Posts tagged calamari
Z Kitchen Strengthens the Lebanese Dominance of Lagos' Hospitality Scene
 

NOSA: In another country, with constant power, there’d be a detailed study on how Lebanese families in Lagos have dominated the local hospitality scene. From restaurants to clubs, the best in Lagos seem to have Lebanese hands in them and Z Kitchen is the latest. 

FOLLY: I feel like all the answers are in plain sight and there’s not much digging that has to be done to write this story. I have two jobs and still trying to get my money up so once I’m done, I’ll come back and investigate this for the people.

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NOSA: Located in the old Westafco building on Saka Tinubu, Z Kitchen is run by a Lebanese couple. The husband is the executive chef and the wife, I presume, handles the business side of things. And one interesting little tidbit (read: gist) I found out over the weekend:

the wife’s other siblings run restaurants in Lagos. Her brother runs the Casper & Gambini chain while her sister is none other than our ‘good friend’ Lou, of Craft Gourmet.

(CORRECTION: Lou, of Craft Gourmet, isn’t her sister. Just a really good friend. Her brother runs D Cafe and Rhapsody’s.)

But it doesn’t end there, the wife’s father was the main man at Westafco. 

Look at all the connections!

FOLLY: Come for the food reviews, but stay for the gist. Speaking of gist in Lagos, you know who really has my gist in this city - Lagos waiters.

NOSA: I found out about the Delis/D Cafe split from a waiter lol.

FOLLY: A hobby of mine is finding waiters from existing restaurants in newly opened restaurants, and because I’m annoying I call them by the name of their previous employer (e.g Hi HSE) and then they smile because they also recognize me.

NOSA: Out of one family, we get three of the better restaurants in Lagos. There should be some grad student at UNILAG writing a thesis on this thing because it’ll make for very fascinating reading. 

FOLLY: The professor will probably fail them on the topic choice alone so I see why that isn’t happening anytime soon.

NOSA: And yes, Craft Gourmet is one of the better restaurants in Lagos, but beef is forever unfortunately. Speaking of beef, Z Kitchen has very impressive selection of meats on the menu. There’s a 800g tomahawk  and a 250g ostrich fillet on the menu. We’ve eaten at over a hundred restaurants in Lagos and I don’t think we’ve come across ostrich anywhere. The rest of the menu is just as excellent. Oh, and the owner said the current menu is still a work in progress. They make tweaks every Thursday. 

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To start, we got the Rosemary Focaccia and the Calamari A La Plancha.

Rosemary Focaccia - Fluffy Italian bread topped with confit tomatoes and feta cheese.

We went with focaccia because Chef Benedict made the most delicious one at his last supper club so we, or just me, wanted to get the feeling again. Sounds like something a crackhead would say, but Ben’s focaccia was the most delicious thing.

FOLLY: The focaccia at Z Kitchen was a bit different compared to the one that we’d had at Chef Benedict’s

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Z Kitchen

Chef Benedict

Chef Benedict

NOSA: Now, focaccia is Italian flat bread with little bit of leavening so the dough rises somewhat and isn’t all the way flat. The one at Z Kitchen took the “flat” in flat bread thing pretty seriously. From the eyeball test, it looks more like pizza than focaccia. But, it was delicious and that’s the part that leaves me conflicted. The feta was an excellent addition and the confit tomatoes took it to another level, but this was no Chef Benedict focaccia. 

FOLLY: I found that the balsamic balanced out the tomatoes and tied everything together very nicely.

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FOLLY: The calamari was recommended by a friend who was dining at the restaurant at the same time as we were, so that informed our second option.

Calamari A La Plancha - Grilled baby calamari tossed with salsa verde.

NOSA: The calamari fared a little better in our eyeball test. I’ve said something on this blog about the direct relationship between vulnerability in animals and how delicious they are. As soon as I saw “baby calamari”, I knew we were on to something.

FOLLY: Ignoring Nosa but it’s more common to find deep fried calamari than grilled/roasted calamari in Lagos restaurants. In our experience, the grilled calamari always tastes rubbery so we tend to avoid. What I liked about the roasted calamari at Z Kitchen, was the chargrill and smoky flavour.

NOSA: I tasted a bit of suya spice in there. Maybe that was the salsa verde and my razz Nigerian taste buds think it’s suya spice.

FOLLY: After both starters I was very impressed by the quality of the food at Z Kitchen - the ingredients especially were high quality and the cooking was precise. The mains completely won me over and Z Kitchen is one of the best culinary experiences I’ve had in Lagos.

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NOSA: A new month means a fresh EDL budget so we went all out with the mains: Coffee-Rubbed Skirt Steak, Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich and Braised Short Rib Lasagne.

FOLLY: My choice of the skirt steak was influenced by The Kitchenista. She’s always preached the gospel of how a good coffee rub will take steak/ribs to the next level so I had to take her advise.

NOSA: The skirt steak was absolutely killer. Very juicy and packed plenty flavor thanks to the coffee rub.

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FOLLY: A skirt steak isn’t the most tender cut but it packs a lot of flavour, that combined with the deep intense flavour of the coffee really made this come alive. It’s fair to assume that the coffee would be over powering but that’s not the case, the coffee rub creates a deeper complex flavour for the meat - mostly savoury with the ever so slight sweet tinge.

NOSA: This would work perfectly in a steak sandwich, you know?

FOLLY: Speaking of sandwiches, I took one bite of the chicken sandwich and I determined it wasn’t for me. It had both vinegar and pickles and that’s basically poison to me so it became a hard pass.

NOSA: The slaw + honey mustard combo in the sandwich is a bit overpowering and might not be for everyone, but I liked it. In fact, that was the exact reason I liked it and the reason Folly hated it. It might be a bit of an acquired taste like Guinness. 

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NOSA: The lasagne, a guest favorite according to our waiter, was my favorite of the lot. That’s partly has to do with my love for lasagne and how good this lasagne was. In equal measure.

FOLLY: I could only have a limited quantity of the lasagne due to my body’s inability to digest lactose but this was divine. I wouldn’t get into the cheese because I was deliberately trying to avoid it, but the meat was the most amazing tender (buttery soft) pulled short rib. The best part is that it’s suitable for non pork eaters because they use beef ribs. I stan an equal opportunity lasagne.

NOSA: Best lasagne since Velvett?

Update

NOSA: After reading this review, a friend sent us this message below lol

Please edit your review of Z kitchen. Y’all didn’t talk about the space. It’s literally the most fucking beautiful thing in Lagos.
First off, it’s practical. Chairs and tables are perfect height for each other. They gave me a BAG STOOL!!! That beaten metal wall is what I need me tombstone to be made of.

It’s a lot of seating without feeling choked. That white utensil wall is sooo cute! Color scheme on point and the stuff is all made in Nigeria so... yaaasss
Those shaved wood chairs in the wine lounge!!!

Nahhh see when/if I open a restaurant, I won’t even have staff cause I’d have spent all my money on decor. This is nicer than abroad restaurants
— Friend of the Blog

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Favorite new restaurant this year. Definitely worth the revisit.

FOLLY: I’ve never been this impressed by a new restaurant since RSVP. That’ll probably make some people not visit because they think RSVP is just hype. If that’s you, you’re only doing yourself not me.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Rosemary Focaccia - N3500

Calamari A La Plancha - N5000

Coffee-Rubbed Skirt Steak - N12000

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich - N6000

Braised Short Rib Lasagna - N8000

 

PARKING

Can fit 5-6 cars 

Sugarcane Falls Short of Expectations

Sugarcane

6 Ologun Abaje Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

0905 556 6377

FOLLY: I've learned that it's important to give restaurants ample time after they've opened to sort out their kinks. Ample time, for me, is a month, Nosa doesn't always feel the same way. 

NOSA: Ample time is a week after opening night. You've had a proper feel of your operations structure and you can make changes. Crust & Cream sorted out their opening night issues after a week.

FOLLY: That said, I'm not blaming "not being ready" for Sugarcane's inadequacies, nah this is on them as a restaurant for not serving what the menu stated. 

NOSA: Exactly. 

FOLLY: First of all, it took a while for a waitress to attend to us. I hate it when waiters want to take your order immediately after giving you the menu as if you have some superpower that allows you to peruse the entire menu in 30 seconds, so I told her to come back in 2 minutes and that was my biggest regret. It took forever and a day to get her to come back. 

NOSA:  Wait times, I can forgive. Within the first few weeks of a restaurant opening, unless it's pure garbage, there'll always be a crowd. And it makes no sense staffing like that crowd is going to be consistent because it isn't. This is Lagos. We're fickle and Buhari is trying to kill us.

FOLLY: Eventually we got attended to, and we ordered the Grilled Calamari and Blooming Onion to start.

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NOSA: I was really excited about the Blooming Onion because I always got it at Outback Steakhouse in college. 

FOLLY: The blooming onion was okay, I like the consistency of the batter and the onion was the sweet kind and thankfully not gross red onion.

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The grilled calamari was also just okay and if I'm being completely honest, a little disappointing. I was disappointed because it just had a lot of pepper and no distinct flavour. 

NOSA: This lack of flavor will become a running theme as this post progresses. I didn't mind the calamari, unlike Folly, because I wasn't expecting too much from grilled calamari in the first place.

FOLLY: Everything went downhil when my main arrived. What I really should have done was send the entire thing back because it was NOT what I ordered but what I did was barely eat it but still pay for it because I'm a mug. 

I ordered the chicken burrito bowl and got a tasteless chicken burrito. 

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FOLLY: I was even more irritated when we complained to the waitress and she, unfazed, dropped the plate on the table and let out an audible "nawa oh" as she walked away. She later brought the menu and showed me where it said chicken burrito and then I pointed out the word "bowl" that followed burrito and then she said "this is how we serve it".

NOSA: Clearly, this is not a burrito bowl. A burrito bowl should look like this:

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Not this: 

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FOLLY: The guacamole was consumed with lime and the chicken had absolutely no seasoning, bar salt. Can you see how white it is? Imagine if Anne Hathaway was a burrito, this would be it.

NOSA: Let's ignore the fact it's not an actual burrito bowl for a second. The burrito itself was pretty underwhelming. There's a distinct lack of flavor and that is probably Sugarcane's biggest crime. Add the fact that the fries, in the side, needed a helping of salt, you get the impression that the chef is in a never ending battle with seasoning.

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NOSA: For my main, I got another college favorite - The Monte Cristo.

A Monte Cristo is a ham sandwich with a twist, i.e. you sub regular toast for French Toast. In other words,  it's a bit "sweet". This one wasn't, and while that disappointed me, I let it slide on the grounds that different chefs might have their different styles.  

What really pissed me off was the fact they used processed yellow cheddar cheese. Like, the ones you buy in supermarkets. For a sandwich at this price point, making it with processed cheese is unforgiveable. Spare me the Buharinomics too, I can walk into Delis and buy everything I need to make this and not spend as much I did on the day.  

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FOLLY: I had planned to stay for dessert cause that menu looked interesting but after the burrito bowl debacle, there wasn't a chance in hell. 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I really wanted Sugarcane to be good. I made excuses at every point until the burrito bowl debacle.

FOLLY: Sugar-Nope. 

NOSA: I hope it gets better because right now, Sugarcane flatters to deceive. And it wasn't just us.

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FOLLY: FWIW, the strawberry lemon mojito was pretty good. 

NOSA: The Philly Cheesesteak Egg Roll is mad delicious though.

VERDICT

DAMAGE

Monte Cristo - N4410

Blooming Onion - N2625

Chicken Burrito Bowl - N4515

Spicy Grilled Calamari - N3675

Frozen Spiked Chapman - N2625

Strawberry Lemon Mojito - N2835

 

PARKING

 The security guards are sensible and parking is readily available.

BarBar Got A Completely New Menu


BarBar

Cinnamon Gardens, Victoria Arobieke Street, Lekki One, Lagos

NOSA: A couple of days ago, we noticed BarBar got a completely new menu and we decided to check them out. 

FOLLY: "A few days ago" is actually last week when you went to get a haircut. 

NOSA: The menu, itself, is pretty streamlined. Just 4 items on it and for science, we ordered them all. 

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FOLLY: And we still weren't full, so we ordered some more chicken wings because they were by far, the best of the lot. To drink, I had the Dreadlock (rum, ginger beer, brown sugar and lime). don't think they actually used brown sugar.

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NOSA: The BarBar By The Sea is their seafood platter. Ok, it’s not really a platter but a plate of like 5 shrimp and a couple calamari. A shame the serving size is so small because I thought this was pretty tasty. 

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FOLLY: They should have breaded the calamari and shrimp because this was pretty basic. 

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NOSA: The wings were the best thing for me. Absolutely loved them. Might be hard to find anything better in the Lekki area and this includes Urban Fuxion.

FOLLY: Slow down. I still prefer Urban Fuxion's but these were really good and we even ordered a second portion.

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NOSA: A bit of a random note, all the sauces tasted like they were heavy on Maggi. Not a fan at all. 

FOLLY: We had three different little pots of sauce with each item we ordered, each with varying intensities of Maggi. This was probably not by design, just probably the unfortunate consequence of not shaking the container. I didn't hate the sauce, but it was a bit pedestrian. 

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NOSA: The Chicken Chopped And Screwed was a massive disappointment for me. It tasted like shitty chicken suya. Avoid this one at all costs. 

FOLLY: My friend thought it was undercooked. 

NOSA: The sliders were the other thing I liked on the menu. There’s only so much you can do with a slider and I think BarBar did all of that.

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FOLLY: The bun and the patty were good so it's a thumbs-up from me. It's hard to be very descriptive when you had only two bites of something (we cut it in half)

NOSA: It tasted like a burger you’d get at a cookout and for a slider, I think that’s pretty good.

FOLLY: I was most glad because they didn't use the Maggi sauce in it. 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: The sliders and wings are the only things worth it and they’re cheapest on it. For a what they are, Barbar is pretty good if I'm being fair. So yeah, give them a shot if you're trying to get a haircut or your partner is.

FOLLY: It won't fill you up but it's okay food. More importantly, guys get a free drink with a haircut so tag along and you can drink the free drink while he cuts his hair :) 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

The Wings - N1700

Barbar Sliders -N1700

BarBar By The Sea - N2000

Chicken Chopped & Screwed - N1500

The Dreadlock - N2000

 

PARKING

It's in one of those "mall" things, so there's a lot of parking

The Grillroom Is Pretty Expensive

The Grillroom at The Wheatbaker

4 Onitolo (Lawrence) Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

01 277 3560

FOLLY: I’ve had lunch in the lobby area of the Wheatbaker before and I liked it. This was way back in 2013 or even 2012. I had a burger and some frozen strawberry cocktail contraption. I recall it being very expensive but not as expensive as it was a couple days ago.

NOSA: I was at the Wheatbaker meeting a client not too long ago and I remember checking out the menu, it wasn't too expensive.

FOLLY: Point here is that Nosa and I cannot recall a time where the Wheatbaker was this expensive. 

NOSA: I think the menu shocked me a bit.

FOLLY: The Wheatbaker is more expensive than RSVP and Sky Lounge overall. In fact, 1415 is cheap in comparison to the Wheatbaker. And the only thing RSVP has on Wheatbaker is that RSVP still has the single most expensive entrée – the Australian fillet that’s N12,500

NOSA: Anyway, let's do this review. We'll get to this price thing in a minute.

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FOLLY: Nosa wasn’t feeling any of the starter options but I felt we should try the Battered Calamari & Muesli Pineapple.

NOSA: The appetizer selection is pretty boring, but this calamari one caught my attention because it came with a fried pineapple. 

Yes. 

Fried. 

FOLLY: It was disappointing that we only got one slab of calamari as opposed to individual bite sized pieces. The fried pineapple was even bigger than the calamari.

NOSA: The calamari could have been a lot more. I get it's fine dining and whatnot, but come on, 4000 Naira is a lot drop on this. I can't get behind it. 

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FOLLY: I have always wondered why people grilled fruit. I thought it was because the sugar caramelizes and thus enhances the flavour profile. Whatever it does, it’s not for me. Warm pineapple is uncomfortable to eat and in the future I’ll definitely pass.

NOSA: Yeah, it's a "NO" from me too. I mean, I already hate fruit so frying it isn't going to change anything.

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FOLLY: My favourite thing about the starter was the chutney that it was served with. It was slightly fruity but still had a nice kick.

NOSA: Yeah, the chutney was delicious.

spare ribs wheatbaker hotel lagos

NOSA: I got the Pork Spare Ribs with a side of Grilled Plantain. 

As you can see, I did't get my plantain. Apparently, they had no plantain so the waitress made the executive decision to serve me fries. 

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NOSA: The ribs were decent, but not particularly tender. For how much you're paying, you should get tender ribs. I mean, it's almost 10k and it tastes no different from what you'd get at Ying YangUrban Fuxion costs less and is a lot better.

FOLLY: I agree with him. 

NOSA: For 5k, I could live with this but not at near 10k. It's wayyy overpriced at that price point. I mean, they're spare ribs aka the cheapest cut of pork ribs. Maybe you're paying for the quantity because I don't think anyone sells ribs at this "volume".

Marinade is good though. I'll give them that

FOLLY: My main was a 300g Sirloin Steak and a side of mashed potatoes. The mash was the worst I’ve had in Lagos. I’ve had some very sorry renditions of mashed potatoes, and most of the times I just eat through the pain and dip it in the sauce like it’s pounded yam.

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I couldn’t even manage it in that manner this time. I can’t even place my finger on what was off about it – it just had the strangest lingering taste and it was clumpy.

NOSA: Nah, the mash was an ABSOLUTE disaster. 

FOLLY: I thought it was funny when I placed my order for the steak and the waitress asked “Condition please?” I don’t know why but it made me giggle.

This is a terrible picture but can you just appreciate the cross section?

This is a terrible picture but can you just appreciate the cross section?

I ordered my steak to be medium rare and it was. The meat itself wasn’t the best as it was incredibly fatty so I had to Google if a sirloin wasn’t a lean cut. I found that on a scale of lean to fatty it’s somewhere bang in the middle so the amount of fat on this was indeed unusual.

NOSA: It looked great, but had too much fat.

FOLLY: The fat and the toughness of the meat put me off. I paid top money and I could barely make it through half of the steak before I through in the towel. 

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: I was incredibly disappointed on how underwhelming this meal was. We forked over A LOT of money for a mediocre meal and there are few things that feel worse than that.

NOSA: Overall, it's good food but it's not worth the money. AT. ALL.

FOLLY: The mojito was alright though. The bartender wasn’t heavy handed with the sugar and I liked that. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Battered Calamari & Muesli Pineapple - N4700

300g Sirloin - N7900

BBQ Pork Spare Ribs - N9700

Mojito - N2500

 

PARKING

The parking is pretty good. Well, it's a hotel. What do you expect?

Eat.Green.Lagos

Mint by Eat Green Company

33 Grace Anjous Drive, Lekki I, Lagos

0814 068 5197

FOLLY: Nosa checked out Eat Green during the week last week. He told me but I unlooked and pretended not to care. On Saturday, a group of us were looking for somewhere to grab lunch and Nosa decided we check this out.

I usually try not to be too demanding at restaurants so the owner will never notice us. So when my friend started making a fuss about her pineapple juice being too frothy and hot, as well as her complicated burger order, I began cringing internally.

NOSA: This whole thing wasn't the best experience. There were no waiters on the floor for the longest time after I walked in. Apparently, the other waiter stepped out to "buy something". We got there at 3:30 and the first thing we ordered didn't come till like 5:15.

To start, we got the calamari and some small chops platter thing that never came. 

FOLLY: Hold that thought guys, I'll get to the small chops platter later. The calamari was actually quite good. I always like it when thin strips are lightly battered and fried as it makes it much easier to eat.

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NOSA: The calamari was actually pretty decent and it's shame we never got to try the healthy small chops platter because the chef prepared the wrong dough. 

FOLLY: Again, hold the thought on the small chops platter and I'll get to it in a minute. The owner kept coming to apologize about stuff: the pineapple juice, the orange juice and so at some point it got a bit much for me. There's a thin line between not giving a shit a la Casper & Gambini's and overcompensating.

NOSA: I wouldn't say she was "overcompensating" but the whole thing was just awkward. The whole thing was falling apart right in front of her and I felt a little bad. I wanted to apologize for ordering the small chops thing. It was that bad. 

FOLLY: Yeah it got really awkward towards the end, so I just wanted to get the bill and go.

I asked for Orange Juice earlier when we first arrived but they didn't have it so I got water instead. The owner came out later to ask who ordered the orange juice as they now had it. I said I did but that I didn't want it anymore because it wasn't a big deal. A little bit later a waiter comes out with a glass of orange juice and as he's about to place it down, I tell him I didn't order it but the owner is behind him and quickly says it's complementary. At this point, I felt like it was being shoved down my throat so I say thank you and accept the juice.

NOSA: I got the BBQ Bacon Burger as my main and I thought it was pretty good.

NOSA: I mean, I couldn't taste any BBQ in it and the bun wasn't a wheat bun like the waitress said. That aside, I thought it was a pretty decent burger. Top 10 in Lagos, maybe.

FOLLY: I got the Barbecue Chicken and Chips but it still had not arrived at this point so we can talk about the small chops platter now. As we were paying and getting ready to leave the owner came to explain that the small chops platter never arrived because the chef had used white flour as opposed to wheat flour, and so she 'couldn't serve it'. I think what would have been helpful was at the point when she realized the mistake, she should have come to notify us. I mean, just about 20 minutes prior she had informed us that the small chops platter would be out in 10 minutes as the dough for the puff puff was still rising as 'everything is made fresh'.

NOSA: Yeah, this dough thing didn't make sense to me.  I mean, it says "wheat puff puff" on the menu so why is the chef making dough for regular puff puff. Is that a special order or something?

FOLLY: Something about this missing order didn't make sense to me.

My order arrived eventually but everyone was done eating so I asked for it to be packed to-go. I also had already scavenged everyone's fries so I wasn't starving anymore. My cousin liked her burger, but my friend didn't eat hers because as predicted by my cousin and Nosa, Peace, the waitress, made a mistake.

Now, this is partly both my friend's and Peace's fault. Peace didn't write stuff down AND my friend was clearly doing the most and asking a lot of a waitress who was clearly just finding her feet. I remember we asked Peace if she wouldn't mind getting a notebook so she wouldn't miss anything as we were a large group.

NOSA: LOL @ the waitress because we told her to write it down and she was like "nah, I got this". 

FOLLY: I took my lunch to go and eventually had it for dinner. The chicken wasn't really cooked through and salmonella isn't cute. However, the part that was well cooked tasted nice, and the sweet potato fries were almost perfect.

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: The food took too long, the waiters were terrible, and they messed a couple of orders up. Eat Green definitely has potential because the concept alone stands out. The menu could be streamlined a bit to avoid all the "we don't have it now" talk, however. 

I'll give them another shot in a month or so. Hopefully, it's better.

FOLLY: Ehh, I really don't know as I've casted myself to the owner now, if I ever go back it'll just be awkward. Takeout maybe?

VERDICT

DAMAGE

BBQ Chicken - N3500

BBQ Bacon Burger - N3200