Hi and Akwaaba to my first restaurant review. It has been long promised and here it is!
This week, I was invited by my fellow foodie friend Kwabena, owner of Taste Ghana, a premier food blog and platform in Ghana, to a tasting event at Alliance Francais. The last time I stepped foot on the compound was a smooth 15 plus years ago. I did not pick it for a place to host a restaurant. On my way there, I had to ask for clarification. “Is it inside or in the neighborhood?”. Alliance Francais is basically a French school, a very popular one at that.
As I entered, I was met with a very lit up ambience. A summer hut type structure and a smaller hut adjacent the bigger hut. It had the restaurant’s name written across it so it is easily identifiable. We were a group of about 10 and everyone (well, let me speak for myself) was anxious about what we were about to be introduced to.
The Ghanaian food scene is boring. Very boring. And I suspect it is because our palates have just refused to evolve. We do take our complacency everywhere, don’t we? Every food startup in Accra lately has very similar menu items. Reminds me of the Chinese-American restaurants in New York City, who have the same menus, same prices, same utensils and same setup. But his was going to be different. This was French food. My little experience with French food prepared me for small plates, portions and courses. I was wrong.
Chef Jeff Leneau is the managing director of the restaurant and he is a total delight. Hilarious and very knowledgeable about his audience. He welcomed us and told us a bit about the restaurant and how he was hoping it will be now. I understand there was a restaurant in it’s place a long while ago so this was an upgrade and a new menu. He told us about how he was incorporating local ingredients into the menu to create some familiarity for his Ghanaian patrons, while using French cooking techniques to keep the menu authentic.
Our first course was a bread topped with either hummus (made with chickpeas and agushi/melon seeds instead of pinenuts) or fish & olives. The hummus was such a huge hit with everyone. Think hummus but smoother, creamier and just amazing. I am not a fan of olives but this was not entirely intolerable for me.Read More