The rise and rise of Nigerian cuisine

London’s thriving Nigerian restaurant scene received a double boost this week with the news that hit Brixton restaurant Chishuru is looking for bigger premises while an ambitious new dining and entertainment venue will open near Smithfield Market in Farringdon.

The Patio is taking over the former site of Bird of Smithfield, a five-storey building that will incorporate a 60-cover dining room, a ground-floor bar serving small plates, a basement cocktail bar and a roof terrace overlooking the market, with live music and DJs. The company already operates a restaurant in Lagos, and principal Brandi Akpobome said the Smithfield operation would showcase West African cuisine as well as presenting Nigerian culture in a modern light.

Meanwhile, Chishuru founder Adejoké Bakare (pictured, above) said her two-year-old, 20-cover restaurant in Brixton’s Market Row has now grown too popular to accommodate prospective diners, so she is looking for somewhere bigger – possibly in Brixton or East London. “I’m never going to do fine dining – I want to be considered premium casual. Yes, the new restaurant will be nice and shiny, but not too shiny.”

The emergence of West African cuisine in London has been spearheaded in recent years by the defiantly fine dining Ikoyi in St James’s, now probably the best-known African restaurant in Europe. The latest additions to the roster include Isibani, which opened in Knightsbridge this summer, closely followed by the pan-African Tatale in Southwark’s new Africa Centre building.

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