The latest pocket version of the DLR's Get Out More landed on my desk. Unenthusiastically picking it up - my local foodie scene is dire - I was amazed to seen an entry for Woolwich! Touted as "the best African restaurant in London" as rated by West Africans my enthusiasm took a sudden leap, and I dashed around organising a twEATup with friends at Marble.
I dropped by the restaurant a couple of weekends before the date to secure a table - previous attempts by email and telephone having been unsuccessful. We needn't have worried, as we were the only people in attendance on the day. The chef and waiter were enthusiastic that us non-Africans wanted to try their food - I'd quizzed a couple of friends from work as to what we should eat, so came across as knowledgeable. I was also asked what we'd likely be drinking, so they could make sure to have stock - white wine, and cocktails thanks very much.
The day arrived, BoyWonder and I were joined by Aussie_Foodie and her hubby and another couple of friends. We were shuffled downstairs, and while cooler away from the heat of the kitchen, it was very dimly lit - beyond mood lighting. (So apologies for the below par photos). We ordered cocktails, and were briskly told that we had said we wanted to order wine. Umm, yes, but we'd like to start with one of the cocktails on your menu... not going to happen as they didn't have any of the booze in. A couple of us ordered some Nigerian beers (tasty) along with a bottle of white wine. A packet of paper napkins was placed on our table. I've nothing against paper napkins, but display can make a difference.
We decided to try some Puff Puffs -doughnut like, it would have been improved by some sort of dipping sauce, but was liked all round.
An hour after we ordered the wine it arrived. At room temperature. Without any ice. Did I mention it was white wine?!
Fish Pepper Soup has been recommended by my friends. And boy did it pack a punch. Starts as a slow build, then grabs you by the back of the throat to swing you around the room! Loved the taste, but not sure the texture was for me.
The next dish of the day arrived... sort of. We'd ordered Jollof Rice and fried plantain served with assorted meat (this was to include goat - something I've heard good things about, but have never tried). The rice arrived - delicious... the plantain arrived, tasty... and it would have been a good accompaniment for the meat if that had ever arrived. We'd also ordered Fish Rolls that we never saw either. Thankfully none of the no-shows appeared on the bill, so there was no need to discuss it.
Nkwobi. We didn't understand the description given - we all thought the waiter had said "cat food", but went for it anyway. I'll try anything once... Turned out it was cow foot! And boy did it smell. It looked a bit like cat food too I suppose! Actually quite a nice taste, it's cooked in traditional herbs and has a similar texture to biltong. But I couldn't get past the smell for more than a couple of bites.
So bad and sometimes rude service, but the food that did show up was tasty - I won't be rushing back though. So is this London's best African restaurant? I certainly hope not.
PS. The restaurant is currently closed due to major breaches of cleanliness - infestations of cockroaches and vermin and NO HOT WATER... at all... I dread to think, actually, I just won't!