Posts tagged italian
Beneath the Confusing Menu Lies Deliciousness at House Cafe
 
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NOSA: There’s something about House Cafe that upsets me so much. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Oh wait, I know. Why are there three different restaurants but one restaurant at the same time?

FOLLY: It’s like House Cafe thinks this is Eko Hotel in 1600 square feet.

NOSA: There’s a regular restaurant menu, a pizza menu, a pasta and pizza menu, and coffee shop menu. You’re basically given a whole bunch of papers to look at like you walked into a Nigerian bank asking for a loan.

FOLLY: When we arrived the waitress asked if we wanted to sit in the lifestyle restaurant, coffee shop, or “Bacio”

3 Part Luxury Culinary Experience
-Bacio: Italian Cuisine| Pizzeria
-The HouseCafe Restaurant: Intercontinental
-Mocca Cafe : Coffee Beverages| Pastry
— House Cafe Instagram

NOSA: Look, I get the concept but the owners and I clearly have philosophical differences on this. What on earth is a “Lifestyle Restaurant” anyway?

From the abstract (MOCCA), for its tick, freshly brewed coffee and alcohol twist to BACIO Italia, for the neo-Italian cuisine with assortments of alternative dinning for clients by night, the House Café has a knack to offer something for everyone with choice of delicious meals, fine dining, and unforgettable moments.
— House Cafe Website

NOSA: Why couldn’t all three menus be streamlined into one thing?

FOLLY: Terrible idea, that’ll result in one of those 15 page menus. I’d prefer they just streamline and focus on one cuisine.

NOSA: Or maybe something seasonal or a lunch/dinner split.

FOLLY: Asking for too much there, bro.

NOSA: Why does it have to be so overwhelming and just a lot. I just want to fight the owners.

The Francophone waitress is really pleasant though. They need to keep her.

FOLLY: This is why Nigeria isn’t progressing. You people don’t like our local content

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NOSA: To start, we ordered the rocket and prosciutto pizza aka Roca Rocket

As much as I hate the concept of the restaurant, the pizza was so good. There’s an inverse relationship between how I feel about the restaurant versus how I feel about the pizza.

There’s actual rocket on it and not spinach like the rubbish pizza at Bottles. This might be my new favorite pizza in Lekki.

FOLLY: It’s the only good pizza in Lekki.

NOSA: I know there isn’t a lot of competition, but it nearly blows Harvest out the water.

FOLLY: The rocket was fresh, and the serving of prosciutto and feta was very generous on the pizza - so I had no complaints.

 NOSA: Also really good was the tagliatelle. The sauce was the right amount of sweet and the tagliatelle was al dente as I liked it. Doesn’t hurt that the shrimp serving is very generous.

FOLLY: Sweetness seemed to come from the onions, wine and just a little bit of sugar.

NOSA: But yeah, you should order this.

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NOSA: The only let down for me was the duck. It was definitely cooked a little too much and the end result was bleh beef-tasting duck. If anything, it should taste closer to a dark meat chicken thigh than boiled meat.

FOLLY: When it was first served, I had to ask the waitress if she hadn’t placed an order for the lamb cutlet instead.

NOSA: Oh, and the fries were rubbish.

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FOLLY: Since they also pride themselves on having a cafe and bakery, I ordered the cheesecake for dessert. The gelatin top was a first for me and overall it was good enough.

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POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I have my complaints and reservations about the restaurant’s concept, but I can’t deny that the food is actually good. It hurts me to say it that I’ll be back again.

FOLLY: I really liked their pizza and I’ll definitely be back for that at the very least.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Cheesecake - N3000

Roca Rocket - N5000

Soy Roast Duck - N9800

Prawns Tagliatelle - N4800

 

 

PARKING

Sufficient.

La Pizza is an Italian Deli Transported to Lagos
 

NOSA: We've checked out the place before but our original review saw us sit outside by the pool. On this fine day, we decided to sit inside because of the unbearable heat and I'm glad we did.

It's so cozy

It's so cozy

FOLLY: Honestly, not really sure why we visited again but Nosa said that there were new items (I doubted) but I still went along with it. 

NOSA: A little #NosaFunFact: I lived in Italy (Fano, to be exact) for about a year when I was little. One of the things I vaguely remember about that year was Pandoro, an Italian Christmas staple. Another thing I can't seem to forget are the little cozy deli-style restaurants littered all over Fano and, oh, eating pizza with a fork & knife. Our trip to La Pizza was a memory trigger of sorts. Walking in and seeing the Pandoro on the shelf transported me to a simpler time.

FOLLY: From some angles, the little bungalow  really doesn't look like it's Nigeria

NOSA: See, La Pizza feels just as cozy as those restaurants in Fano. I can't understand why the restaurant isn't a brunch fixture in Lagos. I guess it's a good thing it isn't. It can be our little Lagos hidden gem. Just you and I, my dear reader.

FOLLY: Is it just me or is this is starting to read like Nosa's personal diary?

NOSA: We got some pizza to start, the Calabrese. Onions, Italian Sausage, and Mozzarella. They might have been a bit selfish with the mozzarella, however.

FOLLY: Yeah very stingy with the mozzarella. It didn't look like the picture but then they had a little disclaimer that it might not. The sausage was also the very salty kind - this won't work for the Nigerian palatte mine inclusive I started actively eating aroun the sausage. 

iPhone 7 camera is terrible in low light

iPhone 7 camera is terrible in low light

NOSA: By Lagos standards, this wasn't an elite pizza by any means, but it was better than most. It's right there in that Pizza Marella tier, i.e. significantly better than a Dominos but not quite a Pizze-Riah.

FOLLY: Precisely, pretty good but I still prefer Taverna and Pizze-Riah (never as takeaway though because their pizza cannot sit out more than 10 minutes before becoming gross)

NOSA: Also, they sell pizza by the slice. They might be the only place in Lagos to do so too. You can get a slice of pizza and a drink for N1500 as a weekday lunch special.

NOSA: Because the pizza didn't go a really long way, Folly and I ordered some pasta as well - the Salmon Ravioli. Wale, a good friend of the blog, had some nice things to say about the pasta (and the steak) so I figured we'd give it a go.

Salmon Ravioli

Salmon Ravioli

Stuffed pasta is my favorite thing in the world. In college, I used to run through bags frozen tortellini. It took like 5-10 mins to cook al dente. Add some vodka sauce and it was my go-to "Hey! Let me cook for you" move. Ah, good times.

FOLLY: Stuffed pasta is my least favorite usually because they are stuff with soft cheeses which I can't eat or olives or other things I don't like.  I wasn't paying attention when Nosa ordered.

NOSA: The sauce was a bit too salty and the ravioli was cooked a little too much.

 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: There were some glaring flaws with our meal, but I'll definitely be back. I mean, they sell their steak by the gram so it has to be good.

FOLLY: If I'm around the area, not one of the top dining experiences I've had recently.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Calabrese - N4500

Salmon Ravioli - N6500

 

PARKING

Parking is a bit weird. Can take maybe 6 cars max.

Umutu Has Finally Figured it Out

Umutu Italian Restaurant

27A Oju Olobun Close, Victoria Island, Lagos.

0803 131 0976

NOSA: The first Umutu review might be the harshest thing we've ever posted on this site. That pizza was such a disaster. But everyone deserves a shot at redemption, right? So a little over a year after our original review, we revisited Umutu to find out if anything has changed.

FOLLY: For starters, pizza is gone from their menu. So one can then believe that they are focusing on things they actually know how to make. 

NOSA: In the '00s, Umutu was actually a very good Italian restaurant according to a chef friend of ours.

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FOLLY: To start, I ordered the bruschetta. For some reason, still unknown to me, the waiter kept asking whether I wanted mushroom or tomatoes.

NOSA: A lot might have changed, but the waiters are still frustrating as hell.

FOLLY: I was incredibly confused cause the menu stated olive oil, mushrooms and tomatoes so I didn't understand why it was a choice.

Eventually, Nosa told him to do whatever he saw fit and he arrived a little while later with this. 

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FOLLY: Tomato > Mushrooms > Olive Oil. The tomato was my favorite because of the garlicky flavour. 

NOSA: The bruschetta weren't particularly memorable because, as you can see, I can't remember what they tasted like to write about.

FOLLY: My main was the pesto prawns. I was trying to decided between the spaghetti pesto or this. Somehow, this won and it shouldn't have, in retrospect. I absolutely love pesto even though it's not compliant with my dietary restrictions but sometimes I take risks. 

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I thought the presentation on this was ugly, they could have and SHOULD have done more to make the dish look more, for lack or a better word, inviting.

NOSA: This might have been really ugly,  but the pesto was really really good. I kept nibbling out of Folly's plate.

Don't judge a pesto by its plating.

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FOLLY: I prefer drier pestos like the one we had at Talindo or Insignia to this, cause this had a lot of liquid (and so a lot of cream/cheese). Also, Umutu's pesto didn't have any nutty flavour so I can assume pine nuts were omitted from their recipe. 

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NOSA: I got the Penne Terra Mare, aka seafood penne. Umutu was pretty generous with the salmon in pasta. Pretty surprising because salmon is lowkey expensive in Lagos. Also surprising was how good the pasta was. It wasn't, like, mind blowing or earth shattering, but this is the Umutu that I hated so much. How did they get it so right this time?

NOSA: I'll probably go back to Umutu to get this again if I'm ever in the area. Maybe we were a bit too harsh the first time.

FOLLY: We rushed out so I forgot I wanted to order dessert. 

 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Umutu is a long way from the disaster it was when we first reviewed it. It could be better, for sure, but I'd revisit. I actually liked it this time, you know?

FOLLY: A decent place but I think I much prefer Veranda which is also an Italian restaurant that's up the street from Umutu. 

NOSA: Umutu is solid mid tier restaurant. Think Crust & Cream, but for Italian

VERDICT

DAMAGE

Patate Saltate - N1200

Bruschetta Mista - N2000

Penne Terra-Mare - N4500

Gamberoni Alla Porto - N5000

 

PARKING

Yes, off street parking is available inside the premises.

The Lunch Club XV: The Chef Benedict Experience

If you came for our last festival, you probably noticed the chef making pasta from scratch. Well, we got him to host this month's Lunch Club in his lovely home. Now, Benedict spent his formative years in Italy so naturally our menu was all Italian, something we haven't done since we had Chef Flo at the Miele Gallery.

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The starter was a little scary because we had no clue what Zucchini Velutata was. In fact, Nosa assumed it was going to be grilled zucchinis. 

FALSE.

It was Zucchini soup. 

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Thank you to Chef Benedict for hosting our little group and getting us to try new things, it was absolutely amazing. If you'd love to join us for one of our lunches or want to know how it works, click HERE for more info.

Italian At The Intercontinental

Milano @ Intercontinental Hotel

Plot 52 Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

01 236 6666

FOLLY: Nosa and I have never eaten at any of the Intercontinental's restaurants so we came here to change that. They have the main buffet style restaurant on the ground floor (Ekaabo) and two on the second floor -  Milano and Soho. Soho is Asian cuisine, while Milano, the one we ate at, is Italian.

NOSA: <rant>

First things first, their chair are ridiculously low. It sounds minor, but when a big man like me feels like a toddler without a booster seat, you've done your interior decorating wrong. I can't believe none of the managers has sat on these chairs and seen how they are a problem. This is a multinational hotel we're talking about here. The waiter had to get us cushions from outside.

</rant>

We got their Shaki Pizza to start.

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FOLLY: They have an Italy meets Nigeria section of their menu and being the curious cats that we are, we had to try something from this section. Nosa originally ordered the asun pizza but it wasn't available so we settled for the Shaki pizza instead.

NOSA: You didn't read that wrong. They have asun AND shaki pizza.

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FOLLY: I thought it was odd that they spelled shaki as "shaky" on their menu. Intercontinental is clearly not above those pesky menu typos eh?

NOSA: I liked the pizza to be honest,  and I'd probably get it again if I went there. The crust wasn't the greatest thing, but it's manageable. If you've ever had pizza from Amigo in Abuja or Double4, you'll be very familiar with the crust. Tastes like pizza in Nigeria pre-Dominos. 

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FOLLY: Nosa ordered the pizza so I don't know how the menu described it but I I'd have preferred this without the large pepper slices and with just the shaki, which could have been way tenderer.

NOSA: For my first (we'll get to this in a second) main, I got the Pappardelle in red wine sauce and and parma ham. I got served this clumpy mess:

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If you've never had pappardelle pasta, it should look like this

I'm not referring to the color here, but take a look at this clumpy mess. 

FOLLY: Nosa made a video on snapchat. He actually couldn't get one independent "strip of pasta"

NOSA: Like everything is "stuck" together. I don't even know how to describe it. Think clumpy rice, but the pasta version. I called the waiter's attention to this little issue and dude says it's like that because it's homemade. This is like that time we went to Mama Ebo and some dude told us that we're aje butter for expecting non-clumpy rice at a buka. 

Anyway, shoutout to the waiter for being a good sport and changing out my order.

FOLLY: For my main, I had a Shrimp Risotto. I haven't had risotto that many times, in fact the first time I had it was earlier this month by Chef Imoteda. I had always imagined that risotto was just soggy rice, it's actually not because you use a special kind of rice and you add wine, stock, butter etc.

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NOSA: More fried rice than risotto if you ask me.

FOLLY: The risotto at Milano was a major disappointment because it wasn't soft enough, and it still had what you'd call a hard bite and I don't think that's how risotto is meant to be. There was also no moisture at all in my plate and it was completely dry which is another risotto no no.

NOSA: If they called this "Italian Fried Rice", might have changed the perception a bit. And it would have been in line with their "Italian meets Nigerian" whatever.

FOLLY: I thought the little shrimp pieces tossed throughout the risotto were a nice touch but overall, I didn't enjoy this dish the way it was made.

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NOSA: For my replacement main, I got the Penne Carbonara, which was pretty meh. It was infinitely better than my first main though. I'll give them that. A little heavy on the cream. 

Scratch that.

VERY heavy on the cream.

In all honesty, it wasn't very good. But if it's any consolation, it's better than the one I had at La Taverna.

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: The best thing about this meal was the 15% discount that we got at the end because we used a Diamond Bank card to pay.

NOSA: Shouts to Diamond Bank. That's why we bank with you. 

FOLLY: The waiter was also pretty good, his hovering didn't allow me take pictures comfortably though but at least we weren't abandoned on the restaurant floor which was good. Cocktails were too expensive so we drank water.

NOSA: Overall, I don't think Milano is for me. Some guy on Twitter says they're great so maybe this is an isolated incident, but as for me and my house, it's not for us. The pizza is pretty decent though.

VERDICT

DAMAGE

Shrimp Risotto - N5200

Penne Carbonara - N4500

Shaki Pizza - N3800

 

PARKING

It's the Intercontinental. OF COURSE there's parking