West African cuisine is having a moment.
And it’s a very good moment indeed.
Recent months have seen the openings of several acclaimed venues ranging from the casual (like Chukus) to the slightly more formal (Chishuru in Brixton, for instance, or the forthcoming Tatale) to proper fine dining from places like Akoko.
Now, joining the fold is Isibani.
The name means ‘bring the light’ in Zulu, and you’ll find it in Knightsbridge when it swings its doors this July. The show-runners claim they’re aiming for something that evokes a “neighbourhood restaurant” vibe, but when the neighbours here live in what is literally the most expense real estate on earth (One Hyde Park), right next to the Bulgari Hotel and a McLaren dealership, that could mean they’re aiming for customers who pop in for a quick bite after casually buying a supercar.
Thankfully it seems like that’s not the case. The two-floor venue is planned to give a nod to the glitziness of its surroundings, without being beholden to it. Inside, they’re daubing it with the distinctively bold colours & geometric patters found throughout Nigerian design. Downstairs will be where the fine dining happens, while upstairs will be home to a more casual roof terrace.
The menu is being put together by head chef Victor Okunowo (The Wolseley, Chiltern Firehouse, etc.) who hit the semi-finals of MasterChef: The Professionals back in 2020. The food’s going to be a mix of classic Nigerian favourites, upscaled & reinterpreted. That means the likes of jerk poussin tacos with pimento mayo, heritage tomatoes & escabeche; or a smoked monkfish fillet with charred okra, kachumbari, sea herbs & brown shrimp. For dessert, there’s going to be a ‘pap pannacotta’ (pap is a staple dish made from corn meal) with tamarind and baobab sorbet; as well as mascarpone rice pudding with Supermalt ice cream. This place may bring the light…
…but you certainly won’t be leaving any lighter.
NOTE: Isibani is set to open on 11th July. We’ll be back then with the full scoop. In the meantime, you can find out more at the website right here.
Isibani | 9 Knightsbridge Green, SW1X 7QL
Want to see the competition? Here are the best restaurants in West London.