Hotel Buffets: Iyeru Okin @ Renaissance Hotel
Originally published in GRA Ikeja Today (May 2017)
We arrived this Saturday just as the lunch buffet at Iyeru Okin at Renaissance was declared open. Iyeru Okin is situated on the hotel’s first floor, adjacent to the pool. Something about the space reminded us of Ikoyi’s Wheatbaker. Maybe the pool, or maybe it was the furniture. When you step into the restaurant, you get the feeling that the design was well thought-out. There is an abundance of natural light and furniture is well laid out. Nothing feels out of place, it all fits so perfectly. Some months prior, we had left the in-house steakhouse very impressed, so we didn’t expect to be disappointed at Iyeru Okin.
.Iyeru Okin is, for lack of a better term, ambitious. From the tastefully done interior decor to the capers in the salad bar, it doesn’t miss a step when it comes to style. Yet, for all of the style it packs, it is lacking in substance.
For instance, the aforementioned salad bar, for all the abundance of toppings and garnishes to choose from, had only one base - lettuce. Nevertheless, the build-your-own salad bar is the picky eater’s delight, as choosing what you want to go into your salad is much easier than picking out what you don’t like.
The obligatory pepper soup followed. With nary a bone in sight, the fish pepper soup at Iyeru Okin was thoroughly enjoyable. Perhaps the highlight of our afternoon. While the soup options are limited, maybe there’s isn’t a need to push the boundaries if the basics are done well enough.
Cocktails at Renaissance starting at N3500 will definitely set you back a pretty penny. We ordered the Classic Mojito and the Hibiscus Lemonade. The Hibiscus Lemonade was incredibly bitter as though someone had accidentally introduced Campari into the mix. The kind staff at the Iyeru Okin quickly remedied the situation with a tasty Chapman and all was well again.
The limited nature of the Iyeru Okin buffet spread truly hits when it was time to go for the main. Three staples, two takes on chicken, a beef option, and a fish option. It’s a mouthful to read, but in reality, there really wasn’t enough. You’re either going with jollof rice and a protein or semovita/eba and a protein.
Notwithstanding, the egusi was unbelievably delicious. Nigerian soups are interesting in that you can often tell the socio-economic status of the preparer from the appearance and ingredients in the dish. It suffices to say the egusi at Renaissance was not a poor man’s iteration of the dish. Likewise, the semo was perfectly prepared without a lump in sight; however, the restaurant could have done more to ensure the “swallow” stayed warm in the buffet station.
After our more savoury courses, dessert time promised some welcome reprieve. Unfortunately, that was not the case and dessert fell flat. The options were several nameless sheet cakes that had sadly been over refrigerated to the point of freezing.
On the whole, Iyeru Okin feels like it could be a lot better. For such a magnificent space, it deserves that at the very least. Sadly, the restaurant can’t stop getting in its way. Perhaps “falling short” is a feature and not a bug.
Lunch Buffet - N9500