I discovered Basilico back in 2014, and while I never reviewed it on the blog, I hyped and recommended it to anyone who wanted to experience affordable fine dining and cheap wine. This year, I returned to my old stomping grounds for a taste of what was once hailed as the best Italian food in Lagos, and my, how the place has changed.
Basilico, like many of its cohorts on the island is hidden away in a residential looking building with little or no signage. This is either a clever ploy to avoid that pesky Lagos State advert and signage fee or just a way to keep the business as exclusive as possible. My money’s on the former. So be sure to slow down while on Musa Yar’adua Street, or you would most definitely miss it. The ambiance was actually a bit of a step-up from the last time I visited. While the new decor is a bit of mix-match of ideas, it makes for a warm and inviting atmosphere.
- The Menu
More changes were to come as the waiter presented me with the menu. The menu was headed ” N-15 Coffee Shop.” I thought, “Surely this must be some sort of faux-pas by the waiter who brought the menu from his side hustle coffee shop!”
I promptly called for the waiter to bring the “BA-SI-LI-CO” menu, as though to remind him of what restaurant he was at. He sheepishly informed me that I had the correct menu. Basilico, like Caitlyn Jenner was transitioning. I guess the Italian Cuisine wasn’t a big hit with the regulars, and management decided a coffee shop (like we don’t have enough in Lagos), would be the way to go.
Just like Caitlyn mid-transition, the menu held on to its roots with Italian dishes as the mains, but as a nod to the coffee shop it was about to become, the menu held a decent listing of coffees and sandwiches.
The starters were a bit too in-cohesive for the Italian experience that I was trying to force, so I headed straight for the mains. My tasting buddy was verrrry excited for the Lasagna. However when it arrived, it was a telling sign of the recent tomato crisis. One of the key components of lasagna is that tomato goodness, however, the overpowering taste of the tomato puree seared through every bite, making it a task to finish. The absence of any real sign of beef embedded in-between the layers of pasta made this meal all the more unbearable.
Steak in Lagos is quite pricey and N-15 is no different. I was advised that the ‘bian costato’ steak at N 6,900.00 would take about an hour and thirty minutes to prepare and ain’t nobody got that time for that. When I saw the barracuda steak for half the price and prep time, I hopped on it. It is no secret that I am not a fan of fish so to say that my choice of a barracuda steak was an accident is putting it lightly. I naively assumed that the barracuda steak would be steak shaped like a barracuda!
My heart sank when I saw two pieces of pan-seared fish on my plate, instead of the fish shaped steak I had naively pictured in my head. The presentation was however divine, and I am a sucker for vegetables, so I trudged on. The sauteed vegetables were tender and flavorful, and the barracuda steak was actually pretty good. With a tasty pesto and fried onions as toppings, the tender fish is actually worth recommending. (sorry anti-fish fam). With no defined desserts, you might want to bring along a sweet or two for your own post meal pleasure.
Control: Value for your money is very important in this full blown recession that we are in (thank you Nigeria). The portions at Basi…sorry, N-15 are pretty decent, so you should be glutted up after one main meal.
Delivery Time: Both meals took about twenty minutes, which is a pretty long time when there is no complimentary bread basket or knick knacks to snack on while you wait.
Wallet Control: With your average meal costing about N 3,500.00, and a bottle of wine at N 7,000.00, I would say that Basilico is very fair for a budget.
N-15 is a spacious coffee shop which is still finding its niche, and while it finds its identity, I will give it two stars for the effort.