Posts in Restaurants
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.

An Underwhelming Feast at Woks & Koi
 

FOLLY: I was quite happy to go to Woks & Koi because I’d been craving savoury food after binging on cake and sweets the previous days. The secondary reason for my excitement was that we’d pushed this review to the back burner for several months now and now it was finally happening. 

NOSA: I wasn’t craving anything. I just didn’t want to leave Lekki

FOLLY: I consciously try to give restaurants time to establish themselves before jumping in for a review. Sometimes we can’t help ourselves because it’s a new restaurant opening that we’re so excited about but we do try to be patient and wait. 

For example, I’m currently trying my very best to be patient with one of the latest openings in Lagos - Vanilla Moon. Honestly, I expect to cave in the next few weeks. 

NOSA: On the other hand, Woks & Koi has been open for quite a bit so I think we held out long enough.

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FOLLY: I was very happy that Woks & Koi wasn’t raggedy on the inside. Many Chinese restaurants in Lagos don’t prioritize ambience and just throw some Asian looking elements together, not Woks & Koi. I also appreciated that the menu was streamlined and not overwhelming like your typical Chinese restaurants with over 5 pages of main courses. 

Nosa was taking a phone call so I ordered our starters all by myself and I think I did a good job. We had:

  • Woks & Koi Five Spice Chicken Wings

  • Chinese Potstickers

  • Spring Rolls

I think it’s simply out of line to visit a Chinese restaurant in Lagos and not order spring rolls. Do you do that? If the answer is yes, who hurt you?

NOSA: Reader, the spring rolls weren’t worth it.

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FOLLY: I wasn’t impressed by the spring rolls because they were too skinny and weren’t as crunchy as my beloved favorites at Oriental Hotel or more recently at Hua Hua Garden.

NOSA: The spring rolls were skinny like flautas

FOLLY: If you haven’t tried the spring rolls at Oriental Garden at the Oriental Hotel, you really must and they are my favourite in Lagos. Once, my mum dragged me to a book launch with her at the Oriental Hotel and they went on for a while without serving food. Your girl slyly excused herself for a bathroom break, went upstairs ordered spring rolls and returned to the event after eating.

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FOLLY: The five spice chicken wings were a big let down because there was honestly not one discernible spice in this. They were good naked wings and should not be marketed as anything more than that. 

NOSA: The wings were actually my favorite of the starters. Yeah, I agree, you can’t really taste no “five spice” in this. But it wasn’t bad at all.

FOLLY: The potstickers were good, not particularly memorable, but okay. 

NOSA: Now, this one, I’ll agree with. The potstickers could have been so much better. Sooooo much better.

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FOLLY: I was not impressed with our main dishes at all. I ordered the Kung Pao Chicken, and Nosa made the unfortunate decision for the Spare Ribs. I told this man that we should order prawns. 

NOSA: This is probably the single worst decision i’ve made this year so I’ll take the blame for this one. For what it’s worth, you can’t tell the Kung Pao and the ribs apart taste wise. The broths were just so overpowering and salty.

FOLLY: The Kung Pao didn’t taste authentic.

NOSA: At all.

Kewa’s Kitchen has definitely spoilt Kung Pao chicken for me. Everyone else tastes second rate and Woks & Koi was especially so.

FOLLY: In terms of appearance, I’m used to Kung Pao that is redder, stickier, and a whole lot spicier. This was bland, brown, and brothy. I do not recommend at all. I suspect that the Hoisin sauce that gives it the thickness and glossiness that I was expecting was omitted and there was nary a chilli in sight.

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FOLLY: They had an exciting sizzling brownie on their dessert menu, however, the mains were too average for me to consider spending any more money. Does that also happen to you? Do you find yourself holding back on spending more money at an establishment after being disappointed with your first or second course?


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Bleh. I’ll never visit again. Wouldn’t recommend.

FOLLY: I found it pretty average and not as good as my Chinese restaurant OGs in Lagos.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Spring Rolls (2 pcs)- N1200

Chinese Potstickers - N2500

Kung Pao Chicken - N4200

Pork Spare Ribs & Veg - N4000

Woks & Koi Five Spice Wings - N3000

Woks & Koi Special Fried Rice - N1500

 

 

PARKING

 Standard Lekki mall parking. Space is available for 4.5 cards

Seafood by the Sea at KingFisher
 

My friend, Tobi, and I visited one of the newer openings in Lekki - Kingfisher Africa. It is located in the same compound as Marco Polo and has a nice view of waterfront property in the area - very aspirational stuff.

[Ed Note: Kingfisher and Marco Polo might have the same ownership. At least, that’s what the POS receipt suggested"]

Calamari Prawns in Garlic Butter

Calamari Prawns in Garlic Butter

But, you know what it doesn’t have? A closer view of people suffering in the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge traffic :)

Random fun fact - a ‘Kingfisher’ is a cute little bluebird that dives to catch fish but it isn't the king of fishers. There are so many other birds better at catching fish than the Kingfisher. What a betrayed.

Tobi and I visited Kingfisher twice because we got terrible photos on our first visit. The first time we had the Calamari Prawns in Garlic Butter and Penne Marinara. The second time, we ordered the Prawn Quesadillas and the Penne Marinara (again).

The Calamari Prawns in Garlic Butter is a starter and its basically 3 prawns with a couple strips of calamari covered in chopped bell peppers. A little messy but still really nice. The garlic seemed to overpower that smell locally sourced prawns have, and the calamari was nice and tender. ALSO, it wasn’t too spicy, which was excellent.

I was really torn about how prawns were served. When it’s a messy dish like this, I’d rather the prawns be de-shelled. While for a drier dish leaving the shell on is fine. However, this wasn’t a drier dish and therefore, I wasn’t too pleased.

The quesadillas tasted decent but were a bit too heavy on the garlic butter which caused them to “break”. They were structurally compromised. It also seemed like they had been ready ages ago but weren’t served to us, which is why the tortilla soaked up the oil. If I’m not explaining this well, have a look at the pictures below and you’ll get my drift.

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Quesadillas

Quesadillas at KingFisher

Quesadillas at KingFisher

The quesadillas were straight to the point - prawns, a lot of cheese and some bell peppers. The guacamole, on the side, was both fresh and a welcome addition.

The Penne Marinara was the only main we tried at Kingfisher. It is a tomato-based pasta dish that came with calamari, fish, and baby shrimp. On our first visit, the pasta was nice and al dente, complementing the texture of the calamari but the second time, it was quite soft and not it.

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The fish in the sauce was crunchy, like it was fried before being tossed in the tomato sauce, something I didn’t know I’d like till I tried it. There were a few things that could be improved on though. I absolutely wasn’t a fan of the oiliness of the marinara sauce. Secondly, I’d have gone with proper prawns in this instead of baby shrimp as the tiny shrimp sink and settle to the bottom of the bowl. If you eat your meat after you get through your rice, you might appreciate it. Delayed gratification and whatnot, but no, it wasn’t for me.


POSTSCRIPT

FOLARIN: Besides the questionable consistency of the pasta dish and not-so-clean water, Kingfisher does a better job of being a seafood restaurant than most places in Lekki. Like, the Lighthouse, for instance.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

 Calamari Prawns - N6500

Penne Marinara - N5000

Quesadillas (with Prawns) - N3800

 

PARKING

6-8 cars inside and another 6 by the gate outside 

New Ownership Rings The Changes at CUT
 

FOLLY: About two years ago, we wrote this review for CUT Steakhouse at the Renaissance Hotel, Ikeja. Since then Marriott has sold to Radisson and the hotel was rebranded to Radisson Blu, Ikeja which is not to be confused with Radisson Hotel, Ikeja which is right next door. They share a fence.

A few weeks ago, I saw on Instagram that they had rebranded from CUT Steakhouse to CUT Restaurant and had a new menu too. I promptly added it to the content calendar and tagged Nosa. It rained on the day we visited and so there was a lot of traffic but I wasn’t deterred because I was quite excited about the new menu. So colour me disappointed when I didn’t find a big deviation from their original menu (as it was still very much a steakhouse) or new branding. In fact, it was just their Instagram handle that changed from CUT Steakhouse to CUT Restaurant.

NOSA: Nothing we ordered in our original visit is still available.

FOLLY: The salmon is still available as a premium cut.

NOSA: Well, the menu is different and a lot weirder. Maybe “weird” isn’t the right word for it, but it’s very “straight to the point”.

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FOLLY: The menu at CUT is strict. Except for sharing plates and the burger, you’re very much guided into a set menu of either two courses or three courses at a fixed price.

NOSA: There are three primary sections in the menu:

  • Starters

  • “CUT”, i.e. main

  • Sweet Happenings, i.e. dessert.

You can either go with just a main for N9,000 or a main + starter or dessert for N10,000 or starter + main + dessert for N12,500. You can also the more “premium” mains order a la carte, i.e. the expensive steaks, the burger and the salad options.

FOLLY: For this, it’s an additional N3,500 plus on the N9,000.

NOSA: Yeah, as I said, it’s weird. Oh, there’s also a section for sharing platters.

FOLLY: This reminds me of El Padrino’s pop up where the owner explained that chips and salsa cannot be ordered a la carte and has to come with a main. Otherwise, people just order the cheapest option on the menu which is the chips & salsa and everything else goes to waste.

Radisson, I see what you’re doing there.

NOSA: It feels like they’re forcing your hand a bit, but a three-course meal for N12,500 is an absolute steal. To put it in context, when we visited originally, my main and side cost N16,000. For a significant amount less, I’m getting two extra courses.

Anyway, to start, we ordered the Gratin Stuffed Plantain in Bolognese Sauce.

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NOSA: Don’t know why it sounds like such a taboo thing but cheese on plantain should bang. Cheese on fried yam. I mean, I’ll eat cheese fries. Anyway, the plantain gratin wasn’t half bad and you don’t even notice the cheese that much. The Bolognese was neither here not there. I wasn’t too whelmed by it.

FOLLY: The minced beef didn’t get to simmer and shed its dense rubberiness. Boiled plantain with corned beef will be a breakfast option I explore soon because while it is an odd combination in terms of things that most people (myself included), it works for the glutton that lives inside of me. I wouldn’t rush and add cheese though, because cheese is expensive and I prefer to reserve my cheese for pasta or sandwiches.

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NOSA: The R Burger was a bit boring. The patty was nice and juicy, but the bun was a hot mess. It’s relied way too much on the patty for moisture.

FOLLY: Lettuce should never be default in burgers. While there was a bit of function here that I appreciated, because the lettuce acted as a buffer and prevented the moisture from the tomato from seeping into the bun, I don’t think tomatoes should be a default in burgers either. So, if you remove the tomato too, you definitely don’t need the lettuce in my school of thought.

The best thing about this burger was the patty, it was moist, so full of flavour and as we say in Nigeria, it carried the enter burger on its head (i.e. it was the burger’s saving grace). The bun was definitely the weakest link. It was unevenly cut that the top ended being mostly a cap for the sandwich and it was toasted to oblivion so it cracked in half like a biscuit - I didn’t even need a knife.

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NOSA: From the picture, I’m sure you can tell I got my 400g T-Bone exactly as I requested it - medium-rare.

FOLLY: Cow came moo-ing and all of that. That aside, a 400g T-Bone for N9000, in Lagos, at our typically overpriced restaurants is an absolute steal.

NOSA: CUT is tremendous value for money.

FOLLY: I’m not a meat scientist nor do I eat enough steaks to speak very intelligently on the quality of the meat, however, there was a fair amount of marbling (fat) and a thick fatty layer along one edge of the meet. The combination of the tender meat and the juicy fat made this steak very tasty.

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FOLLY: The dessert was pitiful. Buffet table desert quality.

NOSA: Probably came from the buffet that’s a floor above.

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POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: This place is perfect for date night in the Ikeja area. It’s an absolute steal and the food is good enough too.

FOLLY: If you have a budget and are treating someone, it’s perfect too! You wouldn’t be worried about your partner ordering something very expensive and out of budget because you already know that a three course meal will be exactly N12,500.

VERDICT

DAMAGE

Three Course - N12500

R Burger - N6500

 

 

PARKING

Underground parking available.

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.