Africa is experiencing a culinary renaissance, with traditional flavours and contemporary fusion combined with award winning expertise and beautiful venues. If you find yourself in Angola, Chad or Gabon for either business or pleasure, make a beeline for one of their high-end, high-quality establishments. We explore ten of the very best fine-dining establishments in West Africa.
Libreville | © Bajan 28/Wikicommons
Nestle under the wooden awning for a night in one of Chad’s most popular restaurants, Ali Baba, comprising of a huge outdoor seating area scattered with aesthetically pleasing potted plants. This Lebanese restaurant serves mezze, fresh tabbouleh,hummous and labneh, all served with characteristic Chad joviality. One of the most refreshing elements of this institution is that it features fresh crudities to add colour and crunch to the traditional Lebanese fare. Their famous flatbreads are well seasoned and the sheer variety of food on offer presents a pleasant alternative to the typical Western cuisine and pan-African dishes available across the Chad district.
The long tables and convivial atmosphere in the alfresco, verdant space of Restaurant Layalina provide a perfect introduction to West African food and hospitality. Enjoy traditional Lebanese food in the form of succulent mezze with smooth baba ganouj and tagine de poisson, or perhaps sample something a little heartier such as the steak Roquefort or the delicately spiced, braised lamb shanks. The homemade pita breads are locally famed for flavour, perfect with their selection of dips or simply on their own, to accompany a Guinness from Cameroon. Take a seat under the metal awning and imbibe the jovial atmosphere, taking advantage of the complimentary sheesha or kicking back with a beer.
Located within the luxuriant Kempenski Hotel, Tibesti is one of Chad’s most dining elegant establishments. The selection of dishes on the constantly evolving menu are both freshly prepared and incredibly diverse, the staff are consistently polite and attentive, and the décor is second to none. A fantastic way to begin your day in Chad is to browse the comprehensive Tibesti breakfast buffet, watching fresh eggs whisked into omelettes directly in front of you before enjoying the repast on the rooftop, overlooking the beautiful pool and garden complex. If stopping by for an indulgent, à la carte evening experience, begin with smoked salmon with homemade pesto on lightly toasted brown bread before progressing to an authentic, delicately spiced lamb tagine with fresh vegetables and fluffy couscous.
Cais de Quatro
Proudly boasting the ‘best view of the bay of Luanda’ and the ‘best cakes in the region’, Cais de Quatro promises delicious food in a fantastic location. With a balcony overlooking the lapping turquoise waters and a menu offering everything from Mexican-inspired dishes to traditional Italian fare and Japanese favourites, Cais de Quatro caters for even the most discerning diner. The interior décor is defined by the stylish bar, highlighted by floor to ceiling windows allowing glimpses of the beautiful panorama. Enjoy a fresh caprese salad before sampling the succulent, decadent beef Carpaccio.
Evident in their by-line ‘tradition is in the details’, excellent quality and unflappable service are guaranteed at Luanda’s Pimms restaurant. Promising culinary harmony between Angolan and Portuguese influences, Pimms provides upmarket a la carte dining in the heart of West Africa. Choosing from a selection of some of the finest wines and champagnes in the world and take a chilled glass out onto the terrace, or perhaps relax in the vibrant bar area. From this ambient start, progress to the restaurant to enjoy cod au gratin with fresh, seasonal vegetables or a seared tuna steak with a fragrant onion sauce.
Consistently described by expats as one of the most sophisticated places to eat in the city, Oon Dah is perched at the top of the Escom tower. The chic, stylish and contemporary feel of the restaurant is achieved via its textured furnishings and muted colour scheme, providing the perfect backdrop for an indulgent meal or even just for a glass or two of the homemade cocktails. Begin with lobster tempura before progressing to the ever-popular lobster risotto, or try their sensational line of fresh, sharply cut sushi. The Oon Dah steaks are particularly favoured amongst locals and tourists alike, succulent and responsibly sourced they offer a flavour of New York in Africa, perfect alongside a dry martini.
With wide oak-panelled flooring, a picturesque roof terrace and a selection of local art adorning the walls, L’Odika provides a sophisticated backdrop promising authentic Gabon dining. Bang in the centre of the buzzing Louis nightlife district, L’Odika serves high quality food that is a credit to the region. Enjoy fresh langoustines and rich cod dishes whilst watching your next course being lovingly prepared by a team of talented chefs and kitchen staff in the open plan kitchen. If looking for something a little more substantial, opt for a lightly steamed lobster with a choice of delicate side dishes or a vibrant paella with generous wedges of lemon. The unique of African cuisine accented with French notes is what really makes L’Odika stand out from the crowd – the perfect spot to while away Gabon night .
Le Phare du Large
A beautifully styled and recently refurbished restaurant with unparalleled views across the wide stretch of coast, Le Phare du Large is well known for its fresh, fragrant prawn dishes and white fish risotto. In addition to excellent food, the service is consistently attentive with staff seemingly anticipating your every need. Giving the impression of dining in a ship’s cabin, complete with porthole windows, Le Phare du Large offers the chance to escape from the day and relax in the mellow monochrome restaurant, with characterful beams stretching across the low ceiling. Begin with homemade fois gras or perhaps crab tartar with avocado before progressing a lightly pan fried fillet of capitaine.
This chic establishment is owned by successful hospitality group Mayena. Having opened its doors in March 2015, OVIMA is relatively new to the Libreville fine dinning scene but is rapidly establishing itself as a must-visit destination for lovers of fine food and sophisticated dinning. Gabonese gastronomy has center stage here and guests can expect to see classic ingredients revisited and traditional dishes with a modern twist. Try the chicken nyembwé from the Kango region, or for those more adventurous, try the sautéd porcupine Woleu Ntem-style. To finish, do not miss their signature banana and chocolate Charlotte, as beautiful as it is delicious!
Roma Restaurant offers a slice of Italy in the heart of Libreville – but don’t come expecting pizza. Moving away from Italy’s biggest export, Roma pledges to broaden exposure of Italy’s diverse culinary traditions, preparing delicate beef carpaccio, perfectly steamed seafood platters and classic pastas with African notes. With famously hospitable service and authentic ingredients shipped in from Italy, Roma Restaurant is a cut above. Like any good Italian restaurants, the deserts are top notch. Spooning in decadent, creamy slices of tiramisu truly makes you feel transported to Rome.
Source: the culturetrip