We first discovered Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen a few years back at a pop-up in Hackney Wick. Since then Zoe Adjonyoh has been busy with a string of sell-out supper clubs and a stint at Pop Brixton. She’s written a best-selling cookery book and last week she popped up on our TV screens during Sunday Brunch.
And now her and the team (her sister is front of house, and absolutely hilarious!) are laying down roots with an indefinite residency at London Fields’ Institute of Light. If you haven’t visited yet, IOL is a really interesting little space under the arches. It combines a restaurant, bar and indy cinema and during the day it’s also a record & book shop.
To say she’s something of a pioneer when it comes to West African cuisine is an understatement. She’s managed that difficult balance of introducing these exciting new flavours to a whole new audience, as well as pleasing those that were bought up on the real deal. Dishes are authentic (we’re told!), but modern – although she does admit to toning the heat down in certain things. Ultimately, Zoe say’s “I want to see a world as well acquainted with Jollof as they are with tacos and a high street as diverse in its African cuisines as it is with Pan and South Asian food.”
Dishes are designed to be shared (they recommend about 3-4 plates per person) and everything came out at the same time with no formal starters. We liked this approach, as it felt in keeping with the laid back vibe of the place.
So what’s on the menu?
A feast for the senses, we worked our way through JFC (Zoe’s version of fried chicken – super crispy strips served with hot black pepper mayo), meatballs in a spicy jollof gravy and hot hot hot beef skewers. You’ll find chilli and peanuts sprinkled over most dishes, alongside her infamous peanut dip.
Vegans and veggies are well catered for as well with the likes of grilled plantain, ‘red red’ (a black-eyed bean stew) and one of our favourite dishes – which also happens to be the one she demoed on Sunday Brunch – Otto cakes. They’re basically small fried yam cakes, topped with a soft boiled egg, chip stick style potatoes and avocado cream. It would make a cracking little brunch dish but we’d happily eat it anywhere, anytime.
Oh, and the scotch bonnet ice cream is a must-order. The creamy vanilla scoop looks deceptively innocent with its grating of lime zest but we can confirm the heat builds. You’ve been warned.
We honestly didn’t try a dish we didn’t like. Oh and rather excitingly – there’s a cinema snack menu (sweet & salty popcorn is SO last year) and a boozy weekend brunch offering too.
As the hashtag goes #itsghanabetasty