Cactus Lagos: Restaurant, Bakery and Italian Gelato Parlour. 20-24 Ozumba Mbadiwe, Lagos, Nigeria. 08181777666 08058777666 or 08027777666, IG: @cactuslagos
Yesterday was one of those iconic days that will forever be cemented on the sands of time. After nearly a year of online Instagram dm’s only best-friendship, I finally got the chance to meet Benard Samuel. Benard who is one of the youngest (asides myself) Nigerian food critic shares his honest, usually very unfiltered opinions about the general gourmet scene in Nigeria, like me, Benard is a try-sexual, meaning he will try any meal once.
Benard reached out via Instagram to announce he had touched down Lagos, my excitement shot through the roof, I was finally meeting my best friend for the first time. On the days leading up to the meeting, we drew up a running list of restaurants that appealed to us. Together; we settled to revisit Cactus Lagos. My first foray with cactus was in late 2018, I was happily looking forward to visiting again.
Upon arrival at Cactus, I was excitedly swept off my feet by the upgraded decor and well distributed green aesthetics. I was sat within 2minutes by a very warm and friendly front of house staff, he was not like one of those overly friendly types that end up becoming irksome, this guy was actually a real gem, even going on to recommend a seat for us by the waterside for the best views, he wasn’t wrong.
Once settled, our waiter recommended a round of cold smoothies to help us refresh and cool off from the insane Lagos heat. I had the Tropical Pineapple Coconut smoothie (NGN3000, USD7.87), it came highly recommended, which naturally upped my expectations… I did not like it at all. The drink came out tasting like all the fruits had not been mixed properly with the pineapple flavor overwhelmingly blowing me off course. It tasted as if the pineapple had either gone very bad or was on its way to going bad, with how fragile my stomach is, It did not take long for me to start feeling sick and on the verge of vomiting after the third sip.
The waiter suggested another drink, the Pineapple Coconut Nojito (NGN2500, USD7.35), with all amount of hesitation and fear, I ordered a glass. My body welcomed the refreshing taste with a cheerful reverberation of pure joy. The fresh mint leaves, lime juice, fresh pineapple juice, sugar syrup, and coconut paste fused together to create a rather flirty refreshing drink, perfect for the Lagos heat.
Benard had the classic tequila-sunrise (NGN3800, USD9.97), he described it as thirst-quenching with just about the perfect shot of tequila to excite the body. Mannie, our other mutual friend had the Banana Strawberry Delight (NGN3000, USD7.87) a banana, orange, milk and strawberry paste combination that was neither revitalising nor satisfying, he barely touched his drink after the first few sips. Shortly after settling into our drinks, our table was soon flooded by dripping liquid from the glasses and melting ice, Mannie and I both asked on multiple times for placemats for the drinks and none was provided, tired of asking, we resorted to begging for extra napkins instead (multiple times) to dab the water from the table, that was also not provided.
Our breaking point came an hour later, after just staring blankly at the food menu, calling out different dishes to each other, hoping that at least one would resonate. I personally wanted to try the Salmon Freekeh (NGN17,000, USD44.62) Which is a grilled salmon filet on a bed of creamy Freekeh risotto with onions, red pepper and mushroom served with a side of sauteed spinach and broccoli. I changed my mind after I asked my waiter if he would recommend it, his lack of enthusiasm and knowledge of the menu drained the appetite from me.
Though the ambience had graciously improved since last time, the food menu had not, my company and I felt disappointed, it came off as yet, another overrated restaurant.
It is important to iterate that I do not believe the food at Cactus is bad (we did not eat anything) however, I do think that Cactus really holds great potential, but, from the sickness-inducing smoothie to the general frustration of having to dry our table to the very “meh” food selections on the menu, my party and I came to the conclusion that it was not the best place for us… And so, we left.