About a month ago in 9ja News food report, I learned of the opening of a cafeteria in the Zain Building in Ikoyi. Prior to that, I had no clue that there was a Zain Building, or that it was anywhere near my office. But I began to pay attention to this building when I learned that its cafeteria was designed as much to cater to the Ikoyi office crowd, as it was to take care of Zain’s employees. Yes, we are still on the topic of the dearth of lunchtime venues in Ikoyi, and will continue to be on this topic until more budding restaurateurs hear my cry and open quick, non-pricey venues in my part of town! It may seem a bit of a stretch to venture into the heart of Banana Island in search of lunch. But if, like me, you work in an office that does not have its own in-house canteen, pay close attention. Once you are through the main Banana Island gates, turn left at the roundabout, onto 1st Avenue, and drive down to the end. You will hit a misleading dead-end in the form of the multicoloured ‘Ocean Parade Towers’, but if you follow the road to the right, onto 401 Close, you will see a very tall grey and white building. This is the Zain Building.
For Lagos big babes only At the moment, it’s a bit of a pain to drive into the complex, unless you’re able to play the big madam/oga card. For the rest of us whose cars instantly declare that we are not generous tippers, it is advisable not to attempt to drive in, but to park and walk along the side of the main building until you come to a separate, free-standing glass house. The Waterview Bistro is usually incredibly lively. The Zain crowd tend to eat in large friendly groups, and you can hear them guffawing in between their lip-smacking. The venue is simple but polished, with clean tablecloths and raffia mats. To the right is a stainless steel serving counter bearing trays of food, but the pièce de resistance, is the view! This place is called Waterview Bistro for a reason, and the view it provides is absolutely breathtaking. To stare out of the restaurant’s gigantic glass wall on the first floor, feels almost like a privilege. There is nothing but water for miles and miles, and a brilliant clear blue sky.
You could easily believe for a second that you were aboard a cruise ship staring out into the endless sea. It is just wonderful, and the two sets of couches with this unobstructed view, are prime real estate at the Bistro. I’ll have the shaki, please Aside from the view, the Waterview Bistro, gets points for the speed of their operation. A few days ago for example, I walked in at 2.10pm, and out at 2.35pm. The other thing I also appreciate is that the experience is value for money. For N1200, you can choose from either two full Nigerian menus or a continental menu, and then eat like a king in a clean, pleasant environment, with one of the best views in town laid out in front of you. As one who values the experience of eating out, as much as the food itself, this combination is perfect. Is the food exceptional? Their ‘shaki and beef stew’ is excellent, as is their ‘barbecue chicken’ and ‘pork rib’.
I wasn’t hugely impressed with the ‘Oriental rice’, ‘seafood kebab’ and ‘grilled lemon fish’, which I found to be quite bland. But any disappointment I may have experienced was wiped clean on Monday, when I inquired about dessert. In the past, I have generally only seen the female Zain employees ordering dessert and usually it has been cake. On Monday, though, the dessert of the day, was ‘fruit crumble and ice cream’. It arrived with a thin layer of oat-based crumble, sitting atop a messy mush of apple, pineapple and sultanas. Eaten with the generous scoop of vanilla ice cream beside it, it was surprisingly good. Why? Because it cost only N500! The Waterview Bistro gets good marks simply for being good value for money. The food may on occasion be lackluster, or may be warm as opposed to piping hot when it’s served, but the waiters will heat it up without the slightest grumble. Quick, clean and with a stunning view, it is worth every kobo.