7 Square Follows the Lagos Restaurant Template to a T
NOSA: Over the weekend, we had a little dinner discussion about dining in Lagos and one thing that came up about was the role of a chef in Lagos. It is very rare to find a restaurant where the executive chef is highly visible on a daily basis. Visible in the sense that you can see them actively managing employees, checking on guests etc. There aren’t lots of places where you can spot the chef on floor and flag his attention if anything goes wrong.
What most restaurants tend to have is a “cook” and a front of house manager, which leaves a bit of a leadership vacuum.
FOLLY: And empty apologies tacked on with “my manager is not around”
NOSA: Precisely, because this leadership vacuum also comes with a lack of ownership and more often than not the second order effect of all this is inconsistency. It’s why your penne pesto tastes one way on one day and tastes another way on another day.
This brings us to our to 7 Square, which, like most Lagos restaurants, runs with the Ops Manager + Cook model. Or it appears to.
FOLLY: I’m pretty sure I saw the owner outside watching the game while we were there. Anyway, the menu at 7 Square was exceptionally boring and lacking passion and direction.
NOSA: In other words, it’s extensive, boring and all over the place. It’s simply a copy and paste of what you find in most places in Lagos. This could be a Cactus or Crust & Cream if you switched the logos out. Some random steak here and some generic burger there. Toss in some pizza or a nondescript pasta dish.
NOSA: We didn’t have a bad experience at 7 Square, pretty good in fact, but it just left so much to be desired. Restaurateurs can’t keep opening the same restaurant and running the models. The bubble is going to burst soon.
To start, we got the My Favorite; a weird platter with humus, sausages, french fries and pita bread. From the menu description, I thought everything would be in the hummus so Folly got pretty curious and ordered it.
FOLLY: I imagine that this was called My Favourite because the Lebanese owner used to eat sausages and hummus as a little boy. I can almost picture it. What I didn’t imagine was that it’ll be served separately. I thought we were going to get a hummus donut with a generous helping of sausage meet in the centre.
NOSA: The hummus was serviceable, but the sausage was surprisingly great. Mixed with bell peppers and tomatoes, the sausage had this interesting BBQ kick to it and you get some hummus in there (weird, I know), it’s a party.
FOLLY: The barbecue sauce and hummus combined oddly well. It seems like one those whimsical creations that children love.
NOSA: For my main, I got the Royal PIzza, which was surprisingly good. Thin crust, stringy cheese and straight out of a wood fried oven. A bit like what you’d get at Taverna or Pizzeriah or House Cafe, but a shade more expensive.
FOLLY: The crust was a little bit more crispy than I’d like, you couldn’t fold the slice to eat it without it cracking everywhere. They used canned mushrooms but I get it fresh imported produce is expensive.
NOSA: On the bright side, this means more restaurants are catching onto the greatness of the wood fried oven for pizza and we can finally stop subjecting ourselves to Dominos as a society.
FOLLY: I ordered my main, the Half Grilled Chicken, to be basic.
NOSA: The name sounds funny too. Is it a grilled half chicken or a chicken grilled halfway? LOL.
FOLLY: This is going to sound snobby but most times when I looked over at what other diners order at restaurants - most times groups that consist of Middle Aged Nigerians order some variant of rice and chicken so I decided to join them.
NOSA: That’s the go-to order in every Nigerian movie. Anyway, the chicken was surprisingly large. Shouts to them for being generous.
FOLLY: As well as largely forgettable. It was (thankfully) not overcooked and so wasn’t dry on the inside - kudos to them on that. Apart from that, there was nothing distinctive about the flavour so I took it home to recook it into my Zoodles which worked out perfectly.
NOSA: I read this thing somewhere about how eating chicken is bad for you from one of the gym bros I follow on Instagram. According to that piece of bro science, thanks to the way we rear chickens, they’re always in a state of fright. This fright releases some chemicals (bro science never specifies the chemical), which we eventually consume. Messes with your whole mojo and you can’t lift heavy anymore. I don’t eat a lot of chicken and I did a 225 lb power clean the other day so gym bro must be right.
NOSA: We tried to close out with dessert, but from the 6-item dessert menu, they only had two items available. This brings us back to my little spiel at the start of this. When there’s no ownership in a restaurant, you get things like the polite waiter telling you all the dessert is available and when you ask the waiter to confirm, the waiter tells you they only have two items.
NOSA: Eh, it’s ok. Largely boring, but the food is good. Very safe option.
FOLLY: I honestly thought 7 Square was about the desserts on their menu because they had a decent selection so to be told only two items - one of which was a fruit salad - were available was moderately disappointing.
My Favorite - N5000
Half Grilled Chicken - N6500
Royal Pizza - N5500