Posts tagged victoria island
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 

Sorry, La Veranda Does Not Make "Authentic Italian"
 

To start, populism and Twitter advice should have no place in the decision-making process for restaurant-goers because I’ve been led astray… again. Probably appeased by the pinkness of the Blowfish Hotel and the merry expats swimming downstairs in the background, people have labelled La Veranda as “one of the best Italian restaurants in Lagos” or “authentic Italian”, but my question to them is, what is the benchmark? 

La Veranda, Bruschetta Rustica

Also, after reading the original review on La Veranda from 2014, I was somewhat excited to visit Lagos-Italy but to my surprise, the mighty have fallen.

Anyway, on to my experience. Alex and I’s evening at La Veranda kicked off with some Bruschetta Rustica and red wine - a decent start to an underwhelming dinner.

For those that don’t know, ‘bruschetta’ actually refers to the crusty bread slice (ciabatta or baguette) and not the entire crusty bread topped with chopped tomatoes and basil, so don’t be surprised when you order bruschetta and what you’re served looks different. The Bruschetta Rustica was olive tapenade on a toasted baguette slice, and it was just… okay.

Besides the bread answering it’s father’s name and coming as it should have, the olive tapenade lacked personality, with no seeming uniqueness to the La Veranda chef - almost like it was just olive puree out of a tin, spread on bread, the same way a rookie would make it.

Trying to not be dampened by the starter, we went on to order our mains, Penne Al Pesto and the Tagliatelle All'Aragosta - the “Chef’s Special”. Before I go on, I’d like to mention that the whole point of visiting casual-fine dining restaurants and opposing the rice-at-home movement is for quality food, ambience and service; and by ‘quality food’, I mean both the presentation and taste of the food.

The chef might have gone a little overboard with the presentation on this because the pesto pasta dish looked Nigerian flag green… hulk green… like the pesto OD’d during photosynthesis green or something.

Just imagine the La Veranda chef as Professor when he was making Powerpuff Girls and then excess Chemical X (pesto in this case) pouring into the pot. But really, it was green green and food colouring was most likely used, which is an overkill since pesto is already green. There were some positives however; the pasta selection, Penne, and pasta texture were satisfactory… and that’s it with the positives.

All four prawns (which I had to order additionally, by the way, because the pasta doesn’t come with proteins) tasted bland, like they hadn’t been spiced or seasoned before being tossed in the pesto.

Pesto Pasta, La Veranda
Tagliatelle All'Aragosta, La Veranda

 Unfortunately, the chef may have lost steam as he was preparing his special, the Tagliatelle All'Aragosta. ‘Aragosta’ simply means lobster, so, what was ordered was a lobster pasta, with the chef’s twist being a tomato base with garlic and mushrooms, topped with parmesan cheese. The photo speaks for itself and addresses all comments on presentation - the dish looked like some faux-Italian concoction I’d whip up at home.

Still on presentation, there’s a trend I’ve noticed with restaurants that serve ornamental lobster claws, heads or tails with their seafood pasta dishes - the dishes are ALWAYS underwhelming. Moving on to how it tasted, the salt was quite overbearing to all other spices but the garlic helped a bit.

Mmm, I love garlic.

Overall, the special was in fact, not special.


POSTSCRIPT

I really shouldn’t be feeling like I can go head-to-head with a whole restaurant’s chef after I order his “Special”, because there really is a kitchen at home with pasta and rice and everything (almost) I need to make these dishes.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Bruschetta Rustica - N3500

Penne Al Pesto - N6000 (+N3900 for prawns) 

Tagliatelle All’Aragosta - N13500

 

PARKING

Decent

12 cars inside and a whole not-so-busy street to park on outside 

Hard Rock Cafe: Snatching the "Meh" from the Jaws of "Good"
 

Feeling compassionate on election weekend (thanks to the free roads), I decided to visit Hard Rock Café, the American neighbours of our Oriental friends, Shiro, and it was quite the experience.

Read the original review HERE

Anyway, straight to the food…

Hickory-Smoked Ribs from  Hard Rock Cafe

Hickory-Smoked Ribs from Hard Rock Cafe

My first order was the half rack of Hickory-Smoked Ribs which came with a side of mashed potatoes, cowboy beans and coleslaw – HRC really took me for a ride with this one.

Before even touching the ribs, I started off upset about not being given a steak knife, then excited after realising that the ribs fell off the bone, AND THEN back to being upset when I was halfway through the rack and the midsection couldn’t be tackled with the blunt table knife. I mean, the ribs were well-seasoned and tender on the edges so if they had just been consistent then they would have been IT for me.

The mashed potatoes were nice and smooth but not as creamy as I’d have liked. The better restaurants in Lagos have spoilt me, to be honest, so I can’t settle anymore. Also, with the recent uproar about cowmilk, I know I shouldn’t be asking for creamy mash but bruhhh, I don’t think I’m ready to replace cowmilk with almond milk in mashed potatoes just yet.

Can’t click.

I didn’t try the coleslaw, but the cowboy beans were also decent, and the chef was kind enough to share the recipe – not sure if I’m allowed to disclose so maybe you should visit and try it for yourself?

Question: How do you eat your ribs/chicken/steak and mashed potatoes?

  1. Scoop mash then pierce into a piece of the ribs/chicken/steak

  2. Place mash in mouth then quickly add ribs/chicken/steak to mouth before swallowing

  3. Eat ALL the mash then focus on the ribs/chicken/steak at the end

(If ‘3’, you’re probably from SW Nigeria.)

Moving on, the second meal I ordered was the Blackened Chicken Sandwich which came with French fries… cold French fries.

Blackened Chicken Sandwich from  Hard Rock Cafe

Blackened Chicken Sandwich from Hard Rock Cafe

Besides the bread being a lot to deal with and the fries being cold, the chicken breast and the overall composition of the burger were lovely! The spicy chicken breast is topped with red remoulade and mango salsa, giving it a sweet-spicy taste. Overall, like pineapple on pizza, I imagine people will either love or hate this burger, thanks to the mango salsa.

Hot+Fudge+Brownie

Side Note: I guess tattered menus are like battle scars for the wars you’ve faced with your many customers, but please restaurants, do better. (Also, blame HRC for the poor brownie shot because their margarita glass seemed like it had be cleaned with sandpaper or something.)

Final order of the day was the Hot Fudge Brownie - a brownie crowned with a scoop of ice cream topped with chocolate syrup, walnuts and whipped cream. Quite a lot for someone that had just rammed through two meals, I know, but there was still space, so I had to fill it.

I was quite impressed by the richness of the brownie and quality of ice cream in this dessert. Restaurants with stellar mains often relax when it comes to desserts and serve you scoops of Fan ice in their sundaes, but HRC didn’t. Imagine a brownie piece cut out from the middle of the tray with no crusty edges – that was the HRC brownie. Overall, impressive.


POSTSCRIPT

…. quite the rollercoaster with the ribs and the cold fries but I’d definitely return for the chicken sandwich and the cowboy beans!

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

 Half Rack Hickory-Smoked Ribs - N6500

Blackened Chicken Sandwich - N5000

Hot Fudge Brownie - N4600

 

PARKING

Ample parking space - Over 100 cars 

The Metaphor Looks Better Than it Tastes
 

NOSA: The first thing you notice as soon as you walk into The Metaphor is the space (Well, duh). It’s literally someone’s house that has been refurbished into a restaurant. It doesn’t totally do away with the house-y elements, however. The furniture, for starters, makes you feel like you went to visit an aunt somewhere in Lagos. I wonder what the story with the space is. Did the owners move to Banana Island or Lekki? Or maybe Canada?

FOLLY: Nah, you can’t tell me some people still don’t live in that house. I kept seeing a guy with EarPods walk in and out of the rooms. I think renting it out to other people would have been more profitable than the restaurant business (especially because based on my experience they aren’t very good at it)

NOSA: I guess the neighbourhood has gone beyond residential so this makes sense in some way. And they’ve really done a good job with the space. It really does feel like a home-turned-restaurant and I mean that in a very good way.

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FOLLY: Good job with the space, but horrible at the food and experience.

NOSA: Yeah, that’s where all the good things about The Metaphor end, unfortunately. That home-turned-restaurant thing takes a terrible turn in the kitchen. They probably kept the cook from the previous residents and it shows. Ok, I don’t mean that literally but yeah, the food sucks. They definitely need all sorts of help in the kitchen.

FOLLY: And also in the service department, the waiters and waitresses are clueless.

NOSA: The food took forever. We stopped by just before “COB” and it turned dark before our first item came out. My main never even came out and the waitress told us it was “almost done” on our way out. For reference, I ordered a pasta and not some slow cooked goat tongue.

FOLLY: I should also add that the first couple of items Nosa ordered weren’t available.

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NOSA: We probably could’ve stayed thirty more minutes without my main coming out. Folly’s did, thankfully. It wasn’t any good, but it came out so I guess I should be grateful for the little things.

The Loaded Fries were loaded… with onions.

FOLLY: Raw onions…

NOSA: It definitely could’ve been cheesier and a little less dry. It’s like the omelette the cook in your house makes, but sub the eggs for fries. The less said about it, the better.

FOLLY: I also think using rolled smoked ham in their loaded fries wasn’t the best idea.

NOSA: The less said about the “Penne Pesto”, the better too. But if we don’t say anything, we don’t really have content. So we’ll just have to trudge through it.

FOLLY: There was nothing pesto about this pesto. Like absolutely nothing, okay they shredded some basil in there.

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NOSA: Last week, I put some peppers, onions and tomatoes in my pesto as some part of some weird experiment. Turned out disastrous, but I learned my lesson. The “Chef” at The Metaphor surely didn’t learn that lesson because he did the same exact thing and produced the same useless result. This is like the pasta your cook makes at home and when you’re not paying, you don’t complain much. It’s edible after all. When you’re paying for it, however, you tend to judge it with a different lens.

FOLLY: I mean some could argue that they attempted to combine a red pesto and a green pesto to make a Metaphor Pesto but I know for a fact that’s not what they were thinking, and they didn’t even have the right elements of either.

NOSA: Maybe they were going for a spicy pesto, but HSE does something similar and the pesto isn’t lost in the process. We couldn’t taste any pesto in The Metaphor’s version. Oh, and the pasta was slightly overcooked too. Pasta should be easiest thing that restaurant makes so I don’t get how they mess it up all the time.


POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY:  It feels rushed giving them a review off two items but honestly I don’t think they’d do much better even if we ordered five times.

NOSA: I’m sure the Jollof is good, but I’d complain about paying 5k for jollof. Then again, I paid 2.5k for Ewa Agoyin so maybe I’m not the one to be saying this. That said, you can spend the same amount of money at BL or South, on the same street, and get more value. The Metaphor is a complete bust.

VERDICT

Hate.jpeg

DAMAGE

 Loaded Fried - N4000

Pesto Pasta - N6000

 

PARKING

On street parking mostly, wouldn’t be enough on a busy night.