The Council Abuja, Seafood platter with two sides and non-alcoholic drinks N48,375.00 (US$126.89, GB£91.78, EUR106.67). The Council Restaurant, 35 Ibrahim Babangida Way, Wuse 900271, Abuja, +234 0805 555 3268. IG @thecouncilabuja.
My heart rate constantly spikes whenever I hear the words “new” – It could be anything from a brand new restaurant that just recently popped up to new menu options from an already existing one, a new drink concept, and many more. Whenever someone announces a new space to me, like clockwork, my spirit grows, sunshine floods my soul, and a sweet tingle of contagious joy jolts through my body. This is exactly how I felt when I heard about The Council Abuja, even the name was enough to make me break a smile, It has this very premium ring to it that champions a certain level of exclusivity – Love it. Capping off the Easter celebration, I decided to take my family for an Easter-Monday brunch, The Council and their seafood options were the first (and only option) on my mind.
The taxi was supposed to be a measly 7 minutes ride from my house, but it ended up taking nearly 25 minutes, the building is very easy to miss and we drove past it multiple times before finally locating it;- pro tip: Tell the taxi driver to drive you to the Wuse exit of the British Council building, then walk into the right gate)
Maybe it is the lazy, non-active spirit in me. I will start this review by categorically stating how much I did not appreciate climbing the steep stairs that lead up to the door under the scorching Abuja sun. My lazy knees wailed in defiance with each step, by the time I got to the summit, I was sweating terribly and that already put me in a slightly irritated mood.
The interior of The Council looks like something straight out of Instagram; metallic walls and solid, brightly colored seats give off a lush ambiance aesthetics, I was wholesomely impressed by the soft, clean, yet intricate laser cut panels that added an extra layer of oomph to the space. A giant flower wall with a life-size neon wing decorates a section of the space, I believe this is the designated photo spot as everyone seemed to line up to take a picture behind the wall. The entire space screamed insta-worthy. Intimate, elegant, colorful and divine.
A worthy note – The Council is not as large as it appears on social media, the division between the dining area and the lounge area is very thin. Indoor smoking of cigarettes and shisha is permitted, If you are sensitive to smoke… well, good luck.
My party ordered a round of vanilla milk-shakes (N3500/USD8.58) to cool off from the sun, my aunty who was not paying attention and agreed to the round of milkshakes by accident asked to have her order changed (we were going to pay for both drinks) the feisty response from the waitress should’ve been our first red flag and cue to leave.
I skipped the milkshakes and opted for a latte (N2000/USD4.90) to wake me, while I applaud them for the presentation of the coffee drinking set which consisted of a very elegant see-through gold accent water jar and glass cup, I was not exactly sure how to react when a sachet of Nescafe 3 in 1 cafe latte was tossed in front of me. For a supposed fine-dining establishment, receiving a sachet Nescafe just damn right screamed cheap, and I was not impressed.
My party and I ordered the seafood platter which housed a baby lobster, calamari, jumbo prawns, and shrimps grilled in lemon butter with one choice of side (N25000/USD61.31) I asked for the Mexican rice as my choice of side with mashed potato. Once again, the waitress came at us with fury, declaring rather bluntly that we could only have one side with the platter; shocked at the statement, yet still maintaining beauty, I asked her why not?
She pointed at the menu, to the line that reads “one choice of side”
and I responded with
“Yes, I get that, I want the Mexican rice as my choice of side and a mashed potato as another side to be paid for separately.”
Our good lady went on to lecture me that the order is only served with one side and I have to pick between the yam chips, french fries, or sweet potato fries. At this point, I was already on the tipping edge of my breakpoint and I had just about had it, my mother on the other hand was seconds away from blowing steam, I requested to speak with the manager to actually beg for more side orders as I honestly could not comprehend how a company of 4 would share just one side.
Madam manager, a soft-spoken slender lady with impeccable style and posture came to address me. I explained to her how we were a party of four sharing the seafood platter and we would like to order two sides to share as well and we do not want fries. Very professionally, and exuding some next-level girl boss elegance, she turned to her staff and they walked off into the back, at this point I was exhausted.
About 1hr 45mins later, 70mins past the promised delivery time food finally arrived. The platter composition was honestly rather disappointing as many of you noted when I posted on my insta-story. Every element on the platter looked lonely and just sad. Two jumbo prawns sat at one corner with three half-cut snails on the opposite end, a cube of fish lay bare with three flattened up calamari taking the space across. My table shared a look and very honestly, we should’ve left at this point, but I was very hungry and we had waited way too long.
Rolling up my sleeves, I dove headfirst at the calamari, my taste buds instantly rebelled, I wasn’t sure why, so Ignored it and went for a piece of the prawn, instant regret. My sensitive tongue did not welcome the legion of unexpected saltiness that overwhelmed what would’ve been a most delicious seafood. On one hand, I thought the grill sauce was very tomatoey and did not pack any punch, the spice level was very bland for seafood and I know it is a very delicate delicacy that must be handled with care to minimize the risk of over-spicing, but still…
Around five minutes after the taste test, our sides finally arrived. The mashed potatoes looked like someone who was very upset or in a hurry had just slapped it on the plate complete with fingerprints and everything, I was too embarrassed to photograph it. It came out cold, tasted bland with no fluff or creamy sweetness whatsoever.
The Mexican rice was totally different. My taste buds graciously welcomed the very exciting taste of the rice, it was delicious with a glorious composition of flavors. However, a little unwelcome guest made me question the food safety and sanitation standards of The Council Abuja, I found not one but two strands of hair in my rice. Repulsed and oh-so disturbed, I felt my appetite evaporate as the waitstaff took my plate away.
While this could have just been a small innocent mistake, it flagged the question of food safety and cleanliness of the kitchen and kitchen staff. I am not at all a sensitive patron, but I know accidents like these happen all the time, however, I am a firm believer that it should not be tolerated nor excused. I know for a fact that if I was an inspector, this accident would have been all I needed as evidence to have them audited.
Remember that sunshine I spoke about at the beginning of this piece? Well, the sun has been snuffed out. At the point of leaving the restaurant, I and my entire party were a ban of hungry, pissed-off patrons with my mom leading the charge especially with how much we spent.
FINAL THOUGHTS – Would I go back to The Council Abuja?
Have you visited The Council? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comment section or send me a direct message on Instagram @thebensonekpo