Posts tagged rsvp
Chef Kwame Onwuachi at RSVP

It's not every day that we get a proper famous chef in Lagos. The odds are even longer when said chef is cooking in a Lagos restaurant. But over the weekend, Top Chef alum, Kwame Onwuachi, took over the RSVP kitchen. 

A lot of people might not get the hype, but it's very rare to find a chef of color navigating elite culinary spaces. His first venture post Top Chef, the uber-expensive Shaw Bijou, got panned by DC restaurant critics unfortunately. 

Other taste memories — a sliver of beet-cured hamachi on avocado puree; honeynut squash veloute poured over Parmesan foam and pickled squash— resemble what a lot of other chefs are doing. While there’s nothing incorrect about either offering, there’s also not an ahhh moment as you eat them. Both courses are merely pleasant.
— Washington Post

The bad reviews came in fast and each one was more scathing than the previous. Sadly, Shaw Bijou closed down in less than three months. 

The warm host who sees you out will make it clear, as all her colleagues have, that they were very glad you came.

You might be, too—if you lower your expectations and hope for sparkle, not fireworks.
— Washingtonian

You can't hold a Nigerian man down though. He has since bounced back with his new spot, Kith/Kin in the InterContinental Hotel at The Wharf DC. We're definitely checking it out for #EatDrinkTravel later this year.

We slacked a bit on making reservations because, for some reason, because we thought we could get a walk-in table. Maybe we got a bit carried away, eh? Anyway, we called a couple favors and friend of the blog, Chef Imoteda, hooked us up. 

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A lot of people get hung up by the portion sizes on tasting menus but we don't know about you but if you're eating seven courses there's a limit to how much of everything you can eat so you don't tap out at 5. Further, the chef doesn't want to have you feeling so stuffed and uncomfortable that your experience of the later courses is marred. 

(Ed Note: A tasting menu is a collection of small portions of several dishes served by a restaurant as a single meal. It is not supposed to have "regular" sized portions by design)

The dining room was very dimly lit (ambiance lighting you know) so bear with us on the picture quality. 

On the food, the first two courses were definitely standouts. The lamb and the dessert were excellent as well, but the cucumber and brussels sprouts were just so good. Apparently, Kwame made the ricotta himself. The corn was our least favorite of the lot. It had too much cream and could have done with more garri.

A New Look Menu, but Same Old RSVP
 

FOLLY: Nosa is to RSVP as Lagos is to traffic.

NOSA: RSVP is my favorite restaurant in Lagos. Like, Backyard and these new ones are cool, but RSVP has a place in my heart.

FOLLY: Yeah, Nosa can die for RSVP.

NOSA: It’s not as bad as when they first opened, but that’s more to do with my bank account and not the food. I really love how committed the owners are committed to keeping things fresh.

FOLLY: His RSVP bat signals have been going off since earlier this year when they started reworking their menu.

NOSA: Garra.

FOLLY: You might not notice it immediately as you look though the menu because nothing about the design has changed to highlight these new items - I think they should put a “NEW” beside the items. At the same time, the pages actually don’t look at all like they were recently printed.

There are so many things I want to try and if I didn’t spend a mini fortune on a hammam scrub over the weekend, I definitely would have been back there within a week to try some more new items.

NOSA: We might have to dedicate like a week or something to reviewing it, but we aren’t done with the Bungalow menu so it might take a while.

FOLLY: We started with Pork Sliders and Lobster Rolls. One of my university friends was really into lobster rolls, and that was my first introduction into them as a concept. This was my first time ever trying it and to be completely honest I don’t get the hype.

 

NOSA: Lobster rolls are better in theory and on instagram than they are in practice.

FOLLY: It’s like potato salad (but lobster instead) on a roll. A bit boring if you ask me. Is there such a thing as cajun lobster roll cause that might be up my alley. The crips it came with, however, were crispy and delish. A dipping sauce would have been nice.

FOLLY: I enjoyed the pork sliders. Everything in it was soft - bread, pickled vegetables, pork - and so they all melded into each other as you ate it.

NOSA: Oh God, the bun was soooooo soft. Elite bun. Very elite bun. And pork is the most tender thing.

FOLLY:  For some people this may be a bad thing because there’s zero crunch in this sandwich and it could be confused for soggy. I liked it, you may not, this is just a warning if you don’t.

NOSA: Only philistines won’t like this and I care not for the opinions of philistines. You’re clearly not the target markets, razzos.

For our main, Folly and I split the Seafood Parpadelle. Parpadelle is a tricky thing from personal experience because it’s so easy to mess up. So so easy.

FOLLY: Pasta was really good. The different in fresh pasta and boxed pasta is night and day.

FOLLY: The sauce was a little flat but nothing black pepper couldn't fix. 

NOSA: Ours was perfectly al dente and they were very generous with the seafood. And yeah, it needs a little salt/black pepper for the typical Nigerian palate, if I’m being honest.

FOLLY: Dessert has never been RSVP’s strong point. It's not just them, this is where most Lagos restaurants in the "expensive price point" fall short in terms of delivering an overall experience. It appears that's now a thing of the past and RSVP has introduced a few new desserts and we tried one of them - The Smores

NOSA: RSVP dessert has always been a no-go, even I know that.

FOLLY: Smores have always fascinated me. Since being a pre-teen and watching American cartoons or tv shows about camping and grilling smores with sticks over an open fire. I was determined to try them once I broke free of these shores - I did :)

NOSA: I used to make smores on a gas cooker with my college roommates. Fun times.

FOLLY: This is so simple that I'm surprised Hans & Rene didn't already do something like this. All you need is good quality milk chocolate and you're set.

NOSA: You can probably make this at home, but that’s not the point. RSVP finally nailed dessert this time.

FOLLY: We didn't get any cocktails on this visit because we were kind of on a budget and we've had most of them already. I recommend the Pornstar Martini or Copa Del Lebanon

 

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: I just need more monies so I can try all the new starters.

NOSA: Maybe I’m biased because I like RSVP, but I don’t think RSVP ever lost a step. RSVP is still a top 5 restaurant in Lagos.  

VERDICT

 

DAMAGE

Smores - N3800

Pork Sliders - N6800

Lobster Roll - N5000

Seafood Parpadelle - N6800

 

PARKING

Exists. Not a lot, but on a normal day it suffices.

EDL Taste Test: Sriracha Prawn Skewers at RSVP

FOLLY: In case you were wondering (and I doubt you were), our last restaurant of 2016 was Toasties and our first restaurant of 2016 was RSVP on New Years Day. 

NOSA: First time we went to RSVP was on Christmas Day 2014, you know?

FOLLY: If I were a contestant on a game show, I could definitely recount the items on RSVP's menu with 90% accuracy. This is because we've been there so many times and tried most of the items on their menu, so whenever we go and see something new like the Sriracha Prawn Skewers, we're always very eager to try it out.

NOSA: RSVP has a couple new things on the menu and this one really caught my eye.

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FOLLY: Firstly, sriracha isn't very common in Lagos. This is both on the supermarket shelves or on restaurant menus, and that's another reason why this stood out to me. 

NOSA: I found it in in Rennie's one time. Had to buy it. A bit unrelated, but Sriracha + Honey Mustard is the perfect sandwich dressing.

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FOLLY: Also, relative to the other appetizers on the menu, the prawn skewers seemed quite affordable at N3800 for four skewers. 

NOSA: I'm surprised they didn't charge to the high heavens for this. Nobody does cheap seafood in Lagos

FOLLY: In three words, the sriracha prawn skewers were: sticky, sweet and spicy. More sweet than spicy, though so don't expect to experience all the heat of the sriracha sauce.

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NOSA: These are incredibly delicious and I'd pay a couple thousand more this as a main. Maybe with a side of fries or something.  

FOLLY: With pasta. The actual prawns were also still soft and tender and not overcooked and chewy, which was great. Overcooked seafood is something I absolutely hate about most Lagos restaurants.

NOSA: A lot of places never get seafood right and that's really no fault of theirs, for the most part. It must be difficult making shrimp without the overwhelming shrimp-y taste.  

FOLLY: Nah, it's their fault because it's not that hard. 

 

VERDICT

FOLLY: You have to try this. What I think will be fun would be for RSVP to make a main out of it, maybe a pasta dish, cause I was still craving more after it was done. 

NOSA: Like the Chicken Pops, these are an absolute win on the RSVP menu.  

Vote for Lagos' Restaurant of the Year 2016
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The year is running out so it's time to take stock and whatnot. 2016 was a pretty good year for restaurants in Lagos. We got a couple of exciting new additions to the scene. 

Here are the nominees:

 

1415

Consistent excellence. That's 1415 in a nutshell. If there ever was a manual on how to run a restaurant in Lagos, 1415 would author it. From the waiters to the quality of the food, they set the standard every Lagos restaurant aspires to. 

 

Craft Gourmet

They might have banned us from the premises, but Lou and Craft Gourmet have earned their spot among the nominees for Lagos' Restaurant of the Year.

 

Vellvett

Vellvett was pretty good last year, but this year, they got the revamp that finally put them up with Lagos' elite restaurants. The shrimp and lobster lasagne at Vellvett is still the most delicious thing we have tasted this year.

 

RSVP

The popularity might have waned a little but RSVP is still a very popular choice for dining out in Lagos. They also won our first ever Restaurant of the Year poll in 2015. 

 

That said, cast your vote on which restaurant should be crowned Lagos' Restaurant of the Year. If you think another restaurant is more deserving, let us know in the comments.