Saturday, March 13, 2010
I'm not even sure I knew EN existed, honestly. I vaguely remember reading news of a new Nigerian restaurant in the area, but if I did read it, it quickly passed through my mind without much of a second thought. That is, until the other day when I was walking home from Atlantic ave and passed by a restaurant I'd never seen before. I didn't stop in, but I gave the menu a good once over and decided it looked interesting enough to try. Which I did on Thursday night.
EN is certainly an interesting spot. The dark lighting and contemporary decor give off much more of a trendy lounge feel than that of a restaurant, and the room is dominated by the bar, which only adds to the effect. The menu is also very cocktail-centric; fully half of the dinner menu was populate by interesting drinks.
Lounge-y feel aside, we were there to eat, so eat we did. I can't seem to find EN's menu online anywhere - they don't have a website as far as I can tell, and Menupages doesn't have it - so I'm going to remember what we ordered as best I can. There may be some inaccuracies here, though.
To start, I ordered the Catfish Strips. Seeing them on the menu brought back memories of the catfish fingers at Two Steps Down, one of the first dishes I ever tried when I moved to the neighborhood. While I think Two Steps' version is a bit better, these were still very good and are accompanied by a spicy dip that complements the fish well. I think they might have been a bit over-breaded, but I'm nitpicking a bit.
We also god an order of the grilled shrimp and pineapple skewers which were really outstanding. The shrimp were large and bursting with flavor, and the pineapple added a lot. My only complaint here is that we wished there'd been more shrimp to eat because they were so good.
While the appetizers were great, things took a bit of a turn when we moved on to our entrees. Now, whenever I try a new restaurant, I try and order something that serves best to encapsulate what the restaurant is all about. If there's a house specialty, I'll go with that. If it's an ethnic restaurant, and EN is billed as having authentic Nigerian food, I'll try and order something that best exhibits the cuisine the restaurant is trying to recreate.
I say all this because I didn't particularly care for the entrees we got, but I have a feeling that in this case, I just didn't care for this brand of Nigerian food. Unfortunately, I don't have the menu in front of me, and I can't quite remember the spelling and ingredients of what we ordered. I'm going to do my best and then come back and fix things once I actually have a menu for reference. Apologies in advance, though.
Both of our entrees were served in a similar fashion: a big pile of mashed yams served with a bowl of thick, earthy stew. Mine was called Egusi, I believe, and Olivia's was Okoro or something similar. Both were made with seasoned goat (and both were also available with chicken).
How were they? Well, the flavors were very strong and very different. We both agrees the egusi was better, as the okoro was very greasy and have large chunks of fat in it. The egusi was thicker and the flavors were a little less exotic and more palatable. Not quite sure exactly how to attack the meals, we each resorted to forkfuls of the yams covered with some stew, but the whole thing was so thick and filling that neither of us made much of a dent in our plates.
Now, the appetizers were great, and the presentation of the entrees was excellent, so I'm left to conclude that these were good versions of whatever we were eating, but we just didn't care for the dish. We tried something new and it wasn't up our alley, but I still recommend the restaurant. The menu has plenty of less adventurous fare (tilapia with mango salsa, for instance), and judging by the appetizers, there is quite a bit that I'd love. The drink menu is also a lot of fun, and I'd go back for that alone.
EN is definitely worth checking out if you haven't yet. I'm all for being a bit adventurous with a new restaurant, but I'd discuss your entree careful with your server before ordering so that you have a good idea of what you're getting. Definitely try the shrimp, though. Oh, and the mango sangria.
277 Cumberland St