All in Good Timing


Cutlery and Roses

By  Vanessa Obioha 

The arrival of Casper and Gambini’s in Nigeria in 2015 to some, was bad timing. The economy was experiencing the early pangs of recession. Businesses were not recording huge profits while some companies were reducing their staff strength. It was with wary eyes that people watched the opening of the restaurant.  Quite a few knew about the Lebanese franchise at the time they opened shop. Yet, it was difficult to ignore the eye-catchy signage at Agoro Odiyan Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. The name itself instigated some kind of curiosity, unless you are very familiar with the brand.

 The over 20 years brand started off in a small town, Trieste in northern part of Italy in 1948. Sticking to the traditional roots of northern Italy cuisine, it developed a culinary experience that resonated throughout the region until 1996 when it finally established in the biggest city and capital of Lebanon, Beirut. Under the aegis of Ant Ventures Worldwide, the Italian restaurant has spread its wings to other parts of the world and is currently in 10 cities across the Middle East and Africa.

 By the beginning of 2016, C&G was the go-to restaurant for most individuals and corporate organisations.  Like most new hospitality venues in Lagos, it had its moments of rave. Everyone was talking either about its unique setting or continental dishes.

 Like most restaurant franchises, C&G prides itself in its stylised decor which is same in any of its outlets in Middle East and Africa. The wooden canopied roof is a signature of its décor. However, the Victoria Island setting had its own in-built with a chandelier suspended on it.  With an outdoor and indoor setting, the restaurant exudes a certain degree of panache. Although, the parking space collides with what would have been an exceptional outdoor dining area, it however gives the diner a quaint view of the cool environment, enhanced by the greenery surrounding it.

 Inside, an aisle dotted with a plant décor divides the dining areas. Right ahead is the patisserie, displaying a delectable array of cakes, tarts and bread. At my first visit, I tried the famous chocolate cake that comes with an ice cream and chocolate sauce I have heard so much about and I wasn’t disappointed. It is no secret that the restaurant-café has one of the best pastries in town – a point that was well emphasised by one of the managers of the restaurant, Feraz during a recent visit. While we were chatting on a Monday morning, he got a call from a client requesting for a birthday cake for his date.

 Feraz with pride asserted that the pastry is a major success for the restaurant. “People love our pastry. We get orders for birthday cakes, anniversaries and other similar celebrations.”

 The dining setting is a well-thought-out mix that has its guests at the core of its operations. Be it a date, a group lunch, family outing, this restaurant has the right seating arrangement for you.

 However, the ambience is a class of its own. The choice of dark colours and softly-lit interior gives it a sleek and welcoming tone. The friendly disposition of the waiters – a delectable mix of ladies and gentlemen further enhances the warm aura.

 In true Italian cuisine style, the menu is an extensive array of sandwiches, handcrafted burgers, salads, pizzas, desserts and many other delicacies that come in good taste. The team of 20 chefs led by a Lebanese expatriate is professionally trained to give the unique signature taste of the restaurant. In my first visit to the restaurant with my sister, we had the grilled baby calamari for starters which was freshly made on request so you don’t have to eat microwaved meal. The downside of our dining experience was the nibble foods; it wasn’t something that was appetising. You can also try the caffe and latte menu, particularly the cappuccinos.

Though, while its meals are highly priced, it is very filling.

 Despite the fears in some quarters over the survival of this franchise, C&G had proved otherwise. In a few days’ time, it will officially open its Ikeja branch.

 “It is twice the size of this one,” says Feraz. The expansion was a pointer that its clientele has outgrown the 100-seating capacity of its current venue. He revealed that they have had a slow season between July and August but optimistic that things will pick up in the coming months.

 It’s past nine. The restaurant was empty now. “The rush starts from 11 am,” he added. “The weekends are also very busy.”

 Before I finally took my leave, a group of men and women had walked in. From the look on their faces, they were ready to dig in to the exciting menus on display.


Johnson  Dogbey  Wins  The Barman TV  Reality Show

Not too long ago, the debut season of The Barman Reality TV show came to a climactic end. After six weeks of intensive training and drilling challenges, Ghanaian Johnson Dogbey emerged the winner of the competition which had over 85 bartenders from West Africa applying for a chance to clinch the coveted prize of diverse trainings in Cape Town, Rome and London

 Conceived by Caesario de-Mederios, the competition aimed at recognising the art of bar tending as well as the individuals who dedicate their time and efforts to this skill. It was a first of its kind in the continent and is geared towards revolutionising the African Cocktail industry. Already, the organisers are overwhelmed by an avalanche of applications from interested participants for the second season which is due next year.  The Barman TV is produced by HA! HA! Media.

Kenny Saint Best Opens Food Court

The musician-cum-politician is now a restaurateur. She recently opened a food court, O’Goodness in Olowu, Ikeja where she brings her culinary experience to her stylish delicacies named after entertainers. You can check out the Keke’s Delight-okro soup with vegetables or Don Jazzy’s sauce.

O’Goodness is appropriate for a take-out. The limited space does not allow family dining.  However, there is room for individuals who wants to escape the busy environment of the Ikeja commercial area. The food court also offers online delivery services.


Dining Etiquettes 

 How to Eat a Cake Dessert

 It can be very confusing on what cutlery to use when it comes to cake desserts. The fork or the spoon? Which one is more appropriate?

Both are actually appropriate. If you are served a cake with an ice cream, the best option is to use both cutlery. You can use the spoon to scoop the ice cream, while use the fork for eating the cake.

 But if you are served a dense cake, you use the spoon for pushing and cutting, while use the fork for eating.

 If it is a layered cake with the slice upright, turn it on its side with a dessert fork and spoon. You can only use your hands if the cutlery is cleared.