SOMEWHERE BETWEEN LOVE AND CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN FINE DINING
Today I was in Ikoyi! The Big man land of Lagos! I actually paid my friend a visit, he stays around Mcphearson Avenue and I was dead bored at home, so I drove down there. Guess who happened not to be home when I got there? The idiotic human being of a boy I call my friend. This wasn’t cool at all, especially for the fact that his gate was even locked, no one to open for me to chill and wait for him. So I was like, well, maybe I can just take a stroll around this rich people neighborhood.
I’m taking a stroll right, and I have no idea how I sighted this restaurant. I really didn’t think it was a restaurant at first cos it seemed like someone’s house with the gate open ajar, and behold it was actually a restaurant! I was inside a restaurant named Zolene. Since I’m already inside, I might as well make here my chilling spot until my friend gets back from his long distant travel. My intention was just to come here, watch TV and have a drink while waiting for my guy, and that is how I ended up almost ordering everything from their menu. Lol. Okay, let me give you the gist how I finished the small money that I had here.
So this is the thing about Zolene, their food menu just wants to make you try everything. So creative and well twisted that the reason I ordered most of the foods here was simply because I wanted to see how they looked in real life, the Akara Waffle for example. Have you ever seen Akara waffle before?
It happened to be that Zolene is basically fine dining with a twist, although their IG handle says “contemporary African casual dining restaurant”…uuurgh, too long, and humble 🙄. The restaurant was well suited with great interior décor, homely feel with homely lighting. From my estimation, the space would be comfortable enough to host 20 to 30 diners. Perfect for small gatherings, especially in the outdoor garden area, very cool spot, you can even have a small wedding in this area. There was just a lot of thought put into the design of the space. I noticed the mini library concept, taking a major part of the entrance with nice artificial turf on the walls just before you walk into the dining space itself. It was simple and minimal yet very cozy, just the spot-on place for a calm and relaxed hot Saturday afternoon for book lovers.
The dinning space décor was obviously African themed with a modest touch and with a mini cocktail bar. My initial plan was to sit over a drink while watching their TV, but now I’m seated and rolling my eyes around the restaurant and admiring every other detail, so I grabbed the menu, then called for a waiter to take my order. As you already know, I wanted to have a taste of everything on that menu. It was also comforting to see that the pricing wasn’t about making me file for bankruptcy, they were all quite priced moderately. And honestly, I hadn’t set a budget on how much I wanted to spend here, you already know how I landed here in the first place, I really tried to watch the weight of my pocket but couldn’t help it. So I picked two items from the starters and one item from the main course. Today na today, everything must enter this my small stomach las las. So what I had here on my table was Plantain Croquette, Akara Waffle, Farmers Pottage that came with a huge chunk of Chicken thigh and then an Ice Tea Cocktail for my drink.
When my order arrived, voila! Ingenuity splashed on most of the dishes. It was wonderful to see how popular Nigerian dishes where prepared in the most modern and western style. The Akara waffle got me thinking how we needed to be more creative with our local dishes. There are always new ways to make the usual things look more appealing especially with foods. I like that there were a variety of herbs inculcated into most of the meals, it shows that a great taste wasn’t the only thing the chef was out to achieve.
Hidden somewhere in this minimal space was a comfy corner designed in form of a small living room. I was surprised to find this, and would have missed it had I not stood up from my seat to look around the entire place. Grey wall paper and framed glass art hung on the wall, It’s a great place to have a private meeting (being that it wasn’t so obvious) either solo or with friends and family…even great for a romantic date too.
So here I was in this super warm and homely restaurant that had real fish wooden traps hung up with lightbulbs in them, brown high bar stools made from bamboo, enjoying my meal while listening to pop ballads and classic music, giving me the nostalgic feel. I was beginning to feel so comfortable I almost began to take it for home. The crux was that this restaurant, was obviously created from a place of love and passion. I could sense it, it was in the ambience, it was in the choice of décor elements, it was felt in the genre of music played, and more importantly in the food. There was a lot of heart put into making this place, and trust me you could see it on the face of the owner/chef…you wouldn’t help but feel the passion when you see her in her element. Probably explains why the restaurant was named by infusing the names of her two daughters.
At this point now I was extremely stuffed, I even had to pack some for the road. My guy was back home now so I strolled back to the house hoping that my stomach would lighten up a bit again so I continue with my left overs. And nope, my guy won’t taste my food.
Oh, and by the way, did I mention her daughters’ names? 🤔
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