is ever the bubbly, irrepressible, indomitable better half who does all the PR and marketing spreading the message to the world at large while at the same time being a radio announcer for a leading radio station in town. I wonder how many calories she burns in a day and where does she get all that energy? The couple exude perfect synergy in motion and leave little doubt in my mind that they are in the business for the long game!
The soup of the day which was a hearty carrot and pumpkin soup was subtlety seasoned and well enjoyed, while one of us was bowled over with the Oriental chicken wings which were flavorful though we certainly could have had more. One of our boys loved the burger and was more than impressed by its size which by all accounts was generous and very tasty. As for the whole deep fried fish, this is one of those signature features at The Maze that is always popular and well done with a decent size whole tilapia. Not into fried fish, then ask for the oven baked fish and it will be done as you wish though it will take a little longer.
The menu has an array of pizzas from which to choose though I confess to being no fan of pineapple and pizza and to the best of my knowledge it is more commonly part of the so called Hawaiian style pizza. Confessedly, I was disappointed to see the classic pizza Margarita (tomato, basil and Mozzarella) with pineapple added; yikes, a no brainer in my view. The service is on the money and the food is tasty and well prepared and the atmosphere is convivial, informal and relaxing.
The Place: The Maze Restaurant
Address: Ismael Road, Mbuya
Rating: Not to be missed
The Menu: Continental interspersed with a touch of Asian Fusion.
The Space: The alfresco setting is relaxing and huge
The Crowd: Diversified and cosmopolitan and mainly Ugandans
The Bar: A wide variety of drinks of all types, alcoholic and otherwise.
The damage: Four people should budget around shs 200’000/-
Sound level: Excellent
Parking: Available and very secure
If you go: Open for lunch and supper every day
RATINGS: Not to be missed, worth a visit, OK/so so, don’t waste your time.
These ratings are purely the reviewer’s personal reaction to food, ambience and service with price being factored into consideration. The menu listings and prices are subject to change without notice.