Posts tagged lasagne
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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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 

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.

Coconut Crusted prawn

Coconut Crusted prawn

Coconut crusted prawns with a mango aioli . #safilagos #safi #seafood #lunch

A post shared by SAFI LAGOS (@safilagos) on

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

POSTSCRIPT

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. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Plantain Lasagne - N3000

Coconut Shrimp - N3500

Cajun Shrimp Mac & Cheese - N3200

Bourbon Honey Glazed Ribs - N3800

 

PARKING

Narrow and a tight squeeze.

We Visited Vellvett Again

Vellvett Lounge & Bar

19B Idejo St. Victoria Island, Lagos

0706 633 333301 792 7922


NOSA: It’s been a while since we originally reviewed Vellvett and had our Lunch Club here. In that time, a whole lot has changed. The Indian portion of the menu is out and the Lebanese offerings have trimmed a little. In, comes a selection of pastas (note this, for later), sandwiches, and burgers. For lack of a better term, the menu has been “Westernized” a bit. 

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NOSA: To start, we got the Arayes. I was bit disappointed with this. The one at Arabesque has set the bar so high and anything that beneath that isn’t good enough. 

FOLLY: Smelt funny, tasted funny. I did NOT like. 

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FOLLY: For my main, I had the Philadelphia Steak Wrap

The description said it'll be beef steak, mushroom, peppers and a special sauce. It didn't have cheese so I went for it. 

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NOSA:  ... and I got the Lobster and Shrimp Lasagne. Is it "Lasagne" or "Lasagna"? This thing confuses me so much.

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FOLLY: My main arrived and it had cheese in it. I contemplated sending it back but at this point I was very hungry (Nosa's fault cause his main had a 45 minute wait time). I decided to eat it cause cheese won't kill me but hunger could. 

NOSA: Abeg, don't blame me for your error.

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FOLLY: The wrap was very delicious. I don't have many words to describe it because it was pretty much perfect and there's nothing I would change about it - even the cheese. I love mushrooms and anything with them in it is perfect to me. 

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FOLLY: Same goes for the coleslaw which was a welcome surprise because I didn't know I would be getting any. The vegetables were crunchy and it didn't have too much "salad cream". 

NOSA: Now that I think about it, I really like their fries. 

FOLLY: The fries at the top of the basket were soggy and lacked salt, but the ones at the bottom were crispy and well salted. It was funny cause the fries improved in quality towards the end of the meal. 

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NOSA: Remember what I said about noting the pasta? 

I’m going to go on record here and say this is probably the best thing you’ll eat in Lagos this year. You guys will obviously go out of your way to prove me wrong. Like you did with the Chicken Logs at RSVP and the Truffle Mac n’ Cheese at Insignia. But trust me this one time, guys. I actually went with my coworkers to Vellvett the next day just so they could try it too. And yes, they do. 

FOLLY: I can't believe my inefficient digestive system is going to stand in the way of me enjoying this one

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NOSA: They weren’t stingy with the shrimp at all. Like, it was A LOT. Let me get my Food Network on, the lasagne is decadent. Shout out to Marcus Samuelsson and the gang. 

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: Truth be told I didn't want to go to Vellvett. Nosa said they had updated their menu but I really thought to myself  "who cares", it'll probably be meh and expensive. It was expensive but not meh at all, absolutely loved it.

NOSA: Vellvett has improved by miles since our last visit. Mainly because of the variety. Look, the entire Blowfish business is solid. From Izanagi to Vellvett to Verandah. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Arayes - N2700

Philadelphia Steak Wrap - N4700

Lobster & Shrimp Lasagne - N7000

 

PARKING

They only have like 4 spots and there are 2 restaurants in there. So yeah, parking isn't the best