Sunday lunch at Ghana’s Chez Clarisse restaurant
Chez Clarisse mama Africa restaurant was our restaurant of choice after belatedly finding out that a restaurant we had made plans to go to was closed on Sundays. A quick jaunt across Accra from the Action Chapel International church on the Spintex road to Osu “Oxford street” was all it took to come face to face with this, the most authentic of African restaurants. In fact Chez Clarisse is perhaps more accurately described as a post modern pan African restaurant. The food was unmistakably African but with more than a hint of a potpourri of Ivorian or Francophone Africa and Ghanaian cuisine. The restaurant is easy to find, a mere couple of minutes walk from Accra’s so called “Oxford street”, a street that has become a commercial, nightlife, entertainment and tourist hub.
The two minute walk to Chez Clarisse on mostly an untarred street in the blazing sun and through the January harmattan dust was uneventful. My friend Ada, spending a couple of days in Accra from Nigeria as my guest did find it eventful though. I understand Lagosians don’t do much walking in the sun so the entire two minutes walk must have felt like running a marathon for her. Lord have mercy! However, if you have a keen eye and a passion for history you would notice that some of the oldest houses of the indigenous Osu people can be spotted. Some after all had been in existence since the 17th century when Osu is thought to have been established near the Danish fort of Christiansborg. The area, however, is now a magnet for luxury supermarkets, high end restaurants and night clubs. A few days before, I had walked the length of the “Oxford street’ with my cousin, Baaba, stopping to sample the local chichinga (suya) kebabs and having ice-cream at Frankies, a local popular ice cream joint. We had spotted a local sushi restaurant nearby, which made us both chuckle. Sushi in Ghana? Well I guess why not?
It wasn’t the sushi or any other exotic cuisine that led me back to Osu. It was the banku and tilapia I had heard was a must have at the Chez Clarisse restaurant. In fact we had pretty much everything on the menu but all with the famous grilled tilapia. Even the jollof rice came with tilapia! The sauces, especially the freshly made kpakpo shito was a real hit.
As we naughtily spied on what others were tucking into we noticed a couscous-like side dish which seemed popular amongst the Francophone French speakers near our table. I later learned this was called Attieke and was made from grated cassava and popular in the Ivory coast.
There was much to gaze at in this restaurant. The decor and paintings were of particular interest, however, nothing quite beat the moment we noticed a famous Ghanaian actress walk in. She was none other than Maame Adjei of Nicole Amarteifio’s popular series on African returnees in Accra – An African City.
As alluring as it was to allow ourselves to wallow in our newly found celebrity status, if only by proximity to one, the food soon wrenched our attention back to our table. The kelewele, jollof rice and the flavours of the highly decorated grilled tilapia had us complimenting Chez Clarisse to the hilt. From the moment the attentive staff wheeled bowls of water and soap for us to wash our hands before we ordered I knew this was going to be an unforgettable authentic African dining experience. As we left, every table was occupied which made me feel a tad sorry for the folks sauntering in with only the table we had just vacated left. Mind you, that is always a good sign of a good restaurant. I can’t wait for my next trip to Accra. Chez Clarisse will certainly be on the agenda!Off Oxford Street in Osu, Accra Behind Ecobank, Accra, Ghana
Tel: 024 298 48 28