Bringing pride back to African restaurants: ladies and gentlemen I give you the African Kitchen Gallery. After our appalling service in Addis a couple of weeks ago (as recounted here, here and here) it is nice to find a restaurant where service is everything. The African Kitchen Gallery sticks out on Drummond Street, behind Euston, a street mainly known for its curry houses (especially vegetarian ones). The AKG is a tiny restaurant cum gallery which plys African and Caribbean stews to what hopes to be a greedily loyal public. The food is interesting, and well flavoured, even if the whole thing is clearly microwaved infront of our eyes (two very swish microwaves in the corner of the restaurant are on the go constantly). But the service is what I will be going back for.
When we entered it looked like the place was empty. If it wasn’t for the wine glasses on the tables it would be unclear if this was a restaurant at all. The place has thirteen covers if you count the two tables outside, and the only other commercial venture I have seen which rivals it in tinyness are the bars in Bilbao. Then as if by magic, our waiter appeared. He seated us, gave us the menu (which looked very tempting) and took us through a few of the things that were on. As it was mainly stews he indicated to the chiller cabinet where all these preprepared stews were happily gaining more flavour by the minute. He saw we were a bit overwhelmed as newcomers, and made us a platter of all the starters, to start. He also suggested we nip over to the offie as he was not licenced. No corkage, ace.
Starters were all interesting, served with two very nice dipping sauces whose flavours we had a brief chat with the waiter about. You could tell he loved his food, and he could tell that we liked to talk about it. We went for the meaty options in the end (though the fishy stuff looked good). The food was good. Perhaps the cuts of meat were a bit scrag endy, but these were really cheap stews – best made with scrag. My Oxtail was nice anyhoo, meat falling off the bone.
The bill came to ’40 for four, starter, main and a free set of coconut/mango and orange balls which were really tasty. The waiter was disappointed to see us go, but we assured him he would see us soon. (I may go back today!) Rest assured he got a generous tip. Not a place to go with a big group (it only has one table for four, the rest are two and threes) a great place if you are in the Euston area and fancy having something tasty that you can talk about. However if you don’t like African masks, it might disconcert you (one assumes that their big payday comes from selling the art rather than the food). Food was good, but the service made it so much better.