Posts in Restaurants
Beneath the Confusing Menu Lies Deliciousness at House Cafe
 
House Cafe0012.jpg

NOSA: There’s something about House Cafe that upsets me so much. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Oh wait, I know. Why are there three different restaurants but one restaurant at the same time?

FOLLY: It’s like House Cafe thinks this is Eko Hotel in 1600 square feet.

NOSA: There’s a regular restaurant menu, a pizza menu, a pasta and pizza menu, and coffee shop menu. You’re basically given a whole bunch of papers to look at like you walked into a Nigerian bank asking for a loan.

FOLLY: When we arrived the waitress asked if we wanted to sit in the lifestyle restaurant, coffee shop, or “Bacio”

3 Part Luxury Culinary Experience
-Bacio: Italian Cuisine| Pizzeria
-The HouseCafe Restaurant: Intercontinental
-Mocca Cafe : Coffee Beverages| Pastry
— House Cafe Instagram

NOSA: Look, I get the concept but the owners and I clearly have philosophical differences on this. What on earth is a “Lifestyle Restaurant” anyway?

From the abstract (MOCCA), for its tick, freshly brewed coffee and alcohol twist to BACIO Italia, for the neo-Italian cuisine with assortments of alternative dinning for clients by night, the House Café has a knack to offer something for everyone with choice of delicious meals, fine dining, and unforgettable moments.
— House Cafe Website

NOSA: Why couldn’t all three menus be streamlined into one thing?

FOLLY: Terrible idea, that’ll result in one of those 15 page menus. I’d prefer they just streamline and focus on one cuisine.

NOSA: Or maybe something seasonal or a lunch/dinner split.

FOLLY: Asking for too much there, bro.

NOSA: Why does it have to be so overwhelming and just a lot. I just want to fight the owners.

The Francophone waitress is really pleasant though. They need to keep her.

FOLLY: This is why Nigeria isn’t progressing. You people don’t like our local content

DSC02110.jpg

NOSA: To start, we ordered the rocket and prosciutto pizza aka Roca Rocket

As much as I hate the concept of the restaurant, the pizza was so good. There’s an inverse relationship between how I feel about the restaurant versus how I feel about the pizza.

There’s actual rocket on it and not spinach like the rubbish pizza at Bottles. This might be my new favorite pizza in Lekki.

FOLLY: It’s the only good pizza in Lekki.

NOSA: I know there isn’t a lot of competition, but it nearly blows Harvest out the water.

FOLLY: The rocket was fresh, and the serving of prosciutto and feta was very generous on the pizza - so I had no complaints.

 NOSA: Also really good was the tagliatelle. The sauce was the right amount of sweet and the tagliatelle was al dente as I liked it. Doesn’t hurt that the shrimp serving is very generous.

FOLLY: Sweetness seemed to come from the onions, wine and just a little bit of sugar.

NOSA: But yeah, you should order this.

DSC02122.jpg
DSC02117.jpg

NOSA: The only let down for me was the duck. It was definitely cooked a little too much and the end result was bleh beef-tasting duck. If anything, it should taste closer to a dark meat chicken thigh than boiled meat.

FOLLY: When it was first served, I had to ask the waitress if she hadn’t placed an order for the lamb cutlet instead.

NOSA: Oh, and the fries were rubbish.

House Cafe0010.jpg

FOLLY: Since they also pride themselves on having a cafe and bakery, I ordered the cheesecake for dessert. The gelatin top was a first for me and overall it was good enough.

DSC02123.jpg
DSC02125.jpg

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I have my complaints and reservations about the restaurant’s concept, but I can’t deny that the food is actually good. It hurts me to say it that I’ll be back again.

FOLLY: I really liked their pizza and I’ll definitely be back for that at the very least.

VERDICT

Like.jpeg

DAMAGE

Cheesecake - N3000

Roca Rocket - N5000

Soy Roast Duck - N9800

Prawns Tagliatelle - N4800

 

 

PARKING

Sufficient.

Circa Lagos: Plenty Highs, More Mehs
 

NOSA: This Circa review has taken two visits and a couple of weeks, but it’s finally here. Probably didn't need multiple weeks to draw the conclusion.

FOLLY: But yeah, here we are.

NOSA: On multiple occasions, I’ve talked about restaurants being tucked in a particular location but I don’t think they come close to Circa. It’s literally tucked in the residential side of Lekki.

FOLLY: It doesn't help that the most direct route to Circa has been closed off by an over bearing resident's association that thinks there are too many entries and exits into their private street.

IMG_2289.JPG

NOSA: Lekki residents are so fake uppity. They don't know the place has already become FESTAC, a once residential estate turned to business district.

FOLLY: We started with the asun, calamari & prawn mix, and the naan with smoked chicken

NOSA: The asun was absolutely disappointing.  I can’t believe I’m here complaining about lack of pepper, but here I am. It felt very intentional like Circa made it dull on purpose. Or maybe the chef had an off day. Either way, I’m not a fan.

FOLLY: The asun really did lack character, it was dry and the goat meat was far from tender. 

FOLLY: Thankfully the seafood platter was very well done. The prawn and the calamari were both crispy as they should be. The prawn looks dark an over fried in the pictures but it really wasn't in real life - you have my word.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2a9e.jpg

NOSA: It's really hard to ruin fried calamari anywhere. You have to make a concerted effort to ruin it and even that is hard to do.

The naan, too, was great. Probably my favorite of all the starters. It’s served like a flatbread pizza, but with naan and smoked chicken. I’m not the biggest fan of smoked chicken and this one didn’t change my mind either

IMG_2285.JPG
IMG_2286.JPG

FOLLY: This isn't the looker - in fact it's actually quite unattractive in pictures but it was more well received than the asun. Again similar to the asun, I found this to be lacking in moisture. I love that when naan is served in Indian restaurants it's brushed with melted butter or ghee. Or maybe Circa should just have added better (and more) cheese.

NOSA: For my first main, I ordered the burger which was not the smartest decision I made in my two visits. While the bun was soft and all sorts of lovely, the patty tasted a bit funky. Not the good type of funky either. As a whole, the burger was near disastrous

DSC02070.jpg
DSC02069.jpg

I can usually persevere when faced with the worst of plates, but I couldn’t hack it with the burger. After a couple bites is, I had to call it quits.

FOLLY: This is a fact. Nosa always perseveres with bad orders when I call it quits since we're still going to pay for it anyway but this was the first time I've ever witnessed Nosa just flat out refuse to eat something we ordered. 

NOSA:At its best, this is a burger you get at a cookout. You can let the flaws slide because you didn’t pay for it, but when a price is attached some things become non negotiable. Things like processed cheese become criminal.

IMG_2290.JPG
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2aa1.jpg

FOLLY: My main dish on our first visit was the seafood marinara. 

NOSA: There was a night and day difference in the quality of pasta we got both times we visited Circa.

NOSA: The first time, while the marinara was delicious the penne was undercooked in parts. Some bites more al dente than the others.

FOLLY: Lol that was so confusing.  Some part of it were perfect while the rest was literally inedible, so you know what I did? I took the leftovers home then baked the pasta for about 3-5 minutes with like a teaspoon of water so it'll steam, threw in some cheese for good measure and it came out perfect.

NOSA: The second time, though, both the pesto and the spaghetti was perfect. Could’ve done with some salt, but you can let that go.

FOLLY: On the marinara, it was great because the chef actually took his time to actually make it - reducing the tomatoes so it wasn't super acidic, thankfully. There was also wine in it. 

NOSA: The pesto isn't "officially" on the menu yet, but they need to get it on there soon. That burger needs to be replaced.


POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: Honestly, nothing we had really stood out to be as exceptional. It was good enough though.

NOSA: Yeah, the owners seem nice and eager to improve so things will probably get better.

VERDICT

Meh.jpeg

DAMAGE

Asun - N3000

Prawn Pesto - N7800

Circa Burger - N4800

Seafood Marinara - N6000

Crispy Calamari + Prawn - N4500

Homemade Naan with Smoked Chicken - N3800

 

 

PARKING

Yes but the security guards may not help if your car isn't nice *

*Nosa's car was dirty and they assumed he was a delivery driver

Brunch at The Harvest
 

NOSA: Harvest has been one of my favorite restaurant openings this year. The Eatalian is probably one of the best burgers I've had in Lagos since I moved back. All of this meant I was more than pumped when I found out they were launching a brunch menu. So much so that I was patient enough to point out the rosé in bar to the waiter.

FOLLY: Our brunch at The Harvest was more stressful than it should have been. The waiter put up a fight uneccesarily for everything. First, he insisted to Nosa that there was no brunch menu and secondly, didn't know the difference between red, white, and rosé.

u8Gl4gmgQQC40+dPCtZ0Nw_thumb_27fb.jpg

NOSA: In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have been so excited for this brunch. Coming in with all that expectation might have tainted this review.  Anyway, we'll get to that as you continue reading. 

It started with the waiter not knowing they had a "breakfast" menu and said menu being incredibly unimaginative. But again, maybe that's the expectation speaking. "The limited items might be really good", I said to myself as I ordered the English Breakfast as my main. 

FOLLY: There were like three other options excluding the English Breakfast and the Club Sandwich, two of which were pancakes so I went with the more exciting of the two - the Party Pancakes.

NOSA: Frankfurters and canned mushrooms. 

I could've made this myself, honestly. 

FOLLY: I forgive canned mushrooms most times, but frankfurters are unforgiveable.

NOSA: No, seriously, the cook in my house makes this whenever I actually buy bacon and sausage. You're literally one Delis grocery run away from this plate. At least I don't use frankfurters, I use Satis sausages so it's like a Full Peckham breakfast or something. 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2826.jpg

FOLLY: Likewise, I could have made the pancakes myself because it was strikingly similar in taste to a certain boxed pancake mix - but I am not 100% sure - I'd bet on it though.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2821.jpg
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2827.jpg

NOSA: The pancakes remind me of those movies where a little kid finally gets to do adult things and the first thing they want to do is eat candy unsupervised or stay up late.

FOLLY: The plating was very DIY too. 

NOSA: These guys just sprinkled M&Ms on this like "eh, it's whatever".

FOLLY: That was actually my attempt at a colourful plating for the picture. The M&M's came in a separate side dish.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2828.jpg

NOSA:Why didn't The Harvest dump the candy in the pancake when it was still batter? Again, these pancakes tasted like they came out of Aunt Jemima box. I'm not shading pancake mix, though. It gets the job done. But, if you're going sell it as a brunch offering at a restaurant, it best not be full of items straight from the grocery store. That's simply insulting. 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I wasn't adequately whelmed. 

FOLLY: Neither was I.

VERDICT

Meh.jpeg

DAMAGE

Party Pancakes - N3500

English Breakfast - N3500

 

PARKING

There's lot of parking available

Taste Test: The Amala at NOK by Alara

Unlike Folly, Nosa is not the biggest fan of Amala. Actually, that sounds like he might tolerate it. Nosa HATES Amala. That's a true reflection of what we're dealing with. So you can see how a proper assessment of the Amala at NOK wouldn't work if one half of Eat.Drink.Lagos has an inherent bias. Lucky for us, two readers of the blog helped us out -  @Ruby_TNT and @Jollz


ONYEKA: NOK is well known for its gourmet take on traditional Nigerian and African food in general, so when I was chosen (yay, me!) by Eat.Drink.Lagos to try out its new Amala menu, I was pretty excited.

JOLA: Joining Folly, Nosa and Onyeka to try out Nok’s amala was the natural next step in what I consider a career in amala connoisseurship and I was honestly honoured. Many are called but Jollz was chosen and more importantly, Jollz delivered.  

ONYEKA: Not because it was free amala, I mean sure, who doesn’t like free food especially when it’s amala, but because I was kind of eager to see how NOK intended to gourmet-fy it.

It’s AMALA!

NOK Amala.jpg

ONYEKA: Anyway, no need to talk about how pretty NOK is and its amazing ambience…those who know, know. On to the food itself. Firstly, it came in a really pretty bowl. Not authentic clay, but it did look quite real and gave off that traditional food vibe-ish. 

Now, to dissect the food and cost.

Bearing in mind that the menu said "amala with ewedu, gbegiri and assorted meat" for N3500, I was expecting a lot of amala for that price. Iya Olaiya anyone?

JOLA: The best amala is Ibadan amala, closely followed by early morning “buka” amala (don’t ask me how I know this) and right behind that is wedding amala (but it’s advisable you have a cast iron stomach to be able to fully take advantage, if not you'll find yourself stuck in the bathroom for hours). 

ONYEKA: But one needs to remember that this is fancy amala and not the usual Iya Basira type food so I guess N3,500 is understandable…

...nahhhh, it’s not. N2000 or N2500 would have been more feasible.

DSC02044.jpg

JOLA: Again, NOK is great at presentation. The bowls were super cute and the amala was appropriately drowned in a sea of ewedu, gbegiri and assorted meat (yuck) as is customary.

ONYEKA: The amala wasn’t much. At first glance, it looked quite plentiful until I realised that it was literally a circle. The space in the middle was meat and stew. Hmmm.

Anyway, there was a whole lot of stew but not enough ewedu. I should point out now that I refused the gbegiri because beans because ground beans because EWWWW. Moving on, ewedu makes the whole meal. As far as I’m concerned, my amala should be drenched in ewedu with just a little bit more than a splash of stew. Luckily, the stew was really nice, so I guess I can forgive the not-enough ewedu.

Somewhat. 

DSC02048.jpg

ONYEKA: Then, the meat.

Assorted meat.

JOLA: I really, really dislike assorted meat but apparently you people die for it

ONYEKA: When I hear "assorted meat", I think of roundabout (intestine), shaki (tripe), fuku (heart), beef, kpomo…you know, the good good.

NOK’s assorted meat was…let’s call it posh.

DSC02045.jpg

ONYEKA: A lot of beef, slivers of shaki and cow leg. Maybe other people got roundabout or kpomo, but not me. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of beef, and if my cowleg isn’t melt-in-the-mouth soft, then I stay far away. My beef was soft but there was too much, so I had a piece or 2. My cowleg was soft but not as soft as I would have liked so I cut a bit out of a piece and that was that. I had my 2 slivers of shaki and, to their credit, they were quite soft and nice. I’ll give them that.

But yahhh, that’s it.

DSC02046.jpg

ONYEKA: The piece de resistance, aka the amala, was really really nice, however.

JOLA: The texture of the amala was perfect, it was neither congealed, hard or super black. Amala is meant to be supremely soft, which is why I maintain that the best amala is made by old women with church aunty arms and less than 11 teeth.

ONYEKA:  Hands down, one of the fluffiest amalas I’ve had outside my house. I lowkey wanted more amala (but with more ewedu in the stew – yes, I’m not letting this go) but that would have been an extra N3500 and it’s never ever that deep lol.

DSC02050.jpg

JOLA: Taste wise it wasn’t bad at all; I actually really enjoyed it.

Now, let me confess, I have a bit of an attitude when it comes to “fancy places” doing amala. I need a little grime, a few healthcare violations, a lot of rude women, and an immense lack of customer service.  That guarantees great tasting amala… well most of the time (side eye White House). However, I must confess, Nok impressed me. The amala was really soft, stew had bit of a kick (and you know how yoruba women are about their pepper), and overall it tasted really good. The ewedu and gbegiri combo wasn't watery (trust me, it’s a thing) and the actual beef in the collection of assorted meat was soft and delicious (I didn't touch the rest because I deserve better).

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2804.jpg

ONYEKA: All in all, it was pretty okay if deconstructed, but for that price and for everything in general, I don’t think I’d be going to NOK again for this particular meal. If I could have the amala on its own though, I definitely would go back for more and more.

JOLA: At N3500, it’s pricey for amala but if you’ve got it and want to impress a few bougie friends I guess you should go for it. From this amala connoisseur it gets a thumbs up, and trust me, I know what I’m talking about. 


DAMAGE

Abula - N3500

For Good Thai, My Thai is Still Too Expensive
 

NOSA: Eko Hotel isn’t like your typical hotel in Lagos. The restaurants are a big part of the experience. Which means, unlike almost every hotel in Lagos, the restaurant selection serves food you’d actually pay to eat. In 1415, RED, Crossroads, Sky, and The Grill Steakhouse, Eko Hotel boasts a collection that no other hotel in Lagos can compete with.

FOLLY: I've been particularly enthused by the arrival of Crossroads and My Thai. 

NOSA: Considering how prolific Eko Hotel is in churning out new restaurants, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at all by the arrival of My Thai. Just like the others, My Thai is incredibly expensive. The Pad Thai, for starters, is almost $50. Crazy stuff. 

FOLLY: Now see, that $50 Pad Thai caught me off guard, I most certainly didn't see that coming.

DSC02014.jpg
DSC02016.jpg

NOSA: Open for dinner only, My Thai welcomes you with a blue ginger drink that I didn’t quite catch the name of. According to the waitress, it’s a palate cleanser. It didn’t add anything to the experience, but maybe it’s a hidden factor in the bill.

FOLLY: I had it and quite liked it because of the ginger kick. Also it's very important to me that I mention that My Thai opens at 5 pm but doesn't start serving dinner until 6 pm. 

NOSA: To start, we got the Thod Man Goong (Prawn Cake)Prawn Cake

DSC02018.jpg
DSC02019.jpg

NOSA: I expected a flat pancake thing, but what came out were cute little nuggets. Cute little DELICIOUS nuggets.

FOLLY: I was expecting a disk shaped prawn cake that had a bit more prawn in the filling than potatoes. 

NOSA: Just imagine chicken nuggets without the chicken, but with shrimp. Absolutely delicious stuff.

FOLLY: I found the texture of the shrimp on the inside a tad bit inconsistent and it threw me off a whole lot. I'd also like to add that the sauce that accompanied this was a basic bottled sweet chilli sauce - a shame given the price point of My Thai.

NOSA: For the price, the Phad Thai Goong Sod (Pad Thai) was ridiculously tiny. I was willing to give them the benefit of doubt on price, but the portion was definitely taking it too far. I mean, you only get  two big prawns in the thing so where does the rest of the money go to?

DSC02027.jpg
DSC02022.jpg

FOLLY: This portion size was a pretty big sham and absolutely ridiclous. I remember asking the waitress if it was a sharing portion and she responded that two people could share it but that one person could comfortable eat it alone too.

NOSA: For all my whining, it’s actually pretty good Pad Thai. It’s no Orchid House but it’s miles better than the one at Thai Thai. I guess that’s why the price hurts me so. 

FOLLY: I, too, cannot deny that it's one of the better Pad Thai's that I've had in Lagos but it zero value for money - absolute 0/100. On the ThaiThai Pad Thai, that was only good the first time I had it. The quality had steadily declined and that is a disappointing story for another day. 

DSC02030.jpg
DSC02024.jpg

NOSA: Also really good is the Geang Massaman Neua (Massaman Curry). A bit of a random fact I found out on the internet, Massaman Curry draws heavily on Indian influences and was probably introduced by Muslim traders who roamed the region. This Muslim influence explains why chicken is the most popular variant of the curry. You learn something new everyday, eh?

FOLLY: The portion, thankfully, was also less of a rip off than the Pad Thai considering that we had a little bit leftover to take home.

Massaman is a mild and thick Thai curry. It's not spicy at all and has a very nutty flavour owing to the peanuts. I gravitate towards it because it's less brothy than your typical Thai curries and isn't spicy at all. I should warn that some of that thickness can be attributed to onions so if that's a problem for you I'd stay clear. The most delightful aspect of My Thai's iteration was the sprinkling of roasted peanut and cashew nuts, as well as raisins into the curry.

FOLLY:  The garlic rice was my attempt to try something different from regular steamed white rice. It wasn't a good idea - it was white rice tossed in roasted (read: burnt) garlic oil. If you've ever burnt your garlic while making pasta but still used it anyway you can probably imagine the flavour I'm describing.

NOSA: You should only come here if you’re trying to spend company money or you’re Hush Puppi. Or maybe if you’re both. I mean, Hush is an employee too. Have you seen that snapchat where he’s some Dubai restaurant buying crab point-and-kill style? Yeah, My Thai is a “flex ting” like that. If you’re considering it for date night, just buy your babe a weave. You don’t even get a view. 

 

POSTCRIPT

NOSA: The food is good, but I’m not coming back here. I don’t make enough money and Orchid House has cheaper + better Thai.

FOLLY: Me neither, not even for date night. It's absolutely ridiculous how much it costs and no it's not fine dining portions - just a plain simple rip off. 

VERDICT

Like.jpeg

DAMAGE

Thod Man Goong  - N6500

Phad Thai Goong Sod - N12000

Garlic Fried Rice - N2000

Geang Massaman Neua - N14000

 

PARKING

Abundant.