I have ranted so much about the lack of an up-scale Nigerian restaurant in London and after so much searching I am glad to announce I have found one of the best Nigerian restaurants in the UK. Jointly owned by Olushola and Eniola Medupin with decades of restaurant experience there is no surprise why it has got rave review in the British press.
Enish Nigerian Restaurant and Grill is located in South London on Lewisham High Street. It’s a stylish restaurant decorated in contemporary and vintage objects while serving the best of modern Nigerian dishes.
It offers a choice of dining area; the main dining room, an underground executive suite for private dining and functions, a BBQ lounge in summer. The bar is a must visit destination offering vibrant but delicious cocktails in a relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere.
I caught up with Eniola Medupin to discuss what makes Enish one of the best Nigerian restaurants and some of the challenges they face.
The initial inspiration came from my husband. He ran a restaurant in Nigeria with his mum so he knew he wanted to have his own restaurant. So when the opportunity came we went along with the plan.
Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did?
First thing was finding the property which was two years before Enish started. My husband found the venue and when it became available we applied for it, got it after few obstacles then the funding, equipment and building work like decor followed.
What would you consider the key ingredient to Enishs’ success? What makes it different from other Nigerian Restaurants in London?
The ambience, space, decor, cleanliness and staff are awesome. Our staffs are well trained (by myself) with ongoing training. We provide the best customer service as our customers always comes first and most importantly the food. Shola (husband) taste each of the dishes before it’s approved. The quality of our food is impeccable.
One of the major issues I and most Nigerians have with Nigerian restaurants in the UK is the quality of service, how do you maintain this?
We have an on-going training programme for all staff so they don’t get complacent.
Another issue is not having the food listed on the menu available? How do you prevent this? For example, “Can I have Jollof Rice, Plantain and Beef?” “No we don’t have any Jollof and Plantain has finished but we have Fried rice.” Ok can I get fried rice and beef with moin-moin” “Sorry there is no moin-moin.”
(Giggles) No ooo, It’s an abomination not to have certain foods like that. The only thing we did not have all the time when we started was Snail and this was over a year ago. The thing with snail is it’s seasonal and very expensive on the menu. There are only certain type of people that orders it, so when we started, it did not make sense to have it all the time but now I can say everything on our menu is always available. We have a food stock done daily to avoid this.
However we need to understand that Nigerian food is fresh and we are limited to what we have access to as most of our food are imported.
I am glad we clarified this and I think for future purposes restaurants should put (seasonal) on the menu so we know the food item is not always available.
What are some of the challenges you face and what has been the most difficult obstacles since Enish opened?
The paperwork is horrendous and getting used to a 12 hour shift instead of a 9-5 took a while to get used to.
As we are in a residential area, we had to be very mindful of our neighbours initially but now we accommodate each other. So far so good.
What is the oddest request a customer has asked for?
A customer asked to have one spicy jollof rice and another not spicy.
Really? What did you do?
We offered our normal jollof rice and gave him a spicy sauce on the side. (laughs) We always look for an alternative. Our customers are always right.
What dish would you recommend anyone visiting the restaurant should definitely try?
Our Efo Riro. With any kind of meat, either with pounded yam or rice. It’s all about the soup itself.
What advise will you give anyone thinking of opening up a Nigerian restaurant?
Follow the rules of the country you’re in, don’t chase profit and be patient.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Come and see it for yourself. It’s worth it.
Thanks to Enish Restaurant for sharing with us.
Visit them on their website at: www.enish.co.uk
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