London / Ikoyi: the cosmopolitan expression of the City
Saint James Market. The heart of the City. A relatively small restaurant with an extremely smart and mindful use of space. The creature of Chef Jeremy Chan and his business partner Iré Hassan-Odukale is called Ikoyi. Ikoyi, like the name of the vibrant neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria. Yes, because Ikoyi cuisine sinks hands, feet and culture into the West African world, pulling out ingredients, vibes and personality under the fine dining key.
It would be a mistake though to label the cuisine as West African. Jeremy Chan and his Ikoyi are rather ‘cosmopolitan’, and the choice of a very peculiar geographical area seems more driven by passion and exploratory spirit, than the need to express a unique identity.
It’s a way to explore different depths of ‘heat’, levels of smokiness, thickness and viscosity of sauces: the ingredients are at time less known like scotch bonnet and sorghum, others fully grown in the British ecosystem.
Among the dishes, if the plantain works better for Instagram and its chromatic effect, the smoked Jollof rice is an absolute masterpiece of flavors, where ‘taste’ is king.
An address certainly deserving a visit, engaging palates more than brains, richness more than engineered elegance (the latter a temptation often attracting young and ambitious chefs that, IMHO, could wait a more mature age).