Posts tagged burger
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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

Eat.Drink.Travel: The Talisman Restaurant (Nairobi, Kenya)
 
Thai is my ultimate favourite cuisine in THE world and if you’re a devoted EDL reader, you should know that.
— Folly

FOLLY: Before our trip to Nairobi, Nosa did a lot of research and compiled a list of restaurants that we were going to visit.

NOSA: Failure to plan is planning to fail... or something like that.

FOLLY: Two of my faves from his shortlist were Talisman and Thai Chi. Due to over eating at Mama Rocks, we didn't get to visit Thai Chi on this trip but there was no way I was letting Talisman slip out of my hands so I made it happen on our last night. 

NOSA: Talisman was definitely the one I was most looking forward to. I'd done a lot of reading on it so I was sufficiently pumped for it. 

FOLLY: Talisman is desribed as an "elegant Gastrolounge with an eclectic twist".

If you're like me that really doesn't meet anything to you.

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However, from studying the menu, I gathered that Talisman weaves together African, Pan-Asian, Middle Eastern with a splash of Italian. Sounds all over the place but the Pan-Asian influences were the strongest. I really wanted to go all out and order a lot of things on the starter menu but I was trying to be conservative. 

Feta & Coriander Samosa .

Feta & Coriander Samosa.

FOLLY: The service at Talisman wasn't over the top but a lot better than anything you'd find in Lagos and the food preparation time was speedy. To start, we shared the Twice Cooked Pork Belly and Feta & Coriander Samosa.

NOSA: The samosas are definitely a "must order" item. They kept popping up in all the reviews I read and the whole thing was sealed for me when a local recommended we order it too. 

Twice Cooked Pork Belly

Twice Cooked Pork Belly

FOLLY: A running theme you'll see from the rest of our Nairobi reviews is that samosas are really popular in these parts and they do an amazing job making them. The bold and contrasting flavors of feta and coriander made a perfect pair.

Deep in the samosa

Deep in the samosa

NOSA: It absolutely didn't disappoint. Normally, I'd never go close to any vegetarian samosa, but this one is definitely worth the exception. I'm convinced when chefs add feta to anything, it's a serious declaration of intent. Like, they aren't trying to muck about at all. You're not finding this samosa in any small chops pack.

FOLLY: Throw the entire small chops pack away. 

NOSA: As impressive as the samosa was, the pork belly was even better. The thing was so goddamn spectacular. The marinade blew my mind completely. 

Thai Red Curry

Thai Red Curry

FOLLY: Choosing one main to try at Talisman was like choosing between children. I was dead set on the risotto before I arrived but I was swayed into ordering from the seasonal menu instead on arrival. My eventual choice was the Thai Red Curry with a pork shank (Aside: pork is very common on Nairobi).

NOSA: I went with the Talisman Burger as a phillistine. I really, really wanted the ostrich fillet, but the waiter told us that the ostrich farm had been shut down so it was taken off the menu. What a sad. 

Thai ed Curry  with a pork shank

Thai ed Curry with a pork shank

Pork shank

Pork shank

The Talisman Burger

The Talisman Burger

FOLLY: I wasn't expecting a measly portion but the sheer size of the shank(s) I received overwhelmed me. I didn't want a repeat of the Mama Rocks over eating incident, and I also wanted to leave room for dessert so I stopped myself after one piece. 

The way the potatoes were presented also surprised me. I was expecting potato chunks in the curry but the "noodles" contraption are actually the potatoes and soften when steeped in the curry.

NOSA: The pork shank was perfectly tender. I've never had pork in a curry so this was a pretty interesting experience too.

FOLLY: A warning on the portion size i.e serves two for the curry would most certainly have come in handy.

NOSA: If the burger looks overwhelming in the pictures, it was even overwhelming-er in person. 

Just look at it...

Cheese, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Onion Rings, Gherkins, & Slaw

Cheese, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Onion Rings, Gherkins, & Slaw

NOSA: The bun on the burger was a bit weak. No structural integrity and the thing kept falling over the place. Talisman more than made up for it with the patty though. I ordered mine medium and it came just as ordered. Burgers at up scale restaurants can be a bit boring because they shoot for the top ingredients at the expense of flavor. 

...sophistication can, at some level, cause degradation, what economists call “negative utility”.
— Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. Skin in the Game. Allen Lane, 2018.

I won't lie, I fall for the jig at many an expensive restaurant. They charge a premium for the ingredients and the experience, but they forget the burger should actually taste like something the diner should want to eat again. The Talisman Burger, though, is unlike those. It ACTUALLY tastes really delicious and that is the only metric that really matters. 

Talisman Creme Brûlée

Talisman Creme Brûlée

FOLLY: I rounded things up with my favorite dessert of all time: Creme Brûlée. I wasn't too keen on Talisman's style of serving creme brûlée from the refrigerator because the sugar top was no longer crispy and crunchy (my favourite part) and was completely malleable to my spoon just like the custard. 


VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Feta & Coriander Samosa - $1.50 per piece

Twice Cooked Pork Belly - $10.50 

Talisman Beef Burger - $15.50

Thai Red Curry - $18.50

Creme Brûlée - $9.50

(You pay in Kenyan Shilling though)

 

RECOMMENDED DISHES

Feta & Coriander Samosa

Talisman Beef Burger

Eat.Drink.Travel: Burger & Relish (Accra)
 
A rather thick Passionfruit martini.

A rather thick Passionfruit martini.

NOSA: One thing we noticed about Accra is the ridiculous amount of quality spots they had. Lagos has them beat on quantity, but we're nowhere close when it comes to quality. 

Accra has a very vibrant expat community so I'm pretty sure there's a connection. Unlike Lagos, their expats are fully immersed in the city and I daresay they define its culture. 

Ghanaians will never admit that last bit though.

FOLLY: TripAdvisor, TimeOut and a couple of other hyperlocal sites had rave reviews for Burger & Relish so we knew it was a must visit.

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NOSA: Back to my point about expats, we were at Burger & Relish for a couple hours and in that period, only five black people came by. Of that five, three were, for sure, Nigerian

Deep Fried Pickles

Deep Fried Pickles

FOLLY: There was another starter I was eyeing but Nosa quickly ordered the deep fried pickles. I sighed internally cause it’s a well-known fact to him that I hate pickles so I wondered why he would order these.

NOSA: Because I expected pickle chips and even pickle haters love pickle chips.

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FOLLY: I have not had pickles since I was 10 years old and it seemed like a good day to give them another shot so I did. I was pleasantly surprised, but I think it was largely due to the batter, at how sweet these were. I can’t say I enjoyed it but I didn’t hate it.

Three Little Piggies

Three Little Piggies

FOLLY: I’ve never been a gourmet burger person - I prefer single patty and sloppy burgers with minimal toppings. In the US, Five Guys is my go-to.

NOSA: I lean very heavily on the sloppy burgers because I'm glutton. 

FOLLY: I ordered The Frenchie in spite of my lactose intolerance because I was not going to let me that hold me back - at least not today.

The Frenchie

The Frenchie

The toppings in my burger were simple and straight to the point - just like I prefer beef patty, onions, truffled mushrooms, and cheese. Raclette is more commonly used in fondue and it’s a great melting cheese. The profile is sharp and salty. I’ve never had a burger in which the cheese was so dominant but it worked so well with the mushrooms and the crispy beef patty.

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NOSA: I got the "Three Little Piggies" burger. Bacon and a patty with beef and sausage.  Oh, and some extra stuff like onions, but that's not your focus. The bacon isn't struggle bacon either.

Three Little Piggies

Three Little Piggies

NOSA: After our burgers, Folly and I had a real good talk about setting up shop in Accra. Beyond the travel stuff too. Ghanaians really don't know what they have. 


RECOMMENDED DISH:  THE FRENCHIE (GHC 45)

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Shades of Shake Shack in Burg
 

NOSA: I noticed Burg.co when a couple of people on our Twitter timeline were having little debate about Burg blatantly ripping off Shake Shack. Naturally, I had to check the place out and find out for myself.

Stylistic similarities

Stylistic similarities

FOLLY: It's funny cause some people were arguing that it's not similar at all. You have to be blind or a cold faced liar.

NOSA: You’d be a liar if you say Burg.co doesn’t take a lot from Shake Shack. It might not be an outright ripoff, but you can see Burg’s aesthetic is clearly inspired by the American brand. It’s a bit like that Lolavita store in Lekki and Sephora. Personally, I have no strong feelings towards it, but I did find it very strange that a couple Twitter users vehemently denied any similarities between the brands.

FOLLY: I have some strong feelings towards Nigerian brands being over-inspired by foreign brand because there's often the sentiment of "we're in Nigeria they'll never catch me"

NOSA: That said, the branding is fantastic and the space is even better.

FOLLY: The natural light is amazing and I didn't have to make one single edit to the pictures we took here. 

NOSA: The whole rustic thing they went for is very Instagram friendly. Don’t be surprised if Burg’s patio becomes the mainland version of the Backyard Swing.

Burg Spike

Burg Spike

NOSA: Burg.co is currently running with a very lean launch menu. Just a pair of burgers, a sub, the shakes, and soft serve. I went with a double Burg OG, while Folly went with a single Burg Spike.

FOLLY: The Burg Spike is a spicy burger loaded with jalapenos while the OG is their standard fare.

Our orders

Our orders

NOSA: I got Burg’s take on loaded fries, the Spiked Fries, while Folly got the regular.

Loaded no more

Loaded no more

NOSA: The loaded fries should have been served “horizontally”. In those little boats that Shake Shack uses, perhaps. Serving it like Burg did, meant all the “loadednesss” was restricted and the fries were a bit top heavy.

FOLLY: For example, BBQ & Cravings served theirs on a flat surface so the toppings were spread more broadly.

NOSA: This was further evidenced when Folly knocked my fries over and I lost all the good stuff.

FOLLY: If Burg is going to retain this serving style, they need to toss the fries in the topping before serving it into the paper cup. My friend ordered the same burger as I did, and hers had Cheetos in it and mine had none. I was pretty bummed that the kitchen left it out of mine because given how soft and SPICY (the jalapenos packed a mighty punch), I really wouldn't have minded some crunch from the Cheetos. 

Burg OG

Burg OG

NOSA: The burger wasn’t the most photogenic and it’s probably the only time judging a book by its cover yields positive results. Now, it’s not a shit burger. Far from it, actually. it’s just a middling burger. The cheese doesn’t just feel cheap, but it’s largely overwhelming. The bun is soft as a baby’s bum, but the patty is forgettable for the most part.

FOLLY: The cheese was sliced processed cheese and I have many feelings about that being in a N4500 burger. No Bueno.

Pink Lemonade & Oreo Milkshake

Pink Lemonade & Oreo Milkshake

NOSA: Given the context, i.e. we’re in Ikeja, this is a fantastic burger and while the price might cause you the raise the eyebrow, you aren’t going to find better in the area.

Now, if you expanded your radius a bit, you’ll find a better and similarly priced burger at Samantha’s Bistro and Temple Cottage

FOLLY: I mentally compared it to BBQ & Cravings throughout my meal and by the end, I was 100% BBQ & Cravings was by far better. 

NOSA: You’ll definitely find a cheaper and better burger at BBQ & Cravings. Spending between N3500-N5000 for a burger that comes with no sides is a bit insane. Johnny Rockets gets away with it because their burgers are huge. Burg, on the other hand, serves a regular-sized burger.

What’s really good, though, is the Oreo Milkshake. This one transcends geography and I’m not a milkshake person at all.

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Burg.co gets a “Like” from me, but this is greatly influenced by its location. If I lived in Ikeja or anywhere on the mainland, I’m coming here for the burger. But there’s no way in hell I’m driving from Ikoyi to Ikeja for this. Not like I would for BBQ & Cravings anyway.

FOLLY: I liked the space and the burger was good. I would have preferred it with fewer jalapenos and better cheese. The burg sauce was dope, I kept trying to use the bits that squeezed out as a dipping sauce for my fries. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Burg OG (Double) - N4500

Burg Spike - N4000

Spike Fries - N3000

Salt Fries - N2000

Pink Lemonade - N2500

Oreo Milkshake - N3000

 

PARKING

Decent off street parking lot available. 

Food Shack Works for Late Drink-Fueled Binges
 

NOSA: The first time we checked out Food Shack was about a couple weeks from their open date. I got served the hardest ribs I’ve ever eaten in my life. The absolute worst. I think that was after our Sugarcane review so I think we just decided to allow the review for another day. Don’t need all that bad energy. 

FOLLY: I didn't get food if I remember correctly because everything kept not being available when I placed an order.

NOSA: The second time, we waited for damn near an hour and only our drinks were ready. They had to go shop for stuff or something. Either way, we just casually picked our stuff and went on our merry way. 

FOLLY: We didn't get drinks, till we got up and started walking out. The drinks materialized on our way out but we'd had enough and we were already on our feet.

NOSA: After that, I mentally blanked the place.

FOLLY: Didn't need that negativity in our lives.

NOSA: Well, until last weekend. Surely, it had improved. 

FOLLY: Let's not drag this out, it hasn't

NOSA: A couple things had changed since our last visit. The menu seemed fully formed, which is a good thing. In the first couple of months, restaurants usually play around with things until they find a winning formula. I guess this was it for Food Shack. 

FOLLY: Also, the indoor space. That wasn’t there the last time we visited. 

The Zaddy Burger 

The Zaddy Burger 

NOSA: Just because some things had changed doesn’t mean I was going to make the same mistakes though. Definitely didn’t order the ribs. Fooling me once is enough. Got a burger instead. The Zaddy Burger, to be specific.  Folly, too. She had the Shack Burger. We also added some Chicken Tenders to start.  

FOLLY: In true Food Shack fashion, my first two selections were not available in fact their entire breakfast menu that they serve exclusively on weekends was not available on a weekend..WELP

The Shack Burger????

The Shack Burger????

NOSA: The waiter decided that we obviously had no clue what to order so he brought us a burger of his choice. An off-menu burger because there was no burger on the menu that had a fried egg in it. 

FOLLY: Or chef. I really don't know who is to bleme here

NOSA: My burger was pretty weak. The patty was like one of those Chi ones they sell in Nigerian grocery stores. That’s great if you are inviting a couple of people over for a cookout. Not great if you’re charging people legal tender for it.

NOSA: As for Folly, well, she didn’t eat her burger at all. 

FOLLY: It tasted gross, I couldn't stand the weird pink sauce and nothing in it went together well. I really couldn't power through and eat it because I started feeling nauseated very quickly.

NOSA: Saying there’s no difference between what I got and Mr. Biggs burger would be unfair, as well as harsh. BUT, the suggestion does have some merit. 

FOLLY: It tasted like a cheap burger that was made with a pre-formed frozen patty. 

NOSA: It’s a weak burger, but not an expensive one. So you might let it slide until you realize you can get a significantly better burger at BBQ & Cravings for about the same price. But then again, you’re not driving all the way to Greater Lekki so maybe it evens out. 

FOLLY: No, it does not.

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NOSA: The chicken tenders were the best thing we got on the day and that, too, had its issues. Tasted like they fried it in “old oil”. You know when Nigerian cooks fry plantain, but instead of trashing the left over oil, they keep it in the pan and hide it in the oven?

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Yeah, that oil. 

FOLLY: I had two but then the old oil got too overwhelming for me. 

NOSA: Maybe it's because they catered a Christmas party the night before. Might explain it all. 

FOLLY: You might be wondering why we're bringing that up or know that at all. Our waiter told us that was the reason why their breakfast menu wasn't available.

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: It’s a meh for me. With enough alcohol in the system, you might allow it. Oh, I heard the drinks are pretty good.

FOLLY: It's a no from me. 

NOSA: The packaging and their overall branding are fantastic. Shouts to them on that. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Zaddy Burger - N3000

Shack Burger - N2900

Shack Tenders - N2400

 

PARKING

Terrible. Non existent.