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.