Finding the good eateries in Lagos, Nigeria with Eat.Drink.Lagos
The concept as the duo, who run Eat.Drink.Lagos, Folly and Nosa, state is pretty simple. “We go to different places in Lagos, eat their food, and write about it.” What they don’t tell you though, is the fun, humorous and engaging way in which they do it. There is also a sheer doggedness to help their readers (customers) that is not only refreshing, but I hope will rub off on restaurants and eateries in and beyond Lagos. There aren’t many restaurant reviewers and food critiques out there who devote an extraordinary amount of time responding to your questions, as they do, especially at their Ask Eat.Drink.Lagos Thursday Q&A sessions.
As with successful enterprises the real ingredients of that success is often found lurking within the founders. It was, therefore, a pleasure to go behind the scenes, so to speak, to find out more about Folly and Nosa and most importantly to get a sense of what their views are about foodie culture in Lagos.
Nii Thompson for MyWekuTastes: Eat.Drink.Lagos is an important part of Lagos’ culinary experience. Are you at all surprised by its success?
NOSA: Yeah, it wasn’t something we expected to get this big. Honestly blown away by how far it has gone.
FOLLY: It started out as a hobby so it wasn’t something we expected to grow in the way it has, but it’s definitely been a fun ride.
Imagine yourself on a dream holiday. What country could that be in and what food will you be savouring most?
NOSA: Austin,Texas. Tacos.
FOLLY: Cancun, Mexico. Margaritas.
I couldn’t possibly do what you do as well as you do it for one reason. I’m easily tempted to be deferential to great chefs and restaurants with unsullied reputations. Do you two have some kind of “honesty” gene that the rest of us lack or do you also, perhaps once in a while, fall prey to our weakness?
NOSA: It’s not really as deep as that. To me, I’m spending my money and as long as it’s my money, I can say whatever I like. That entire deferential thing goes out the window when my money is involved. If you feel like you just flushed money down the toilet, it’s very easy to be honest.
FOLLY: For me it’s always been about whether I liked it or not, not who cooked it or which restaurant served it. If I liked it, I’d say I did, and if I didn’t I’d very well say that I didn’t.
What are your top three No-Nos for a restaurant? and what is the one thing that impresses you the most?
NOSA: I don’t like when waiters don’t write down the orders. It’s not an essential thing or anything, but more often than not, the order gets messed up when the waiter doesn’t write it down.
FOLLY: I also don’t like it when the waiters don’t write down orders. Two other things that grind my gears are overly dim lighting and disappearing waiters.
NOSA: I’m always so easily impressed when the waiters know a lot about the food. Sometimes you go to places and can’t decide what to get. A good waiter will guide you through the process. Tells you what’s popular, personal preferences, and whatnot. For me, that takes the service up a notch.
FOLLY: Pretty much what Nosa said. This is because good waiters are rare in Lagos restaurants and so when you do experience it, it’s such a breath of fresh air.
Tell us about the Eat.Drink.Lagos Lunch Club. How does it all work?
NOSA: Every month, we find an experience we’d like to share. Could be a restaurant or a wine tasting or at a Chef’s house. We put the experience together and we send it out to our Lunch Club members. By design, these experiences are never publicly announced.
We are big on street food! What must-have street food will you recommend for travellers and visitors to Lagos?
NOSA: Suya and asun. Easy.
FOLLY: Nigerian shawarma. It’s made with a spicy cocktail sauce as opposed to the garlic paste that’s the norm in the Lebanese original.
Americans are going crazy over kale, Brits seem to be striking an intense love affair with gourmet food trucks, Kenyans and Ethiopians have re-embraced coffee and I’m told Ghanaians are threatening to make sushi their national dish. What food trend is Naija getting into?
NOSA: Ghanaians like sushi like that, eh?
For Nigeria, Lagos to be specific, we’re really getting back into Nigerian food. It’s a renaissance of sorts. Lots of Lagos chefs are putting interesting twists on the Nigerian food we grew up on.
FOLLY: I think there’s also an Agbalumo renaissance. It seems as though people are more obsessed with it now than ever before. And oh, Nigerians are also making attempts to make Nigerian food healthier.
Where do you see the Lagos restaurant scene in the next 3-5 years?
NOSA: Hopefully oil prices are back up then lol. All things being equal, the Lagos restaurant scene can only get bigger. Lots of people are bringing fresh ideas and creating new experiences. I know a chef that’s trying to start a strictly street food restaurant. So yeah, it can only get more interesting.
FOLLY: Food trucks and more variety on the international cuisine e.g. Lagos has enough Chinese restaurants already.
To your south east is Cape Town just over 6 hours away, to your east is Nairobi about 5 hours away and to your west is Accra only an hour away, all capitals with a burgeoning restaurant culture. Do you have any plans to work your magic in any of these or other capitals?
FOLLY: However, we’d like to get to our own capital, Abuja, first.
And lastly, we are pretty obsessed with traveling over here. I plan to visit Lagos soon as I’m sure are some of our readers? Are there one or two attractions I should definitely put on my must see or experience list?
NOSA: If you come down, make sure you check out Afropolitan Vibes. It’s a monthly concert thing and the line up is always solid. You have to check out NOK by ALARA too. You might not like the food, but it’s something you have to experience.
FOLLY: Terra Kulture is also nice. Lagos Island isn’t one of the nice parts but you should definitely do a drive through.