What I love most of all about living in London, is that you can eat almost every type of cuisine, at almost every price point. That said, there are some gaps, and every year there are new ’emerging cuisines’, coming to the forefront. This usually transpires from takeaways into the street food scene, festivals, and then later casual dining restaurants. This is the path I have seen Caribbean Food take within the the past few years, and so here we are with a ‘Fine Dining, West African’ restaurant opening just over 12 months ago in Piccadilly. Upon hearing about the opening last year, I was of course excited to hear that it was coming, but I also did wonder how it would be received. The journey of West African food with the UK, has been very different to that of Caribbean Food, and most other ’emerging cuisine’. I have personally only ever enjoyed West African Food at weddings, or restaurants, that have an unapologetically ‘for us by us’ feel. Simply meaning fellow Africans come and enjoy the authentic delights of their home countries, in a no frills environment.
Ikoyi is a fairly small space, with anywhere between 50-60 covers, and the tables cramped so closely together that you would not struggle to take part in neighbouring tables conversations. I did not like this at all (especially as this restaurant has the label fine dining, and in keeping with this, is charging fine dining prices), but I do understand it. Rent in central London is astronomically high, and so it is essential that every square meter works for restauranteurs. The decor is simple, colourful and tasteful with careful consideration to the detail.
Plantain is one of the many loves of my life, and so of course I had to order the Buttermilk Plantain (dusted in a raspberry salt), accompanied by a scotch bonnet (Priced £5.50). It tasted as good as it looked.
For Starter, I ordered Monkfish Cheek Mbongo, White Yam and Cep (Priced £13.50)
For my main, I ordered for the Iberico Pork Suya (Priced £35), and the Jollof Rice with smoked bone marrow (Priced 11.50). Jollof is one of the most common dishes served throughout many countries within West Africa, and the one dish of personal familiarity. The Ikoyi version was delicious, and the bone marrow added a richness to the well seasoned rice.
My friend ordered the Wild Nigerian Tiger Prawn (Priced £29), which was packed with flavour, but unfortunately left her wanting more as the portion was very small.
I loved that Ikoyi has arrived in London, experimenting with West African flavours and ingredients with a twist. What I do think though is that “fine dining” by definition is not about the food quality alone, it is also about the environment, and the service. The food and service definitely qualify as fine dining, but I question whether the environment does.
All in all a delicious meal, just a bit on the pricey side for its casual setting.