Akoko reopens with highly acclaimed new exec chef

London Fitzrovia’s celebrated West African restaurant, Akoko has reopened with the highly acclaimed chef, Theo Clench of Portland and Bonhams, at the helm.

Founder Aji Akokomi has spent many months working side by side with Clench, teaching him the intricacies and foundations of much-loved West African dishes and his three pillars of West African cooking – fire, umami, spice.

Clench, using his immense culinary expertise has gone on to create incredibly imaginative and beautifully crafted dishes that make up the exquisite menu at Akoko.

Clnech commented, “Learning new skills from Aji has been such a fantastic experience. I am constantly learning and perfecting dishes using traditional recipes, innovative techniques and ingredients that I have fallen in love with.

'Every day is a challenge and a learning experience, and as a chef, that’s what keeps us passionate and driven in our jobs.

'The spicing of the dishes is such a delicate balance, and I’m using spices that taste like nothing I’ve tried before that bring incredible depth and flavour to each dish – Grains of Paradise, Grains of Selim, Calabash Nutmeg and Scotch Bonnets to name just a few.”

Diners can choose from a six or nine course tasting menu which have been designed to showcase the ethos of Akoko – celebrating West African dining elevated to levels not seen before.

Other than the traditional spices used, Clench only cooks with the highest quality British produce including turbot, lamb and quail.

Diners can look forward to dishes such as Gambian Oyster – oyster cooked on coals served with Gambian oyster stew; Cornish Turbot – slow cooked turbot; Jollof Rice – jollof rice, carrot terrine, Ivorian aubergine sauce and Caramelised Agege, Grilled Pineapple, Iru Ice Cream.

Akokomi said, “I wanted to ensure that my guests always have the opportunity to try ingredients and flavours they may not have known before. I thought the best way to do this would be to offer only set menus, that way each guest is given the complete Akoko experience.'

As well as the beautiful food, the design of the restaurant itself transports guests to warmer climates. Clay terracotta walls lit warmly surround hand crafted wooden tables and an open kitchen where diners can sit and eat on a counter by the pass and watch the chefs at work. A chic bar in the corner serves up exciting and unusual cocktails where guests can enjoy a nibble and a drink before dining if they so choose.

A sensational wine list has been cleverly curated by Honey Spencer & Ania Smelskaya designed to channel the spirit of Akoko: singular flavours that take us on a journey and tell the story of their origin.

(image: Food Story Media)