Wednesday 27 December 2006

Surrogate Mum cooking @ 805

Accepting the ordinary

Eating at 805, 805 Old Kent Road, SE15 1NX

Having been called a snob a number of times when I have given objective reviews to things pertaining to Nigerian endeavours, it woud be remiss of me not to commend exceptions to what was looking like a rule.

I have always sought out restaurants that serve Nigerian cuisine, first in London and then on other cities around Europe. In fact, it is a bold initiative to set up a business that caters to particular tastes, however, there is still work to be done to burnish up these business to standards that would open them up to wider and sophisticated clientele.

In some cases, I have been tempted to invade the kitchen without the courtesy of asking for an apron to teach a few fundamentals about the food being served, however, the fear of walking into a place that might make a mockery of the Cholera Joints in Nigeria which consistute sheds of disease borne vermin nestling through the feet of the madam of the cauldron has restrained me.

Enduring the pain

I have in times past borne the pain of food poisoning with resolve and fortitude, the taste of home sometimes compels one to visit again, the need for competition cannot be overstated.

Years ago, Africana on Camberwell Road was the standard bearer, even recently, when offered a doggie-bag for what was left-over, I was indiscrete enough to suggest my dog would not sniff the food - it was that bad.

All Roads to 805

So, this day, I found that this restaurant was on Old Kent Road, number 805, it is no wonder that I never liked London buses and where I should have asked questions, I did not - so between London Bridge and my destination, I happened to ride on 4 buses that all turned off the road except the last.

I was not sure if the restaurant was open, but when I got in and asked, a friendly and courteous waitress ushered me to a seat and brought the menu.

The menu was beautifully designed, well laid out and properly assigned the entrees to the appropriate sections, I do prefer restaurants that defer to words better than Starter, but language does seek a common standard for general understanding.

The riot of tastes and imagination

Boiled Yam with tomato omelette and hints of pepper - well, that was once for breakfast at home when I was a kid, the pictures that formed in my imagination.

Ewa Aganyin - black eyed beans made to a special Aganyin (a Yoruba tribe stradling South-Western Nigerian and Eastern Benin Republic) - it was a pot pourri of delectable tastes, one was lost for choice.

I settled for the Goat Meat Pepper Soup - an entree, Pounded Yam with Edikan Ikan and assorted meats and Guiness Malt drink.

Hot! the pepper soup was, a sniffling nose after the first soup, sweat on my scalp by the second spoon, very palatable.

Exquisite service

Meanwhile, the service just improved as the pounded yam arrived, a bowl of warm water to wash my hands, as I finished, a bowl of soapy water to wash my hands again, after a rather sumptious and wonderfully prepared meal.

Before, I could ask, toothpicks to bring my dentures back to good looks, the only fault I could find was my not learning of the place and visiting before.

I was both suitable amused and impressed, a Nigeria business that had moved beyond the contempt of familiarity and the offering of the mediocre because we condone it, to providing service as one should expect.

If you are seeking authentic Nigeria cuisine in London, you should be making tracks to 805 and 805 Old Kent Road, SE15 1NX - Bus 21 would get you there from London Bridge and you will be overcome with the nostalgia of mother´s home-cooking, once again.

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