Z Kitchen Strengthens the Lebanese Dominance of Lagos' Hospitality Scene
NOSA: In another country, with constant power, there’d be a detailed study on how Lebanese families in Lagos have dominated the local hospitality scene. From restaurants to clubs, the best in Lagos seem to have Lebanese hands in them and Z Kitchen is the latest.
FOLLY: I feel like all the answers are in plain sight and there’s not much digging that has to be done to write this story. I have two jobs and still trying to get my money up so once I’m done, I’ll come back and investigate this for the people.
NOSA: Located in the old Westafco building on Saka Tinubu, Z Kitchen is run by a Lebanese couple. The husband is the executive chef and the wife, I presume, handles the business side of things. And one interesting little tidbit (read: gist) I found out over the weekend:
the wife’s other siblings run restaurants in Lagos. Her brother runs the Casper & Gambini chain while her sister is none other than our ‘good friend’ Lou, of Craft Gourmet.
(CORRECTION: Lou, of Craft Gourmet, isn’t her sister. Just a really good friend. Her brother runs D Cafe and Rhapsody’s.)
But it doesn’t end there, the wife’s father was the main man at Westafco.
Look at all the connections!
FOLLY: Come for the food reviews, but stay for the gist. Speaking of gist in Lagos, you know who really has my gist in this city - Lagos waiters.
NOSA: I found out about the Delis/D Cafe split from a waiter lol.
FOLLY: A hobby of mine is finding waiters from existing restaurants in newly opened restaurants, and because I’m annoying I call them by the name of their previous employer (e.g Hi HSE) and then they smile because they also recognize me.
NOSA: Out of one family, we get three of the better restaurants in Lagos. There should be some grad student at UNILAG writing a thesis on this thing because it’ll make for very fascinating reading.
FOLLY: The professor will probably fail them on the topic choice alone so I see why that isn’t happening anytime soon.
NOSA: And yes, Craft Gourmet is one of the better restaurants in Lagos, but beef is forever unfortunately. Speaking of beef, Z Kitchen has very impressive selection of meats on the menu. There’s a 800g tomahawk and a 250g ostrich fillet on the menu. We’ve eaten at over a hundred restaurants in Lagos and I don’t think we’ve come across ostrich anywhere. The rest of the menu is just as excellent. Oh, and the owner said the current menu is still a work in progress. They make tweaks every Thursday.
To start, we got the Rosemary Focaccia and the Calamari A La Plancha.
Rosemary Focaccia - Fluffy Italian bread topped with confit tomatoes and feta cheese.
We went with focaccia because Chef Benedict made the most delicious one at his last supper club so we, or just me, wanted to get the feeling again. Sounds like something a crackhead would say, but Ben’s focaccia was the most delicious thing.
FOLLY: The focaccia at Z Kitchen was a bit different compared to the one that we’d had at Chef Benedict’s
NOSA: Now, focaccia is Italian flat bread with little bit of leavening so the dough rises somewhat and isn’t all the way flat. The one at Z Kitchen took the “flat” in flat bread thing pretty seriously. From the eyeball test, it looks more like pizza than focaccia. But, it was delicious and that’s the part that leaves me conflicted. The feta was an excellent addition and the confit tomatoes took it to another level, but this was no Chef Benedict focaccia.
FOLLY: I found that the balsamic balanced out the tomatoes and tied everything together very nicely.
FOLLY: The calamari was recommended by a friend who was dining at the restaurant at the same time as we were, so that informed our second option.
Calamari A La Plancha - Grilled baby calamari tossed with salsa verde.
NOSA: The calamari fared a little better in our eyeball test. I’ve said something on this blog about the direct relationship between vulnerability in animals and how delicious they are. As soon as I saw “baby calamari”, I knew we were on to something.
FOLLY: Ignoring Nosa but it’s more common to find deep fried calamari than grilled/roasted calamari in Lagos restaurants. In our experience, the grilled calamari always tastes rubbery so we tend to avoid. What I liked about the roasted calamari at Z Kitchen, was the chargrill and smoky flavour.
NOSA: I tasted a bit of suya spice in there. Maybe that was the salsa verde and my razz Nigerian taste buds think it’s suya spice.
FOLLY: After both starters I was very impressed by the quality of the food at Z Kitchen - the ingredients especially were high quality and the cooking was precise. The mains completely won me over and Z Kitchen is one of the best culinary experiences I’ve had in Lagos.
NOSA: A new month means a fresh EDL budget so we went all out with the mains: Coffee-Rubbed Skirt Steak, Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich and Braised Short Rib Lasagne.
FOLLY: My choice of the skirt steak was influenced by The Kitchenista. She’s always preached the gospel of how a good coffee rub will take steak/ribs to the next level so I had to take her advise.
NOSA: The skirt steak was absolutely killer. Very juicy and packed plenty flavor thanks to the coffee rub.
FOLLY: A skirt steak isn’t the most tender cut but it packs a lot of flavour, that combined with the deep intense flavour of the coffee really made this come alive. It’s fair to assume that the coffee would be over powering but that’s not the case, the coffee rub creates a deeper complex flavour for the meat - mostly savoury with the ever so slight sweet tinge.
NOSA: This would work perfectly in a steak sandwich, you know?
FOLLY: Speaking of sandwiches, I took one bite of the chicken sandwich and I determined it wasn’t for me. It had both vinegar and pickles and that’s basically poison to me so it became a hard pass.
NOSA: The slaw + honey mustard combo in the sandwich is a bit overpowering and might not be for everyone, but I liked it. In fact, that was the exact reason I liked it and the reason Folly hated it. It might be a bit of an acquired taste like Guinness.
NOSA: The lasagne, a guest favorite according to our waiter, was my favorite of the lot. That’s partly has to do with my love for lasagne and how good this lasagne was. In equal measure.
FOLLY: I could only have a limited quantity of the lasagne due to my body’s inability to digest lactose but this was divine. I wouldn’t get into the cheese because I was deliberately trying to avoid it, but the meat was the most amazing tender (buttery soft) pulled short rib. The best part is that it’s suitable for non pork eaters because they use beef ribs. I stan an equal opportunity lasagne.
NOSA: Best lasagne since Velvett?
NOSA: After reading this review, a friend sent us this message below lol
NOSA: Favorite new restaurant this year. Definitely worth the revisit.
FOLLY: I’ve never been this impressed by a new restaurant since RSVP. That’ll probably make some people not visit because they think RSVP is just hype. If that’s you, you’re only doing yourself not me.
Rosemary Focaccia - N3500
Calamari A La Plancha - N5000
Coffee-Rubbed Skirt Steak - N12000
Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich - N6000
Braised Short Rib Lasagna - N8000
Can fit 5-6 cars