Posts in Restaurants
Date Night in Lagos: The Most Romantic Restaurants in the City

Love – and lust, let’s be honest – is an ever flourishing sensation in the city of Lagos.

Why? Lagos is hard.

From the incessant traffic to the insufferable people, Lagos is one city in the world that I do not recommend you do alone. It’s a one star experience, guys. Don’t do it. Whether it’s a ‘friend’, lover, partner or spouse, you NEED someone to escape this madness with – and regularly. You need a person who’s willing to wine and dine with you; slipping into sultry lights and scintillating aromas.

Luckily for you and I, there are more than a few places about the city that provide the ambience and aesthetics that scream romance. Are you looking for a location to turn up the sensuality with a ’friend’, lover, partner or spouse? Well, I have just the restaurants for you;

 

Craft Gourmet by Lou Baker

14 Idowu Martins St, Victoria Island, Lagos

If you’re looking for a place you and your person of interest can run off to during work hours – assuming you work in VI – Craft Gourmet is the perfect spot. A cosy cafe with exceptional natural lighting, Craft Gourmet provides the setting for light-hearted intimacy at any time of the day. Whether you’d prefer some sinful dessert while kicking it back during your break or you’d prefer to go all out with your lunch date, Craft Gourmet has got you covered.

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Who Denise Recommends You Take There: If it’s a quick office break, I’d recommend you take a ‘friend’ or lover. It’s a great way to catch up on each other’s day and gossip about workplace trauma. For a romantic evening, go with someone you actually have feelings for.

Talindo Steak House

7B Karimu Kotun St, Victoria Island, Lagos

Talindo Steak House is often referred to as ‘the best restaurant you aren’t going to’ and truer words have never been uttered. Talindo Steak House serves some of the best steak in the city and that’s far from exaggeration. Asides from steak, its menu boasts of equally impressive dishes such as pasta, salads and an underrated burger. This restaurant is perfect for date nights where fine dining and fancy dresses are at the centre of the evening. The establishment has been around since 2003 so the decor is classic and old fashioned – but not in an off putting way.

In my opinion, nothing brings people together like tasty, well flavoured meats – well, except you’re vegetarian.

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Who Denise Recommends You Take There: Definitely a partner or a spouse. If you’re dressing up for a romantic evening, it might as well be with someone you’re serious with. If you and your lover prefer the finer things, then this is a great option as well.

Bolivar

Plot B20 Wole Olateju Cres, Lekki, Lagos

Bolivar’s a relatively new spot in the city; they opened over the Christmas holidays. Sitting at the waterfront overlooking the link bridge, Bolivar has both the aesthetic and the intimacy. The decor is careful and exotic with a touch of the Caribbean. It’s simple, cosy and calming. The restaurant opens in the evenings, allowing visitors enjoy the cool breeze of the incoming tide and the sunset. It comes with all sorts of cosy attractions such as beach canopy beds, hammocks and loveseats for snuggling up. The orange lights really set the mood for romance and sensual activity. Tell me, what could be more perfect than snuggling up to someone you’re heavily attracted to while looking at the ocean?

Who Denise Recommends You Take There: Take your lover here, oh! I’m taking mine. Your lover deserves good, calming things too. She/He/They/Them is human too. Go there, have deep conversations, rub their receding hairline and disappear for two weeks – for good measure. Bring your ‘friends’, lovers, spouses and partners here. Take everybody here. The place is actually too beautiful to pass up. See you on the canopy beds!




La Taverna

48 Balarabe Musa Cres, Victoria Island, Lagos

La Taverna is one of those places that are great for all kinds of dates. It’s a great first date option – you can share small plates tapas-style or get a pizza while figure out if your romantic interest is a serial killer or not. You can also kick it back with groups of friends and their ‘friends’, lovers, partners and/or spouses. From an impressive selection of Chilean and Italian wines to sweet desserts, La Taverna satisfies every flavour craving there is. A mix of rustic and modern, the space will definitely keep you comfortable while setting the spark for romance.

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Who Denise Recommends You Take There: La Taverna is relaxing. It’s one of those no-pressure restaurants where you can genuinely have fun and talk with your person of interest. For our non-committal brethren, La Taverna is a perfect spot because it doesn’t scream ‘I love you’. It offers a sensual experience for every occasion and really, that’s all most of us – ahem, you – need. It doesn’t matter who you bring here. Enjoy the jazz band and bring them all.

Tarragon by Culinary Academy

50 Raymond Njoku St, Ikoyi, Lagos

Tarragon by Culinary Academy is the fine dining experience you and your person of interest have been waiting for. With this restaurant, you go beyond eating delicious food in a fancy space; you experience everything around you. Created by wonderwoman, Chef Tiyan Alile, Tarragon is bound to leave a long-lasting impression on all those who visit it. To enjoy the fine dining at this restaurant, you have to make a reservation. The restaurant opens from 6pm till 11pm Tuesday through Sunday. Make sure you dress fancy while visiting this one. Ride the wave of luxury to the fullest. As a bonus, they host cooking classes!

Who Denise Recommends You Take There: I’d say take everyone for those cooking classes but honestly, no. Tarragon is the kind of restaurant you go to when you’re in LOVE love. You’re either hopelessly in love or you’re a really involved, high maintenance lover. I’m definitely not taking any ‘friends’ here. There’s rice and Netflix at home.

"Suya Wey Get Masters Degree"
 

NOSA: I feel like everyone has made a suya sandwich at some point. It's probably one of the first struggle meals you make as a Lagos bachelor because it's just so "obvious". Personally, I've done: suya panini, suya quesadilla, suya melt, and suya breakfast tacos.

FOLLY: It’s not even restricted to just bachelors. I’ve done suya burger and suya Indomie. The latter is particularly lit because you don’t have to add the Indomie seasoning and the suya just flavors the entire dish. Asun Indomie is also elite.

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NOSA: Sooyah Bistro is like all your kitchen experiments with suya, but "packaged". It's not absurdly expensive so I'm not knocking it one bit. In fact, I'm a big fan of the idea.

FOLLY: Sooyah Bistro self describes as modern and elite suya, in their words “suya wey get masters degree”. Price-wise, it’s comparable to most suya places on the Island that offer a stick of suya for N500. I like that Sooyah Bistro offers chicken suya by the stick, unlike many other places that offer chicken suya as a whole bird and not by the stick.

Their menu is simple - different varieties of suya and four sandwiches - suya shawarma, suya melt, suya burger, and the suya crepe.

NOSA: We ordered the Suya Melt and the Suya Crepe.

FOLLY: The suya melt is basically suya and cheese in a flatbread with a spicy suya mayonnaise. The suya crepe is similar but it’s wrapped in a sweet pancake instead.

NOSA: The Suya Melt could and should have been a lot cheesier. You'd be forgiven if you thought there was no cheese in there.

FOLLY: I agree, there should have been a legendary cheese pull when you separate the pieces. It should also have been stuffed with more than one stick of suya. You can tell from the images above and below that it was pretty skinny. At N2000 for a mixed (chicken and beef) melt, I would have appreciated a bit more meat.

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NOSA: But that's not the major story here, however. If you've ever made any form of a sandwich with suya, the first thing you learn is how powerful suya spice is. It literally drowns out every other flavor in whatever you make. This was very evident in melt and in the crepe as well. It sorely needed something else to balance out the suya. Or better yet, the suya didn't need to be spicy like regular suya. It could've been a bit tamer.

FOLLY: You would think that the pancake will tame the yaji spice but the yaji was very very loud.

NOSA: It's particularly unfortunate because the suya crepe could've been so so great. It could've been the perfect blend of sweet and spicy, but the yaji is just so dominant.

FOLLY: It overpowered the entire wrap. It didn’t help that the chipotle sauce was basically suya mayonnaise so it introduced even more yaji. At times you were fortunate to get a bite that was just the pancake and you'd catch a lucky break from the fieriness of the pepper.

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NOSA: The crepe, itself, could've done with some work on the crepe side of things. It wasn't a particularly good crepe, but it worked as a wrap. Maybe it was intentional.

FOLLY: The crepe itself needs significant work because it wasn’t a crepe. I’ve called it a pancake throughout this review because that’s what it was - a very thick chewy pancake. I watched home girl make the batter and I could sense she was struggling, she kept adding water and judging the batter because she knew that her consistency was off. At the end of the day, it worked but it could be a lot better. I also am trying not to fault them for it cause it’s casual street food, quality control may not be on deck like that and homegirl has probably not been making pancakes for longer than she’s had this job.


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Yeah, I'd come back. It could be better, but I liked it regardless.

FOLLY: I’d definitely try the suya shawarma but I’ll remember to tell them to take it easy on the pepper.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Mixed Suya Melt - N2000

Suya Crepe - N1500

 

 

PARKING

It’s primarily a takeout thing. 

The "Other" Circa Offers Second Rate Luxury Dining in Lekki
 

NOSA: From the moment the security guard said only "certain cars" could be parked inside, I knew Circa Privé was going to be terrible time. I didn't even have to get to the "no shorts allowed" argument with the doorman to be certain.

FOLLY: My cousin told me about her experience at the Circa Prive gate a few days before we visited. She was initially barred from parking inside because the status of her car was not befitting of their establishment. Words were exchanged and she eventually parked inside. I was really blown away that the security uttered the statement about the status of her car so I was curious what would happen when I visited. Here’s what happened.

I approached the gate and asked if they were open because they we no cars. The security confirmed they were and asked me to kindly reverse and park outside. I chucked and asked why. He said “the time is not ready for parking inside”. I deflected and said “but the restaurant is open, I checked on Instagram”. He responded that yes they were, but his reason for not inviting me to park had now changed. He stated that

“ they won’t be happy with us if you park inside”

Hmm “who is they”? I really wanted him to get to the point where he made a remark of the status of my car but this man didn’t want to go down that path. At least with me, when Nosa drove up a couple meetings later, he wasn’t so shy and told him that the status of his car didn’t qualify. I asked him that if he could kindly tell me why I couldn’t park inside that I would agree but I just needed to know why. He then paused and said:

“How I go fit talk this one now, but if you can just park outside please”

I responded:

Oga you can say it with your chest

He then stepped back, gestured to his colleague that I didn’t agree. She then proceeded to open the gate. 

NOSA: If you're going to be this pretentious as a Lagos restaurant, the least you could do is not be located in Lekki. Also, go all out and make it a "members only" thing like Miliki or Capital Club. Let everyone know you're truly for the cream of the crop and not for poors like us.

FOLLY: I feel so awkward for the security men who have been instructed by the owners to tell patrons that their cars are not worthy of parking inside. It’s extremely inappropriate and quite frankly just as crass at the Tearoom’s owners antics, the only difference is that Circa’s owners are using the security men as a buffer to deliver their ugly classist behaviour and you know what God doesn’t like..Ugly.

NOSA: Circa's biggest crime is just how tacky it is. It wants to ooze aspirational so bad but everything just falls a bit short like the doorman's ill fitting suit.

FOLLY: I was the only one in the restaurant when I arrived so honestly I don’t know what the fuss was all about and when we left about 5 hours later - there was still available parking spaces inside for the range rovers and the likes

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FOLLY: Contrary to everything this blog suggests, we (all writers on EDL) have a fixed budget per month for consumption. This is a business after all. As such, when faced with Circa’s menu, every page we turned was a “how we go take do am” moment.

NOSA: There's a N90,000 steak on a menu, which is a blatant bite from one of the most viral chefs of the last five years.

If you list an unoriginal 90k steak in a restaurant where the waiters forget there should napkins on the table, you really aren't serious. I'm being completely honest here

FOLLY: We decided we were going to go with two starters and keep them at or under N10,00 which is a Herculean task as the average price of the starters on their menu is N7,460. You can double check my math here.

The spring rolls came in at N3,500 while the magic mushrooms were N6,500. Exactly at our target. Honestly, It’s a lot more than we’d usually spend at most restaurants for only two starters.

FOLLY: The spring rolls were okay but no where near worth N3500 for plain vegetable spring rolls (given that Chinese restaurants charge N250 a pop for the same and infinitely better and crunchier). However, given the finesse of the restaurant, I imagine the prices have to be at a certain minimum. In this case, it’s more “packaging” than finesse if you ask me objectively.

NOSA: At roughly N700/spring roll, it's not disingenuous to expect more but I guess somebody has to pay for diesel so maybe we can let it slide. You'll probably eat better from your neighborhood small chops plug

Spring Roll

Spring Roll

Magic Mushroom

Magic Mushroom

NOSA: The Mushroom Magic was a shade better. If your Beninoise cook made this at home, you’d definitely give him a pat on the back. The peas and carrots were definitely from a bag or can. 

FOLLY: The carrots were too perfectly uniform to suggest otherwise and the peas had that frozen and reheated wrinkling. You know the one.

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NOSA: For our mains, we ordered the ribs and the Chef's Special pasta. The ribs taste like those frozen ribs you can buy in the freezer section at Park n' Shop.

FOLLY: The imported type that are in a box and you can pop in the oven for 30 minutes. An absolute rip off for N21,000. Here are the crimes:

  1. Tenderness of the meat

  2. Boney-ness of the ribs

  3. Quality of the BBQ sauce

NOSA: The BBQ sauce is artificially sweet so you know it came straight out of a bottle. The meat itself isn't tender enough to fall off the bone.

FOLLY: I can say with a certain degree of certainty that there was no rum flaming involved in the making of these ribs, contrary to what the menu suggests.

Marinated sweet pork ribs flamed with rum and served with French fries and a side salad, served on olive wood and edible flowers
— Flaming Pork Ribs, per the Circa Privé menu

NOSA: We don’t have any pictures of the fries or the side salad because the waiter forgot to bring it out. When we reminded him about it, we were already done with picture taking for the afternoon. Just know they looked like fries and a side salad respectively. No olive wood or edible flowers though.

For a third of the price, you'd probably forgive all these things but this is like the third most expensive thing (after the 90k steak and a 32k steak) on the menu. If you gave this same 21k to Heels in the Kitchen, you'll get yourself a full tray and not the seven bones Circa served us. Also, you’d probably be contributing to her adorable daughter’s school fees so you’re like a good person to boot.

FOLLY: It didn’t get any better with the pasta which arrived at the table cold - btw. On the menu the chef’s special pasta is listed as PISELLI. MENTA. CIPOLLA. 

Fresh homemade tagliatelle cooked and tossed in Chef’s signature sauce, topped with parmesan cheese and seafood, garnished with rosemary and onion
— Piselli. Menta. Cipolla, per the Circa Privé menu
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NOSA: I know I’m blind but that definitely looks like penne and not tagliatelle. Just look at Circa Privé lying again.

FOLLY: In case you also don’t speak Italian like us, that translates to peas, mint and onion. I strongly wish I had Googled that before ordering and we may have ordered differently.

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 As the name implied all these three things played a heavy role in this dish.

The sauce was a combination of pea puree, herbs and cream. The rosemary was so dominant. I’ve never had a pasta dish that had such strong rosemary notes. I actually prefer rosemary in drinks particularly cocktails or in cooking meats, I really wasn’t a fan of the chef’s application here. 

NOSA: The pasta wasn't any better than the ribs. The presentation was great and the pictures look amazing, but it was deathly bland. This is probably the most upsetting thing about Circa. For all the "packaging", the food isn't any good. If it was, I'd gladly park a mile away and come dressed in my Sunday best.

This is really Rhapsody-level food at double RSVP prices.

FOLLY: To top it all off, they had no dessert available.

NOSA: Not. A. Single. One.

If you’re in Lekki and you’re really in the mood to spend a lot of money on a date, just go to HSE Gourmet and save yourself the stress.


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Second rate luxury dining for a second rate luxury residential area.

FOLLY: Do not recommend for the food 3/10. For drinks and escapism, it’s an okay option but then you come out and you’re still in Lekki.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

 Spring Rolls - N3500

Magic Mushroom - N6500

PISELLI. MENTA. CIPOLLA - N8500

Flaming Pork Ribs (1kg) - N21500

 

PARKING

You will not be allowed to park inside if your car is not of a befitting status 

The Lighthouse Bar & Grill: Visible But Not Memorable
 

It’s quite interesting the impact location and visibility has on the footfall of a restaurant. The Lighthouse Bar and Grill, for instance, you probably drive past it every day if you’re a Lekki resident. If you run on the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge, you probably park right beside The Lighthouse. Oh, then there’s instagram. You hear about their Paella Thursdays all the time.

Despite all of this, you never seem to consider them an option when eating out.

Crazy. 

Anyway, we (Folarin and Christina) decided to visit Lighthouse for lunch on a faithful Tuesday afternoon, before rush hour. Can’t begin to explain how therapeutic it was, watching other Lagos drivers trundle behind one another on the bridge then speed off like freed captives right after they paid their toll. Love it!

Seafood Mix Fry-up at Lighthouse Lekki

Seafood Mix Fry-up at Lighthouse Lekki

Not knowing what to expect since all we ever hear about is their paella, I ordered the Mixed Seafood Skewer, Mixed Grilled Skewer and Seafood Mix Fry-up while Christina ordered a cheeky Fish & Chips.

The Seafood Mix Fry-up was a platter of shrimp, calamari and little pieces of fish all in batter. The batter was light and not too oily while the fish and shrimp weren’t dry or over-fried so they were easy to eat. The calamari wasn’t too chewy or rubbery, which is always a good thing.

I really wish the items in the platter weren’t so bland, however. The Lighthouse got the texture right, which is usually the hard part. Maybe it’s time to lower my expectations for seafood platters in Lagos because most of the restaurants we’ve visited have failed on either the texture or taste?

The platter also seemed to be different to what Folly and Nosa had when they were there, with ours in batter, I wonder why.

Like the Fry-up, the Mixed Seafood Skewer was of good texture and it tasted lovely! Grilled and basted with lemon, basil and olive oil, this was definitely the Lighthouse’s best hand.

Normally, I’m reluctant to order land animals at seafood restaurants but the waiter really convinced us that Lighthouse serves a good mixed grill skewer so I proceeded to order it. The mixed grill had pieces of chicken and beef on a stick, basted with what I believe was spicy stew. Overall, the meats were of good texture and not dry but lacked taste in the inner layers. Merely basting the mixed grill skewer with spicy stew before (or while) grilling is a lazy way to prepare a skewer.

Mixed Seafood Skewer at Lighthouse Lekki

Mixed Seafood Skewer at Lighthouse Lekki

Mixed Grill Skewer at Lighthouse Lekki

Mixed Grill Skewer at Lighthouse Lekki

While we can easily question our expectations of/for a skewer and let this slide, I think the skewer lacked sophistication and any deeper flavours. I mean, marinating the meat first then basting with a spicy sauce while grilling should do the trick.
— Christina
Fish and chips at Lighthouse Lekki

Fish and chips at Lighthouse Lekki

Lighthouse is by the water so they should handle seafood well

I still can’t understand this but I do agree that a seafood restaurant should offer, if anything, good seafood.

The fish, in the Fish & Chips, was cooked just right with the batter being crispy and the fish not being too dry, but I was put off by its blandness. Also, how do you serve fish and chips without a generous serving of salt, lemon or vinegar? To top it off, they served the fish and chips with their homemade chili-mayo, which was fresh ata rodo mixed with mayonnaise. 

The ghetto.

At this point, I requested for vinegar to sprinkle on my chips like you’d do in a chip shop but when the waiter returned with apple cider vinegar, I had to concede. Doesn’t raw undiluted ACV irritate the stomach lining and erode your throat and enamels? Crazy.


POSTSCRIPT

FOLARIN: Few highs and many lows at Lighthouse but I’m happy I’ve cleared my curiosity. I really doubt I’ll be back.

CHRISTINA: I might visit again to try out their almighty paella but besides that, I’m good love. Thanks.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

 Mixed Seafood Fry Up - N4000

Grilled Seafood Skewer - N2500

Mixed Grilled Skewer - N2000

Fish and Chips - N4000

 

PARKING

8 to 10-car parking space but there’s lots of road outside really. 

The Long Bar: Revisited After a Long Time Away
 

NOSA: On the drive to The Long Bar this weekend, I realized I haven't been to the place in over three years. For a place I quite enjoyed, if my memory serves me right, it feels a bit odd.

FOLLY: You actually got your classmates to meet up there for a reunion of sorts. LOL.

NOSA: I just forgot all about it for some reason. It only came to mind when we tried to kill time by driving around VI until 100 Hours opened up.

FOLLY: I really needed that Amala.

NOSA: The menu at Long Bar doesn't look like much has changed since I was last here.

FOLLY: They printed new menus with far fewer typos.

NOSA: The sections remain the same. For reasons best left unsaid, The Long Bar is quite popular with expats in Lagos. It appears Nigerians have gotten hip to it because there's a whole "African" section of the menu. You can't hide near pump price beer for too long.

FOLLY: I can imagine Nigerian men post work sweeping their ties behind their neck while going in for pounded yam and egusi with a mortuary standard beer in tow.

NOSA: Visually, there have also been some changes at The Long Bar too. The outdoor area has been completely redone and another bar added. The space is nowhere near as dingy as it once used to be.

FOLLY: The inside, where we sat, is still moderately lit, has booth like seating, and is mildly choking from all the cigarette smoke. The English Breakfast is more expensive than at Churchill’s Pub so I ordered it so I could compare the two.

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In summary, Churchill’s is better. I didn’t appreciate the eggs being put a mold - that just didn’t work for me visually.

I don’t take kindly to canned mushrooms and don’t know why I got chicken sausages but Nosa got beef/pork. I guess I should be glad I didn’t get franks right? The best thing on this plate were those hand-cut fries and it doesn’t even technically belong on an English Breakfast plate! They probably know this but just want to give you something that you’ll like, last last.

NOSA: I ordered the Mixed Grill as my main because at N6000 it looked too good to pass up.

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It was a combination of the most random assortment of meats is a skillet. Pork chops, chicken wings, sausages, some fried pork, and some baked beans in the middle. Oh, you get a side of hand cut fries as well. It sounds all over the place but it looks excellent when it's served and it comes together on the plate. Definitely one for the carnivore in you.

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NOSA: The meats weren't as tender as I expected. Not "tough" per se, but they stayed on the grill for a bit too long if you ask me.

FOLLY: The barbecue sauce on the chops had dried out that’s how long it stayed on.

NOSA: Part of me feels I got profiled and it was made this way because this might be how the Nigerian patrons like it, but I'll try not to overthink it. For the money, it definitely worth it


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I definitely want to go back again this weekend. I hear the chicken tikka and the naan is wonderful. Plus, word on the street that you can get apple pie off menu.

FOLLY: Eh, sounds like that will be a solo adventure. It was okay but not that good.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

 English Breakfast - N4000

Mixed Grill - N6000

 

PARKING

Eh. It’s street parking.