A snack of buttermilk-soaked fried plantain looked dramatic scattered with vivid scarlet smoked Scotch Bonnet pepper and the combination of spicy heat and sticky sweetness is quite addictive, if challengingly hot for those of more timid palate. Octopus is served as an aromatic spiced broth scattered wth salty sea herbs and served with smoky char-grilled tentacle. Octopus may be de rigeur on most London menus right now, this is a world apart and all the better for it. Best of all is an exceptional pancake called sinasir made with cooked and uncooked rice, sorghum wheat, yoghurt and a little sugar, long fermented, coated in katsuobushi and fried. It has an intense umami flavour rather akin to a toasted cheese sandwich yet the texture of a crumpet and is served with a rich cuttlefish and calf’s tongue ragu. Crab jollof rice made with chicken and cuttlefish stock, and barbecued onions served with smoked bone marrow has a mesmerizing intensity too.
Aside from the brilliant food presenting West African flavours in a totally new light within the context of a mouldbreaking contemporary restaurant, the service is exceptionally aimable led by Nigerian born co-owner Ire Hassan-Odukale. Each dish is presented on striking ceramic plates by Jess Joslin and Owen Wall accompanied by striking black cutlery. The interior is cool and refreshingly different too with alabaster, plywood and striking mural. Cocktails have a West African inflection too: plantain Old Fashioned and cassava sours.
It is rare to find a restaurant that it is genuinely different, so carefully thought out and presented with real verve and confidence.
£120+ dinner for two with wine
|What||Ikoyi, St James's Market London|
|Where||St James's Market, SW1Y 4SB | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Piccadilly Circus (underground)|
|Website||Click to view the website (booking lines not open yet)|