Friday, February 19, 2016

African Chefs Tour , Accra

Blog submission Review by ObuobaDufie, with Pics and comments by John Michael
Edited by TasteGhana

Ok so here goes, the Venue for the Maiden event of Accra Premium’s African Chefs Tour was obviously nice as it was The Movenpick Hotel.

The entrance to the banquet  hall had nice paintings outside and a bar where you could get a variety of wines and hard liquor to suit your palate.
Waiters were good they knew which wines were dry or sweet, something of a rarity in most places ,  so that was good to see.
The banquet hall itself was decorated with KLM stuff all over.
There were tables you could sit at with your food and the chefs had their tables against the walls.
We were serenaded with the best live classical band (I cannot recall their name); they actually sounded like they were straight off a CD player,  that's how good they were.
So I started with Chef Pierre Thiam from Senegal .
He had Theibou djene (the Original Jollof the national dish of Senegal) in a ball with the spices they use in the fish (parsley, pepper, garlic) in the middle and a millet cake of sorts with keta school boys (anchioves) on top and a thick creamy sauce.
He also had a potato and chicken made into a mini cake, my best descriptive effort with a brown sauce and vegetables .
The  food was flavorsome but it was not hot/warm, and for the cost I was really expecting them to have gone out their way with their most weird and wonderful dishes.
I washed my first entrée’s down with some rum from a company that was also present at the food fair at Alliance last year.
I am a rum person anyway so this was quite the treat. Really good. Almost had dark chocolate undertones and so easy to drink. Made  me frown on good Ole Captain Morgan a bit.
Next I tried Chef Christian Abegan from Cameroon.
I honestly have  never had Cameroonian food but I  was very disappointed. So I sauntered to his table about 8pm  and he had  ran out of goat meat  in his goat sauce (was a brown sauce) which I wanted to taste anyway. It was ok,well-seasoned.
He served it with a cassava cake  (I think that was it).  He never really explained despite us
asking,  it tasted like nothing, literally.
He had like a rice and beans with what looked  like their version of waakye which was a lot
more soggy and I think made of broken rice. The waakye was alright , again didn't feel
gourmet enough for the event. The food presentation didn't look pretty.
Finally he had like a spinach fish shrimp dish which tasted like a thick creamy sauce with
stuff in it. He might have had like yam or something mashed in.
And my pet peeve - He served cold fried plantain with it .
So by the time I got to Ndudu - Antoinette Gilbert (Ghana),  her food was finished so was seen by her assistant whiles she was out I guess getting more food.
She had akonfem (guinea fowl) in a ball which was spicy but cold .

She also had Cumin Rice with Suya Curry.

P.s - all of Cameroon's food was cold too.
She also had like gari foto ball and like a yam ball (or some other starch, her assistant
wasn't clear). All spicy and well-seasoned but again was disappointed by choice of dish for
an upscale food event.

They were all just balls feels like they didn't think about presentation or plating and again it wasn't hot

Then went to the guy who in my opinion owned the night, the Peruvian chef , Renzo Guerero.
He served the Peruvian version of Pito which was absolutely delicious, he had mini
potato and chicken on those clear spoon things plated so well and tasted amazing, he
had ceviche which was lemony ,well-seasoned awesomeness, he also had what looked like a quinoa
dish which was again nothing short of  absolutely delicious and another potato dish
which was in those Chinese spoon things again plating was super pretty.
It was so flavourful. He was amazing. What he did right was he made you fall in love with the food visually which the previous chefs hadn't done, he interacted more with  the people , he bothered to do a 
damn good drink and all his food was supposed to be served cold which it was.
I typically don't like cold foods but he really made me feeling like a sister needs a trip to
Peru (the guy himself  was pretty good  looking )

Next was Midunu , Chef Selassie, she had like a chicken in a mini waffle ice cream cone which was really good,

I guess her take on chicken and waffles.

Chicken was well seasoned and had like sautéed onions and the cone was sweet but the sweet

and savory worked really well she also had a plantain dish but I wasn't emotionally ready to deal with more cold plantain so I passed.
She also had some other items that John tried her Alasa Juice and her Rice water with brown sugar dish.

I  ended up going back to the Peruvian stand like 3 or 4 more times (i was determined to get full before I left the place)
Then dessert, it felt like it was literally off a KLM flight. Lol  .No joke. Airplane dessert,  no seriously.
They had a mini cheese cake which was  basically digestive, vanilla flavored cream with
gelatin (mediocre), strawberry tarte (tasted  like fanyogo on a pastry, the strawberry
flavor was too artificial), a coffee tart which was surprisingly good, profiteroles(mediocre) and mini tiramisu (mediocre) .
Service was good the waiters were always so  happy to refill your glass BUT you literally had to hustle for a table every time you got something to eat. Eventually they set up more tables just outside the hall itself but a lot of ppl stood for most of their time there.
I think my disappointment stemmed from the fact that i was under the impression it would be a gourmet experience and for the price I didn't feel like the chefs really presented their best work or in the best way.
The food was heated in Chafing Dishes with the tin with flames underneath.
We see it at weddings all the time they never  really keep food hot, lukewarm at best so I
think they needed to have factored it in. In my opinion it felt they spent more money on the venue,
than the actual food. If it was like a regular food fair like the one at Alliance Francais i would not

fret but for the price and what it was advertised  as left much to be desired.

- ObuobaDufie is an ardent foodie and is always adventurous to try different dishes from all over the world.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The GrillRoom - Fiesta Residences

Are  you looking for a new place to dine  , are you looking for somewhere nice and exclusive. Then let me introduce you to this new restaurant tucked away on Liberation Road, Cantonments near Christ  the King. 

The GrillRoom , nestled within the plush condos of Fiesta Residences , a subtle space with leather finishing and intimate yet cozy decor - basically for now a little hideout - well after this blog maybe not. 

With a view of their pool and if you prefer an outdoor seating to dine that is optional. 

The menu is simple and the pricing is average , there are some high hitter prices but what you see is what you pay, no tax exclusive wahala here.  

For drinks , I tried the Banana Caramel plantshake which was a delight and a Caprinha, which I think if tweaked a little would have been passable .

For the main courses , we ordered Spare Ribs ,  Pork Chops with Brandy Flambe Sauce and side of Mashed Potatoes , and Calamari. 

Wait time was about 25mins for the food, in between that we were served with fresh out of the oven bread rolls. 

The food arrived and the plating of each dish was very mouth watering and beautifully and delicately presented. 

The Spare Ribs  looked sizeable but I could not truely appreciate it fully because the meat on the bone was sparse, but the seasoning was good- 

informed the restaurant of this and they have taken note, hopefully the next  visit would have more meat on to devour. 

The Pork Chops, boneless cuts resting on a bed of beetroots and carrot and vegetable medley were tender , flavourful and well cooked , because of its cut it was lean , no fat , no connective tissue, a prime cut indeed. The mashed potatoes was warm buttery , large portion and just right. The sauce pairing was changed to Bernaise sauce apparently it matched best with the Pork Chops . 

Last and certainly not the least was the star of the whole show. Unassuming on the menu, it stated Calamari with a brief description- Grilled and stuffed with a shrimp, beef sausage, herb and garlic filling. Served with light spicy Shrimp bisque and lemon grass ... 

The calamari gives a quite reminiscent feel of a Je ne sais quois , invoking my little French. Each bite was a nice surprise, this fufu looking plate lol. 
The seasoning the calamari and its stuffing and the shrimp bisque pairing well together and it was quite a filling meal. I've never had my calamari like this before. 

In all Chef Miguel who is from South Africa did quite well for my first impressions of this restaurant and hopefully I get to try more on their menu and hopefully you get to experience a semblance of what I had .

Below are some pics of some followers who I suggested the place too and their comments - 

"Romantic Ambience"

"Sizeable portions "
" Pricing is ok"

Rating- 7/10
Pricing- Average 
Service- Good 

Friday, February 12, 2016

State of the Services Address Episode 2 - How to Save Money when Dining in Ghana

So continuing from where we left off, a few more pointers that I would like to make - 
Steps to get your money's worth when you go out to dine.
1. Value for Money
This is very important.
As we all know, it's not easy of late spending with the way the economy is set up now, disposable income is not easy to come by nor use. 
The way most restaurants and food joints are set up these days , one must be vigilant.
Look at what you are buying , does it offer what it states in terms of quality, quantity and hopefully taste. Is the establishment justified in quoting such a price for what its offering.
Lets take chicken wings , a once affordable , highly neglected piece of meat is gaining momentum,and with its increasing demand the prices and portions are becoming outrageous. 

5 pieces of wingettes/drumettes  could easily sell on average at 30 GHC in most establishments. That's a bit much ( a carton is 85ghc).

 While ordering the cheapest thing on the menu is one strategy for saving, another strategy for getting the most value when dining out is to order the dishes that are harder (or less common) to make at home.

2.Study the Menu

When you go out to eat or dine always take a careful look at the menu, and ask questions if you need to. If your questions can't be answered ask for a supervisor.

Ask about portion sizes, quantity of pieces etc.

Order Wisely

Alcoholic drinks are usually the most expensive part of the meal, so one big way to save is to
have a normal drink or non alcoholic cocktail etc or have the glass of wine at home instead of at the restaurant or look for restaurants that may allow with a cover charge or none at all.

3. Happy Hour Scene

Always look for Happy Hour Venues,especially after work. Unfortunately this scene is a bit lacking in Ghana.

Lets look at this Scenario....

The bar scene

The concept of “Happy hour”  in these bars in  Ghana, leaves much to be desired. After taking a detour from the unceasing traffic jams which has become the norm in Accra, you go to any popular bar and there is nothing to be happy about,  serving half priced beer or one cocktail of the day if you are lucky, Just the same overpriced beer which you could get for 200 percent less the happy hour price in a cool me down bar. 

There lacks creativity ; to make you happy as there is no incentive to create small platters of specials or starters on their menu, this is a lapse in marketing to give you a taste of what they can offer.
(The above Scenario was initially written months ago)

I can attest that at least Champs Bar in recent times is trying to please with their recent Happy Mondays which offers 50 percent off meals and drinks.

4. Do a Take Out

Instead of Dining in , you can make a take out order at Restaurants that offer sizeable portions that can be divided into two separate meals and you avoid spending extra on drinks and added unforeseen costs when the desserts are ever so tempting.

5. Eat at a Local Restaurant
When I say Eat at  A local Restaurant I do not mean the bourgeois ones that are not really serving , standard and consistent African foods although kudos to their struggle of trying to keep up with the locals.

Support Ghana owned establishments such as our own Chop Bars that have been feeding the masses with affordable and if not authentic and flavorful dishes.

If that may be a bit daunting for you lunch at up and coming establishments , like Mukasse Chic can satisfy your local cravings and is easy on the  pockets- average 20ghc a plate.

There are so many places to get good food under 20ghc and less and they are hygienic too, check my Instagram for Hidden Gems and soon a whole page dedicated to it.

6. Don't Eat at a Restaurant, Hotel or establishment that has had continuous bad Reviews

Its good to take a risk , but is it really worth it, Is it worth it on your pockets. Weigh the reviews that you may have read on an establishment and decide. Is  your time and money ready and willing to possibly be wasted.

Reviews from my site or my Instagram are from a plethora of reviewers and followers and  are honest and not made to malign any establishment. We only state the facts and hope changes are made to improve , unfortunately most remain oblivious and nonchalant to change. We at TasteGhana will strive to give credit to those that do and call out the bad eggs in the system. 

Bonus Tip
Always cross check your final bill. Some errors can easily slip in to inflate your bill.

In conclusion it is really difficult tosave much  in the restaurant and hospitality industry as a consumer until these establishments become creative and offer coupons and other incentives to get more diners coming in, the only recent and I think lazy trait that is catching on is almost all restaurants are doing buffets some with appetizing and tempting offerings but we all know buffets hardly give you the real feel of a place.  These establishments need to adapt Lunch time pricing and Dinner time pricing, but once again this is Ghana where the profit always comes first to the Service rendered.

Eventually such establishments suffer and wonder why.

Share your tips with us in the comments.