Posts tagged victoria island
Cactus Updated Their Menu (Again)
 
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FOLLY: Cactus is not a new restaurant and so, this is a mini-review of a few items on their most recent menu update. It isn’t a major departure from the menu they relaunched with last year, but it’s important to note that this is actually the third menu the team is releasing since they re-opened in late 2018.

For example, the second menu they released earlier this year removed the Tortellini Truffle Bake that we had in this review, however, it's back in this menu.

NOSA: A decision I strongly disagreed with. I’m glad sense finally prevailed.

FOLLY: Overall, each section of the menu has a maximum of one or two new introductions which are clearly marked. We started with the Summer Rolls. We chose this for two reasons:

  • Being price sensitive

  • Our main courses were carb-laden so we decided to balance it out with veggies to start.

NOSA: Yeah, this one wasn’t for me and I knew it.

FOLLY: Nosa struggled greatly because he really wished there was salmon in the Summer Rolls. If someone at Cactus reads this it just may happen on the 4th menu iteration, Nosa.

NOSA: They really need to look into it. Those sushi rolls with mango and avocado have already laid the template for the taste profile. it’s all easy work from here.

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I hardly eat cold food that I need to chew because I have very sensitive teeth. This was the reason why I was so upset at my first visit to Salma’s. We ordered a fish dish that I didn’t expect to be cold, so when I put it in my mouth, I nearly lost my mind from the pain and discomfort.

As you’ve probably deduced, the summer rolls were a lot colder than I was comfortable eating.

NOSA: Maybe it’s cold because the summer is hot. You get?

FOLLY: I needed to deconstruct them into smaller pieces so they didn’t hurt my teeth. I really am an old lady. I use Sensodyne and drink with a straw; I’ll see my dentist soon and find out if there’s more I can do.

FOLLY: On arrival of the plate of Summer Rolls, I was disappointed in the presentation because the menu showed the summer rolls vertically on a round plate.

NOSA: Yeah, it looked like it was put together hastily. The chef, or whoever, didn’t seem to care about the instagram picture I wanted to take. I mean, it’s bad enough that I had to settle for the vegetarian option.

FOLLY: Secondly, the person that wrapped the summer rolls just folded them in a heap. Very minimal effort as you can see from the images. The mangos were noticeably absent but otherwise, I appreciated the freshness of all the other vegetables. I felt like I did a good deed to my body in anticipation of the dairy and pasta I was about to consume.

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FOLLY: Moving on to the mains. The Mac & Beef was the most Instagrammable thing on the menu so we ordered it.

NOSA: It's almost like they picked it out of a manual to going viral as a restaurant. Very savvy marketing driven approach lol.

FOLLY: For our second main course, the choice was much harder. However, we were certainly not getting a N7200 pizza so once we narrowed down to the Chicken Milestone or the Alfredo Pizza, the choice was much easier.

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FOLLY: At this point, I must digress and state categorically that Cactus pizza prices are absolutely RIDICULOUS. La Taverna, PizzaRiah, La Veranda all have their pizza sub N5000 so Cactus is really here WILDIN out. 

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NOSA: I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but the burger isn't as messy as it looks. The mac is not really "inside". It’s a burger with Mac & Cheese on the side and not a Mac & Cheese burger. Made it very functional and easy to eat.

FOLLY: The Mac & Cheese was good. It’s not a Gourmet Mac & Cheese so it didn’t have all the fixings: blend of cheese, crunchy breadcrumbs on the top with a gooey core, and so on. It had was an epic cheese pull that I wish we caught on Boomerang. 

NOSA: Yeah, it’s not some fancy “five cheese” Mac & Cheese, but it gets the job done. The whole thing is very very filling. It’s a proper carb overload.

FOLLY: The burger surprised me because it was a lot more deliberate than I had imagined and not just about the 'gram.

NOSA: That’s the most surprising part of it all. If they messed up the burger, I probably would’ve let them get away with it. But as a standalone, the burger holds up pretty well.

FOLLY: The top and bottom buns of the burger were slathered in a sweet and salty barbecue sauce (let’s call it swalty), the patty was moist, and the amount of Mac & Cheese that was in the burger was just enough for the burger to remain functional. The simplicity also made it just perfect cause anything else (lettuce, tomato, cheese, etc.) in there would have been overkill.

The Chicken Milestone was not IT for us. 

NOSA: The less said about it, the better. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s going to happen here.

FOLLY: The pasta side was very very bland. It desperately needed salt and pepper. I honestly think they simply forgot to salt it. It went from a 3/10 to a 6/10 once we added salt and pepper.

NOSA: The Chicken Milestone is pretty much a chicken parm for intents and purposes. Here’s how they describe it in the menu:

Fried breaded chicken breast topped with tomato spicy sauce and mozzarella cheese. Served with a side of Alfredo pasta.

Sounds like chicken parm to me.

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FOLLY: The chicken itself was not any better. The spicy chilli tomato sauce tastes exactly like Classico Marinara sauce. I’m talking down to the down to bruised and soggy tomato chunks and the wilting herbs. Don’t take my word for it though, maybe Cactus did make their own and were going for that artificially sweet taste.

NOSA: The tomato sauce tasted very artificial and I refuse to believe it didn’t come out of a jar they bought on a Sunday at Deli’s. The Alfredo needed salt as well, but I guess they leave it up to you to decide how much hypertension you want.

FOLLY: They have three new desserts on their menu that I really wanted to try but I didn’t want to eat any more food. I’m sorry I let y'all down but a big thing about this blog is trying things that we actually want to eat and not just for the sake of it.

From my undocumented experience, Cactus is strong on desserts and sweet treats as I often pop in for just that. I can’t speak for gelato/ice cream, but a few readers felt Cactus was missing in Tobi’s piece here on the best vanilla ice cream in Lagos so that must count for something. 


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: It’s still a pretty safe pick for dining out in Lagos.

FOLLY: Honestly speaking, the menu updates are minimal. Cactus is still a Lagos darling and is perfect for families

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Summer Rolls - N3500

Mac & Beef Burger - N7200

Chicken Milestone - N6200

 

PARKING

Parking spaces are readily available and are adequate for the restaurant’s traffic.

Fusion Sushi: Pricey But Just Okay
 

For a real sushi lover, the selections in Lagos are a nightmare. We are all settling for bang-average sushi and just because Izanagi, Fusion and the others misbehave with their pricing, we think we're getting quality. The truth is that your palate is now used to cheap sushi. Life.

Anyway, not everyday tight-fist and ranting about prices, some days spend money.

Before I go on about the sushi, I think it’s a little wild how Lagoon got away with blending a churrascaria and a sushi bar in one place. Imagine eating sushi on the same table as someone getting unlimited meat. How. Does. That. Even. Work?

Moving on…

In an attempt to keep to budget and live life at the same time, I ordered the Fuji sushi platter which came with the Crazy Crispy, Crispy Spicy Shrimp, Salmon Maki, Crab Maki, Salmon Sushi, Shrimp Sushi and Avocado Sushi - 18 pieces in total.

Why a platter?

It costs a little more to order these individually.

Also, pardon my guilty conscience but don’t judge me for eating 18 pieces of sushi because if we were to open up all the sushi into a plate, it probably wouldn’t be as much a standard serving of rice. 18 isn’t so much.

Fuji Sushi Platter

When the platter arrived, I realized I had made a mistake. I had ordered a mix that lacked sophistication and imagination. Basically, the sushi in the platter seemed like what a learner would order. It's me, I am the learner.… but I chowed everything regardless.

In the platter, the most memorable were the Crispy Spicy Shrimp (maki), Crazy Crispy (maki), Salmon Sushi (nigiri) and Avocado Sushi (nigiri).

The closest to sophisticated were the Crazy Crispy and Crazy Spicy Shrimp which had the shrimp strips on top the roll. As Nosa would say, both held their ‘structural integrity’ and seemed to be the tastiest rolls.

The salmon nigiri was so fresh that if it had arrived a few minutes earlier, I’d have had a conversation with the salmon. Loved it.

 
Crazy Crispy
 

The avocado sushi was the most peculiar of the day because it was just a piece of avocado and rice. Avocado is cool but I never imagined ‘avocado sushi’ would come with just avocado and rice. Also, does avocado count as... nigiri?

Millennials might need to weigh in here.

Anyway, I sprinkled a little salt on the avocado (because salt and avocado bangs), dipped the sushi in soy sauce and it didn’t taste as basic as I expected it to, which was good.

Overall, sure, my selection of sushi was a bit meh but the spread still tasted a level higher than Sushiholic, but many levels less than Izanagi.

My recommendation is that if you have a sizeable budget you should go to Izanagi; and if your pocket ain’t it, Sushiholic suffices.


POSTSCRIPT

FOLARIN: Really need to get my money up so I can fly out for sushi like some do for ice cream tbh. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

 Fuji Sushi Platter - N13950

 

PARKING

Lagoon is a compound with like 100 restaurants. Parking full ground. 

The Long Bar: Revisited After a Long Time Away
 

NOSA: On the drive to The Long Bar this weekend, I realized I haven't been to the place in over three years. For a place I quite enjoyed, if my memory serves me right, it feels a bit odd.

FOLLY: You actually got your classmates to meet up there for a reunion of sorts. LOL.

NOSA: I just forgot all about it for some reason. It only came to mind when we tried to kill time by driving around VI until 100 Hours opened up.

FOLLY: I really needed that Amala.

NOSA: The menu at Long Bar doesn't look like much has changed since I was last here.

FOLLY: They printed new menus with far fewer typos.

NOSA: The sections remain the same. For reasons best left unsaid, The Long Bar is quite popular with expats in Lagos. It appears Nigerians have gotten hip to it because there's a whole "African" section of the menu. You can't hide near pump price beer for too long.

FOLLY: I can imagine Nigerian men post work sweeping their ties behind their neck while going in for pounded yam and egusi with a mortuary standard beer in tow.

NOSA: Visually, there have also been some changes at The Long Bar too. The outdoor area has been completely redone and another bar added. The space is nowhere near as dingy as it once used to be.

FOLLY: The inside, where we sat, is still moderately lit, has booth like seating, and is mildly choking from all the cigarette smoke. The English Breakfast is more expensive than at Churchill’s Pub so I ordered it so I could compare the two.

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In summary, Churchill’s is better. I didn’t appreciate the eggs being put a mold - that just didn’t work for me visually.

I don’t take kindly to canned mushrooms and don’t know why I got chicken sausages but Nosa got beef/pork. I guess I should be glad I didn’t get franks right? The best thing on this plate were those hand-cut fries and it doesn’t even technically belong on an English Breakfast plate! They probably know this but just want to give you something that you’ll like, last last.

NOSA: I ordered the Mixed Grill as my main because at N6000 it looked too good to pass up.

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It was a combination of the most random assortment of meats is a skillet. Pork chops, chicken wings, sausages, some fried pork, and some baked beans in the middle. Oh, you get a side of hand cut fries as well. It sounds all over the place but it looks excellent when it's served and it comes together on the plate. Definitely one for the carnivore in you.

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NOSA: The meats weren't as tender as I expected. Not "tough" per se, but they stayed on the grill for a bit too long if you ask me.

FOLLY: The barbecue sauce on the chops had dried out that’s how long it stayed on.

NOSA: Part of me feels I got profiled and it was made this way because this might be how the Nigerian patrons like it, but I'll try not to overthink it. For the money, it definitely worth it


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I definitely want to go back again this weekend. I hear the chicken tikka and the naan is wonderful. Plus, word on the street that you can get apple pie off menu.

FOLLY: Eh, sounds like that will be a solo adventure. It was okay but not that good.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

 English Breakfast - N4000

Mixed Grill - N6000

 

PARKING

Eh. It’s street parking.  

More Chicken & Waffle Experiments at Craft Gourmet
 

Christina and I visited Craft Gourmet for a food and drink review so you should check out Christina’s piece for the full experience because it was pretty… interesting.

[Ed Note: Christina’s review for Drink Lagos should be up on Thursday]

We ordered three meals but got four - Chicken and Waffle Sandwich, Chicken Pesto Pasta, Dulce de Leche Pancakes and lastly, a bowl of Horrible Hospitality.

Just another Lagos brunch, I guess.

[Ed Note: Following Folarin’s review, I (read: Nosa) visited Craft Gourmet to check things for myself]

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The Chicken and Waffle Sandwich comes with chicken, bacon, mashed avocado and jalapeno peppers. Oh, and the Craft Gourmet toothpick flag to hold it together and reassure you that it’s not just any sandwich, but a Craft Gourmet sandwich that you’re eating.

As the waiter walked up to our table and I prayed against it being my order, all I could think of are those “What You Ordered VS What You Got” tweets we see after people have given their Ojuelegba tailors photos of world-class designs and asked them to replicate. For some odd reason, I still decided to give the meal the benefit of the doubt, thinking, “maybe it’s just how it looks. It probably tastes nice.”, but boy, was I wrong.

The waffles and all of its contents felt like someone ordered it earlier but cancelled, so they put it away and microwaved it when I placed my order. I’m actually 94.7% sure this was the case because the chicken fillets were just-been-microwaved kind of hot.

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The waffles were really hard, the avocado spread seemed to have dried up and the bacon was so hard that when I tapped it with my knife, it made a clanking sound like I was striking another metal.

Ok, maybe a minor exaggeration on the bacon. It was really tough, however.

My experience was a bit different. Waffle and the chicken tasted fresh, but the bacon was a little on the tough side like Folarin’s order. Also, very salty.

The problem with the Chicken & Waffle sandwich is that it just feels like a lot is going on. It works really well in some bites, if you catch the chilli jam, but not so much in other parts. The sandwich just doesn’t work. It doesn’t feel very practical. The elements are great individually, but fall apart as a whole
— Nosa

Not the best start to our brunch.

After trying the pesto at Casper & Gambini’s, La Veranda and Maison Kayser, I felt like we had to try Craft’s take with their Chicken Pesto Pasta. I ordered some extra bacon for good measure. The texture on the penne was the right shade of al dente - not too soft or hard. Thankfully, it didn’t have the green colouring like the one at La Veranda.

The dish was well spiced and not too creamy, generous with the proteins and tasted even nicer after we sprinkled the grated cheese we had neglected on it. Like the chicken and waffle sandwich, the bacon seemed a bit tough. Unlike the sandwich, I didn’t particularly mind it.

Chicken Pesto Pasta at Craft Gourmet

Overall, the chicken pesto pasta was decent but it’s not dislodging Casper & Gambini’s in my head.

I really liked the pasta, especially with the cheese, but I can’t rate how well it fares against other pesto pastas in this Lagos.
— Christina

The third thing we ordered were the Dulce de Leche Pancakes off the breakfast menu. I also finally decided to search on Google for the pronunciation of ‘Dulce de Leche’ and I’m lowkey upset none of my attempts were right.

  • Dool-theh theh Leh-tcheh (Actual Spanish pronunciation)

  • Dool-seh theh Leh-tcheh (Actual South American pronunciation)

  • Dool-cheh de Lee-chy (Folarin’s Attempt 1)

  • Dool-ch de Leh-ch (Folarin’s Attempt 2)

Anyhow, something the something pancakes.

The Dulce de Leche pancakes came with caramelised milk, almond crumbs, banana slices and a chopped up strawberry. Bonus points for the lovely presentation.

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The pancake’s texture was just right and the fruits and nuts went well together with the Dulce de Leche. While this was nice, it didn’t feel like something that should be on the breakfast menu. It felt way more like a dessert than breakfast. I tried getting Christina to try it but she wasn’t interested because of the sugar content.

At the end of our brunch, we received some particularly unpleasant service from our waiter and the manager - Lucky and Brett.

When the bill arrived, we asked to split the bill with food on one bill and drinks on the other, since Christina was handling DrinkLagos and I, the food review, but the waiter and manager made it out to be such a complex request to them. After numerous reasons why they can’t split the bill and how we should have asked for a split bill before ordering, the manager walked out on us while we were speaking to him.

A very unfortunate incident and to have come from the manager, that was particularly disappointing.


POSTSCRIPT

FOLARIN: Overall, the food at Craft Gourmet is decent enough. Maybe not enough to mask the service Brett rendered though.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Chicken and Waffles Sandwich - N4500

Chicken Pesto Pasta - N6000 (+N500 for bacon)

Dulce de Leche Pancakes - N4000 

 

PARKING

~100 cars in the Mega Plaza multiplex carpark

Arabesque Gets a Pass Mark
 

It has been three years since Nosa and Folly gifted Arabesque with the Larry David smile (read the original piece HERE), so I decided to visit and stuff my face over the weekend. Being the nuisance that I am and excited by their decent pricing, I ordered something off almost every page on the menu. In retrospect, I clearly underestimated Folly’s comment on how the table was always full when they were there.

So, on to it! I didn’t get to experience the complimentary platter and coal contraption Nosa and Folly had so I dove straight in with the Hoummos Shawarma - which I loved!

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Fun fact: The “Shawarma” in the dish’s name referred to the chicken strips that sat pretty in the hummus, and shawarma generally refers to kebab meats, not the full wraps we call shawarma.

As a big fan of chickpeas (especially in Chickpea Moi Deaux, or ‘Moi Moi’ as you people call it) and sesame seeds (which are ground to make the tahini in hummus), I’m usually so distracted by the hummus taste that I disregard all other details but not this time! The texture and consistency were just right, and it all went really well with the chicken strips.

I know hummus feels like one of those dishes you can’t really screw up or critique (like mashed potatoes or boiled yam) but the Arabesque Hoummos Shawarma is decent.

Side note: I went back during the week with Christina but the hummus had tribal marks and the chicken strips were tinier. Consistency, where are you?

Calamari Makleh

Calamari Makleh

Batata Harra

Batata Harra

The next two things I ordered were the Calamari Mekleh and Batata Harra. I really say the ‘Mekleh’ like there’s phlegm in my mouth, for some odd reason

I’m sorry

Anyway, quite the “na me f* up” moment after tasting the calamari, because I think I might be the only person in the history of restaurant-goers that has ever ordered calamari at a Middle Eastern restaurant. The Shish Taouks, the Shawarmas, the Manakeeshes and more of the top Middle Eastern dishes are all made from beef or chicken, so why did I order seafood?

I don’t know.

The calamari rings were a bit tough and bland, and the batter wasn’t the best – but that might just be the M-E way, I guess.

Moving on. After many “sorry sir, we don’t have that right now” comments by the waiter when we requested for fries, the Batata Harra potatoes were served and were really good. Spiced with coriander and garlic (but not the chilli the menu promised), these lightly fried diced potatoes were… it. Loved that they weren’t oily or too hard. Good stuff.

Meshwe Samak at Arabesque

The fourth and fifth orders that came were the Meshwe Samak and Mixed Grill. The Meshwe Samak was a grilled fillet of sea bass marinated in herbs, garlic and olive oil. The fish was moist (I hate this word), well grilled, seasoned beyond the outer layer and, wait for it, WASN’T TOO SPICY. Thank God! I’m yet to taste the pepper fish at Farm City, which everyone raves about as “Lagos’ best”, but I believe this makes a good substitute for us that aren’t fans of overly spicy food.

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The last serving of the evening but not the least, was the infamous Mixed Grill – no sophisticated Middle Eastern name for it... just ‘Mixed Grill’. Shame.

Well, the presentation for this has changed since Nosa and Folly’s review, but guess what Arabesque has kept consistent – the blandness! My fave of the three kebabs was the shish taouk (chicken) because it seemed to be the only one that had a hint of seasoning.

A Wonder Woman-like ending to a nice evening… sigh.


POSTSCRIPT

Overall, I wasn’t blown away or disappointed; I quite enjoyed the experience, ate a lot, didn’t feel like I gained much weight because everything seemed pretty healthy-ish and I’ll definitely visit again… with my own spices.

Also, three out of five dishes were decent so that’s like 60% - I guess they passed the pass mark.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Hoummos Shawarma - 3300

Calamari Mekleh - 2900

Batata Harra - 2300

Meshwe Samak - 5800

Mixed Grill - 5800 

 

PARKING

Decent parking on the road outside.

8 - 12 cars