Tuesday, 15 September 2009

A Sausage to India

Sure you can get curry in Dakar, but it usually an insipid Frenchified version, mildly spiced and served with - Cyril Fielding-esque - pasta.

There are two Indian restaurants proper in Dakar, the recently re-opened Zaika, and Indiana:

There isn't much interest in the lunchtime buffet, probably due to Ramadan, so our table of five has the run of the restaurant. 5,000 FCfa gets you half a dozen average curries, cooked on the bone, and an assortment of slightly spongy deep-fried pakora. Roti are pretty good though, and service is friendly. You should see the state of their napkins though - you wound't use them to wipe the floor.

Not bad, for a cheapish buffet lunch, but not somewhere I'd rush to make a booking.

Adjoining the restaurant is a small shop selling spices and a few indian products. It's slightly cheaper than Haldiram's, and sells some of the harder to find items like mustard seeds.

After a long wait - it must be over 18 months - Zaika has finally re-opened. I'm sure what took so long to be honest, as the refurbishments are barely noticable, and the place looks like it could do with, er, a bit of a refit. The toilets are somewhat nearer to the restaurant than before, so no need to take your hiking boots anymore.

Never mind. Mango lassi is inconsistent - a little better the second time round, while curries are about the average UK bottom end of the high street standard. I've had better biriyani elsewhere, although the tandoori chicken and fish come up to scratch. Samosas come shaped like cornish pasties, and are a bit heavy, but otherwise OK.

Of the two, Zaika is the better in terms of quality of food, and cleanliness of table linen. Don't expect too much from Zaika, but when you've been without a proper curry for a while, it might just satisfy the craving.

Radisson Blu

How do we pronounce this exactly? Is it blu as in bleu, or blur, or bleurgh?

Blu looks nice enough, all slaty coloured tiles and impressive thingies. The atrium is an eyecatching surprise as you enter the hotel from the top down, all hanging bits of fibre-optic (clearly inspired by the power lines outside my house) and fancy ikea lamps. Poolside is impressive too, with a dark blue (blu?) infinity pool that is already proving popular with Lebanese teenagers as a high profile heavy petting spot.

It has three sort of restaurants. Perhaps three menus is a more appropriate description. The flagship is the Filini Italian restaurant, the kind of blanded out upmarket restaurant you can find in five-star joints anywhere in the world. There is a more generic international menu served poolside, or you can sit indoors in some sort of weird corridor arrangement and tuck into club sandwiches and chicken wings.

The menu at Fillini's actually looks promising. There is none of the tedious pasta-pizza-steaknchips stuff one might normally expect, instead fillini's goes gently off piste with some interesting seafood options. The option is there for those who want the fully orchestrated multi-course Italian style blowout, but that would require both a thick waist and a thicker wallet.

Breads - onion foccacia, brown sliced, and grissini - are very good indeed, and I hope the in-house bakery will open to the public sometime soon. Mixed meat and vegetable antipasti are reasonable, with green beans in mint proving to be the star player. Pizzas are pretty good, but double the price of equally fine pizzas elsewhere in town.

Mrs Jiffler's risotto comes stacked with juicy prawns and a decent saffron punch, but tell tale white spots on the rice give away hasty cooking - surprising given the 40 minute wait in an almost empty restaurant.

Over at the poolside bar they knock out a very fine hamburger indeed. Cooked rare as requested and served with a robust, no-nonsense, toasted sesame bun. The burgers come with those little jarred condiments that they serve at every upmarket hotel in the tropics. The sort that visiting mothers of the Road to Wigan Pier generation like to slip into their handbags for later. Barracuda steak is tasty too, despite being hidden under a fizzy green salad toupe studded with the occasional shock anchovy nugget.

If I were to judge the Radisson on the quality of its food alone then things would be reasonably positive. You get decent food at a five-star price, what else should one expect? Well, one would expect decent coffee for 3,000FCfa, not insipid frothless cappuccino. At 7,000FCfa a pop I'd expect properly mixed cocktails made from quality spirits and fresh fruits. Most of all I'd expect a decent. Even after a couple of months to settle down the staff are not co-ordinated, customers have to play musical chairs, drinks don't arrive, bills don't arrive, change doesn't arrive... Little jars of mustard and piment and starched napkins don't make a five star hotel restaurant.

You can enjoy the pool for 10,000 FCfa/day
Weekend poolside + buffet is 28,000 FCfa

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dakar
Route de la Corniche ouest

Tel: +221 33 869 33 33

Restaurant News:
Indian restaurant Zaika has reopened on the Corniche. Check for a review soon.

The Ecole Superieure Gastronomique Hoteliere Arnaud has reopened on Allees Seydou Nourou Tall. Hopefully they'll still be turning out bargain lunches (Tel:+ 221 33 869 92 92).

Anyone tried the new 'J'Go' restaurant up in Almadies (Route de Ngor)? I had a look in on the opening night, but the place was filled with mediocre celebrities, and various poorly dressed members of the Dakar nightclub "set". Mrs Jiffler and I were given short shrift, possibly because we didn't have enough gold writing on our clothes.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

This place is rubbish, let's slash the seats.

Les Maquis des Allees
Sometimes when you walk into a place you just get good vibes straight away. Everything seems to be in it's right place: the music is good, staff are smiling, there is some activity at the bar. Your brain solves a very complex equation very quickly and you end up thinking 'Yeah, I like it here', or 'This place is rubbish, lets slash the seats'.

I like Les Maquis des Allees. I like the lack of pretention in the menu, I like the sous-verre style flag advert by the bar, I like the friendly staff, and I particularly like cocktails at 3,000 FCfa a pop.

The chef cares about what comes out of the kitchen, and comes out of the kitchen himself to check that all is going to plan. Don't expect gastronomic miracles, as this is still a maquis, and the occasional stale baguette is bound to find its way into circulation. But do expect decent quality meat, cooked with attention. The chef also knows how to handle a pizza oven, and the pizza bases here are almost flammkuchen thin, with the undersides marked by the occasional burnt black spots - about as perfect as you can get in Dakar. Sadly the toppings are overloaded and the tomato sauce is a little bit sweet. Order a pizza and tell the chef what you think, you never know, by the end of the hivernage he might have it spot on.

Les Maquis des Allees
Villa 4028
Alles Seydou Nourou Tall
Tel: 765 290041
Open 12-3 and 7 to Midnight. Closed Sunday and Monday lunchtime.

Given its middle class status and popularity with Ex-pats Mermoz is a bit short on restaurants and nightlife. By day, Kubata is a standard Thieb eatery, with simple lunches hovering around the 2,000 FCfa mark. Service is friendly and reasonably quick although the restaurant can get a little hot when the power goes off. Not worth going out of your way for, but a good example of its type nonetheless.

By night, Kubata hosts live music, and is gathering a decent local reputation. It's the kind of place where you might go to have a cheap evening out without wanting to get too messy.


Comico2 Mermoz Pyrotechnie
Villa No 59
77 585 25 63
860 47 93

Le Point E
Le Point E is a simliar joint in, surprisingly, Point E. Live music evenings here are few and far between, but it is worth a visit for splendid lunchtime plats. The daily menu usually offers two or three dishes (usually meat or fish) and sometimes dibi. The Senegalese food is as good as you will get outside of a family home, and it's the kind of place where you can comfortably take foreign visitors for a taste of Senegal.

Weekday lunches are always busy with a mix of local residents, office workers and the occasional group of foreign journalists. Service is quick and friendly, and most dishes come in at under 2,500 FCfa.

Le Point E
Rue de Thies
Point E

Restaurant News:
The Radisson Blu has been open for business for a couple of weeks now. The review should be up next week. I can't yet decide whether to kill it quick, and then dance about on its grave, or to linger over a slow and cruel death.

Monday, 6 July 2009

No lollipops?

La Provence
If you're male, there is something strangely democratic about the maquis of Dakar (although I'm told they're not a patch on the super maquis of Abidjan). Who knows who you'll find at the bar - a shopkeeper, drug smuggler, politician, teacher? Female customers seem to be a bit thinner on the ground, and are often working in one way or another.

La Provence on Seydou Nourou Tall has just had something of a refit, with the new restaurant kitted out in the style of 'Former Soviet hotel breakfast room'. Head for the darker barroom for a little more atmosphere, where you'll find drunks watching silent TV news, Congolese beats on the stereo, plastic table cloths and dimmed lights. They have a doorman, which is a good sign that things will start to get livelier later on.

The menu is lengthy, and Mrs Jiffler tentatively orders fahitas. We know it's unlikely they'll have them, but sometimes you can be surprised. The waitress returns and informs us that the new chef only knows how to cook three things: Brochettes, steaks, and fried fish.

Our table tries one of everything, accompanied by cold Gazelle and stories about the aforementioned Former Soviet hotel breakfast rooms. The food arrives and I'm magically transported by the smell to another era. However limited the abilities of the chef, she has somehow managed to recreate the exact smell of a 1980s Little Chef. I'm overwhelmed by childhood memories of the 'popular' British roadside diner, and have a sudden craving for an overpriced toasted teacake and an Olympic feast breakfast.

1980s reverie aside, the chef wasn't strictly telling the truth when she said she could cook a steak. My specimen comes hammered to minute steak thickness and cooked until grey. It resembles the leather tongue from an old pair of hiking boots in both appearance and texture, while its taste is thankfully hidden behind a wall of sauce pebble-dashed with peppercorns. Chips are OK, a bit oily, but at least the oil is fresh.

In this neck of the woods, I'd say you're better off at Maquis des Alles just up the road. Watch out for a review soon.

La Provence
Allees Seydou Nourou Tall
Tel: 77 645 97 78
Open seven days. 7am to midnight, until 1am Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

In search of a breeze

It's getting to that sticky time of year again when you sometimes just feel like lying down on a cool tiled floor wearing only your underpants. I find this particular posture both uncomfortable and undignified when taking lunch. You'll find me at the air-conditioned Les Ambassades with a battered paperback, squeaking on the leather seats and supping my Orangina.

Roof terraces are an ideal place to catch the breeze at this time of year, and there are a couple of venues worth checking out for a cheeky after work snifter.

See what they did there? Vounda-Bar? I bet whoever came up with that is still chuckling. Who says the Germans don't have a sense of humour? Vounda-bar's roost atop the Goethe Institute in Point E affords a different view of Point E. You can spy on people at the nearby piscine while enjoying the, ahem, wonderful breeze. You need to hang on to your quotidien though, otherwise the aforementioned breeze will carry it off all the way to Zone B.

Bar prices are reasonable, and proper panino come in at the 1500 FCfa mark. A small selection of larger meals are available from a weekly menu for around 4000Fcfa. Alternate Sundays host an impressive buffet brunch at 10,000FCfa a head (booking advised).

Café Vounda-Bar sur la terasse du Goethe-Institut
Piscine Olympique angle Rue Diourbel
Point E - Dakar - Senegal /
Tel.: +221 77 560 21 60
Email: movingafrica@yahoo.fr
11am to 7pm.

Hotel Le Djoloff
This smart boutique hotel (rates from 50,000FCfa/night) has an attractive rooftop terrace overlooking Soumbedioune and the Iles de la Madeleine. The bar is comfy with tinkling salsa music while a blackboard advertises today's menu choices. The fish is reportedly good, which it should be given that you can see the fish market from the terrace, but veal escalopes were somewhat leathery. Smoked salmon came blistered with lemon juice, rather like a Dakar fish carpaccio.

Despite slightly mediocre food This place is hard to beat for a cheeky apres work beer on a Friday evening. Even Soumbedioune looks nice from up on high.

Hotel Le Djoloff
7 Rue Nani
Tel: 33 889 3630

Restaurant Rumblings:
For a look at the Collines de Niassam Lodge in Palmarin, click here.

Monday, 29 June 2009


What a peculiar place. The restaurant stylings immediately give the away Sherherazade's principle role as a hotel, but there are some nice touches such as the swimming pool outside, the use of dead flowers to decorate each table, and an abundant population of cats. The owner is also strangely feline in appearance, adding to the vaguely Roald Dahl atmosphere of the place.

Foodwise it's a mix of Moroccan, Senegalese and Steaknchips. We order tagines which come in large portions, but are somewhat poulet bicyclette. There is better value to be had at the Moroccan joint on Rue A in point E. Service is enthusiastic, although being mid-week we are the only diners. The waitress is a touch distracted by the entertainment coming from a curtained off side room. I'm not exactly sure what was going on in there, but it sounded like they were showing a pornographic film at high volume. At least I hope it was a film.


Fann Mermoz
Tel: 33 860 13 83
Open Seven Days, 8am - midnight.

Restaurant Rumblings:
A couple of recent evenings in New Africa have worried me a little. The kitchen here produces some marvellous stuff, but it seems cannot cope under the pressure of having a half full restaurant. Normally a chef would apologise for a two hour wait on the food, not come out and blame the customers for turning up.

Mixed reports are coming from Dakar Sushi - possibly the first restaurant in Dakar to have their own Twitter feed. I'm not entirely convinced by the Twitter feed to be honest, but judge for yourself. I'll be dropping by soon for a look.

It looks like something is actually happening at Zaika on the corniche. The Indian restaurant has been 'closed for refurbishment' for over a year, leading me to speculate that it had been abandoned altogether. It looks like work is progressing though, and we might see it reopening soon. Fann-Hok might slowly become a decent quartier for a night out, what with the Djollof boutique hotel, Brazilian restaurant, and Terrou-bi just up the road for those in the mood for a slice of goat cheese and honey pizza.

The architects have handed over the keys to the new Radisson 'Blu' hotel on the corniche. Apparently the kitchens are ready and chefs are trialling the menu to on-site staff, so 'Fellini's' restaurant should hit the ground running on the 1st July opening. I haven't received my opening night invitation yet though... please send it to Mr The Jiffler c/o Dakar Restaurant Reviews.

The original Experimental Jifflings website has been tarted up a little. Have a look here.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Pick & mix/hit & miss

Usually I avoid 'Fusion Food' like I avoid Dakar gendarmes. Aside from its resemblance to the the Bandiera, there is a good reason why insalata tricolore consists of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil (alright, maybe avocado, but I'm a purist) - the ingredients form a magic combination of tastes, textures, smells and indeed colours. The addition of, say, battered prawns, tahini, or HP sauce is not going to improve it in any way shape or form.

Despite this, Mrs Jiffler and I have been curious about Alkimia and its promises of Japanese and Spanish fusion cooking. A water shortage in Mermoz, leading to the postponement of an eagerly awaited ping-pong tournament presented a spur of the moment opportunity to see what it is all about.

The restaurant itself looks expensive, all Japanesey partition walls and heavy looking tables, and an outdoor bar area looks like an ideal place for a spot of after work liming. We're shown to a wobbly table in the corner, which is quickly recified by the deployment of my folded up shopping list.

The somewhat pricey menu doesn't so much go in for fushion as a selection of Spanish specialities, slightly customised Italian staples, and the odd bit of Japanese thrown in. The sushi woman is on holiday, so there'll be none of that.

Amuses are generous and appropriately tapas, while our table casts a majority vote for salmon croustillant served on a bed of spinach with almonds and lemon juice. Unusual flavours for Dakar and, I reckon, a hint of French-Japanese fusion that actually works. Portions are generous too, although both the main dish and vegetable side could do with a gentler hand on the seasoning. The minority vote is cast in favour of suckling pig, which again could do without the fistful of seasoning but seems to satisfy the carniverous cravings of a growing Canuck of our acquaintance.

A little freebie of a kind of coconut zabaglione causes excitement with the Brazilian representative, who has to be discouraged from licking the inside of the glass, and we leave with Sunday night smiles, satisfied stomachs and not too big a dent in the wallet. The kitchen at Alkimia is offering something different in Dakar, some new flavours and ideas not covered elsewhere, but suffers a little from the common problem in Dakar restaurants - managing the larder. How does a restaurant run out of potatoes (although still have enough for a plate of frites), or Flag beer? If you can forgive these tendencies then Alkimia is worth a visit one evening when you're feeling a bit flush, or fancy getting your teeth into a bit of suckling pig.

Route des Almadies
Tel: 33 820 68 68
Open evenings from 1900hrs and Sunday lunchtimes. Closed Monday.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Brazilian Triumph.

La Table Bresilienne
'Secret' restaurants are all the rage in New York and London these days. At least that's what the increasingly tedious Guardian food site says. Rejoice then, as we have a secret restaurant to call our own in Dakar. Although judging by the number of toubabs there on Saturday evening, it isn't much of a secret anymore.

I've a soft spot for a churrasco dinner. Something about all that meat, roasting over a big fire, then carved up rodizio-style at your table using very large knives appeals to my primal instincts. La Table Bresilienne does a good job of satisfying these instincts, and it has taken me some time to recover from over-indulgence in the various cuts of beef, pork and chicken (salty little chicken hearts that would make great pub snacks). Salads are inventive and the feijao and pork-studded farofa get a double thumbs up from the bona fide Brazilian at my table (who will hopefully forgive my attempt at spelling those dishes). Happy days.

Service is amiably slapdash and the rooftop vibes are convivial. Around 15,000FCfa per head buys you plenty of caipirinha and wine, and enough serious meat to feed a hungry shark.

Being unlicensed, I probably shouldn't say where it is or when it opens. Ask around, get the phone number from a friend, and get your booking in.

Le Loft
We've been here before, singing Le Loft's praises, and it saddens me, really saddens me, that I have to return to give it the fecking good kicking it deserves.

So much was going right. The Loft was smart, had good service, a good value menu with plenty of freebies... But on my last visit we had to ask to see the good value salon du the menu. Perhaps it was because they hardly had anything on the menu left.

When my burger arrived sans beefburger, the kitchen quickly subsitituted some hastily prepared chicken, which the lobotomised, tooth-sucking waiter tried to convince me was what I'd ordered all along. Yes really, the beefburger with green and red peppers I had ordered was actually supposed to be some slices of grilled chicken smothered in mayonnaise..? Really? I decided that laughing and shaking my head was more insulting than arguing with this cretin.

All told, the food wasn't bad at all, it was just wrong. A shame really, because no matter how good the food is, if you treat the - mild mannered and friendly - customers like a bunch of c*nts, they won't come back.

Le Loft
68 rue something or other, don't bother until they pull their fingers out.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

The third place?

A friend had just been lamenting the lack of a Starbucks-like place in Dakar (OK, there is Time's Cafe, but that is so smoky these days, and the pizza isn't much to sing about) when another friend bought me a Gazelle and filled me in on Fratelli's cafe in Almadies. This was the second recommendation I'd had in a week, so I scheduled in a lunch with Mrs Jiffler the following Saturday.

Fratelli's should do well from the staff at Ericsson nextdoor, as well as passing trade. There is a relatively hassle-free outdoor terrace and a vaguely Starbucksy indoor area that looks a bit unfinished. I've never gone in for the whole Starbucks 'the third place' ideal. It seems a bit contrived to me. Besides, I prefer my 'third place' to serve beer and peanuts.

Coffee is decent enough to linger over, far better than the usual salon du the fare. You'll find decent helpings of reasonably priced salads and sandwiches on the menu, making it a good option for a light Saturday lunch.

Route des Almadies (next to Ericsson).

Carre Vert
A less good option for a Saturday lunch is Carre Vert at the Dakar City shopping complex. If Fratelli's opened up here they would probably be the talk of the town, as in the right hands this location could be a little goldmine.

The offerings are similar to Fratelli's - coffee, salads, sandwiches. Unfortunately the coffee is unremarkable and suffers from the dreaded squirty cream treatment. Sandwiches are a little boring and salads would be fine if they didn't come presented in a weird parabola-shaped bowl which prohibits a sensible eating posture. The kitchen is open, so you can see that it is clean enough, but totally disorganised, with nothing prepped.

At the end of the day, you're eating in a slightly naff shopping centre. How depressing.

Carre Vert
Dakar City Shopping Centre
Airport Road

Restaurant News:
It's quite hard to get excited about new openings these days, since they tend to be a bit underwhelming. Dakar Sushi, on the airport road is the latest. Initial reports from a reliable foodie source are that it isn't up to much, but I'd like to give it a couple of weeks to get going. Meanwhile I hear that Mezzo in plateau has shut down. A shame, if only for their salty chocolate cake.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

... Another hiatus...

Terrou-Bi - Terrace Restaurant

This year's Repertoire des Restos features a whole page handed over to Chef Thierry Justamante of the Terrou Bi. Here he gives away the secret of his recipe for 'Filet de Thiof a la Marinade de poivre et gingembre, pomme de terre ecrasee'. (Grilled fish marinated in ginger with mashed spuds). Unfortunately for Thierry, the dish in the accompanying photograph looks like it's been assembled by a four year old, drunk on his Grandmother's sherry, using items found on the floor or fished from a burning bin. Thierry must be gutted, because the real thing actually looks rather nice, and according to my boozy-lunch companion (on her final outing with Dakar Restaurant Reviews) tastes fresh and zesty.

That doesn't stop her stealing my chips though. They are also good. My honey and citrus brochettes are a touch workmanlike in execution, but no complaints. They also do a honey and goat's cheese pizza, which comes with positive reports. In fact, the whole menu looks like it might have potential, were it not cursed with being a hotel restaurant with accompanying upmarket hotel prices. While the rest of town is banging out cheap lunch deals, this place is banking on the business trade and pitching their three-course lunchtime specials at 25,000 FCfa+. That's before you start piling on the booze. I found the service to be a little obsequious too, but maybe I'm too used to getting ignored in Les Ambassades these days.

A good treat though, and one of the few upmarket beachside places in town where it is worth whiling away the afternoon.

La Terrasse Du Terrou-Bi
Bd Martin Luther King
Tel: 33 839 90 30 Ooen 7 days a week until 11pm

Restaurant News
Tapas at N'gor
Having previously got all excited about this place the shine has worn off somewhat. It's back to the usual trick of chasing waiters around and the kind of casual sloppiness that downstairs is reknowned for. Couple with that with the fact that the chef has just got a new deep fat fryer and is not afraid to use it.

Airport road:
Has anyone been to that monstrosity that has just opened up next to I-cone? Opium or something? I can only assume it's pitched at footballers, drug dealers and French squaddies, so I'm looking for some feedback before I take the risk.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

A Brief Hiatus, Then...

Le Regal
This place is always busy, and that is part of its appeal. Go on a Saturday evening and there is a real sense that the night is just starting as you fill up on Pizza before heading out to get leathered on Gazelle / Grandial / whatever shakes your tree.

Pizzas are gooey and over-topped, which doesn't do the rather ordinary bread-like bases any favours. Fine for soaking up the Gazelle though. A plate of mixed brochettes is bear-sized and rather good for the money.

They do what looks like a thoroughly disgraceful Hamburger Royale, in case anyone is wondering.

Le Regal
Croisement Ouakam
Tel: 33 824 40 24 / 33 860 48 72
Open 7 days from 6.30am until 2am
Take away and delivery service available.

Anybody hungry?
My usual mid-week lunching partner has sadly left these shores for the excitement of Washington DC so I'm looking for new lunchers to join me in seeking out the best and worst of Dakar restaurants.

Eligible candidates must be:
Available during the week
Able to pay their own way
Able to knock back serious amounts of wine

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Slightly rambling

Le Loft

The weekend starts at 1.30pm on a Friday Chez Jiffler, and usually involves a long and leisurely lunch.

I'd recommend Le Loft for a long and leisurely lunch. A newish opening in Plateau, Le Loft is a sophisticated indoor bar/salon du the/restaurant which is trying to please everyone, and may very well end up succeeding.

Inside is all dark furnishings and sleek seating, something in between the average Malmaison lobby and a Soho restaurant circa 1998. I can imagine it going down well with certain Dakar cliques once the sun sets. Daytime though, it's pretty calm. I felt a bit underdressed on Friday afternoon though, wearing a free t-shirt advertising the Badger brewery in Dorset and trousers with a ten-pence sized hole just below the right buttock.

After being greeted and shown to our table by charming and efficient staff, I braced myself for some sort of fine dining monstrosity and started to sharpen my pencils for a bruising rant on Dakar Restaurant Reviews. But what is this? Club Sandwiches? Croque Madames? Galettes? All at the kind of prices that wouldn't look out of place at Les Ambassades... well well.

A basket of decent bread came with decent butter, and the usual ketchup-piment-moutarde trio augmented by olive oil and balsamic vinegar. There must be a catch here right? The drinks were a bit on the pricey side, maybe that's it.

Mrs Jiffler went for a chicken quesadilla and I tested out the club sandwich (boring, yes, but I was on duty), but before all that, we were swiftly presented with a plate of little round deep fried fish things and home made tartare sauce.

"They get extra points for tartare sauce" reckoned Mrs Jiffler.

"Shut up and eat your little fish things"

Well I can't have her doing these reviews for me.

Meals arrived, on massive plates, with an explosion of salad. Blimey. Are you sure the prices on the menu are right? I even had to leave some chips, not because they were bad chips, but because the portion was so large and I'd stuffed my chops on bread and the little fish things beforehand. The quesadilla seemed to disappear quickly though, and I only got a chance to sample the guacamole (very good), and run my finger around the bottom of the sour cream bowl (also good).

I'm told there is also a more expensive a la carte menu "under development" as well, which currently features the usual meaty suspects, with a brief, and possibly pointless meander into Mexican territory. It might be worth a punt though. Let me know.

So let's get this straight; efficient service, smart decor, massive portions, good freebies, very reasonable price.

See you there next Friday.

Le Loft
Sorry, I forgot to pick up a card, but it's on Rue Amadou Assane Ndoye, number 62 or 63 I think. You can't miss it, it's west off the Place de L'Independance.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cherry Mania

Le N'gor Tapas.
We've been here before on Dakar Restaurant Reviews. Something about terrible service, but a lovely place for sundowners. Locals refer to it as "Pied dans l'eau", or should that be "Les pieds dans l'eau'? Whatever.

Anyhow, it's got a nice upstairs bit now, doing tapas. It's an inventive Senegal-ised version of tapas, so don't expect elvers on toast, but do expect tasty bites. Each selection of tapas is named after one of the tribes of Senegal (Peul, Serere and so on) and is enough to amuse a group of, say, four people over cold beers. Service is perky.

The upstairs terrace is bright and breezy too, and just far enough from l'eau to be out of earshot of horrid French children tormenting pelicans.

Le N'gor Tapas
Route de la Corniche des Almadies
Tel: 775 04 30 06


N'ice Cream
Mentioned in my last post, N'Ice Cream (whoever came up with that name is probably still recovering) is an excellent spot for a massive portion of ice cream. N'ice Cream is on my mind right now as I've just eaten some of their product at the Ecole Gastronomique. According to the flyer, pressed into my hand while I was weak from three courses and wine, they have more than 40 flavours every day (e.g. Cherry Mania!) and do deliveries.

N'ice Cream
97, Avenue A. Peytavin
Tel: 33 823 35 45
www.nicecream.sn (currently not working)

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Bread and Chips

Aux Fins Palais

Aux Fins Palais is a smart little lunchtime haven serving up quality pastries alongside more substantial rations of salads and snacks. Service is swift, staff are friendly, and there is aircon throughout.

Salade Nicoise comes in ample portions with punchy anchovies. Better still - on a good day - Aux Fins Palais might possibly take the crown for the best chips in Dakar. Oh, and you can pop nextdoor for a monster N'ice cream.

Aux Fins Palais
97, Avenue Andre Peytavin
Tel: 33 842 96 46
Open 6.45am until 10.30pm. Closed Sundays.

La Provencale

Currently my favourite place to stop for bread in the middle of the peninsula. While it lacks the sophisitication of Grain d'or and the downtown temples of pastry, La Provence can be relied upon for no-nonsense staples and the odd macaroon thrown in.

Steer clear from such fancies as "Cheese and ham bread" and the somewhat disappointing gateaux. Instead try the wholemeal breads, pre-prepared quiches and the formidable biscuit selection and you can't go wrong.

La Provencale
Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop
Point E
Tel: 338 251425. Open 6.15am until 11pm

Another branch in Sacre Coeur III, off the VDN.
Tel: 338 605828
7am to 1am


According to the TV guide, La Fourchette has re-opened after undergoing extensive renovations. Did anyone notice it had closed? Me neither. No reports yet, but hopefully they've renovated the menu as well.

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Mighty Mogador


Uber-swanky bar, ultra-fancy French cooking, thank-you thank-you service. Yawn. The biggest surprise is that I actually like this place.

Offering fine dining in Dakar that actually attempts to be brave and creative, Mogador is not afraid to offer you camembert ice cream and dainty things in truffle oil. Better still, the chef is not too pretentious to offer a perfectly cooked steak and chips that is so ruggedly handsome you expect it to challenge you to an arm wrestle.

Go after payday and wear your best shoes.

Route des Almadies
Tel: 338 200402
Open from midday until late.
Closed Sundays.

For a more in-depth review of Mogador, check Experimental Jifflings.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Steve Jobs fear not.

Nextdoor to Duplex, this place looks good from the outside, like a flashy cafe / salon du the. Shame they've done it on the cheap, and the inside already has that sickly sweet smell of a pub carpet. The menu describes it as 'Where the jet-set go'. I suppose it's not far from the airport.

Wilted cappucinos come in small cups at 2000Fcfa a pop. Panini are alright, but nothing spectacular. There isn't much else on the menu, apart from smoked salmon, and caviar at 30,000Fcfa a go.

Jiffler: "Why would they put 30 grand worth of caviar on the menu?"

Mrs Jiffler: "For the nobheads who go to Duplex."

I think Mrs Jiffler hit the nail on the head there. If I had to sum up this place in one sentence, it would be:

"For the nobheads who go to Duplex".

Route de l'aeroport

P.S. For the uninitiated, Duplex is an extortionately expensive nightclub, frequented by swaggering bell-ends.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Small Fish.

Histoires des Gourmandises
Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop
Point E
Tel: 33 824 10 20 Open 7 days 12 - 2.30pm, 6.30pm to 12.30am

I seem to have got into the habit of occasional boozy lunches with a fellow Dakarite who "works from home". Alas, she will be departing these shores to move in nextdoor to Barack Obama in a few weeks, so I'm looking for boozy lunch volunteers.

In the evenings, Histoire des Gourmandise on Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop aims for the fine dining market. I came here to eat one evening after the Queen's Birthday Party, but to be honest I was too pissed to notice if the food was any good. Their lunchtime fixed menu is a simpler affair at 6000 FCfa for three courses.

A starter of nems with a wee bit of salad is unremarkable, but satisfying enough. Something to pick at while the wine warms up I guess. Given the choice between spag bol and fish for our mains we sensibly went for the fish, which was an undersized bream (notice how fish are getting smaller in Dakar, this is not a good thing for gourmets or environmentalists) served with perky side of green beans in garlic. Unremarkable again. An apricot tart seemed home-made rather than shop bought, but would have benefited from a drop of cream, or perhaps some creme anglaise.

I've no grumbles about Histoire des Gourmandise, and it is a nice environment in which to sit for a couple of hours, whiling away the afternoon with a couple of bottles of Beaujolais, but the food is better, and more creative around the corner at the ecole gastronomique.

Rue 1
Point E

It looks so inviting from the outside, what with the red Chinese handing lamps and everything. Things take a downward turn at the entrance though, when you take in the bare walls, blaring TV, Donald Duck sticker, and fishy smell.

I'm guessing that this is where the Chinese community come for authentic Chinese takeaway. The menu reads like the contents of a butcher's dustbin, with all the nobbly bits you'd rather not eat. Feet feature heavily, as does a bizarre sounding dish involving feathers.

You can sit down and eat, as long as you don't mind warm flag and surprised waiting staff bungling around while the Chinese owners smoke and play mah-jong behind the bar. I wouldn't recommend it though. While our stir-fried greens were suitably earthy and garlicy, the MSG content of the beef with mushrooms was high enough to have a mildly hallucinogenic effect. Stir fried noodles were actually overcooked spaghetti with a few bits in from the bottom of the fridge thrown in. Spaghetti. Not noodles. As readers of Experimental Jifflings will know, this is the third Chinese restaurant disaster I've had in 2009. Surely my luck will change...

Foody news:
Casino in Almadies and Plateau both seem to be doing reasonably priced pre-packed pigeons, ducks and (overpriced) rabbits at the moment. I've no idea whether they have new suppliers or this is just a passing phase. Pigeons make an OK mid-week supper though...

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Another New(ish) Opening

Time's Cafe
That apostrophe is annoying isn't it. A shame as they've got pretty much everything else right. Time's Cafe (how annoying....) is decked out in a retro American diner style and serves up a smart selection of flavoured coffees, hot and cold chocolates, pizzas, omelettes, sandwiches, burgers, snacks and ice cream.

Mrs Jiffler tries the 'Midnight Fever' chilled coffee - a decadent mix of espresso, milk, toffee, banana and chocolate. Foodwise we both opt for manakish (I'm slowly developing an addiction to these) as a mid-Saturday-morning snack, but I wish I'd had room to try one of the burgers. Is there anywhere in Dakar where you can get a really decent burger? The ones I buy from Le Palace on Thursday nights/Friday mornings when I'm three sheets to the wind are truly vile.

I'd recommend popping into Time's cafe for a coffee next time you're in Plateau and the hustle and bustle is getting you down.

Time's Cafe
27 Avenue Roume, Plateau.
tel: 33 821 21 68
Open 7 days a week, 7am to 11pm
Delivery service starting mid-February.

I'm back from Central Asia now, if you're interested, you can read about what I ate there on Experimental Jifflings.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Transcendental Tuna Salad

19 Rue Victor Hugo (next to Ozio), Plateau.
Tel: 33 821600, or 775 072270

Who in their right mind would go into a sushi restaurant and order something as boring as 'Spicy tuna salad'? It sounds like something you'd make on a Wednesday evening, using a tin of tuna and the bits of vegetable detritus from the bottom of the salad tray. In a sushi restaurant we want maki and miso, unagi and a touch of umami, not boring old Wednesday tuna salad. Right?

Not so at Fuji, Dakar's latest sushi offering. Here the Tuna Salad is one of those dishes that makes your hair stand on end from the very first bite. Halfway through the plate and you're off your face on happy-hormones, thinking about ordering another, or maybe two more. Trust me, this is no mere salad, this is tuna spun into silk, sweet seaweed seduction.

At long last, sushi, sashimi, and maki dishes to really get excited about. The next time some pseud cracks on about how wonderful the second-rate sushi is at La Fourchette or Cozy you can send them to Fuji for an education.

Service here is a delight as well - unhurried and without the usual French pretentions. The atmosphere is slick and modern, a bit quiet early doors, but warming as the restaurant fills up with a good mix of customers and the music of human voices.

Two can eat here for 50,000Fcfa as long as you don't go mad with the winelist. The spicy tuna salad costs 8,000Fcfa and is worth every franc.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The Ecole Gastronomique

Ecole Superieure Gastronomique et Hoteliere Arnaud
16b, Rue de Kolda, Point E. www.esgha.com Tel: 338 699293

You should go here for lunch. It's open Monday to Friday for a set lunch (the menu changes daily, no vegetarian options) between 12 and 3pm and - here's the best bit - three courses of decent French cooking will set you back a mere 5,000 Fcfa (drinks extra).

Run by the charming Jean-Pierre Arnaud, the school is set up to train young people in the hospitality industry. With this in mind, expect slightly uncertain fine-dining style fussing and a short questionnaire at the end. It's a small price to pay for the kind of French cooking which rivals some of the top places in Dakar.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Another New Opening in Point E

Global credit crisis? Nonsense! They're opening up restaurants all over Dakar. Times must be good. Hmm... does anybody see a pattern emerging?

The latest brand new opening is the originally named "La Marocaine", on Rue A (Rue de Louga) in Point A.

Owned by a friendly Senegalese chap, and staffed by Moroccans, "La Marocaine" serves up decent portions of basic Moroccan classics. Open for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday, the restaurant has indoor seating, a bar, and what looks like scope for an outdoor terrace once things start to warm up. Live Moroccan music is promised for the evenings, which could be a blessing or a curse.

Hearty tagines, priced around 5,000 Fcfa, remind me of my mother's winter stews - warming and savoury, served in the kind of quantities that would satisfy a growing bear. Accompanying bread is fresh and airy, perfect for mopping up the thick juices at the bottom of the tagine.

Service is still a little shaky, as they are just getting started, so give it a week or so. A digestif of mint tea comes on the house, and is poured with aplomb by the owner, giving me just enough energy to make it back home for a post lunch snooze.

La Marocaine, 14 Rue de Louga (Rue A), Point E, Dakar.
Tel: 338255352

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Restaurant News

Happy New Year!

Back in Dakar now, so more news and reviews soon.

New Opening:

Le Temple d'Or - A new 'Asiatique' takeaway has just opened in Point E. No sign of a delivery service yet, but you can pop in to their shop by the SGBS bank and have a look at what is on offer in the chiller cabinets. Meals are pre-prepared and then heated while you wait, or you can warm them up at home. The usual Sene-Chinese specials are available, alongside Thai curries and some impressive fresh spring rolls. Friendly staff, and cheap too - ideal for a midweek dinner when you can't be bothered to cook or go out.

Le Temple d'Or: Boulevard de l'Est x Rue de Kaolack, Point E, Tel: 77 579 95 71

Other News:

The 2008-09 edition of Repertoire des Restos is now available priced 2500Fcfa. Although officially published last September, this latest edition has been hard to find. Shell stations across town are now stocking it by the till.

Bon appetit!