Ikoyi

International·
££££
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Gold Award
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SquareMeal Review of Ikoyi

Gold Award

Ikoyi’s West African cuisine stole the column inches when the restaurant opened in summer 2017. But let’s be clear: you don’t need to know your banga from your igbin to have a great meal at this smart Michelin-starred destination. Instead, simply marvel at the “unique flavour combinations” that define the cooking here.

A glass-fronted, minimalist cube set in the St James’s Market development, Ikoyi’s interior is clad in blond-wood panels for a Scandi-cum-sushi vibe. Hanging clay lamps add a touch of African artisanship, low-ceilings create a real buzz and a bijou open-plan kitchen kicks out perfumed, smoky aromas.

Chef-patron Jeremy Chan has done his time in some A-list kitchens (Noma, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal) and his cooking delivers elegant small plates that derive their oomph from the heat and boldness of West African cuisine – witness a snack of crunchy plantain dusted in smoked Scotch bonnet (chilli) and raspberry powder.

Standouts on the short menu include a chargrilled octopus tentacle with spicy ndolé (a bitter-leaf and spinach mix); pink slabs of Wagyu beef atop an umami-laden paste of mushroom, fermented chilli, walnut and olives, all sitting in a silky smoked eel sauce; and an absolutely stunning dessert of mouth-coating groundnut foam with zobo jam and meringue. To drink, we loved the roasted plantain Old Fashioned, while wines are chosen to withstand the spice (our robust, ever-so-slightly sour Riesling was a case in point).

Prices aren’t cheap, so offering a good-value lunch/pre-theatre menu (£35 for three courses) is definitely a wise move. On the other hand, if you want to blow the budget, it's well worth settling in for the nine-course blind tasting menu with paired wines. The seven-course tasting menu represents a happy medium and both can be requested as vegetarian or vegan. In other words, this “totally beautiful” restaurant is adding a new dimension to London’s dining scene.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - Over £80
Cuisines
International
Ambience
Cool, Dark and moody, Fine dining, Lively, Quiet conversation, Quirky, Unique, Widely spaced tables
Other Awards
SquareMeal London Top 100, Two Michelin stars
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
People
Birthdays, Celebrations, Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating

About

Ikoyi has been on quite the journey since opening its doors in the summer of 2017. It survived a heavy barrage of TripAdvisor criticism in the first six months, then emerged as a genuine trailblazer in London's restaurant scene, scooping a Michelin star in 2018, then a second in 2022. To call this a 'West African' restaurant is a wild simplification of what dinner at Ikoyi entails. Yes, the restaurant is named after a district of Lagos, Nigeria, and yes, there is a great deal of West African inspiration in the dishes, but the menu at Ikoyi is so much more - it's West Africa via Noma, with smatterings of chef Jeremy Chan's Chinese-Canadian background and everything in between. 

Ikoyi has built a unique spice-based cuisine around British micro-seasonality, using vegetables that have been slowly grown for flavour, sustainable, line-caught fish and aged native beef. That produce is then served in it's optimal state, and combined with carefully constructed pairings using umami flavours. That umami can come from beef, or mushroom, or tomato, but also comes from a vast collection of sub-Saharan West African spices, meticulously researched and sourced by the restaurant. 

The results are astonishing, sometimes challenging and totally unique. The tasting menu  can feature dishes like octopus fried in wild rice and yeasted béarnaise, plantain smoked kelp and blackberry, turbot, caramelised chicken and artichoke miso and pistachio, comice pear and grains of peace - an African seed pod that has notes of liquorice and mandarin. And, of course, that smoking jollof rice that graced Instagram for a number of months.

Ikoyi also offers a shorter lunch menu and a clever bar menu that features smart West Africa-inspired cocktails, such as a plaintain old fashioned made with plantain rum and a Palm Punch, made with rum, palm wine and tiger nut.


FAQs

Does it have a Michelin star?

Yes, it has two Michelin stars.

Helpful? 0

Can it accomodate vegetarian or vegan diets?

Please be aware it cannot accommodate vegetarian or vegan diets, since the menu is mainly focused on fish and shellfish, with several meat courses and desserts.

Helpful? 0

Location

180 Strand, Temple, Aldwych, London, WC2R 1EA

020 3583 4660 020 3583 4660

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 12:00-13:00
Thu 12:00-13:00
Fri 12:00-13:00
Sat Closed
Sun Closed
Dinner
Mon 18:00-19:00
Tue 18:00-19:00
Wed 18:00-19:00
Thu 18:00-19:00
Fri 18:00-19:00
Sat Closed
Sun Closed

Reviews

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4 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Anon

27 June 2018  
West Afrikan new restaurant, spicy and sweet flavours, simple food made exotic. Good value, great location. Ambience feel like your in a home rather than a restaurant.

Ming-Lai T

27 June 2018  
Very different food, that really tickle your tastebuds.

Kechi A

07 June 2018  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
Excellent modern take on african food
Meal was absolutely delicious, looking forward to going again!

Alex G

16 November 2017  
Food & Drink 3.5
Service 3.5
Atmosphere 1
Value 3
Jollof cuisine – not the next big thing
Part of the beauty of the London dining scene is that there is a plethora of choice. Like the citizens of this city, there is huge diversity. However, the darker side of the city’s culinary dynamism is that it is relentlessly Darwinian: if you don’t get it right, you will fail. The statistics bear this out: some 50% of central London restaurants shut within a year of opening. I fear Ikoyi may be one of them. Our cheery server informed us that the place is ‘packed’ in the evening, but any restaurant that only manages four covers (us and one other table) at a mid-week lunchtime, must surely begin to question its raison d’etre. The concept behind Ikoyi is an interesting one, namely ‘high-end West African’ dining. I couldn’t help but noticing several ironies: the restaurant looked and felt distinctly international rather than explicitly African, while the menu included caviar (from North Devon) and wagyu beef – natural staples, of course, for the average Nigerian. The food we consumed was well-intentioned, but even for someone who likes spice in one’s dishes, the emphasis on ‘heat’ seemed to crowd everything else out. A cow foot, dark beer and panja pepper snack was, I sense, more about ‘shock value’ than anything else: who has ever tried cow’s foot? Frankly, the croquette in which said foot was served could have contained any meat. The wagyu was highly impressive at least, and the meat undoubtedly enhanced by the nut and spice powder into which one could dip the meat. The chefs (who, incidentally, all appeared to be European) clearly seemed to know what they are doing with this dish, even if this could not be said about all of the ones we sampled (the plantain was instantly forgettable). If you’re curious, best go soon to check Ikoyi out; it may not be around for too long.
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020 3583 4660 020 3583 4660

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