Drink Lagos: Shiro
 

Great ambience, a fire playlist, and mind-blowing drinks.

1.JPG

The three key ingredients for any great night at a bar.

Shiro packs all three with a remarkable beachfront to boot. A view that The Lagoon must envy.

Fun Fact: Shiro plays only Top 40 music by design. They take these vibes very seriously.

Anyway, to the drinks...

The Secret Garden, described as apple-soaked mojito, is probably the universe begging me to never diss sweet alcohol ever again… in a glass. In popular culture, the Mojito is like coffee for cocktail lovers. Having a long day? Got dumped? Your boss pulled you in a random tedious meeting? Sip a mojito. It single-handedly responsible for my long-standing affair with rum.

 Secret Garden

Secret Garden

Shiro’s version was solid with quality rum; fresh mint and potent notes of sugarcane, lime and apples which stabilized the sweet and sour palate of this cocktail. Its combination of sweet, citrus and mint flavors embodied the rum for easy passage. This is certainly the best mojito I’ve had in Lagos and all the Shiro bartender had to do was not cheat me.

Most mixologists in Lagos have this fraudulent thing they do to their mojitos - less alcohol, more sugar. I’ve heard that “customizing” mojitos with fruits like passionfruit, blueberries and mangos beats the regular virgin mojito. Shiro’s Secret Garden makes a very solid argument for it. It was concentrated, in a short glass, but as you drink, the ice dissolves and loosens it up in a refreshing way.

That said, the Secret Garden suffers from what appears to afflict every mojito in Lagos. Those tiny particles floating around that get stuck in your straw and cling to your teeth? The worst.

 L - R: Nature's Song, Secret Garden

L - R: Nature's Song, Secret Garden

Nature’s Song was our next drink. Made with ABSOLUT, lemon grass, green tea, sugar and lime juice, I think my drink buddy picked this because she was down with a flu. At first, the cocktail is soothing with its earthy and herbal properties, but after a couple of sips, it gets tedious. Who comes to the bar for medicinal purposes? Props to the lemongrass straw tho. Also, I never want to have green tea and vodka unless I’m getting paid a lot (read: $50,000) for the suffering. I haven’t been to an Herbalist before but I’m certain this is what they would commend for constipation.

 Strawberry & Lychee Margarita

Strawberry & Lychee Margarita

For our next drink, the bartender recommended the Strawberry and Lychee Margarita.

Sigh – absolute bliss.

Again, this was another proof that sweet cocktails, if done right are EVERYTHING. It was the best drink of the night. The strawberry and the lychee, accompanied the tequila perfectly. I bet that the mixologists used tequila with 100% agave (please note that this is the tequila that doesn’t give unnecessary hangovers).

However, I wish the margaritas weren’t made from store-bought syrups because there was not enough acidity to adjust the extremely sweet palate. It could have been a fancy ribena, thank goodness for the ice that managed the impending crisis. It loosened the sweetness the more you drank. I’m a sucker for good ice and loved that I didn’t have to worry about gulping my drink immediately after serving.

 Smoking the strawberries

Smoking the strawberries

 Muddling the strawberries

Muddling the strawberries

I don’t think this next drink is worth reviewing because it was HORRIBLE and to confirm it, my camera refused to get focus. It was the Smoke Strawberry Martini. I have decided to write about it to warn you. Also, since our bartender was really excited to burn the strawberries for an audience, maybe he deserves an accolade lol. The process seemed very ITK from burning to mashing and finally, juicing strawberries. We really wanted to love it but fell incredibly short.

Maybe it would have tasted better if its carrier was gin rather than ABSOLUT. I find vodka martinis too plain. Although middle-aged Manhattan men battling mid-life crisis love this variation – Mad Men.

 Smoke Strawberry Martini

Smoke Strawberry Martini

The Smoke Strawberry Martini was too sour, too bitter and too acidic for anyone’s bowels. You know how tart strawberries are? Imagine having them roasted and accompanied by vodka’s neutral taste – a disaster. The complex profile of gin could have grounded the bitter notes but the vodka barely masked anything. The drink also looked disgusting. With the red and black particles dancing around the glass, this is probably what Kanayo O. Kanayo and his Coven friends to drink during their “night meetings”.

Couple hiccups aside, I liked the Shiro bar and I’d definitely come here for date night. They definitely don’t play with aesthetic and I also loved the playlist as much as I loved my margarita.


Christina is a TV and Film junkie who also spends an incredible amount of time reviewing skincare products she can barely afford.

TL:DR

Good for: Groups - After Work Drinks - Date Night - Special Occasion 

Food: Full Kitchen

Happy Hour: No | Bottle Service: Yes | Wine: Yes | Beer: Yes

 

DAMAGE

Secret Garden - N2500 

Nature's Song - N2500

Strawberry & Lychee Margarita - N2916 

Smoke Strawberry Martini - N3750 

 

Ethiopian Food in the Middle of Ilupeju
 

FOLLY: We've been asked a number of times about Ethiopian food in Lagos so I'm pretty glad we found this. I tried Ethiopian food a fe times while I was in university.

NOSA: Prior to Kaldi, I had zero experience with Ethiopian food. More or less lost my virginity at Kaldi.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_240e.jpg

FOLLY: In my first two years in college, I had a number of Ethiopian friends so they introduced it to me. Let me tell you now, I didn't like it then and I didn't like it now but I'll still tell you about it and you can visit and develop your own opinions.

NOSA: Kaldi House is really hard to find. No jokes. A selfish part of me wishes Kaldi was somewhere else (read: the island), but I appreciate the "you must come to me" thing they're going for. Kaldi House is carefully hidden in the Nigerian Foundries factory. The security guys even make sign in when you drive in. That's how "am i in the right place" it is.

From our little conversation with the owner (or I think she is), Kaldi has had a bit of a challenge getting their neighbors to adjust their palates so they had to split the menu a bit. One half is East African, while the other is a bit more accessible. Think "chicken and chips" when I say accessible. I don't really blame Kaldi, or the Nigerians. East African food has a very different flavor profile when compared to what we West Africans are used to. One of Folly's coworkers once said that Kenyan food tastes like they're eating for sustenance.

A bit harsh, but I understand the sentiment.

FOLLY: From our experiences in Nairobi and Zanzibar, East Africans make really good samosas, so naturally I went for that as a starter. 

1.JPG

FOLLY: I knew damn well that the Ethiopian owners were too proud to serve the wretched samosas like the ones in the small chops pack and I was right. The samosas were stuffed with a rich masala spiced minced beef and served with a masala sauce. 

NOSA: I suspect their "samosa hands" come from their Indian population. Unlike Nigeria, where the "expat community" in East Africa don't feel like they're in transit and they actually leave their mark. The Lebanese have been in Nigeria for eons and you can't really point out their significant influence on our culinary culture beyond shawarma. It's such a weird thing and I wish someone smarter would explain it to me. 

6.JPG

FOLLY: Our second starter was the chapati roll. I had a lot of questions for our server and she struggled to answer.

NOSA: I mentioned earlier that Kaldi's Nigerian neighbours weren't too familiar with East African cuisine. You can extend that ignorance to the waitress too. 

FOLLY: I wasn't backing down because I really needed someone to break down the menu for us so after my fifth question she goes "let me call the Ethiopian woman for you". 

The Ethiopian lady knowing her audience had the perfect description for the chapati roll because she responded "it's like shawarma but with chapati"

NOSA: Lowkey, I was offended, but then again, I don't blame her because she probably had a zillion Nigerians come in and ask the same question. 

FOLLY: Look at the picture. Did she lie?

4.JPG

FOLLY: For the un-initiated, chapati is an unleavened flat bread that's made with wheat flour and is a popular staple in India. It's also popular in East Africa.

NOSA: It's that Indian influence. 

FOLLY: Most people are familiar with naan which is also an unleavened flat bread but that is made with white flour and rolled thinner than chapati. Now, if memory serves me correctly, this was my first time I had chapati. I found it to be a lot thicker than naan (almost as thick as a crepe) and also slightly sweet. Butter or ghee isn't typically one of the ingredients in chapati but I highly suspect a little bit was added to this because I definitely got some sweetness - not complaining because it was the perfect balance to the chicken filling which was moderately spiced and had a nice kick to it. 

For our mains, we dove deep into the East African section of the menu. 

8.JPG

FOLLY: We had the Nairobi Platter, which consists of Nyama Choma, Ugali, Sukuma Wiki and Kachumbari. That may not mean anything to you so let me break it down/translate.

  • Nyama Choma = roasted meat. 
  • Ugali = maize meal, similar to ground rice/tuwo
  • Sukuma Wiki = greens
  • Kachumbari = tomato and onion salad (for some reason this was missing and replaced with the beans). 

NOSA: It's not listed, but the chicken wings might be the best I've had in Lagos on a technical level. The meat on it was incredibly tender like it had been slow cooked for ages. Fall off the bone and everything. This isn't a quality that a lot of people appreciate judging by how we make chicken in the country, but I don't like fighting with my chicken so it's the one for me.

FOLLY: Now the roasted meat aka Nyama Choma was straight flames. It's basically the Kenyan version of suya but instead of being grilled on an open flame like we do. It's roasted and/or smoked which makes for a very tender and flavorful piece of meat. 

NOSA: I wasn't particularly impressed unlike Folly. Like, it was wasn't THAAAT great. Decent, at best.

FOLLY: Chill, I was refering to the chicken and the meat as Nyama Choma but to clarify yes, the chicken > meat.

7.JPG

FOLLY: The maize meal didn't have any distinctive taste at all, it's one of those things that take on the flavor of what you eat it with, so Egusi or Efo Riro would have come in very handy here - lol. 

NOSA: The texture is very much like eba. For something without any distinctive taste, I wonder why it isn't accompanies by something richer than just those greens. 

FOLLY: Sustencance remember?

NOSA: Oh well. 

5.JPG

We also got some Injera with Shiro because there was no way I'd drive all the way to Ilupeju without trying out injera.  

FOLLY: Injera is incredibly sour - too sour for me. 

NOSA: I was watching the Billions the other day and in one scene Taylor is at an Ethiopian spot with Axe and some Silicon Valley dude. Taylor goes on a little tangent about Ethiopian food and it's communal nature. Injera is usually served in a big "pan" with everyone digging in. Kinda like a pizza. According to Taylor, it's supposed to symbolize some sort of equality. Everyone has some skin in the injera game and you can see how much the next guy is eating. The process of eating injera is meant to be a very unique and transparent experience, 

Billions anecdote aside, Injera is like the East African pancake, right?

FOLLY: Technically no, it's a sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture and is made with teff flour (a tiny round grain that is plentiful in Ethiopia). It can also be made with other grains like wheat, malt, barley. The injera dough is left to ferment for an extended period before it's cooked and so to me, ends up tasting a lot like beer. 

NOSA: Like the tail end of a stout. I thought I hated it after my first bite, but it grew on me with subsequent bites. Making little rolls with it and nyama choma made a whole lot of difference.

 

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: You either like it or you don't. It's nothing like Nigerian food.

NOSA: I'll judge it on its technical merits. Everything tasted like it should taste (from what I googled) and while it might not be for me, they should get credit for that. I thought the lemonade was excellent, by the way.

VERDICT

Like.jpeg

DAMAGE

Samosa - N1000

Chapati Roll- N1500

Nairobi Platter - N5000

Injera and Shiro - N1500

 

PARKING

Not sure what it would look like on a weekday but on a Sunday we found parking very easily. 

EDL Weekender: Gourmet Burgers @ XO Bakery

NOSA: First weekender in a minute, eh? This week's playlist might be showing some signs of rust, but you guys will have to manage. 

EAT

Gourmet Burgers @ XO Bakery

NOSA: If you missed out on the first pop-up, you're getting another chance at it. Alex & Ben's burger pop-up is back tomorrow (April 21)

FOLLY: I would add that I don’t know any where else in Lagos that you get a bun that was baked less than 24 hours ago with your burger. So, that in itself is a reason to check out Ben and Alex’s burger collabo.

NOSA: Just ignore their ugly ass poster. 

 
IMG_0661.JPG

NACHOS GONE WILD @ HARD ROCK CAFE

NOSA: Hard Rock Cafe's limited run "Nachos Gone Wild" menu will feature a couple of Nigerian-inspired takes on Nachos, like the Suyalicious Nachos and Shawarma Nachos, and more out there takes like this Apple Pie & Walnut Nacho. 

FOLLY: Hoping to get to Hard Rock Cafe before this is over to try the suya nachos and the dessert nachos.

Nachos creative 1.png
 

LAGOS

EMEKA: Two exhibitions happening this Sunday and they're around the corner from each other. Go get your art on, enjoy some free drinks, and ease into the new week.

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 3.08.09 PM-1.png

No Matter Who You Are

Curated by @emmaiduma at the Angels and Muse space. Abraham Onoriode Oghobase is a Nigerian photographer whose works have been exhibited widely. A quest for the purpose of existence has led Oghobase to a unique form of art as he explores issues relating to human emotions and identity against specific socio-economic backdrops, often using himself as material for his performance-based work. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 11.09.20 AM.png

Those That Were Crushed

An exhibition of antique inks and metals by Muyiwa Akinwolere. “Those That Were Crushed” is a visual commentary on the recent happenings in Nigeria's political and social landscape. Muyiwa contemplates happenings in areas such as unemployment, terrorism, population explosion and the national economy. The approach is a novel experiment in materials and style.

Chai Tang Restaurant Opens at TwinWaters
 

NOSA: Chinese food and older Nigerians go together like beans and rice. From special occasions to post-church lunches, Chinese restaurants are the OGs when it comes to dining out in Lagos. Oh, and buffets too.

FOLLY: There's a lot to unpack in the reasons why both of those are true...

NOSA: But we’re talking about Chinese restaurants today so lets focus on that. 

Chai Tang is nestled in an absolutely lovely space in the Twin Waters Entertainment Center, aka the Rufus & Bee building. It’s crazy how beautiful the space is, especially considering the shambles around the building. 

Chai Tang is a new Chinese Restaurant positioned to be the best in fine dining experience across the whole of Nigeria. Our menu has been carefully researched, selected and put together to satisfy your love of the Chinese cuisine in an extraordinary setting. Chai Tang is breathtakingly beautiful and sensibly decorated for the fine gentlemen and ladies that we serve. The amazing view of the blue Atlantic from Chai Tang will leave you breathless and relaxed. Eat, Drink and watch the sunset from the amazing Chai Tang. Great ambience, great service and amazing menus to choose from. Welcome to Chai Tang
— Twinwaters Website

NOSA: Chai Tang's menu isn’t particularly exciting. It’s boring as hell, actually, but it’s standard Nigerian Chinese fare and your mother will absolutely love it. Just come prepared to spend a bucket load because it is far from cheap. 

FOLLY: Fam, the prices hit me like a ton of bricks when I opened the menu. They also don't have two different portion size options like most Chinese restaurants in Lagos.

DSC01768.JPG

NOSA: To start, we got a pair of spring rolls and some wontons. The wontons are a complete waste of money and you need to avoid them at all costs.

FOLLY: Roger that. Over fried with mystery meat inside. 

NOSA:The spring rolls are much better because they actually tasted like spring rolls. You know how they say "90% of the work is showing up"? Yeah, that's why the spring rolls get a passing grade. 

DSC01770.JPG

FOLLY: The prawns in my main dish were much smaller than our server promised. I enjoyed it because of the ginger and when I mixed it with that spring roll pepper sauce and the rice (#Nigerian), I quite liked it. 

DSC01772.JPG

NOSA: The seafood fried rice was great idea on paper, but I found it pretty meh. 

FOLLY: The addition of the calamari was what distinguished it from what Oriental or any other Chinese restaurant in Lagos might serve.

NOSA: It's a super large portion so most people might forgive. 

DSC01774.JPG

NOSA: On Kitchen Butterfly’s Instagram, she checked out some Korean place in New York with really good fried chicken because Korean fried chicken is apparently a “thing”. Following that logic, I got the Crispy Chicken at Chai Tang because I assumed Asians must have the hands with chicken and Korea isn’t too far from China. Worst case, it’ll be like Nigerian and Ghanaian jollof

DSC01776.JPG

FOLLY: I didn't even know this back story. I thought Nosa ordered it just because he wanted a dish that was "dry" and without the MSG laden sauces. 

NOSA: A big goof on my part for expecting a Korean fried chicken spot in New York and a Chinese Restaurant in Lagos to serve up the same thing. The Crispy Chicken at Chai Tang wasn’t particularly crispy so I don’t get why it’s called that. 

pLhO6miaSoizQDDYwcqXMA_thumb_23df.jpg

FOLLY: Unlike Nosa, I found the chicken skin sufficiently crispy but I was a bit hesitant to delve into this fully because I found the slight pink tint of the chicken meat slightly uncomfortable. 

NOSA: The chicken didn't pack a lot of flavour and given how large the portion is, that's a bit a problem. 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Eh. It’s ok. I’m not the biggest fan of Chinese food so maybe I don’t get it. Judging by the guests present on the day, most people will like it.

FOLLY: It's a perfect spot to take your parents or extended family for a special occassion lunch. There will be something for everyone

NOSA: That said, it’s ridiculously expensive.  

FOLLY: Yes, come with a briefcase of cash.

VERDICT

Meh.jpeg

DAMAGE

Spring Roll - N600 each

Crispy Chicken - N7500

Stir Fried Prawns - N9500

Seafood Fried Rice - N6200

 

PARKING

The Twin Waters complex has sufficient parking. 

Thrive is Lagos' First Vegan Restaurant
 

NOSA: I tried going vegetarian once. 

Not in Lagos, obviously. 

The attempt lasted about a week or perhaps less. By the end of the week, I was lying to myself that chili with a little beef in it wasn’t really cheating. 

FOLLY: I've always felt I could be a vegeterian or at least a pesceterian. Red meat or chicken is not my favorite thing in the world, actually chicken is my least favorite thing especially when I think of the birds and feathers - I'm scared of both.

NOSA: If going vegetarian in America was hard, I imagine it's infinitely harder to do in Lagos. And I’m not even talking going hardcore with it like the vegans do.  Just doing the vanilla stuff must be an arduous task. Restaurants in Lagos only offer one, or maybe two, vegetarian options.

FOLLY: And rarely vegan options.

NOSA: That’s if they offer any at all. Before Thrive opened shop, Lagos had only one restaurant with a fully vegetarian menu - Veggie Victory (Freedom Park). 

For the limited real estate Thrive is working with, it’s actually quite well put together. From the turf to the vegan propaganda, it’s peak alté. Not even the poser counter-culture alté that we see these days. 

 Mushroom Suya

Mushroom Suya

NOSA: To start, we ordered the Mushroom Suya

It’ll sound like I’m stating the obvious here, but the mushrooms were real mushroom-y. Like, I’ve had the Bang Bang Mushrooms at Izanagi and I don’t think they were this mushroom-y.

FOLLY: I think there's a specific type of mushroom that Thrive uses as permitted by Dr.Sebi's guidelines . The book is the foundation of Thrive's menu. 

NOSA: At Thrive, there is a particular emphasis on paying attention to what goes in your body. The Mushroom Suya is seasoned, but with none of the stuff that’s bad for you. 

FOLLY: I'd have preferred if the mushrooms were sauteed (and allowed to sweat a bit) because they were pretty dry and I think that was a result of the quantity and type of oil used - if I remember correctly it's grapeseed 

DSC01759.JPG

NOSA: The Stir Fry Quinoa was lovely, but I couldn’t stop myself from thinking how much lovelier it would be with shrimp. I think this where I struggle with vegetarian plates. They always feel so incomplete, but that is not an indictment on the plates. This one is all me. As a child in Nigeria, you are made to believe that your chicken/meat/whatever is your reward for getting through your plate, but with vegetarian plates, there’s no final reward. It’s the ultimate mindfuck for me. 

FOLLY: I agree with Nosa on this one, the quinoa was great and I wasn't even fussed by the absence of meat - was pretty tasty. I think lemon is banned by Dr. Sebi, but if it wasn't but a little squeeze would have improved this a bit. 

DSC01763.JPG

NOSA: The Shawarma, too, was great, but I kept thinking about putting chicken in it. This might sound like me bashing Thrive, but I am not. I’m serious. The food is actually really good.

FOLLY: I disagree with Nosa on this. I binned most of the wrap actually. I found the texture of the soy free tofu very uncomfortable.

DSC01762.JPG

NOSA: If you’re vegetarian, you’ll absolutely love it, but if this is your intro to a vegetarian menu, you’ll struggle mightily. Thrive is unabashedly about the vegan life and it makes no pretense. There’s no entry level plate for the meat eaters. It doesn’t attempt to be accessible and rightfully so. Thrive is a restaurant for vegans and not the crowd that wants to give “this vegetarian thing” a shot because they ate too much on holiday. 

FOLLY: Aka not for Folly.

 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I might not be back because it clearly isn’t for me

FOLLY: Or me.

NOSA: However,Thrive is excellent for what it is and what it tries to achieve. 

VERDICT

Meh.jpeg

DAMAGE

Shawarma - N2000

Quinoa Stir Fry - N1500

Mushroom Suya - N1000

 

PARKING

Doesn't really exist. You're meant to take-out by design