Jollof cuisine, food from West Africa, is a new one for me which is why I was particularly excited to try Ikoyi. Thanks to Wikipedia I learn, at the table, that Ikoyi is the most affluent neighbourhood of Lagos, Nigeria.
The owners are two young chaps; head chef Jeremy Chan and front of house Iré Hassan-Odukale. Like the rest of the team they are assured and confident but sweet and not in the least bit arrogant. Described best by Giles Coren in his recent review as “good-looking, well-mannered, nicely brought up boys.”
We’re seated next to the giant window which spans the restaurant. It’s quite exposing so wear your best clothes. Inside is beautiful in an understated way. There’s a colour palette of peach and salmon. You can see into the semi-open kitchen but there’s no effing and jeffing. The atmosphere is calm and serene. It’s lovely.
We start with pretty snacks. Buttermilk plantain with fiery scotch bonnet (£5.50) is a vibrant red from raspberry dust. It goes well with an Old Fashioned (£12) sweetened with roasted plantain. A croquette filled with ‘cow foot’ (£6) sits atop the very shin bone the meat has come from. It’s rich and unctuous.
‘Manx Loaghtan rib’ (£10.50), that’s lamb cutlet to you and I, combines crisp and soft textures of fat. Utterly indulgent. It also comes with the scraps from the perfectly trimmed bones. It’s nice to see nothing is wasted and the extra bits of meat certainly go to a good home.
Monkfish cheek m’bongo (£13.50) sits hidden beneath torched leaves. Mixed together with a white yam and cep sauce the cheeks are perfectly soft and bouncy. There’s spice there too, one I’ve certainly never come across before, which is intriguing and exciting.
Less wow is a plate of turkey oysters (£25) because the flesh is chewy. It feels undercooked but the colour of the meat tells me otherwise. A victim of the water bath perhaps? The flavours are again interesting and unusual though and we still manage to finish the lot.
Iberico pork suya (£35) sees a chunk of pork so soft and fatty and perfectly cooked. A finer piece of pork I’m yet to come across – the wagyu of the pig world. It comes with sweet, bright red tomatoes There’s a dollop of something that has the texture of apple sauce but it’s almost chocolatey and tastes incredible with the meat.
Jollof rice (£11.50) is topped with smoked bone marrow so hot it bubbles like molten lava. The smell is incredible and once mixed together the taste doesn’t disappoint either.
For pud, we share ‘yam and eggs’ (£8.50), a moussey concoction topped with a cured egg yolk. The balance between sweet and savoury makes for a spot-on ending.
Ikoyi is definitely an exciting place to eat your supper. It blends the African cuisine (something new to many) with high end ingredients people may be more familiar with. The result is something quite special.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant