Posts tagged hummus
7 Square Follows the Lagos Restaurant Template to a T
 

NOSA: Over the weekend, we had a little dinner discussion about dining in Lagos and one thing that came up about was the role of a chef in Lagos. It is very rare to find a restaurant where the executive chef is highly visible on a daily basis. Visible in the sense that you can see them actively managing employees, checking on guests etc. There aren’t lots of places where you can spot the chef on floor and flag his attention if anything goes wrong.

What most restaurants tend to have is a “cook” and a front of house manager, which leaves a bit of a leadership vacuum.

FOLLY: And empty apologies tacked on with “my manager is not around”

NOSA: Precisely, because this leadership vacuum also comes with a lack of ownership and more often than not the second order effect of all this is inconsistency. It’s why your penne pesto tastes one way on one day and tastes another way on another day. 

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This brings us to our to 7 Square, which, like most Lagos restaurants, runs with the Ops Manager + Cook model. Or it appears to.

FOLLY: I’m pretty sure I saw the owner outside watching the game while we were there. Anyway, the menu at 7 Square was exceptionally boring and lacking passion and direction.

NOSA: In other words, it’s extensive, boring and all over the place. It’s simply a copy and paste of what you find in most places in Lagos. This could be a Cactus or Crust & Cream if you switched the logos out. Some random steak here and some generic burger there. Toss in some pizza or a nondescript pasta dish.

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NOSA: We didn’t have a bad experience at 7 Square, pretty good in fact, but it just left so much to be desired. Restaurateurs can’t keep opening the same restaurant and running the models. The bubble is going to burst soon. 

To start, we got the My Favorite; a weird platter with humus, sausages, french fries and pita bread. From the menu description, I thought everything would be in the hummus so Folly got pretty curious and ordered it.

FOLLY: I imagine that this was called My Favourite because the Lebanese owner used to eat sausages and hummus as a little boy. I can almost picture it. What I didn’t imagine was that it’ll be served separately. I thought we were going to get a hummus donut with a generous helping of sausage meet in the centre.

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NOSA: The hummus was serviceable, but the sausage was surprisingly great. Mixed with bell peppers and tomatoes, the sausage had this interesting BBQ kick to it and you get some hummus in there (weird, I know), it’s a party. 

FOLLY: The barbecue sauce and hummus combined oddly well. It seems like one those whimsical creations that children love.

NOSA: For my main, I got the Royal PIzza, which was surprisingly good. Thin crust, stringy cheese and straight out of a wood fried oven. A bit like what you’d get at Taverna or Pizzeriah or House Cafe, but a shade more expensive.

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FOLLY: The crust was a little bit more crispy than I’d like, you couldn’t fold the slice to eat it without it cracking everywhere. They used canned mushrooms but I get it fresh imported produce is expensive.

NOSA: On the bright side, this means more restaurants are catching onto the greatness of the wood fried oven for pizza and we can finally stop subjecting ourselves to Dominos as a society.

FOLLY: I ordered my main, the Half Grilled Chicken, to be basic.

NOSA: The name sounds funny too. Is it a grilled half chicken or a chicken grilled halfway? LOL.

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FOLLY: This is going to sound snobby but most times when I looked over at what other diners order at restaurants - most times groups that consist of Middle Aged Nigerians order some variant of rice and chicken so I decided to join them.

NOSA: That’s the go-to order in every Nigerian movie. Anyway, the chicken was surprisingly large. Shouts to them for being generous.

FOLLY: As well as largely forgettable. It was (thankfully) not overcooked and so wasn’t dry on the inside - kudos to them on that. Apart from that, there was nothing distinctive about the flavour so I took it home to recook it into my Zoodles which worked out perfectly.

NOSA: I read this thing somewhere about how eating chicken is bad for you from one of the gym bros I follow on Instagram. According to that piece of bro science, thanks to the way we rear chickens, they’re always in a state of fright. This fright releases some chemicals (bro science never specifies the chemical), which we eventually consume. Messes with your whole mojo and you can’t lift heavy anymore. I don’t eat a lot of chicken and I did a 225 lb power clean the other day so gym bro must be right.

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NOSA: We tried to close out with dessert, but from the 6-item dessert menu, they only had two items available. This brings us back to my little spiel at the start of this. When there’s no ownership in a restaurant, you get things like the polite waiter telling you all the dessert is available and when you ask the waiter to confirm, the waiter tells you they only have two items. 


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Eh, it’s ok. Largely boring, but the food is good. Very safe option.

FOLLY: I honestly thought 7 Square was about the desserts on their menu because they had a decent selection so to be told only two items - one of which was a fruit salad - were available was moderately disappointing.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

 My Favorite - N5000

Half Grilled Chicken - N6500

Royal Pizza - N5500

 

PARKING

Bountiful 

Does Las Gidi Express Sound Like a Lebanese Restaurant?
 

NOSA: I stumbled on Las Gidi Express while grocery shopping at Goodies, I mean Winners the other day. Sidenote: Winners has quality meat if you’re into that kind of thing. 

FOLLY: It's 2018 and Nosa is still trying to get me to go to all these "restaurants" that I don't want to go to.

NOSA: Anyway, Las Gidi Express is still very new as far as Lagos restaurants go. By “new”, I mean some chairs are still unwrapped.

FOLLY: I mean, that's why I didn't want to go. I wasn't even sure that it was a real restaurant. 

NOSA: Or maybe those are fresh imports. Either way, it feels like a place that’s still finding its feet. Perhaps it’s not too late to change name.

FOLLY: Oh yes, it definitely struck both us of as odd that a Lebanese restaurant would be called Las Gidi Express. A Nigerian fast food yes? but a typical Nigerian-Lebanese restaurant with a paper brochure menu, nope.  

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NOSA: To start, we ordered the Special Hummus. Hummus is our typical go-to at Lebanese owned spots. That’s usually how I gauge if they sabi the work or not. Unfortunately, the hummus was a bit meh. It was decent enough, but not great. A bit lazy perhaps.

FOLLY: It seemed like the cook felt the key to good hummus was just lots of olive oil and chickpeas. The beef wasn't browned as much and so the flavour didn't quite develop, the hummus was also desperately in need of a dash of salt. 

NOSA: A bit of a random aside, isn’t it great how family friendly Persian food is? All the plates are designed with sharing in mind. Or am I making this up in my head.

FOLLY: You're not.

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NOSA: Next, we got some Manakish. Half zataar and half cheese. And it smelt soooooo good. Makanish is like a Middle Eastern pizza and in Levant countries, it’s actually a breakfast staple. Pizza for breakfast sounds like something i did as a broke college student. Maybe pizza is an Italian manakish, who knows? 

FOLLY: Za'atar manakish is one of my favorite things about Middle Eastern food. The za'atar spices are a combination of thyme, oregano, sumac, and sesame seeds give or take.

In Lagos, you'd be hard pressed to find a Lebanese restaurant serve you something with dodgy cheese. This is because of the excellent supply chain management they exhibit by either owning the supermarket or having a friend or family member that does. 

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NOSA: For our mains, we went with the Mixed Grill (half) and some Fattoush. The fattoush might have been a bad idea. Way too acidic for me, but that’s a personal thing and not on Las Gidi Express.

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FOLLY: The Fattoush was also my mistake cause I meant to order Tabbouleh. I also agree with Nosa on how unneccesarily acidic it was. I've never had this experience at Syrian Club though, so I don't know if it's me or Las Gidi Express but there was something overly acidic about the dressing. 

NOSA: The Mixed Grill, however, was very lovely. The chicken was surprisingly flavorful.

FOLLY: The chicken wings were soooo good and honestly, I was surprised. This is because depending on where you go, the mixed grill is sometimes odd cuts of dry meat that are only bearable after dipping in the garlic sauce.

NOSA: As far as flavor is concerned, Lebanese food and Nigerian food are polar opposites. So more often than not, we (read: Nigerians) often get disappointed by their chicken. Not here though. The chicken in the mixed grill was the perfect middle ground. Both flavors coexisted in peace and harmony. 

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FOLLY: A solid mixed grill platter for a decent price. Considering that Nosa and I shared the small platter, I'm inclined to say this is great value for money. 

 

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: Las Gidi Express was pretty good, but Syrian Club is undefeated. I rarely ever crave Lebanese food but if I do I'd go back here. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Manakish - N700

Fattoush Salad - N2000

Hummus + Meat - N3000

Small Mixed Grill - N4500

 

 

PARKING

The entire Goodies parking lot is available. 

Searching For The Best Shawarma In Lagos: Sphinx

Sphinx Fast Food

Mega Plaza. 14 Idowu Taylor, Victoria Island, Lagos

01 775 3582

NOSA: Like many people, my first encounter with shawarma was at Mega Plaza. The old Mega Plaza too, not this new one that looks like the final level of an RPG.

FOLLY: My dad took me to Mega Plaza all the time for the shawarma and pizza from La Pizza. Remember when La Pizza was still on the right side where they sell those safes? Now it's a random corner now and I don't know if anyone still goes there. 

NOSA: Old Mega was really the spot back then. They had that really expensive TV that I’m pretty sure no one ever bought. For the longest time, Mega Plaza shawarma was the basis for all shawarma comparisons.

FOLLY: Every time I was in Lagos on holiday from university, Mega Plaza shawarma was an important stop. I had to visit my grandparents and I had to buy shawarma.

NOSA: Until Ebeano shawarma stole my heart, but that’s a story for another day.

FOLLY: That's not a shared experience but enough on the nostalgia. 

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NOSA: Last weekend, we went back to check out Mega Plaza shawarma. They give you two options like Shawarma & Co., but we decided to go Lebanese style for authenticity. Lebanese people really missed a trick with this shawarma thing. Lebanese style doesn’t have sausage and they have fries in their shawarma. 

FOLLY: I want to play devil's advocate/food purist so I'm going to say Lebanese style is better. This is because Nigerian shawarma stopped being shawarma the day y'all savages showed yourselves and started adding sausage. 

NOSA: Sure, taste is subjective etc, etc, but without a doubt, Nigerian-style > Lebanese-style. Nobody is changing my mind. You might have to find me and engage in fisticuffs to convince me.The shawarma was just so dry. From the dry “meat” to the dry fries to the dry pita. Everything is just lumped together and there’s nothing linking it all. 

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FOLLY: It was indeed quite dry. The garlic wasn't even overwhelming, and the taste was gone from my mouth in a couple hours, and you know garlic usually lingers. 

NOSA: You know what? A little “hot take” for you guys: Nigerians did well when we bastardized shawarma. 

Yes, I said it.

That said, why hasn’t anyone thought of mixing both styles?

FOLLY: The mayo + ketchup + garlic sauce will be flames. 

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NOSA: This is really a shawarma post, but we got hummus too and we can’t go through this post without mentioning it. Their hummus is a little different from normal hummus you find in these Lagos streets. It’s not very thick, but the beef is fried into it.

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FOLLY: It's also very oily, but the beef is fried chunks and not minced like I'm used to. I think it adds a great flavour profile to the combination of bread, hummus, and meat i.e it tastes better than the minced meat version. 

NOSA: I wish I could find the right words to explain it. Look, just try it next time you’re there. 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Glory days are over.

FOLLY: And all we have are the memories. 

VERDICT

DAMAGE

Lebanese Shawarma - N1400

Hummus with beef - N2000

 

 

PARKING

It's N200 and N100 on weekdays and weekends respectively, to park in the Mega Plaza lot. 

Craft Gourmet For Brunch

Craft Gourmet by Lou Baker

3rd Floor, Mega Plaza, Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

0703 265 2069

NOSA: It took some time, but Craft Gourmet is FINALLY open on Sunday's. It's at the expense of Monday, but I'm sure we can all live with that. We've already accepted restaurants don't open on Monday anyway. 

FOLLY: Mondays are basically restaurant owner's Sundays i.e. most people take it easy on Sundays and eat out instead of cooking at home.

An unfortunate camera incident caused us to lose our nice pictures. Nosa had these on his phone luckily and I'll update this post if my photo recovery is successful.  

NOSA: In addition to the new opening time, there have also been a couple tweaks to the menu too. For instance, our starter, the Hummus with Meat, is a very welcome addition. 

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The meat isn't ground beef like everywhere else, but rather little beef cubes. Folly didn't care too much for it, but I really liked it and I thought it was a nice touch. It gives hummus this faux fancy vibe. 

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FOLLY: Definitely can feel faux fancy when there are mimosas to accompany it. However, it's not that I didn't care much for it, I just prefer the minced meat. It may be the more pedestrian choice but I prefer it cause it's easier to chew and that's not because I have old people teeth. 

NOSA: The hummus at BL Restaurant shades it a little bit for me. It's very close, but the thickness of the one at BL wins it for me. 

FOLLY: I agree. Also, price wise BL's hummus is slightly cheaper than Craft Gourmet's. 

NOSA: For my main, I got another new addition to the menu: the Chicken & Waffles

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FOLLY: Snuck into Craft Gourmet last week and had this when I met up with one of my friends for lunch. He's still salty. This time, I stuck to an old faithful, the Scrambled Eggs x Bacon x Pancakes combo

NOSA: The waffles are so so good. I really appreciate the fact they went with regular waffles (well, not too regular, there's cinnamon in this one) over the Belgian waffle because the Belgian ones don't work too well with chicken. 

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FOLLY: Initially you think why is it brown, could it be whole wheat or some other healthy take on waffles but when you taste it you kinda understand the colouring comes from the added cinnamon spice. 

NOSA: The real appeal of Chicken & Waffles is how the flavour profile is an interesting juxtaposition of sweet and savoury. With the Craft Gourmet iteration, the chicken is a bit passive. It's delicious, but it could be so much more. The chicken feels overwhelmed by the waffle in a way. It's like when the most popular girl in school starts dating the shy kid in her class.  If we could just a little bit more personality from the chicken, we're on to a winner. 

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FOLLY: Speaking of winners, we've said this on Twitter, but the pancakes at Craft Gourmet at the best in Lagos, argue in your house, please. Every time pancake day comes around, we're inundated with requests on where to have the best pancakes in Lagos, now I have an answer. Shame pancake day is gone for 2016, but in 2017 an EDL x Craft Gourmet Pancake Day special has to happen. 

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FOLLY: Oh, and to drink we had mimosas and the pink prosecco (prosecco tinted with hibiscus flowers). For each jug, we got about 4.5 pours which, I think, is a steal (N667 per glass). 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Craft Gourmet is an important addition to the Lagos Sunday brunch scene. Very important to the culture.

FOLLY: I love that they have good food and drinks as well as a gorgeous space. You actually don't have to compromise on anything here, which is extremely rare in Lagos. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Mimosa - N3000

Pink prosecco - N3000

Chicken & waffle - N3600

Hummus with meat - N3000

Scrambled egg x bacon x pancakes - N3200

 

 

PARKING

Mega Plaza has the huge parking garage so you're sorted.

An Arabian Barbie House

Arabesque Restaurant

225B Etim Inyang Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos

0706 966 5555

FOLLY: I ran across this restaurant a couple weeks back while combing through Lost in Lagos listings for a new restaurant to visit. We eventually decided against it because we thought it was in the Chocolat Royal family and we don't like their food.

NOSA: One of the guests at the ICF Dessert Party told us it wasn't part of the Chocolat Royale family AND that the food is pretty legit so obviously we had to check it out.

FOLLY: My first impression on arriving at the restaurant was the beautiful outdoor area, however it felt like it was 40 degrees out so dining al fresco was NOT an option.

NOSA: I bet this is a great spot to drink at night. As soon as God stops punishing Lagos with this heat, I'm going to give it a shot.

FOLLY: The inside of the restaurant is like a Barbie House for the MENA market. I mean there's so much purple and pink but it still manages to have an Arabian flair. We couldn't get any pictures of just the space but you may be able to get an idea from the background of the food pictures.

We had lots to eat so stick with us here as this might be a long review. The table was always full but the service was so good here that literally as soon as Nosa or I took the last piece from a plate, a waiter was at the table to take the empty plate in seconds.

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FOLLY: We got the regular Hommous to start but if we had known they'd send us this complimentary platter with a variety of dips to start we probably wouldn't have bothered.

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NOSA: I thought this contraption was sooooo cool. You see the black/grey ball? It has coals in it so you put your little piece of pita bread on it to warm it up. Sure, they can just bring you warm pita bread like they did with our hummous, but why do that when you can have this heater ball thing?

FOLLY: The hommous was really good, way better than that at Pat's Bar, but not as good as that at Syrian Club. The consistency of this hommous was incredibly smooth, not a single chunky bit in sight.

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NOSA: I was a bit disappointed they didn't have the hummous with the beef in it. That's slowly become the only way I can enjoy hummous fully these days.

FOLLY: Next, we got the Falafel.

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NOSA: I've probably told this story before, but I'll tell it again.

FOLLY: Yes, you have several times actually.

NOSA: One time in New York, I got really drunk and my girlfriend at the time thought food would be an amazing idea. So we, with a group of her friends, hit up this food truck and get a whole bunch of falafel. Now, that was the first time I ever had falafel and it tasted so DIVINE. I've been chasing for that taste ever since and nothing ever comes close. Perhaps, being drunk heightened things a bit. You know, like Marrocaine shawarma. 

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FOLLY: Now see I, unlike Nosa, have no idea what falafel is supposed to taste like and I've only had it twice - once at Syrian Club and the second time here at Arabesque.

Personally, I found it quite bland but I guess that's what the garlic dip is for. I do weird things so I occasionally dipped my falafel in hoummous for double the dose of chickpeas.

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The drink I originally wanted wasn't available. The waiter explained that earlier in the day a NEPA surge had blown the fuse in ALL their blenders. I settled for a Pink Punk Cosmo on our waiter's recommendation, while Nosa had the Ultimate Mojito.

My drink was really strong, so I can't imagine how strong the one that had 3 or so liquors in it would have been. I can't believe the waiter was suggesting your girl drink a Long Island at like 3 in the afternoon

NOSA:  My mojito was pretty much excellent (because it came in a huge mug and therefore contained lots of alcohol)

FOLLY: Oh, Nosa's mojito was awesome because it wasn't too sweet like most mojitos are, and the fresh lemons added just the right amount of tart.

NOSA: Our mains were the Arayes Arabesque and the Mixed Grill.

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FOLLY: Ordering the mixed grill at a Lebanese restaurant is definitely like getting chickwizz at Chicken Republic. You just have to get it to see if the people really know what they are doing.

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FOLLY: In order of preference for me was the minced lamb, the minced chicken, then the regular lamb and finally the regular chicken.

NOSA: I really liked the grilled chicken, but I wasn't a fan of the minced chicken. That one was a bit bland for me. 

FOLLY: The chicken wasn't bad but I didn't like it or maybe I was full at this point because I barely touched it.

NOSA: The lamb was tender like real lamb, but I really wished it had a kick to it. This is probably my inner Nigerian speaking, but I just wanted to dip it in pepper. 

FOLLY: Yup, I was disappointed that they had taken the garlic dip cause your body is just itching to dip it in something. The lamb lost points from me for being chewy and bland.

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NOSA: The Arayes Arabesque was like a Lebanese quesadilla, but with halloumi in it, i.e. very delicious.

FOLLY: This arayes at Arabesque > the arayes at Scarlett Lodge. I wish they hadn't taken our pita warming contraption when this arrived because the arayes pitas got cold as it sat out on the table and it was best eaten warm.

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: It's a lot pricier than Syrian Club despite not having better food. It does have alcohol, however. That kinda changes things. So yeah, I'll be back here.

FOLLY: They also have an indoor seating area unlike Syrian Club so you don't have to fight with flies. Most importantly, Arabesque has waiters that ARE checking for you, which in Lagos is PRICELESS.

VERDICT

DAMAGE

Hommous - N1700

Falafel - N2600

Arayes Arabesque - N3100

Mixed Grill - N5000

Pink Punk Cosmo - N2000

Ultimate Mojito - N1800