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Innovation with a nod to tradition; I do love when chefs take risks with tastes and harness it into something daring and well… innovative. Akoko is such a place.
Ten courses or so we had of the tasting menu, plate after plate of beautifully plated and splendidly delicious food. Located in Mayfair; check on that, with an unassuming entryway and a swishy decorated interior complete with low lights and lime washed wall and even more complete with mortar and pestle in the corner. The décor is as ambitious as the menu; with the menu pipping it. The sparsely decorated space leans heavily maybe a little too, into the minimalist theme thus it does not invite people to linger. When you have restaurant you want people to linger and stay for longer. The chairs and tables are perfectly fine, but its hard to relax in them; am I the only one who always wants to relax in a place of food. I want chintz chairs soft and upholstered, I want a little more light; why do restaurants think dining in the near dark is cute; it is not.
When risk is taken with food there is no limit to the unexpected places flavours will take you. Akoko takes such risks that plays with flavours, it doesn’t erase them, it adapts to them, does not break instead it bends its will, to play with these flavours.
No matter, we are here for the food and by goodness the food is sublime. Truffled yam, I did not think I would like, I loved. Jollof rice I did not think I would rate, I really enjoyed and liked. Plantain and ayamase… incredibly good. The thing about Ayamase is the traditional taste that must not be jeopardised and with all its innovation, Akoko did not jeopardise that taste, that market day rice in leaf taste. It lingers but does not overpower the rest of the menu rather, enhances it.
There is a beauty in perfectly plated traditions that do not jettison the old but bring them into a new space. It is oddly satisfying.
What took me over the edge here was the coconut and pineapple gin and tonic. What a stunner. A blend of fine flavours that give room for the tongue to discover and absolve each and together it is absolute chef’s kiss.
Now if only they fix the décor and we would he cooking with gas or so the saying goes.