Ikoyi is a fusion restaurant that blends West African ingredients (Nigerian, primarily) with Western cuisine for very a unique fine dining experience.
Last summer I went to Ikoyi for the first time and wrote a First Impression review. As a Nigerian I was incredibly excited about a fine dining Nigerian restaurant in ST JAMES MARKET, so inevitably Ikoyi didn’t live up to my lofty expectations because Ikoyi isn’t exactly a Nigerian restaurant; it’s something uniquely different.
I didn’t go with Shiima last time because there wasn’t much on the menu for her (no chicken dishes lol), but we’d been checking the menu regularly because Shiima was keen to go and her taste has expanded a lot since then. We checked the menu late last month and there were two chicken dishes, so we hurriedly booked dinner for last week.
Ikoyi is very elegantly furnished, with beautiful clay light shades and subtle pieces of art dotted around the room. It’s also fairly snug, but the space is well used. The service is also very attentive and, for the uninitiated, eager to explain what it is you’re eating.
What we ordered
The menu is split into Snacks, First Course, Main Course, More to Share, and Desserts.
We ordered Buttermilk plantain & smoked scotch bonnet from snacks. Squid & coffee shito and chicken gizzards, plantain & toast for first course. Chicken efo and duck with candied bacon for main and smoked crab Jollof Rice to share.
Before the buttermilk plantain arrived we were presented with complimentary cow skin sandwich. They were little crunchy delights and we enjoyed them. I was worried Shiima wasn’t even going to try it, but she didn’t hesitate even though she had no idea what the sandwich filling was.
I knew it was the cow skin sandwich but I just went for it as it was tiny and looked pretty, lol. – Shiima
We both loved the buttermilk plantain. Seemingly lightly fried and covered on one side with very hot dried pepper. The heat was almost too much for Shiima, but she powered through. We even considered ordering another one, but we thought to wait to see how we’re feeling after the main course.
I didn’t expect it to be spicy, but it was delicious and definitely worth the fire in my mouth. – Shiima
The squid & coffee shito was for me, and I didn’t enjoy it. Truly, I just didn’t get the dish. It’s lovely to look at and all the elements are well executed, but the taste didn’t work for me.
Shiima’s chicken gizzard with plantain and toast was really delicious. I had a bite and I wanted more, but Shiima was enjoying it too much to share any more… and I loved that too. The chicken gizzards were very well cooked and seasoned, with soft sweet plantain and an excellent spicy sauce.
Yes, it was absolutely delicious! And to be fair, I didn’t know he wanted more. You have to speak up next time, lol – Shiima
Shiima’s Chicken efo & asparagus looked really good, but I was expecting something completely different lol. Shiima really enjoyed it though, especially the simply seasoned succulent pieces of chicken. She didn’t really care one way or the other about the “efo”, but the puree complimented the chicken really well. I had a piece of the chicken tossed in a bit of the efo and I really liked it too… although for you Nigerian, no, the taste didn’t resemble any efo I’d previously eaten.
The chicken pieces were breast and I tend to avoid them because there super dry. But surprisingly these weren’t. Probably the best chicken breast I’ve had – Shiima
I really enjoyed the duck, uda, candied bacon and bitter leaf. And running through the dish was a spice – uda – that I not only recognized but I absolutely loved. You might prefer your duck less pink, but I don’t mind either way and although a tad chewy it was delicious.
Smartly, Shiima ordered the jollof rice without the smoked crab, but I wanted to try the smoked crab so I asked for it to be brought separately.
Shiima absolutely loved the jollof rice; she says it’s the best she’s ever had and although she hasn’t had many, she tried it at all the Nigerian weddings/occasions we’ve been to. I really enjoyed it as well, and it had a good kick to it. It might not be your classic jollof, but it tastes just as good and even better than most. Before you crucify me, yes, I’m Nigerian, but I’m not exactly a Nigerian food aficionado and over the years I’ve had less jollof rice than Shiima, because, you know, I don’t eat rice. Ha!!!
Actually Amen, I’ve had a lot more Jollof. My friends from school were mostly Nigerian and Ghanaian, so I’ve tried Jollof from them. I’ve always enjoyed Jollof but since this fella doesn’t eat rice I haven’t had much – Shiima
We shared the Black Benne and Blackcurrant. It was really lovely; it’s essentially a light and delicious blackcurrant parfait covered with benne and on a bed of activated charcoal (and I think some cocoa powder too). A really lovely and creative dessert.
We really enjoyed our dinner at Ikoyi. I especially did because Shiima loved everything she ate and she’s keen to go back; I’m oddly proud of that – proud of her, and the restaurant. The restaurant is elegant, the food is good and inventive, and the service is ace. I recommend for relaxed date, special occasion, business meal, and small groups (no more than 6 people). Ikoyi is expensive though, so do consider that when you’re making your plans.
Cuisine: Nigerian Inspired Contemporary Fusion
Dress Code: Casual/Smart Casual
Shiima Star Dish: Chicken Gizzards, Plantain and toast (this was tough for her because she enjoyed everything!)
Amen’s Star Dish: Jollof Rice
Price: Over £50pp
Rating: 4.7 out of 5