In a bland modern development off Tooley Street, this branch of the South African-owned mini-group sticks to a winning formula, with a basement restaurant complementing the deli counters upstairs. Although there’s wine-themed decoration in the form of posters and crates, the climate-controlled cheese and wine rooms provide the most attractive element of the design. The list pays attention to all the classic French regions (Champagne is particularly well represented) but it’s difficult to avoid drifting back to the outstanding selection of South African wines. Some mark-ups are minimal - barely higher than the retail price - while others are fairly steep but not outrageous by London standards. There is a decent selection by the glass. The menu is international in scope with an emphasis on French and Italian cooking, but makes a special feature of dishes from the grill, including Pata Negra pork chops and a côte de boeuf for two people. The bar has a simple menu of cold dishes, especially platters of charcuterie.
This colourful Old Kent Road restaurant proves something of a hit with local Nigerians looking for a taste of home. There’s a choice of two dining areas: the smarter executive suite (which can also be hired for events) and the main dining room, which is less pristine but equally popular. Diners come here to wolf down large Nigerian-style portions of cowfoot, spiced chicken gizzards, fish pepper soup, jollof rice and peppered snails. Tilapia with fried plantain, grilled chicken with couscous and salad, and tiger prawns in a chilli and garlic sauce also feature. There's another branch in Hendon, and another back in Abuja, Nigeria, should you really get the taste for it.
Uncover a Moroccan hideaway when you walk into Couscous Darna. This exotic lantern-laden, low-lit boudoir gives off North African vibes from floor to ceiling, with Berberian pottery and a menu to match. Dine on hot or cold 'kemia' (mezze), couscous with grilled meat, tagine, skewers or salad.Shisha pipes and belly dancers come out at the weekends.
A Hendon restaurant serving West African cuisine.
An Ethiopian restaurant in north London that offers great value for money.
A family-run North African restaurant that serves up salads, kemia (mezze), pastries, couscous and tajines traditional to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. All in a cave-like setting of reds and dark wood, with fabric across the ceiling.
With its alfresco tables and North African lounge décor enhanced by a sprawl of Berber cushions, Tagine looks inviting, if a little oddly located, opposite the Bedford pub. This restaurant has been serving Moroccan food here for a long time and with a fairly lengthy menu that covers all the bases: kemia cold and hot, grills, couscous, and (of course) the dishes that give the restaurant its name. Desserts are mostly French in orientation, and there's a 'Party Menu' of dishes to share at £27.50. Tagine makes up for its lack of a license by serving fruity drinks as well as fresh mint tea, and you can finish the meal with shisha - traditional flavoured tobacco smoked from a hookah. The restaurant has opened a basement bar/lounge downstairs offering full food and drink service, and the terrace is for those who want to enjoy the fresh air (with or without a shisha).
In common with London’s other Eritrean restaurants, this low-key Brixton café named after the capital of Eritrea and decorated with a few East African touches, trades on its novelty value. Staff are efficient and well-versed in the ‘have you eaten Eritrean food before?’ schtick. The chicken dishes are particularly popular – well-seasoned ghee sauce seems to complement the meek white meat with aplomb. But we opted for the vegetarian mosob meal for two, consisting of red and green lentil stews, spinach, fried and sauced mixed vegetables and a smooth, spicy dish of ground chickpeas. The injera was plentiful, and also lighter and less spongy than others we have sampled. True to tradition, it serves as both plate and fork (scoop up the stews with torn-off pieces of bread, but try not to lick your fingers in the process – this is food to be shared). The set menus include the much-vaunted coffee ceremony, with its attendant waftings and frankincense burning. The coffee is excellent: roasted (under your nose) to perfect richness and tinged carefully with cardamom and cloves. A big bowl of fresh, warm, salty popcorn ensures that no one feels cheated by the absence of puds.
La Menar is a restaurant located in Fitzrovia. Chef Vernon Samuels offers a modern twist on traditional north-African dishes, preserving their authenticity while innovating with their looks and recipes. Expect a traditionally north-African decor.
There’s something of the community centre about this basement restaurant – it’s a little shabby, with workaday furniture, sauces served in polystyrene cups and an easy-clean tiled floor. And it certainly seems to be a meeting and eating place for the Somali community. Much of the menu reflects Somalia’s inclusion in Italian East Africa until 1960, so pasta dishes sit alongside soft Somali bread, stews and spices. In fact, there’s not much to scare the timid newcomer to African food. Dish names may seem difficult, but translate thus: spiced fried chicken with salad leaves and chilli dressing; goat’s cheese salad and sweet chilli; chicken and falafel. The Village is alcohol-free, but there are fruit smoothies as well as Somali spiced coffee and tea.
A Clapham Junction Eritrean restaurant.
Welcome to Dar Marrakech, the renowned Moroccan and Lebanese restaurant in Stratford. Dar Marrakech is run by Ahmed Harrak and son Nidal Harrak, Ahmed Harrak a chef-proprietor with an amazing 37 years experience in hospitality, and 31 years as Chef. Ahmed worked in the famous Maroush group of Lebanese restaurants. Dar Marrakech has a varied and delicious Moroccan and Lebanese menu, the restaurant is most famous for its couscous, which we guarantee is the best couscous in London. Dar Marrakech provides outside catering, and the restaurant can be hired out for private parties. Belly dancing at Dar Marrakech is available upon request, please call the restaurant for details. If you would like to enjoy delicious Dar Marrakech food at home, we provide a local delivery service, which is free of charge for orders over £25.
Flamingo is one of London’s few Ethiopian restaurants and it includes a fully-licensed bar and dining room. An African band provides the entertainment while you work your way through a menu of traditional dishes. You can try the national dish - a hot pepper and spice stew called ‘Wot’ – with Ethiopian unleavened bread injera. If you’re not a fan of the hot food, try milder dishes like alicha curry, all washed down with Ethiopian coffee. Injera bread is also sold to take away.
Named after Addis Ababa’s bustling main trading area, this unpretentious restaurant tries to remain loyal to its Ethiopian roots. The simple red and white interior is suffused with the aroma of incense, the walls hung with Amharic tapestries and Ethiopian portraits. It’s a venue better suited to dinner than lunch, and the food – served on traditional injera pancake – canvary in quality. Lega tibs (lamb cubes in green pepper and onion) was meltingly tender, but sweetish spices swamped the fish in assa wot (fish curry); we also felt that the ayib begomen (spinach and cottage cheese) was too salty. That said, it’s rare to find own-made tej (tangy honey wine) in London, and you can’t fault Merkato’s prices.
This quick-fix open all-week spot has taken fusion to a new level with new-fangled spins on South African bunny chow - Durban’s comforting curry-in-a-loaf staple. After selling bunnies from a food truck and then a pop-up in Shoreditch, the team who set up Bunnychow have switched its allegiance and turned the dial down low on its South African roots. The chilli-flecked mutton curry has gone, and in its place is a globetrotting choice of wacky fillings - haddock chowder, Cumberland sausage and blue cheese, and even an all-day English breakfast. We’re missing the masala, the mess, and the chilli kicks. By Roopa Gulati
The Farringdon branch of this South African-themed pair of restaurants, both with roughly identical menus. See the London Bridge branch for a full review.
So popular has Gold Coast proven, owner William Quagraine has opened another restaurant in Brixton (multi-location African eateries are extremely rare in London). The upstairs dining area at the Norwood branch now only operates at weekends, but in the ground-floor gastropub, you can enjoy a full menu alongside an impressive selection of Ghanaian beers and spirits. The menu features Ghanaian staples such as palm nut soup (a thick stew of okra, aubergine and dried fish served with various meat accompaniments, a Sunday special) and hearty starch side dishes like waakye (rice and beans), jollof and banku (fermented cassava served in banana leaves). Portions are hefty. Given the popularity of its big-screen TV with football fans, the pub probably isn’t the place to go for a quiet meal, but for a lively dose of Ghanaian food and hospitality, Gold Coast may be the beach for you. And note: on Saturday there may well be a big DJ night.
Just by the Westway in the Ladbroke Grove area of chichi Notting Hill is Dine Delicious, a nod to the local Caribbean connection and, quite simply, a delicious choice for dining. Inspired by the cuisine of the Caribbean and Africa, Dine Delicious specialises in those well known traditional dishes such as jerk chicken and curries, all in large portions at stunningly low prices. Vegetarians are well served by Dine Delicious too with a wide array of flavourful, colourful and tempting choices that make the usual risotto or pasta dish look, well frankly a bit sorry for itself. Comfortable and simply decorated, with large windows out on to well heeled Lancaster Road, Dine Delicious is bright during the day, becoming more intimate in the evening with service accommodating and extremely friendly throughout. We recommend visiting on a Wednesday for entertainment in the shape of Dine Delicious’s famed karaoke night.
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