New Michelin starred addition to 2019 guide serving innovative West African cuisine
Ikoyi opened in mid-2017 and gained a Michelin star in the 2019 Michelin guide. The cuisine uses African ingredients and puts a modern twist on them with British produce through its ‘blind’ menus (no menus provided, just the option of how many courses and allergens /intolerances checked). My lunch here was a set 3-course menu of savouries for £35 with an additional dessert course offered at the end for £8.50, meaning £43.50 for four courses; therefore a set lunch with dessert and coffee plus service charge will cost in the region of £53. This is quite expensive bearing in mind I thought the portion sizes were small and I left hungry, however, the skill and handling of spices I thought was very good here. A cosy restaurant in St James’s market and well worth a drop in.
The meal started with smoked plantain with raspberry powder and scotch bonnet (chilli peppers). This packed a fair punch but the cooked down bananas of the plantain and other parts worked nicely together. Next up was malted barley bread with mushroom stuffing, turnip tops pumpkin seeds and egusi sauce (made from egusi seeds). This was another lovely collection of flavours and a pleasant change from the norm.
Lamb saddle came with hibiscus, miso coffee and fried shiso. The lamb was tender and with reasonably good flavour and again, the combination of fermented parts and shiso had no real negatives. A side of the signature smoked ‘jollof’ rice with a crab custard. There are a huge number of spices that go into this (along with the other dishes) but the overarching flavour of the jollof rice is of spiced tomato and garlic. This rice was actually very good on its own as a dish and another well-done dish. Roasted walnut ice cream with coffee oil with white chocolate with crumbs was a pleasant way to finish off the meal.
Jeremy Chan, who has worked formerly at Noma is the mastermind behind this unique and innovative restaurant, in league with his African business partner. The result is definitely a pleasing one here and there is much effort that has gone in to design of each dish. This was good on the eye and the flavours were all hitting the right valves, but the main negative here is that I left still hungry. This is the cardinal sin of some restaurants, especially expensive ones which I would class this as. It’s also the main reason that prevents people wanting to take the plunge into fine dining in my opinion. That said, I would happily come back here; I think the thing to do is put a long session in the books, save up a bit more and accept more money is needed to be thrown at it.
Food Grade: 79%
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