Damola Timeyin: London’s best African restaurants

Frustrated at the lack of African presence on the spirit shelves of the world’s best bars and restaurants, Damola Timeyin partnered up with Chris Frederick and Thabo Maloba to create Spearhead Spirits, a liquor company that makes its product in Africa, using African ingredients. Its multi-award-winning bottles of Vusa vodka and Bayab gin are rich expressions of pan-Africanism that firmly established the company in bars across the globe. We talked to him about his favourite African restaurants in London

Chishuru, Nigeria  

Chishuru is the creation of Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare, a wonderful Nigerian chef who has become quite a star in the wider food and drinks world. She had a tiny restaurant in Brixton that got amazing reviews, which she’s now closed and is doing pop-ups around London until she opens her new place in central London. Her food is full of heat and spice just as Nigerian food should be: my favourite dish is gbegiri, confit chicken with a spiced bean and lentil purée.  It’s deep and rich, and it’s got incredible flavour. 


Little Baobab

Little Baobab, Senegal

I recently travelled to Senegal where the food is just incredible and I got home wanting to find something to remind me of my trip, which is how I discovered Little Baobab, a roving Senegalese pop-up that has just opened an outlet in the Peckham Levels food court. I was particularly keen to find someone who made a good chicken yassa, and they do an excellent one that comes marinated in mustard and lime and is served with heaps of caramelised onions. They also do an excellent thiebou dieune, which is the national dish of Senegal and is like the original jollof rice. 

Peckham Levels, 95A Rye Lane, SE15 4ST; littlebaobab.co.uk

Gold Coast Bar, Ghana

This hidden gem in South Norwood is where the Ghanaian diaspora gathers and it’s got a great vibe. My favourite dish is nkatsenkwan, a Ghanaian peanut soup that’s made with tomatoes and ginger. You eat it with fufu, one of the famous West African “swallow” dishes. It’s basically a big dumpling made from cassava that’s been pounded and boiled. It’s super simple but totally delicious. 

224 Portland Road, London SE25 4QB; thegoldcoastbar.com

Tatale, Pan-African

This is the restaurant at The Africa Centre and it’s run by a good friend of mine, Akwasi Brenya-Mensa, and it’s named after a plantain pancake, a dish that he thinks is synonymous with the Black experience wherever you are in the world. Tatale takes a pan-African approach and the food is incredible, particularly the buttermilk fried chicken wings, which are the best in London. For me, though, the standout dish on the menu is omo tuo, a steaming bowl of mashed rice in a groundnut soup. 

The Africa Centre, 66 Great Suffolk Street, London, SE1 0BL; tataleandco.com

Follow Damola on Instagram here @damola_t; head to Tatale to try Spearhead’s spirits: spearheadspirits.com

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