The last time I had a steak in Lagos was probably about 15 months ago. 15 months is a very long time. The reason for this is that I am tired of being served leather and told that it is steak. The last time I dared to order steak at an establishment that is generally quite well regarded (shan’t mention any names), I came to the conclusion that this particularly muscular cow had spent the better part of its life on a sponsored walk. Great for stewing and making soup, but perhaps not the best candidate for a tender steak. Having been scarred by that experience, I was a bit worried when this most recent steak craving reared its head because I didn’t know how I would go about satisfying it. Somehow, I remembered that I had not yet tried Eko Steakhouse, so a friend and I made reservations, and took ourselves out for dinner after work on a Friday night.
Where: Eko Steakhouse, Eko Hotel, Adetokunbo Ademola Street, VI
Good for: Business dinners, date night for grown folks, celebratory meals, maybe even a small dinner-dance for say about 60 guests.
Price Range: Two mains, two sides, two G&Ts, a glass of red wine and dessert came to about N24,000 for me, and one main, one starter, one side and two G&Ts came to just over N15,000 for EO.
The food: While we decided what to order, we were served a basket of freshly baked bread rolls, with lashings of butter and veggies and dip. We ended up ordering a Basket of Seafood to start, which was actually very interesting. It consisted of three big skewers, one each of salmon, prawn, and squid, breaded and then deep fried. The result was a really nice trio of flavours, ever so slightly briney, tender on the inside and crisp in the outside. I don’t think we were expecting skewers because the menu said basket, but the flavours were clean, and the accompanying tartar sauce was so explosively fresh that we decided not to get hung up on names. For main, despite my initial disappointment that they had run out of the Rib Eye, I was utterly impressed by the T-bone they offered me instead. First of all, it was huge, and cooked medium well, exactly as I had asked. As I cut into it, the juices oozed out, and I mopped them right up with each chunk I had sliced off, determined not to let a drop of the goodness go to waste. The steak had those attractive griddle pan lines on it, and just the right amount of charring. Call me a glutton if you like, but I also had the Grilled Seabass. Yes, I ordered two mains because I just have never had seabass in Lagos before and I was curious to see what it would be like. The verdict? It was absolutely beautiful. Two fillets, perfectly cooked, and delicately seasoned with butter, black pepper and fresh dill. EO had the Veal Surf & Turf, medium rare, and she almost squealed with delight as she enjoyed the first few bites. It was perfectly pink in the centre, and still very much alive. They didn’t tell us that each of their dishes came with a baked potato and some veg already on the plate, so EO ordered the ‘Gratinated Potatoes’ (that’s potatoes au gratin) to you and me; and I ordered the Roast potatoes with Oregano. The gratin was OK, but my oregano potatoes were an epic failure. I just couldn’t understand why a restaurant of this calibre would serve anaemic looking potatoes with a reluctant smattering of dried herbs on top and be proud of that. That rather upset me, because the roast potato that came on the plate of steak was delicious, so I didn’t understand why the ones ordered separately went wrong; but I was temporarily consoled by the Sauteed Green Beans with Bacon. Those guys were just luscious, and I wolfed them down in huge forkfuls, splashing the sauce on my shirt by mistake, and not even caring. I asked for mine without the bacon because I wasn’t in the mood for it, but the greens still tasted very good, sans le piggy. I was excited to see that they had a bottle of Beaujolais on the wine list. This wine apparently falls in and out of favour with winos all the time, but I have always loved it, and it is unusual to find in Lagos, so perhaps next time I go back, I’ll try it out to see whether we still get along. For dessert, we ordered the chocolate mousse. Now again, the name was a little bit misleading. We were expecting a pot of gooey goodness, super cold, and dense and fudgey; dark and almost bitter; the kind that sticks to your teeth and to your spoon, and makes you close your eyes to savour the flavour. That’s what I see in my head when you say chocolate mousse to me. Instead, we got something that was more like a tiramisu-gateaux, built up quite high of alternating thin layers of white cake and brown chocolate. It looked expertly crafted, and I must admit, it tasted good. It was a good, rich dessert, especially when eaten with the chocolate sauce on the plate it was served in, but it was definitely not mousse, and so it wasn’t what I was expecting. Because we were so gloriously full from all that we had eaten, we skipped the coffee at the end and opted instead for fresh lemon infused hot water.
The decor: The ambience at Eko Steakhouse is very successful and it somehow manages to feel smart without being oppresive. The lighting is warm and low, tranquil music plays from the speakers, and the tables are far enough apart for you to have a quiet conversation without worrying about being overheard. I also liked the view of the patio, with all the plants, and it somehow makes you feel insulated from the madness of Lagos. The bar is very well stocked, and they also have a selection of cigars so you could also totally just go there for a drink, if you are older and don’t want to be in a place that is heaving with mad children.
The service: Attentive, enthusiastic and quite well informed on the menu.
The verdict: Would I go back? Absolutely, but I would probably call ahead to make sure that the steak I want is in stock. All together a pleasant experience and probably the closest approximation to fine dining that you’ll get in this our corner of the world. As out dear Governor often says, Eko Oni Baje.