WILD AFRICA: African influence meets European on Brighton seafront
If you’re new to Brighton and looking to make friends or perhaps meet someone special, supper clubs should be on your to-do list. There are usually several happening each week in the city (check out Tabl.com for a list of them) and the organisers don’t tack on a single person supplement because they are designed as social dining events where you often share a table or course with other diners.
One such supper club is WILD AFRICA, hosted by Nigerian-born Lerato Umah-Shaylor, which I went along to back in January. Held within a candlelit, private room at the top of The Tempest Inn, on the Kings Road, looking out to the sea, the venue certainly had the wow factor.
I’d arrived that evening feeling a bit jaded but it wasn’t long before my guest Ellie and I were laughing and chatting away with a friendly male doctor, new to our isles from America. With these sorts of evenings, it’s often the company that can really make or break the night and we were certainly very lucky with ours.
Lerato really made us feel welcome sitting and chatting with all the guests throughout the evening and explaining that the dishes would be a fusion of West African and European influences. The downside of this was she focussed a little too much on the social aspect and not quite enough on the speed of service – it was well into an hour before the first course came out. I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry, minutes feel like hours and hours feel days… and that’s how this felt.
On the food front though I really enjoyed the first two courses. Dining began with a fiery hot pepper soup with sweet butternut squash and grains of selim, pumpkin seeds and plantain crisps, providing a variety of textures and almost tempting me to lick the bowl clean.
After quite a wait the main followed. The dish was a plantain angus pie with chantenay carrots, potatoes, roasted red pepper sauce, alongside a jollof rice with spiced broccoli.
Plantains are a member of the banana family but unlike the banana, they have to be cooked, as they are unsuitable to eat raw. I use them in my own Caribbean cooking and tend to have it soft and lightly fried alongside a cooked breakfast. Lerato’s plantain was sliced fairly thinly into chips – a new experience for me – but one that I discovered I actually preferred.
Jollof rice is a very traditional Nigerian dish, prepared from a tomato base sauce made up of blended tomatoes, onions, sweet bell peppers and chilli peppers (usually the scotch bonnet variety) and seasoned with stock cubes. It’s a dish packed with flavour and seriously spicy. Lerato’s Jollof was just the same. If you like your spice, as I do, this is a real treat.
The dessert was a different story. The chocolate & orange cake was stodgy not light and fluffy as I would have liked and the candied orange slices were far too overpowering. Lerato also offered us a creamy chocolate sauce poured from a cast iron teapot, which was a nice touch but not enough to remedy the pudding as a whole.
RATING: Must Go | Worth A Try | Give It A Miss
SCORES ON THE DOORS: FSA rating not available
Lerato means ‘passion’ in South African and there certainly wasn’t any shortage of this from the host. However, the service needed to be slicker to warrant top marks. The three-course menu took three and a half hours to serve, which felt uncomfortably long and the food needed to be served on warmed plates to hold on to the heat. However, with these points addressed I would recommend the WILD AFRICA supper club. If you’re happy dining at a slower pace and like the idea of sampling a fusion of cuisines, this is certainly worth a try.
Need To Know
Lerato’s next supper club is on the 15th February and there’s a completely new menu to explore. To book visit: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-africa-anti-valentine-supper-club-tickets-27482775722
If you like the look of Lerato’s supper club or want to know anything more, leave me a comment or tweet me @foodieeshe. And please hit the little heart button below if you found this review useful.
*Disclaimer: I was invited to the WILD AFRICA supper club to review so my meal was complimentary, but as always, my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest opinion on the whole experience.