The faded façade gives the impression that it shut down a long time ago. Inside, too, the Equateur’s main dining room is slightly drab and in need of a revamp. Its menu, on the other hand, offers its fair share of modern and exciting African flavours. In fact, there’s an incredibly wide range of treats to try from Cameroon, Senegal and also the Caribbean, including classics like mafé (peanut butter stew), yassa (a chicken dish), tiep bou dien (fish and rice), salt cod fritters and stuffed crab.
To whet the appetite, we start with a large, refreshing, sugary glass of bissap, a traditional African drink made with a base of dried hibiscus petals. Next, a plate of salt cod fritters is very moreish and not too spicy, though its fiery sauce certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. The signature dish of charcoal-braised chicken is wonderfully generous, but from the first mouthful it’s obvious the meat isn’t that great quality. Which is an utter shame, because its onion and tomato sauce is just brilliant.
Our meal ends on a positive note thanks to the house ‘equatorial terrine’, a kind of iced vanilla nougat with dried fruit and caramelised nuts. But this sadly doesn’t quite wipe our memory of all that lacklustre chicken.
TRANSLATION: FLORA HUDSON