Posts in Restaurants
Izanagi as a Model of Consistency
 

NOSA: We visited Izanagi over the weekend because our original review felt a bit dated.

FOLLY: We also tried to visit a new “superfood/juice bar” but the staff on duty didn’t have ingredients to make most things on their menu so we decided to walk out before we’d regret everything.

NOSA: The pictures from our old Izanagi post were taken on my old iPhone 6 so they aren’t popping like. EDL has “bought” me an X now so a revisit was definitely due. (PS: Please help me convince Folly to sanction an Xs Max so we can take more popping pictures)

FOLLY: I don’t recall EDL buying you an iPhone X, so if you did so that’s misappropriation also theft and you’re going to pay it back. Yeah, our camera lens has recently “given up the ghost” so we only have Nosa’s iPhone X for pictures now.

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NOSA: To start, we got the Krispy Rock Shrimp. Just a couple steps away from our normal Bang Bang Mushrooms. Basically tempura shrimp tossed in soca sauce, rock shrimp is a fixture in most pan-Asian menus. Izanagi’s take on it was a little disappointing. You might call it “dull”, in fact. Soca sauce is supposed to pack a little heat, it’s Caribbean after all, but the one at Izanagi had no such heat. I mean, I ate it all, but it was still disappointing.

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FOLLY: I didn’t read the menu description because Nosa spotted this and ordered it. If I had read it I may have found it disappoint like Nosa did if I knew it was supposed to be spicy - I didn’t. I found it crispy for sure, and the dressing was more tangy than spicy. There was definitely lemon in there. I didn’t find it dull but it wasn’t impressionable. If you’ve ever tried it, you’d know the Bang Bang Mushrooms at Izanagi are very impressionable and is one of those items you’d already mentally plan to order on your next visit.

NOSA: Folly went with the Spicy Beef Ramen. Ramen is really just fancy Indomie. You are not going to change my mind. It’s my phillistine hot take and I’ll go to the grave with that. This and “Fela is overrated” are two positions I’m never backing down from.

FOLLY: If I recall at Metisse, you were quite excited to order the Pho, so what exactly is the difference with Ramen? If you like ramen, you’d definitely enjoy this. I don’t know how many spots in Lagos serve ramen but this was excellent. I worry about ordering these broth noodle dishes because I sometimes find the broths tasteless, thankfully this wasn't. I also loved that the beef was not over cooked - you could still see the pink spots in between the slices.

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NOSA: Because I don’t play that Indomie stuff, I got the Norwegian Roll (Unagi, Crabsticks, Salmon Skin and Salmon Teriyaki Sauce). This is my new favorite roll at Izanagi. Over the the Izanagi Dragon.

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NOSA: Maki rolls always get a bad wrap from the purists because it’s not “authentic”. You know, like Kung Pao Chicken and Chinese food. That’s their business abeg, I like what I like. Maki rolls are a fantastic way to get into sushi. If you’ve ever been wary about getting into sushi, maki rolls are a great way to get into it. Start with something as basic as the California Roll and work your way up.

NOSA: Whenever we visit Izanagi, the order is usually the same. Maybe we spice it up with a new maki roll, but it’s always the standard “starter + roll”.

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FOLLY: I mean, everyone already knows the sushi and maki at Izanagi are great so I felt that we should delve into other aspects of their menu. For what it’s worth, I think Izanagi is a fantastic date night spot and is also great for the above 40s crowd because they have the pockets to afford it.

NOSA: We decided to be a bit more adventurous this time so we ordered the Temaki. Temaki is hand rolled, often conelike, sushi. Rolled in seaweed, aka nori, and stuffed with rice, Temaki looks like a funky ice cream cone. We went with the Tempura Hand Roll (Ebi Tempura, Cucumber and Garlic Mayo) and the Crispy Spicy Salmon (Spicy Salmon, Tobiko, Tempura Crisp and Mayo).

NOSA: I really don’t think you’re meant to eat it with your hands, but that’s what I did.

FOLLY: We didn’t have any cutlery apart from chopsticks so we couldn’t even slice it.

NOSA: I held it like a little Japanese taco and stuffed it in the mouth. Pause. There’s no way chopsticks would work with this, but I’m a noob so maybe it’s me.

FOLLY: The Temaki was very delicious. You’d think that because of all the rice that this would be tedious. First of all the rice is sticky thus making it taste a bit nice but the seaweed balances out the volume of the rice and then the fish also helps to make everything taste less monotonous.

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NOSA: For such a little thing, it’s plenty expensive. If I made a little more than I currently do, this would probably be my thing. As an upwardly mobile (read: money is no too dey like that) millennial, this can’t click as a regular thing unfortunately. “Broke with expensive taste “is really what I am, word to Azealia Banks.

The Crispy Spicy Salmon was super delicious. There’s a lot of rice, but you don’t really notice it because the salmon and the nori swallow it all up. For a split second, I wondered why I’d never ordered the temaki before. Oh right, it’s 3k for a single roll. Makes sense.

Izanagi is still my favorite sushi spot in Lagos. They’ve really been so consistent over the years. The Izanagi Dragon, for instance, has tasted the same way every single time I’ve ordered it since 2015. You really don’t get that level of consistency from Lagos restaurants.

FOLLY: It’s that Japanese accuracy from the sushi chefs.

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: 10/10. Would recommend.

FOLLY: If it wasn’t so expensive, it'll be one of my favourite restaurants in Lagos but sadly it’s firmly out of my league price wise.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Norwegian Roll - N6200

Chilli Beef Ramen - N8500

Tempura Hand Roll - N3300

Crispy Rock Shrimps - N7000

Crispy Spicy Salmon - N3300

Tempura Cheese Cake - N3900

 

PARKING

Not a lot. Maybe 3 or 4. Ripe for extortion.

Cactus Got a Complete Revamp
 
Cactus is easily the most consistent spot in Lagos and for what it is, that’s very high praise.
— Nosa

NOSA: That was me in the postscript of our Cactus review last year. Since then, they’ve undergone a massive revamp and bear little to no resemblance to the place it once was. Almost like the they read that “…for what it is” and simply had enough. For the last twenty or so years, Cactus had been run the exact same way despite being passed down a generation in that period. The story isn’t confirmed, but what we heard is that this revamp is the brainchild of the wife in the partnership. This wasn’t a simple renovation by any means. Everything about Cactus has changed. From the branding to the menu and decor, everything feels fresh.

FOLLY: I especially like the new logo and the entire space; it’s an Instagrammers dream.

NOSA: Some things from the old Cactus remain, however. The Club Sandwich was going nowhere. Oh, and the kids too. Cactus is still a little rascal’s paradise.

FOLLY: The parrot, dessert window, and the smokers section too.

NOSA: To start, we got a pair of appetizers - Shrimp & Crab Cake and Sliders. Served on a bed of arugula with the Cactus special sauce, the shrimp + crab cakes looked like they’d disappoint. I mean, just look at them…

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FOLLY: But on the taste test, they didn’t. They were perfectly made fr the NIgerian palette and weren’t your average crab cake - these had “pepe”.

NOSA: Sure, they were a bit “over fried” and I’m definitely not getting likes on instagram with these. But, and a big BUT, these were very delicious. Also, a tad spicy per the description and the Cactus signature sauce was excellent. The sauce was so good that we used it on our sliders.

NOSA: After eating over a century of burgers for this blog, I feel like I can eyeball a good burger in Lagos. Or slider, same thing applies. Too much bun? Chi Foods patty? Thick cut tomatoes? They can filter it all they want on instagram but these restaurants can’t hide their trash burgers from me.

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NOSA: The sliders at Cactus are guilty of using too much bun. In some ways, it’s like a mini Mr. Biggs burger.

Ok, I exaggerate a bit.

FOLLY: I had to get into it with Nosa after hearing his complaint about these burgers.

NOSA: The beef and chorizo thing works, but there’s just too much bun. TOO MUCH. It’s harder to gauge these things in sliders so perhaps its forgivable, but on the other hand, they bake these things in house.

FOLLY: I felt Nosa was doing the most with his complaint and I still think he is.

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NOSA: The biggest change, for me, to Cactus is in the menu. For the longest time, you could group Cactus with Crust & Cream for their safe and consistent menus. It wasn’t particularly exciting like the newer restaurants, but it would never disappoint you. The new Cactus desperately wants to shed that label. Sure, they’d like to be consistent but definitely not safe.

Folly went with one of the menu’s new items - the Beef Tenderloin Salad.

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NOSA: Beef tenderloin strips. Sun-dried tomatoes. Goat cheese. Sounds like a party, to be honest.

FOLLY: I find it hard to review salads because each person’s salad is for the most part an amalgamation of things they like. This was a perfect salad to me because of everything Nosa listed above plus mushrooms - that’s a party to me. The whole thing was super fresh - no wilting lettuce or shriveling cherry tomatoes especially.

NOSA: Oh yeah, wilting lettuce is definitely a main component in most salads in Lagos. At this point, I’m convinced it’s a feature and not a bug.

For my main, I went with the Tortellini Truffle Bake.

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I know I’m prone to the odd exaggeration when I really like something, but this is not one of those times. Or maybe it is. Either way, this might be the best thing I’ve eaten in Lagos this year. I’d say anywhere in the world but that pulled pork burger I had in Nairobi is still undefeated.

FOLLY: He’s exaggerating. Z Kitchen was your best experience a month ago, so I find you, Mr. Nosa, a little too flip floppy.

NOSA: Okay, so maybe I’m a little fickle and you might disagree with me on this, but still, I stand by my position on the tortellini bake. You better be prepared to fight me because you’re telling lies. This thing was very good. Absolutely order if you love mushrooms or truffle oil.

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NOSA: Our friend, Kewa, didn’t have the best experience with the pasta at Cactus so I had the mind not to order this but the tortellini prevailed. I have a good personal story about tortellini but I can’t tell it because “they” will say Nosa always talks about experiences outside Nigeria. “They” don’t want you to hear my funny stories, not me.

FOLLY: That’s a little unnecessary and I’ve heard the story - it’s not that funny so no one cares.

NOSA: A prophet isn’t loved on his own blog smh. Anyway, a little heads up, there’s no “meat” in this so you should definitely not order this if vegetarian options aren’t a thing you’ll consider. To be honest, adding chicken or some other mystery meat would take away from it. It’s perfect as is.

 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: It’s all new, but still very good. Would recommend.

FOLLY: I would definitely recommend because people email us all the time for Instagram friendly locations with good food . Cactus is THAT place.

DAMAGE

Shrimp & Crab Cakes - N5000

Sliders - N4900

Beef Tenderloin Salad - N5900

Tortellini Truffle Bake - N6200

 

PARKING

For Lagos, very very good.

Lessons in Ofada at Ofada Boy
 

NOSA: I learnt about Ofada Boy from Twitter, if I remember correctly. Akin Oyebode mentioned the restaurant as one of the recipients of the LSETF grant. I didn’t add it to our restaurant schedule then because ofada is really not for me. Nosa should be open minded and whatever, but ofada is where I draw the line. Shoot me. A man must have principles. 

FOLLY: I don’t have anything against ofada. In fact, I like the stew but I don’t like the smell of the rice. I like ofada stew with plantain, beans or even yam pottage.

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NOSA: The rustic vibe that Ofada Boy is going for felt forced at certain points.

FOLLY: I get you but I think it worked well and I appreciated that they did have an aesthetic that they were committed to, rather than the “anywhere bele face” approach.

NOSA: They also don’t serve any beers or any alcohol, but you can get palmwine. According to our waiter, “we don’t sell any strong alcohol”. I see where they’re going with it, but it feels a tad pretentious. If you’re going to go “no alcohol”, then do it the whole way through. If you’re going to go local, where’s the brukutu or ogogoro then? 

NOSA: The menu is pretty straight to the point. There’s a couple types of ofada, some “swallows” and pepper soup. The fun stuff like asun is only available in the evenings.

FOLLY: I ordered the Ofada Premium, and my friend did the Ofada Yo.

NOSA: I wonder why they don’t have a “Build Your Own Ofada” option.

FOLLY: Yeah that sounds like a good idea

NOSA: They don’t really expand on ofada, which is a bit disappointing. Ofada Boy isn’t really bringing anything new to the table or pushing ofada to new horizons. They play it very safe, all you that’s on offer is your regular ofada with different add-ons. “Safe” is not particularly a bad thing but I wish they took some more risks. 

FOLLY: It’s so safe that the ofada isn’t even peppery. Since it’s like a proper restaurant and all and not a buka, I was also hoping to get freshly boiled rice and fresh plantain too. I was very hopeful too because we visited on a Sunday afternoon as the place was buzzing with the after church crowd so I thought surely they’d just have cooked a fresh batch.

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NOSA: As a non-ofada eater, I ordered the Catfish Pepper Soup. At first, it felt like a steal for the price. I mean, look at the portion size.

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NOSA: After a couple spoons in and I was ready to throw the entire thing in the bin. The pepper soup tasted like flavored water and the massive fish is just there to distract you from how meh the whole thing is. The fish isn’t that great either, but it’s my fault at the end of the day. I went to a place called “Ofada Boy” and decided to order catfish pepper soup. Terrible decision-making all round. 

FOLLY: Nosa would have been willing to try the ofada stew, if they had plain white rice. He had absolutely no interest in the ofada rice - a principled man.


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Not for me.

FOLLY: I prefer Terra Kulture’s Ofada.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Ofada Yo - N1700

 Ofada Premium - N1500

Catfish Peppersoup - N3200

 

PARKING

Eh. I don’t think they expect people to drive. 

Salma's Revisited
 

NOSA: Folly wasn’t the biggest fan of Salma’s in our original review. The fish dish came out cold, by design, and it was all downhill from there. After talking to a couple of friends, she was a bit more open to trying Salma’s again.

... I didn’t like the experience at Salma’s was that everything was overwhelmed by lemon and was unnecessarily tangy. 
— Folly

FOLLY: A friend whose food opinion, I rate and respect managed to convince me that Salma’s is the best Lebanese food experience in Lagos so I was willing to give it another shot. I find the restaurant very beautifully decorated, so I was looking forward to going back to experience the space all over again.

NOSA: Salma’s was pretty busy when we checked it out. Late on a Sunday night too. That was definitely a good sign.

FOLLY: It was full of Lebanese people too. For any ethnic cuisine, it’s always a good sign when people from that region frequent the restaurant - then you can know it’s legit.

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NOSA: To start, we went with the usual hummus but we switched things up a bit with the Balila. Balila is a lot like hummus in some ways, but very different in many other ways. For starters, they’re both made with chickpeas but the texture of both dishes aren’t very similar. But I’m sure the picture already gave that away.

FOLLY: The Balila is smashed chick peas with lots of lemon, a gentle amount of garlic, and a good swish of olive oil.

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NOSA: The balila was a bit too much for me. I liked it but I tapped out pretty early and stuck to hummus for the rest the night.

FOLLY: I, unlike Nosa, preferred the Balila to the regular hummus because it had a lot more texture and flavour too. Random, the lemon juice did an excellent job of preserving this because we had some leftover which I took it home and then forgot to refrigerate for over 12 hours, and it was still in good condition.

NOSA: Our other starter were the Stuffed Kibbeh Balls. Kibbeh balls are football-shaped, the American one, croquettes stuffed with ground beef. For a country that is ready to die for small chops, I’m surprised more Nigerians aren’t big on Lebanese food. Sure, there isn’t enough pepper, but kibbeh balls would not be out of place in a small chops pack. When I set up my small chops restaurant, we’re going to have kibbeh on the menu because everyone has been sleeping. Nigerian-fusion food, you get?

FOLLY: The only thing that disappointed me about the Kibbeh was that it wasn’t served with Tahini by default. For something that is so dry it really does deserve a dipping sauce. I asked for pepper sauce because I’m Nigerian and the waiter brought easily the best ata din din I’ve had at a Nigerian restaurant. The pepper perfectly coexisted with ginger, garlic and a few other spices.

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NOSA: For the mains, we got the Pistachio Spicy Kafta and the Chili Prawn Sikh. I think we ordered the kafta thinking we’d be getting pistachio flavored beef or something. You can definitely taste the pistachio in the crunch, but not in the way we imagined. In hindsight, pistachio flavored beef sounds gross.

FOLLY: See, normal Folly doesn’t like Kafta and I thought the pistachio would make all the difference. Funky Folly should have listed to normal Folly and ordered the salmon instead. However, budget conscious Folly was also trying to get a word in so funky Folly’s experimental order won the battle of the Follys.

NOSA: A lot of Follys involved in this decision tbh. I actually liked the kafta unlike normal Folly. Made a breakfast taco with it.

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NOSA: Nigerian and Lebanese palettes may disagree on how to season chicken, but they’re definitely on the same page when it comes to seafood. The prawns were incredibly delicious. The lemon butter >

FOLLY: My absolute favourite thing we had at Salma’s. The exterior was chargrilled and smoky but the flesh of the prawn managed to be soft and buttery. Coupled with my ata din din, this dish was truly a winner.

We also got dessert which I mostly passed on because while I will sacrifice myself for many things that contain dairy, ice cream is not one them.

NOSA: But the proceeds from the dessert go to breast cancer charities so it was a good deed.

 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: My original position still stands. Probably the best Lebanese restaurant in Lagos.

FOLLY: I enjoyed Salma’s this time around and so I stand corrected.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Traditional Hommos - N3300

Chili Prawns Sikh - N10800

Stuffed Kibbeh Balls - N5000

Balila - N2750

Pistachio Spicy Kafta - N6500

Bouzet Salma - N2500

 

PARKING

Limited parking in the Maroko Bayshore area, but you can park in the Cactus lot. 

 

American-style BBQ in the Secretariat
 

NOSA: In a June 2009 TimeOut London review, Rhodes BBQ Smokehouse got described as spot with “…excellent meats and broad ambition”. A little over nine years later, much hasn’t changed beyond the location. The Wapping location has since shut up shop and Rhodes has reappeared in Ikeja. Even the relocation bears some similarities.  According to the the TimeOut review, “only the Wapping location might prevent it from reaching a wide and appreciative location” and that’s exactly what I thought when we struggled to find parking. 

FOLLY: Maybe the best things aren’t meant to be too main stream. You could also say the same could be said of BBQ & Cravings

NOSA: We visited with a couple of friends, including our official “face” of Eat.Drink.Lagos lol, so we went all out with the menu. Wicked Wings, Buffalo Drums, BBQ Pulled Pork and BBQ Chopped Beef sandwiches, a slab of the St. Louis Style Ribs and a BBQ Quarter Chicken. Yup, we went all the way out. The waitress had to double check on the order because it sounded like a lot of food.

FOLLY: She was trying to get us to order the platter but that was a hard pass from us because it’ll have meant a half portion of the ribs.

NOSA: “Sounded” because we still wanted more at the end of it all lol. 

FOLLY: I even tried to order dessert but they didn’t have my first choice

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NOSA: The wicked wings set the bar really high for the rest of the meal. Tender and flavorful, the thing damn near melts in your mouth. If this how all chicken tasted, I probably wouldn’t be having chicken fatigue right now. Tender chicken seemed to be the running theme at Rhodes because even the Buffalo drums were quality.

FOLLY: A shame that I didn’t try the wicked wings because I was saving myself for the tender drums and everyone said the wicked wings were better.

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NOSA: I probably should’ve passed on the chopped beef sandwich, but I saw “brisket” and I got distracted. For all the “bbq & grills” joints we have in Lagos, none of them have brisket on the menu. It’s not a Nigerian “thing”, which is fair, but it just explains why I wasted carbs on the chopped beef sandwich.

FOLLY: Barely eating carbs at Rhodes was likely the reason why we didn’t feel so stuffed at the end of the meal.

NOSA: The sandwich wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t worth the space in my stomach. If you visit Rhodes, don’t let the menu distract you. Stay focused. Order the meats. 

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NOSA: Speaking of Nigerian “things”, I have since accepted that Nigerian-style BBQ is a thing. Unfortunately, we don’t have culinary scholars that document these things. For all the shade I throw at “grills” joints, they offer what I have termed “Nigerian-style BBQ”. It often goes heavy on the pepper and eschews tenderness as a metric to assess quality. I have clear philosophical differences with it, but now as a proper grown up, I’ve come to accept it has its place and understand how it fits the local palette. What I philosophically agree with though are the ribs at Rhodes. 

FOLLY: I also philosophically agree with the sauce on the ribs at Rhodes. We were tearing the meat off the bones and using it to scrape the sauce of the plates.

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NOSA: St. Louis style ribs are more about the butcher cut than the actual grilling technique or flavor. Unlike other rib cuts, the brisket and rib tips are trimmed off and this leaves you with a shorter rib. If anything, it shares a slightly similar sweet tomato-based sauce with the Kansas City style, which makes sense because the two cities are like an hour apart. 

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NOSA: The ribs at Rhodes could’ve been a side more tender, but I was a fan nonetheless. Probably because of the sauce. We cleaned that plate with almost everything we could find, including the quarter chicken. The quarter chicken, itself, was a bit disappointing. It had none of the tenderness of the wings and the drums. It was bit tedious to get through, in fact. Without the sauce from the ribs, we’d have left that chicken behind.

FOLLY: Yeah, the chicken stayed perched on the plate till we ran out of ribs and needed another meat with which to clean the sauce of the plate.

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NOSA: What definitely didn’t disappoint me were the sides.

FOLLY: The portion did disappoint me but I assume (and hope) that was because it was the complimentary side portion.

NOSA: Between the BBQ beans and the potato salad, I don’t think I’ve tasted a more delicious side this year. Many have tried, but not have come close. The BBQ Beans were particularly excellent and on another day, I might have asked for seconds. 


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: It’s a drive away, but it’s worth the trip. It’s not a trip I’d make often, but it’s a trip you must make once. That is, if you live on the island. If you live in the Ikeja area, you should be there every Sunday.

FOLLY: Honorable mention to the iced tea at Rhodes BBQ. Don’t expect it to be sweet sha, it’s not that type of iced tea.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Wicked Wings - N2600

Buffalo Drums - N2800

BBQ Chopped Beef Sandwich - N2600

St. Louis Stye Ribs (Slab) - N6900

BBQ Quarter Chicken - N2400

 

PARKING

Very limited