Posts tagged yam
Zolene Straddles the Fine Line Between Experimental and Safe
 

NOSA: Restaurants in Lagos have very similar approaches to pre-opening marketing. A lot of the time, they pay some agency to invite influencers for a tasting and basically run blitzkrieg social media campaign. The agencies that really want to waste money will get some print mentions.  More often than not, this is always a waste of money. The more successful restaurant openings in Lagos have skipped the marketing agency and done it themselves. Post a couple cryptic Instagram posts here and there. Basically build on that “if you know, you know” vibe. The exclusivity of the opening is the big draw.  

FOLLY: I have no idea where Nosa is going with this. 

NOSA: Before I lose track of why I went on this wild tangent, let me bring it back home. I found out about Zolene from a series of guest posts the owner had been putting out on Bella Naija. She talks about the challenges of starting up and managing restaurant in Nigeria. It’s a pretty interesting perspective, but more importantly, it’s endearing. She’s shared so much that you feel her restaurant is yours too.

FOLLY: I bet you Nosa feels like he is a part owner in Zolene now cause of a couple blog posts. On this particular day, we landed in Zolene cause Nosa was trying to take me to some 2 x 4 restaurant in VI and your girl wasn't having it. I had seen pictures of Zolene on Instagram and they looked pretty solid so I wanted us to go somewhere that wasn't too much off a toss up. 

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NOSA: Zolene isn’t the easiest spot to find in Ikoyi. In fact, it feels like you’re not expected to find it from the way it’s tucked in the middle of residential Ikoyi.

FOLLY: Well, actually It was pretty easy for me to find.

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I put Zolene and Google Maps led me right the front gate and even wished me Bon Appetit when I tapped done. The security man was struggling so getting into the compound took a minute but bless his heart. The only waiter too, seemed to be easing into his job and was playing both waiter and bartender. Again, bless his heart because he struggled so confidently. 

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NOSA: Zolene is typical Nigerian fare. Think Yellow Chili or Jevenik.

FOLLY: I disagree. It's not typical Nigerian food. It's modern Nigerian food with the classics intermixed.

NOSA: It really isn't that modern. A lot of it actually reminded me of Ethnique and with Nigerian fare, the menu is accessible

FOLLY: Now, that's a fair comparison. 

NOSA: Beyond the croquettes, nothing feels too out there. A little part of me expected more ambition with the menu, but I guess the chef was playing it safe.

To start, we ordered the Yam Croquettes, Plantain Croquettes, and the Bruschetta with Zolene Salsa.

FOLLY: The execution of the croquettes and presentation was solid. Preparation technique wise this was a solid A+.

NOSA: I wasn’t the biggest fan of the yam croquettes. Felt a bit “too much”. I understand yam doesn’t really have a dominant flavor so there are lots of you can do with it, but I think Zolene missed the mark here.

Fish? Nah, mate.

FOLLY: Now, the menu just said the yam croquettes were yam croquettes. It didn't mention the fish, onions and a couple other fillings which we found inside the yam. In my opinion, pure unadulterated pounded yam would have worked much better in this.

Yam Croquette

Yam Croquette

Plantain Croquette

Plantain Croquette

NOSA: Pounded yam or yam mash? Pounded yam is way too fine.

FOLLY: This was confusing because it's pounded yam but with the distractions usually associated with moin-moin. 

NOSA: The plantain was my favorite of the pair. A breaded plantain mash - simple and straight to the point. This might be the only time in recorded history that you'll ever find me preferring plantain to yam. I've disappointed my Bini brethren, but I'm sure they'll understand.

FOLLY: Ripe plantain mash >>> The sweetness contrasted with the spicy sauce that this was served with was just pure magic.  

Bruschetta & Zolene Salsa

Bruschetta & Zolene Salsa

NOSA: The bruschetta, I expected to be some hot garbage. It took eons to get served so I completely expected some rubbish to come out of that kitchen.

Turns out, they have the hands with the bruschetta. QUELLE SURPRISE!

FOLLY: When it eventually came, it looked underwhelmed so I was thinking of passing on it. Then I tasted one and as Nosa said, quelle surprise! Sure, the bread was a bit stale but the salsa was the one. It was a bit heavy on the onions but I am not complaining.

NOSA: The Zolene salsa would work so well with tortilla chips on a chips n' dip ting.

FOLLY: My main which was a Farmer's Pottage arrived at least 15 minutes before Nosa's did. I wasn't expecting the big dried fish on the side I expected it to be broken and cooked into the pottage. 

NOSA: The serving size is YUGEE!

Farmer's Pottage

Farmer's Pottage

FOLLY: It has much more oil than I would have liked. Additionally, since I'm not Nosa I would have appreciated more boiled plantain in my farmer's pottage than yam. 

NOSA: I got the African Pesto as my main. When I heard about Zolene, this is really the stuff I was expecting, you know? A lot more Afro-fusion like Ozoz and Imoteda are doing. The African pesto is a very interesting take on pesto. According to the menu,

A fragrant penne pasta dish made with African basil, paneer cheese, bit of chicken and nuts
— Zolene
African Pesto

African Pesto

NOSA: The pesto tasted very "green". Like an African soup or something. Before you get confused, this is actually a good thing and I'm chalking it up to the "African basil". I really really liked this. Not those weird tomato things on the side though.

 

POSTCRIPT

NOSA: Simple and straight to the point. Can be a bit boring, but a "yes" from me.

FOLLY: A solid dinner option within Ikoyi.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Chapman - N1500

African Pesto - N4000

Yam Croquette - N2500

Farmer's Pottage - N3500

Plantain Croquette - N2000

Bruschetta & Zolene Salsa - N2000

 

 

PARKING

Limited indoor parking but street parking is available.

Your Favorite Twitter Uncle's Favorite Nigerian Restaurant

Terra Kulture

1376  Tiamiyu Savage St, Victoria Island

01 270 0588

FOLLY: Yes, after what has seemed like forever, we finally went to Terra Kulture. Honestly, this wasn't either of us' first time at this restaurant.  I've been a few times and in fact, Nosa used to work down the street from here so he's grabbed lunch at Terra Kulture lots of times. 

NOSA: Terra is like Twitter Uncle HQ. Can't knock them sha, free wifi is always the move. And I'm always in Cafe Neo anyway. 

FOLLY: 🌚🌚🌚🌚🌚 Anyway, I've recently taken a liking to yam pottage, especially that from Tastee Fried Chicken (it's so delicious). So naturally, when we had lunch at Terra I had to try the Asaro. Random, what's the difference between Asaro and Ikokore ?

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NOSA: I got my usual - the egg sauce with corned beef and boiled sweet potatoes. I never experiment when I'm at Terra. Order the same thing every single time. 

I remember the first time I came here, I had no clue you could get the egg sauce without the corned beef. I'm not the biggest corned beef fan so I grudgingly got it. Shit was so delicious that I haven't looked back since.  

FOLLY: Nosa's corned beef and egg stew tasted way better than it looked. 

NOSA: Terra is the only place I can rationalize eating "yam & egg" outside my house. The consistency is incredible and considering how Lagos restaurants can be one thing today and another tomorrow, that's an admirable quality for Terra to have. It always tastes the same. Quantity is always the same too. In fact, my egg always outlasts the sweet potato at the same stage in the meal. 

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FOLLY: I don't often eat meat so I decided to try it today and I was hopeful for super soft meat. Sadly my meat didn't even come close to soft. It's funny cause I was wearing a white dress so I was carefully battling with the meat as I rocked the knife forward and backward in an attempt to cut it. 

NOSA: I can never get into asaro. No matter how much I love yam. Can't ever click. That's the point I draw the line and allow my Bini brethren go ahead of me. 

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FOLLY: On the whole, I liked my asaro but I felt it needed just a bit more salt. However, I guess cooking Nigerian food in a restaurant setting is a bit difficult because much of it is 'to taste' and you're better off not putting too much salt so your sensitive patrons aren't complaining, and those of us that need more can just use a shaker. 

That said do not ever be seen adding salt to your Yoruba mother-in-law's food unless you want suffer in "arínfín" for the rest of your marriage.

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Terra is my favorite Nigerian restaurant in Lagos. I haven't tried a lot, but of the few I have tried, it's by far the best.

FOLLY:  We should check out Yellow Chilli next, apparently their sea food okro is better than L'Afric's. 

VERDICT

DAMAGE

Stewed Beef - N1000

Asaro - N800

Boiled Sweet Potatoes - N600

Corned Beef Sauce & Egg - N1500

Crust & Cream Brunch

Crust and Cream

11 Musa Yardua Street. Victoria Island, Lagos.

01 295 8105

FOLLY: If you follow Eat.Drink.Lagos on Snapchat (EatDrinkLagos), you'd know we did the most on the day we went to Crust & Cream.

NOSA: The absolute goddamned most. I'm still recovering.

FOLLY: There was fuel scarcity in Lagos last weekend and we had almost run out of diesel at my house, so I was resolved to be out all day so I wouldn't have to stay in the heat. 

We started with brunch at Crust & Cream 'cause Nicole had recommended it over dinner at La Taverna.

We've gotten mixed reviews from people who had been to Crust & Cream before and shared this with Nicole. She agreed that they may be hit or miss at dinner time but that for breakfast, they sabi the work.

NOSA: A little aside, I actually get concerned when people have a bad time at restaurants we liked. Anyway, as you were. 

FOLLY: We decided to go to Crust & Cream yet another time.  

NOSA: Last time we were here for the blog, we pointed out how weird the space is. It's still weird, but this time we checked out the Smoker's Lounge. It smells like this weird mix of tobacco and coffee. Absolutely love it!

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We got the Chicken Tenders to start. I wonder why they call these things "chicken tenders" because no chicken tender I ever saw was built like this. I mean, THESE are tenders...

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More like chicken "strings", amirite?

These "tenders" are just like the ones at Chocolat Royale, but plot twist, they taste like chicken! The wasabi sauce thing it came with with 10 flame emojis tho. 

FOLLY: I initially ordered the English Breakfast but I got the American Breakfast - no the restaurant didn't make a mistake, Nosa pulled a fast one on me. Nosa ordered the Nigerian Breakfast.

NOSA: You know how you want 2 things on the menu, but you can only get one so you make your date get one of your options? Well, I do it all the time to Folly. Jedi mind tricks. 

american breakfast

american breakfast

NOSA: I got my Nigerian breakfast with boiled yam. You guys probably don't know, but I'm a legit "Yam & Egg" champion. One time, at NYSC camp, I hadn't eaten in 3 days and started feeling sick. Hit up mammy market for that Yam & Egg and I came back to life. Yam & Egg saved me, fam.

The yam portion might be on the tiny side. Either that or it's just my greed talking. Crust & Cream's "egg stew" tastes just like the one your mother makes. Well, that's if your mother has the hands. Sucks to be you if she doesn't. 

FOLLY: The hash browns were simply amazing. And then when I ate it together with Nosa's egg stew it was just so delicious. 

NOSA: The hash browns reminded me of the ones at IHOP. They're shaped differently obvs, but they both have that shredded potato texture. 

FOLLY: The bacon and the sausage were my least favourite thing on this plate. The sausage was a Chi Breakfast sausage, I know cause we buy it in my house. 

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FOLLY: I missed out on my mushrooms cause Nosa ordered this thing for me. I've not had French Toast in a long time so I don't even know how to rate the thing properly. The bread they used to make this (probably from their bakery) had a hint of sweetness - I liked it.

The pancakes were a cross between American unsweetened fluffy pancakes and the denser, sweeter version the Brits enjoy.

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I won't lie, it was a bit weird paying so much for something I eat on the regular at home. Perhaps this is what the cook's Yam & Egg is worth on the open market and I don't appreciate it because I never have to pay.

DAMAGE

Chicken Tenders - N2200

Nigerian Breakfast - N2800

American Breakfast - N3300