Tulip Bistro: An Abuja Institution


NOSA: Of all the Abuja restaurants we got tipped on, Tulip Bistro was perhaps the one we wanted to visit the most. We followed them on Instagram in the early EDL days and we’ve since longed for that Louisiana chicken pasta.

FOLLY: Longed!

I’ve tried to convince Nosa many times that EDL needed to pay for trips to Abuja to check out restaurants. The same way he always sends me a message after every Apple keynote to ask whether a new iPhone is a business expense. I digress.

NOSA: The space is a lot smaller than we expected it to be, but it added to the charm. It felt…cozy.

FOLLY: The clientele of Tulip Bistro is a reflection of the ownership (You can find out who that is from their Instagram page).

Nosa and I were outwardly different.

I was coming from one of our pre-festival meetings at the venue so my fitted t-shirt, palazzo pants, TOMS, and a backpack was in jarring contrast to many perfectly tailored up and downs, chiffon scarfs, and perfectly beat faces - I was a bit shy. Likewise, amongst the male guests, who were extremely few, Nosa and the waiters were the only men not wearing jallabiyas - including children. Nosa was wearing his typical shorts too. In hindsight, LOL.

I think our distinct otherness contributed to the service we eventually received.

NOSA: The menu looked like it hadn’t been updated in forever. Wait, what am I saying? It hasn’t been updated in ages. And I’m not talking about “wear and tear” on the actual menu. The items are exactly what I found on a Trip Advisor post from years ago.

FOLLY: And almost everyone in the restaurant was still ordering the same thing namely the Philly Cheese Steak Rolls and the Louisiana Chicken Pasta so who were we not to oblige…

To be honest, we wanted to order a couple more starters but of the four options on the appetiser menu, nothing else other than the Philly Cheese Steak Rolls was available. I really liked the Philly cheese steak rolls and would order it again assuming that the extreme saltiness was a big accident.


NOSA: The food took forever and when it finally came out, the waiter messed up the order. I ordered a steak and they brought me a chicken kebab.

FOLLY: Then he took it back and brought the chicken kebab again after 15 minutes. He then went again and came back like 20 minutes later with the correct item Nosa ordered and our starter (finally).

NOSA: People make mistakes so I guess we could've let that slide but the guy told us Folly’s pasta was ready and proceeded to not bring it for like another 30 minutes after I eventually got my correct main. Yes, my fixed order came before Folly’s pasta. Apparently, they decided to make her main again instead of bringing it out like promised.

FOLLY: Or gave it to one of the groups that arrived after us and got handed their Louisiana chicken pasta promptly.

NOSA: All of this would’ve been forgivable if the pasta was the best thing in the world, but it was just decent. Not great, just decent.

FOLLY: A bit salty too, just like the Philly cheese steak rolls. I see why some people can be purists on appropriate pasta shapes for different dishes. For me, ziti should be baked and not boiled and tossed in a sauce. When it’s baked it can stick to other pieces with the sauce and cheese for some chunky goodness. When it’s boiled it’s very smooth and a heavy sauce like the one used here just slides right off. The ridges in penne would have captured the sauce and helped it stick.


NOSA: Ordering the steak was definitely a big mistake on my part. As soon as I said I wanted it cooked “medium” and the waitress said they “don’t do sizes”, I should have aborted my mission at that very juncture. But, did I? No, I did not.

FOLLY: It was a very good laugh.


NOSA: The steak wasn’t a disaster but it was such a waste of money. They might have overdosed on the salt, but it tasted better than it looked. This is something that the cook you imported from the Benin Republic can make in your house. Definitely didn’t sit right with my spirit that I had to pay legal tender for it.


NOSA: It’s cheap and the pasta is good enough. Don’t order any steaks and there’s no alcohol on the menu.

FOLLY: The sandwiched looked decent.




T-bone steak - N9000

Philly Cheese Steak Roll - N2500

Louisiana Chicken Pasta - N5500