Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Festive interlude

Heading back to Europe for a couple of weeks over Christmas. There are loads of reviews to write up, so will post more in the new year.

In the meantime, why not entertain yourself with my friend's blog: How di bohdi? It offers some tasty slices of life in West Africa.

Also - people are really talking up a new Sushi place in Plateau called 'Fuji' on Rue Victor Hugo. I'll be down to check it out in the new year, but I've heard very good things so far.

Merry Christmas folks.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Restaurant News

New Openings:

Le Seven, Rue Mohammed V x Felix Faure
Re-opened by the people who used to own La Fiesta, this place has been given a welcome transformation - gone are the red walls, badly dressed 'socialites' doing cocaine in the toilets, and high volume cheap techno soundtrack. Instead the new look Seven is a bit more grown up, a bit more sophisticated and altogether brighter. Judging by the welcome and service at last night's soft opening this may become a Plateau hotspot for all the right reasons. Lunchtime menu focuses on creative salads, while the evening menu keeps to straightforward French cooking (Menu Degustation 18,000 CFA). I'll be stopping by for dinner in the New Year.

I-Cone, Route de Ngor, Almadies
New fancy Cafe recently opened on route de Ngor. Expect an updated version of the classic Dakar patisserie. With the new Casino supermarket up the road I expect they'll do well from passing trade.

Restaurant News

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Sea Views

As you'd expect, there are many restaurant in Dakar with sea views. Here are a handful for breezy Sunday afternoons.

Le Dionevar, Pointe des Almadies
Perhaps cheese and onion crisps are considered to be a sophisticated amuse in France. I somehow doubt it. This place is trying hard to be an upmarket French-style joint, but is outclassed by the cheap as chips seafood offerings across the car park.

  • Service was fine
  • Nice christmas decorations
  • The oysters. You know when something doesn't smell quite right... but its too late because you've just knocked it back...
  • Cheese and onion crisps on a dining table. *Shakes head*.
Le N'gor, Almadies, by the sea
Another breezy beachside venue which is very popular on Sundays. The restaurant has bags of character, but service is slow, and the food is ony worthwhile if you've spent the afternoon getting drunk here.

  • Meet of with some friends and soak up the seaside vibes.
  • Drinking all of your wine while waiting for service.
Hotel Sokhamon, Bd Roosevelt x Av Nelson Mandela (website)
A boutique hotel with an unusual cave-like restaurant cut into the cliffs. The awkwardly sloping decking at the edge of the cliff is a fine place to spend an evening supping a drink and watching the sun set / planes fly over. The upmarket restaurant tries hard, with some poncey experimentation that doesn't really work out.

  • For drinks on the deck before moving on elsewhere
  • For formal dining if you stay away from the wackier items
  • It's pricey
  • Service is a bit fussy, and slow
Lagon I, Rue de la Petite Corniche
Some sort of ridiculous nautical / sport fishing themed restaurant. Does that float your boat? Then you are as vulgar as this restaurant. Overpriced grub for French tourists who have been allowed out of the Club Med prison walls for a couple of hours. On the plus side I saw a very nice dog in the restaurant, sitting calmly at the feet of an elderly lady.

  • You actually laugh for the first few minutes, particularly at the faux crocodile pit. Then you remember that you have to eat there, and consider throwing yourself in.
  • Just avoid
Le Relais Sportif, Route Corniche Ouest
If you enjoy eating in the dark, come here in the evening. If you'd prefer to see what you are eating come in the day. Actually, don't bother eating. If you can catch the attention of a waiter (perhaps try setting fire to something), have some beers and enjoy the breeze off the sea.

  • For afternoon beers.
  • Coming after dark
  • Eating
More sea view tips from Almadies coming soon.


Other Restaurant News:
The Christmas decorations are up at Les Ambassades bakery in Point E. I shall be keeping my eye out for some of the more vulgar festive decor around town. Any tip-offs most appreciated.

Many thanks to L'Institut Francais (the CCF) for letting us use their grounds for our informal Petanque championship a couple of weeks ago. The staff there were superb and did us a great favour.

Look out for a detailed review of 'Le Lodge' on Experimental Jifflings at the end of next week.

Bon appetit

Monday, 17 November 2008

Random factor, like a tractor...

No regional theme this time, just a few odd ones I've missed out.

New Africa
, 9794, Sacre Coeur III
A bar / restaurant with a pool table and a creative menu. Popular with moneyed Senegalese and French ex-pats. Get crunching on crab claws and all manner of sea critters by ordering the spaghetti a l'oceane, or try one of the thoughtfully assembled tagines. Check the ridiculous map of the World on the wall in the porch for whole continents you never new existed.

  • The Spaghetti a l'Ocean is a thing of wonder.
  • Good casual vibes for a game of pool and a beer with friends
  • Service can be slow
  • Parking is tricky in the sandy backstreets

La Noix D'or, Rue Aime cesaire x Rue E, Fann.
Since this is only a step away from the Chinese Embassy one would have thought that it must be the best place for Chinese food in town. A shame then that it's ghost-town empty. Perhaps there is a bit more trade early in the evening. Pricey, but reasonable take-away.

  • Take away is reasonable quality, with a few more unusual dishes than the standard efforts
  • The spooky emptiness of the restaurant itself

Le Celtic, Rue 6, Point E
Back to Point E again, this place is a cracking bar on Rue 6. Staff are friendly and the vibes are good. A shame more people don't drink there are its a great neighbourhood bar. Food is fresh and comes in healthy portions - the staff even came around with leftover pommes sautes from the kitchen.

  • Good steaks and grills
  • Cocktails (watch out for the daily cocktail special offer)
  • A little bit too much Sting on the stereo if you ask me.

Zaika, 14 Fann-Hock
This Indian restaurant has an indoor water feature. Frankly, if a restaurant has an indoor water feature, I expect the waiters to wear bow ties and moustaches, and to have my food brought to me by trained monkeys dressed in gold lame. Its OK. Bit pricey. (note - Zaika is currently closed for rennovation)

  • The deep fried starter selection.
  • You may meet David Bowie throwing a baby into the air on the way to the toilet and end up never returning from the labyrinth. To hell with it, just go in the water feature.

In the news:
A new chef at Ethiopian restaurant Lalibela (Rue A, Point E) has improved both the quantity and the quality of the food. The cooking now complements the delightful rooftop setting.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Plateau Part Deux

Some more places to enjoy / avoid downtown.

La Croix du Sud, 20 Avenue Albert Sarraut, Plateau
Like walking into a Blackpool bed and breakfast on the weekend of a dogging convention, you can almost feel the middle-aged suburban sleaze dripping down the walls. Shrivelled expat divorcees share Calvados with rotund drunks. The restaurant is alright, but half an hour in the bar was enough to put me off going near there again.

  • If you're into swinging.
  • The drunken, lecherous men and women.

La Forchette, 4 rue Parent, Plateau
Upmarket, stylish, and popular with the French and Lebanese contingent. Service is sharp, but food can be inconsistent. Take a fat wallet, and don't miss the desserts.

  • There is a weekday lunchtime deal - 6,000 CFA for two courses. Great value.
  • Puds - the Roti Chocolat is divine, and the cheeky Creme Brulee en coque is as smooth as silk
  • It gets pretty smoky
Chez Loutcha, 101 Rue Moussa Diop, Plateau
Cape verdean, Senegalese and European food. A menu like a telephone directory, and portions that could feed a sasquatch. Chez Loutcha is just grubby and disorganised enough for visiting foreigners to rave about, as they feel like they've had some sort of 'African experience'. On the other hand its just clean and organised enough to fleece the toubabs with large portions of poor quality food.

  • Portions are large. You won't go hungry.
  • The so called Cape Verdean dishes - large quantities of beans with gag inducing chunks of stale fat.
Le Seoul, 75 rue Amadou Assane Ndoye, Plateau
Bizarre Korean / karaoke joint. Don't feel embarassed about singing, as you'll be the only customers, despite the restaurant being a tastefully decorated quiet haven in Plateau. Food choice is buffet, or nothing. At least its a decent buffet. For a more detailed review, click here.

A decent enough buffet with a bit of sushi and a few different flavours
Bizarrely enough, Some of Radiohead's twitchier moments on the karaoke machine
Private room for karaoke

Restaurant kicks out at 11pm.
Spooky feeling that the restaurant is a cover for something more sinister...

Fast food coming up next. And there should be an option to subscribe to the blog appearing to the right of the text...

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Plateau Part 1

Here are a few upmarket places in the busier part of town.

Mezzo, 26 Rue Jules Ferry, Plateau
Smart. Leather sofas, antipasti, trip-hop on the stereo... Well French trip-hop, which is a pretty dire facsimile. Anyhow, this place is cool, and modern, but not expensive or rammed to the gills with teenagers with big hair, oversized sunglasses, and DOLCE & GABBANA screaming from every conceivable orifice. The atmosphere is more Italian families, courting couples, and folks warming up for a night on the tiles.

  • Great pizzas. Possibly the best in town.
  • Pasta is good too...
  • The salty chocolate cake is surprisingly ace.

  • Music gets a bit loud later on.

Farid, 51 Rue Vincens, Plateau
Slick, high end Lebanese food, this is one of my top picks in Dakar. A varied menu with fantastic mezze. Frequented by Lebanese for celebrations - I witnessed an engagement party where a whole roast sheep was brought out (with a little paper hat on its head) by a rotund chef. The party then enjoyed dancing in a circle around the sheep. Thats my kind of party.

  • The mezze
  • Reasonable wines
  • Can cater for parties

  • It can get a bit dark on the street outside the restaurant. Take care.

Cafe de Rome, 32 Bld de la Republique, Plateau
This is a favourite with the Dakar glitterati according to some. There is a fancy airconditioned restaurant, or a more laid back terrace. the Italian food is unremarkable, with a bit of a microwaved vibe.

  • To see or be seen, if that's your thing.
  • Nice terrace
  • The food isn't very interesting, and it's a bit pricey

Le Toukouleur, 122 Rue Moussa Diop, Plateau
Warm terracotta walls and Mediterranean vibes make this a relaxing haven in Plateau. Upmarket prices for high quality creative cooking.

  • Very willing to put together something interesting for vegetarians if you ask
  • Red wine comes thoroughly chilled

Plateau Part 2 next week.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Culture and Cuisine in Plateau

Fancy a spot of culture with your food? Here are a few spots in Plateau for when getting drunk is not necessarily the main aim of the evening.

Le Bidew Bi at L'Institute Francais Leopold Sedar Senghor (aka the CCF), 89 rue Joseph T. Gomis, Plateau.

A nice semi-outdoor space that hosts plays and concerts (sometimes attracting big stars from West Africa), has a decent menu, laidback social atmosphere, and quality artists workshops to browse.

  • Great fruit juices
  • Decent salads
  • Sometimes it's randomly booked for private functions, so call ahead.
  • The kitchen has often run out of your first choice, and your second choice.

Kadjinol station Avenue Albert Sarrault X Salva, Plateau.
A cinema / bar / restaurant all in one. Pull up a sofa and watch arthouse flicks with a beer in hand. Movies are often shown in their original English or Spanish verision, with French subtitles. They'll even take requests if there is a particular film that you've missed.

  • The food isn't bad, some Thai bits and bobs and the odd brochette.
  • Films come free
  • You pay a premium on food and beer, which pays for the film
  • You may be the only party in the place.

Since my previous post about Point E, I've been enjoying a few drinks at a cosy car called 'Le Celtic' in Point E. You can find it on an un-named (to the best of my knowledge) avenue, one street east of Rue 5/Birago Diop. I guess it would by Rue 6, or 5-and-a-half.

The owner is part Irish, hence the Celtic, but its not an Irish pub by any means. I haven't eaten there yet, but it seems popular. A bit of live music here and there, and pleasant outdoor seating (bring the insect repellent) makes it a decent place to go to wind down after work.

Apparently Lalibela has a new chef and is back on form, so a visit there in the next couple of weeks is on cards.

Friday, 26 September 2008

You can't ignore Ngor

Back in Dakar, so time for some more posting. Ngor isn't a bad little neighbourhood for eating out. Its something of a favourite spot with older French ex-pats, laid back Senegalese of all ages, and the odd tourist. There are a couple of reasonable supermarkets in the area too. Haldiram's supermarket has a good range of exotic foods (mainly indian ingredients), beer and wine, and the owners speak English and French. The Grain D'or Bakery is a top spot for your pain quotidien as well as spectacular cakes and posh ice cream.

(opposite Shell station)
A pizza caff and take-away popular for casual dining with the locals of Ngor. A favourite of mine, and a fantastic place to get trolleyed.

  • Food is cheap and cheerful.
  • Service is brisk and efficient
  • Drinking 10 large bottles of Gazelle on a Thursday night.

Sao Brazil (behind Shell station)
This could be my favourite place in town. I don't know why, I just feel relaxed here. There are comedy little and large waiters for a start, its outdoors, good music, a laidback menu, beers and strong cocktails.

  • Pizzas and simple steaks are good.
  • Tuna nicoise is well put together.
  • Treat yourself to a cocktail.
  • There are sometimes mosquitoes, so take the usual precautions.
  • Occasional hustlers outside.
  • Sometimes the service is slow, but just enjoy your drinks and forget about it.

Cabin du Pecheur
, Ngor Plage
A little scruffy, although I've heard they've just had a refit. Zinging fresh seafood, simply prepared, with the sound of waves crashing nearby.

  • Massive oysters.
  • The seafood mixed grill, with a side of garlicky french beans.
  • A little pricey, but worth it for a treat.
For all the reviews so far, click here.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Have you tried the thiof in Yoff?

My old neighbourhood, Yoff, has little to recommend it in Restaurant terms. Being a dry quarter, stuck on the north of the Peninsula it's hardly going to draw in the punters. Despite this, if you fancy pitching up with a couple of bowls and buying some Mafe and Rice for 400 CFA, then Yoff is definitely the place to do it.

Hong Kong II (Airport Road)
Slightly dishevelled, with a miserable old lady at the helm. Hong Kong II (where is Hong Kong 1?) serves, somewhat incongruously, Vietnamese cuisine with added jumbo.

  • Prawns with ginger.
  • If you live in Yoff. This is the nearest decent place for a beer.

  • The food isn't great, if I'm honest.

Keur Mouna
Just cross the road into Parcelles at the edge of non-alcoholic Yoff and you'll find all the fun you need at Keur Mouna. A hotel and restaurant apparently, although when we visited all they had was steak (which wasn't bad) and rooms by the hour.

  • The steak was OK
  • Watching the floorshow of furtive punters selecting a prostitute. The madam is a tough lady, and will issue a sound beating to any customers who get lippy.

  • In case you hadn't realised yet: this place is a brothel.
Via Via
Hmm. The usual mix of thieb, thiof and yassa, but done up for the backpacker brigade. It's in Yoff, but discreetly serves beer.

  • A cheap clean hostel, and a great place to base yourself as a backpacker and grab some cheap meals.
  • There is a little library of old travel books in many languages.
  • Young French trustafarians with braided hair and multi-coloured vaguely ethnic clothing who have come to Africa to perfect their djembe playing skills. Annoying idiots.

Don't be tempted by the beachside shacks offering pizzas and burgers - just pop your head into the kitchen and you'll immediately pick up the e.coli vibe.

More soon.

For all the reviews so far, click here.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Within Staggering Distance of Point E

To kick off Dakar Restaurant Reviews, lets look at some of the restaurants within staggering distance from Chez Jiffler in Point E. I've left the local cafes and patisseries out, for a future round up.

Just4you, Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop
The legendary Just4you is where you can see some of the best Senegalese musicians do their thing. Orchestra Baobab often take the stage on Saturday evenings, but you can also catch young hopefuls doing an early evening set. When the place is full, service is slow, but why not drop in a bit early (and get free admission), have a leisurely meal, then soak up the music over a few Gazelles until the wee small hours.

  • Decently priced modern French-Senegalese cooking, and the odd curry thrown in.
  • Pitch up early and catch the show for free.
  • Ordering late when it's busy.
  • The bit around the corner from the bar furthest from the stage can get a bit dark and mosquito filled.

Chez Mimi
, Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop

Unremarkable Senegalese grills, along with pasta and pizza on Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop. Quiet and fairly straightforward. There is a bar outside, or airconditioned dining room.

  • Pizzas and Pasta are OK. It's not too expensive
  • Would struggle with larger groups.

Jardin Thailandais
, 10 Boulevard du Sud, Point E.

An upmarket Thai with attractive gardens and an indoor dining room. Jardin T can cater for large groups, or will happily accommodate a table for two. Flavours are refreshing and almost spot on, and the staff are friendly. Book ahead.

  • The "Tom yung kai" soups are great, as are the curries
  • Female friends all seem to love the Lychee "Kir Thai" (tooth-achingly sweet cocktail of lychee juice and white wine)
  • If you're on a tight budget.

Mini Resto, Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop
Nice restaurant, shame about the uninspiring name. Especially as it's not very small. Cameroonian and African specialities and a good mix of customers from all over West Africa bring good vibes.

  • Good aloko.
  • Decent Brochettes
  • Sauce gombo (but then one should generally avoid that)
  • Cockroach spotting
  • Standing on a slug in the toilets

Lalibela, Rue A, Point E.
A fantastic rooftop venue with low dining tables, charming owner, but the Ethiopian food is inconsistent. I hope they turn this one round as it has the potential to be a great place.

  • Atmospheric restaurant
  • The food is inconsistent

La Fiesta, VDN
Cheerful bar and restaurant with a straightforward menu. Occasional live music (covers usually, I enjoyed a phonetic rendition of Phil Collins one evening), and the most friendly and enthusiastic waiter in Dakar keep the punters coming.

Pizzas are OK
  • A great place for a social meal, followed a few beers, and a game of darts, a bit like a pub in that sense.
  • Getting hit by a car while staggering along the busy road outside.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008


Dakar restaurant reviews coming soon...