SAFI Lagos Pushes the Envelope in Lekki
NOSA: You would be forgiven for thinking you're at the wrong place when you're at the gate to Safi Lagos. It looks like the typical Lekki "apartment" complex.
FOLLY: On arrival, Safi appears like a restaurant that's located in a sectioned out portion of someone's house, a la Cafe Jade, but on further inspection it's actually a small restaurant within a boutique hotel - I dig that. They had a quiet opening last month and have been hosting happy hour every Thursday for a minute now (gleaned from Instagram). I imagine the purpose of which is to get the word out and drive traffic.
NOSA: The menu at Safi is pretty straight to the point. No messing about at all, which is how I like it. Five appetizers, seven mains, and a couple items in the dessert section. I absolutely hate when restaurants in Lagos have super extensive menus because, more often than not, they either don’t have all the items available or don’t have the range for all of them.
FOLLY: We arrived at Safi from the Hans & Rene 7 opening where I had stuffed myself silly so I needed to be quite measured about my approach.
NOSA: To start, we got the Coconut Shrimp. Per the description: “coconut crusted shrimp with a sweet mango mayonnaise dipping sauce”. We ordered this because it looked really good on their Instagram page - a decision we'd soon regret. I mean, N3500 for that thing above is daylight robbery.
FOLLY: It was disappointing. This was particularly stressful because the approach we took to ordering at Safi was actually based on the items that were featured on Safi's Instagram.
NOSA: In their defense, the caption says "Coconut crusted prawns with a mango aioli" so maybe it's our fault for not reading.
FOLLY: Fair enough.
Taste wise, I found the shrimp to be a tad overcooked - it wasn't fleshy mostly chewy. However, the coconut was toasted and crispy on the outside which I quite liked.
NOSA: The shrimp had a little too much crisp to it. Probably should’ve taken it out the fryer about a couple minutes earlier.
They’re onto something with the mango mayo though. You put that in a burger and you might have something special.
FOLLY: A la Mama Rocks.
Moving on to our mains, we ordered the Cajun Mac & Cheese with Shrimp and the Plantain Lasagne.
NOSA: We also planned to split the Bourbon Honey Glazed Ribs. “Planned” because we were done with our mains when the ribs arrived. Not sure if it was because the waitress forgot to place the order, but it took an inexplicably long time for us to get served those ribs. We got it to-go and I completely forgot about the ribs until I left the house today. Probably not fair to judge the quality of their ribs after they sat in my fridge for a day, but that’s SAFI’s fault and not mine.
TL;DR - The ribs were serviceable and I didn't get a picture.
FOLLY: The Mac & Cheese was very simple. Like a no frills version - the cheese isn't the fancy stuff and the top is not crusty with breadcrumbs. Goes straight to the point, neither disappointing or impressing.
NOSA: The mac and cheese had nothing Cajun about it, to be honest Cajun food is known for it’s liberal use of bell peppers, onions, and sometimes, celery. In fact, if you look up any “Cajun Mac & Cheese” recipe, bell peppers are a key element
If anything, the “Cajun Mac & Cheese” at Safi is like a Nigerian take on mac and cheese because it tasted like they used a bucket load of crayfish. If you look at it from that lens, I guess it’s not all bad. In fact, you could say it’s pretty decent.
FOLLY: So the plantain lasagne was something I was really looking forward to after seeing a Twitter user share a recipe last year. I saved the recipe but I, obviously, have never used it.
I expected the plantain lasgane to be a perfect balance of sweet (plantain) and umami (the beef) but the most dominant flavor profile was saltiness from the cheese (mozzarella).
NOSA: It wasn't for me at all. Like, I get what they were going for and the execution was pretty good, but I don’t think I like plantain that much for it to work for me.
FOLLY: The execution could also be improved because most of the beef was concentrated at the bottom of the bowl - it could have done with a bit more even distribution.
FOLLY: I'd like to visit again for happy hour and maybe try a couple more starters.
NOSA: I like how adventurous the menu is. The execution might fall short at times, but it definitely feels like they're trying to push the envelope a bit.
Plantain Lasagne - N3000
Coconut Shrimp - N3500
Cajun Shrimp Mac & Cheese - N3200
Bourbon Honey Glazed Ribs - N3800
Narrow and a tight squeeze.