Lagos Cafe's Arrogance and Horrible Services is a Culinary Disaster


The problem with what happened to me this past Sunday afternoon, March 29, 2009, was that, I had woken up and had developed an appetite to eat some home kind of made food; the ofe olugbo, bitter leaf soup, coupled with the orishirishi, the ingredients and varieties of meats and dried fish that comes along with it.

Actually, there was no pub-crawling the previous night, quite unusual, which normally should have justified my quest to fill up my stomach from partying hard. And, precisely, not that I even went to see a show ending up hanging out where I'm not suppose to have been getting up the next day with some hangovers, headaches and things like that.

I was clean and sober. It's just that I did not feel like going to the popular Tak's Coffee House around my neck of the woods for lunch. I wanted bitter leaf soup and garri to do justice to my stomach. And here I am in my journey. And what a way to learn a lesson.

I had made up my mind to go to different Nigerian or African restaurants in the LA area, a place I am not a regular. Feeling like swallowing garri with a paste of deliciously prepared bitter leaf soup, I landed at Lagos Cafe run by Ronke Bernadette, located on the 1400 block of Crenshaw Boulevard in Gardena, California. It took me about half an hour to get there, driving through the Crenshaw thoroughfare of "Black Township", and combing on the cultural festivities of Leimert Park where a series of African American women dance and beat the drums on Sundays as if it is a spiritual revival. Crenshaw Blvd., from my destination to Gardena stretches through four different suburbs -- "The Jungle" around the Mid City area, Inglewood, Hawthorne and Gardena.

I was hungry and had anticipated a good meal, especially when breezing into a place I'm not a regular. But restaurants of the African ilk in the Los Angeles area are not just regular cuisines some few dollar can get you something to chew on. These are restaurants you have to spend at least 15 bucks for a regular meal, and 15 bucks for a regular meal in these days of belt-tightening is not a chicken change.

Anyways, here I go. I walked in to a place that looked totally deserted. The owner, Ronke and her friend who had told me she came from Togoland sat on one corner running their mouth -- without paying attention that a customer had arrived. I made my request: bitter leaf soup with mixed meat, dried fish and garri. I sat down and waited until only God knows when a waiter, apparently my home boy, popped up and told me my "food will soon be ready."

As it happened, my friend, Ardis Hamilton, whom I have known for many years dating back to the "read my lips" era called me, and I told him exactly where I was and how I got there. Immediately, he picked up interest to join me, in order to have a feel of a well-prepared African dish. In about 20-minutes, he was in. He was turned off right away because of the owner and her Togolese friend's attitude, loquaciously erring in French. Yes, they spoke French and did not care if a customer had arrived.

Meanwhile, I had waited long enough and my stomach was burning for some reason. I requested for some water to drink. Lagos Cafe had no water, absolutely no water for its customers which had me wonder why this garrulous woman and her friend are in business, in the first place. They drove down the street to buy some water after my request. In a restaurant and no water. Imagine!

At Veronica's Kitchen which sits on Manchester in Inglewood, the service is always great, the environment conducive and the waiters and waitresses well-behaved which is why the owner, Veronica Ogbeide, beats them all, hands down, and presumably from learning how to run a restaurant, effectively and efficiently.

However, they got my water while I waited for the so-called 'finest food' to arrive. Ardis, too, was looking forward to something special. To my friend's surprise, these talky women and the attendant who is also my home boy, changed their tone of language, all of a sudden, and just like that. Ngbati-ngbati, the normal Yoruba noise making kind of stuff, typical of a gabby Oshodi market women, became a trend, and it baffled my friend because they all knew he's a Yank as in "no speak English" a Hispanic would pretend to tell you.

My food finally came and I wanted my friend, Ardis, to taste the soup before ordering his own on my tab. Ardis has not recovered. His ass has been burning from the overseasoned habanero pepper and some other chili stuff that was used in cooking the soup.

In my own case, I'm the kind of guy who would eat up everything served and face the consequences later. Money is hard, these days, you know, but how could I have gotten myself into a situation where I now live in my restroom until the whole mess is flushed out from my system?

Not only that the service at Lagos Cafe was horrible, it was also ridiculously expensive. 20-something bucks and no leftover to take home? Come on, now, be real! At Veronica and 15-plus something bucks, you will have a whole lot of leftovers to take home, and you will be glad you did.

Lagos Cafe, Ronke, the talkative Togolese lady and my home boy, quote me, I will never be back because it really sucks, (excuse my language for I am pissed), and from my observation, you will be the last to earn a Michelin star.

Comments

Adanna said…
Good write-up but my take is you need to settle down. One more thing, did this really happen?
Ebere said…
Chei! na wah o! You have nailed this woman.
Su Papra said…
I have tried the food in few occasions and I think they are tasty but I do have a problem with the price. Too high for a regular meal.
Anonymous said…
Hoha!
Anonymous said…
Hello Mr. Ambrose,

It is disheartening to know that you have so much negative things to say about Lagos Cafe, while (at the same time) you're trying so hard to make Veronica's Kitchen the place to eat. Far from the truth.

To be honest with you and of course, the many readers you've copied, Lagos Cafe is the place and your attempts to defame the owner, the name of the restaurant and/or the Yoruba culture is not only wrong but also dares to create conflicts amongst the Yorubas and Ibos and that's not what Nigeria needs... to say the least.

What you should have done and of course, what any civilized person would do... is to simply have a sit-down meeting with the owner and then voice-out your dissatisfaction. That's assuming you have issues with the owner, restaurant and/or Yoruba culture.

Attempts by you to demean the owner and/or Yoruba culture is not only wrong but should be seen by your bloggers and/or readers as your lack of awareness... when it come to Lagos Cafe.

Shame on you and/or anyone else who supports this act of wickedness. Judging from your posting, you're on a 'witch hunt' and would like to bring down a woman who has worked so hard (for so many years) to please not only the Nigerian community but also the western folks who want to learn about our African culture.

With that in mind, it's my hope that you will now come to your senses by apologising to theowner of Lagos Cafe, the Yoruba community and of course, the Nigerian community for your attempts to bring them apart.

Cheers,
N.O...;-)
Anonymous said…
Mr Ambrose Ehirim, Why are you so vindinctive and trying to destroy Lagos Cafe another human being like you. From the way you wrote about this woman it means to that you are full of evil in your heart and seriously you need Jesus. I pray that Almighty God will deliver you.
Anonymous said…
Mr Ambrose, How much did Veronica's kitchen give you for the free advertisement. I am sure you eat free food any time you're there, bcos from the tone of your write-up, Veronica must have given you a lot of dollars. You must be an evil man. YOU NEED DELIVERANCE.
Ambrose said…
I probably should have responded in kind to all the cowards who use handles to address an issue related to a public place from around which I wrote about my experience. But hell no, I cannot be responding to ghosts.

On the other hand, an apology is the last thing if freedom of speech should be upheld and respected. All the woman has to is learn how the business works because my observation was the simple truth.
2GEES said…
They just can't handle the truth, and that's bad.
Stanley said…
I think all should bear in mind that a critic has every right to pen his or her views in any organized and civilized society.
Kenny said…
Maybe Ambrose wants to start another Igbo-Yoruba war.
Udemezue G. Udemezue said…
You may have made a good observation, however, I was hoping to read how you dialogued with the owner as to your concerns.

I guess, if Lagos Cafe was an American restaurant your first course of action might be reporting the incident to the owner or manager. We should adopt something like that with our people.

Going public without getting a feedback from her will not solve the problem.

As a big time customer of "IYALONGE" Most Yoruba food that I enjoyed in course of my yester years at Lagos were spicy/I love it.

Comparing Lagos Cafe with Veronica will create an assumption of unnecessary fishing expedition. I suggest we should look at them as two different restaurants/management styles.

Objectively, your remarks were a "first person's opinion."

Let's try a conciliatory dialogue.

Best of luck.
Jenny said…
I agree with Udemezue. The first approach normally is to meet with the owner and lodge your complaints.
Jeun said…
Me I think say na gaskia the bobo de talk o. E good as im talk make they know how to de treat people with respect.
Anonymous said…
When you tell a nasty woman she is nasty in her face she'll probably curse you out. But when you expose a nasty woman and she reads it and knowing the world has known about her nastiness she'll of course put her acts together. Ambrose did the right thing as critic.
DUBMASTER said…
Ambrose should have judged Lagos Cafe from the African perspective, but he wrote like a typical LA critic.
Baba Eko said…
I go die o!
Ardis said…
Y'all should take it easy on Ambrose ... that shit ain't funny at all...I was there and it ain't funny.
Denise said…
All you men that refused to marry and cook at home should deserve what you get.
Cocoa said…
Oya let the war begin.
Ardis said…
Denise,do you need a man? I can help you.
Anonymous said…
dis one don become agbalagba story... una go kill me o!
J. B. said…
There is nothing wrong with what the writer did here as a critic which suggests a critical, evaluation stance that often involves some kind of survey or probably in his article about his search of good eats from one he is not a 'regular' and that's what critics do. They have no business with the owner.
Anonymous said…
Negative reviews are fine and normal, as long as they are accurate.
Brandon said…
The point of Ambrose article, I believe is be accessible to both the reader and the owners of Lagos Cafe and also give the chefs at the restaurant their best opportunity to communicate that way they can adjust and improve. This is my own opinion.
Pat said…
Ambrose,

You are my hero, straight and fearless.
Anonymous said…
Incredibly so, critics will always do what they do best.
Anonymous said…
Mr Ambrose
This is a wrong style of asking for a free lunch. The fall out of your crap was complaint of the bad economy. If you asked Ronke for a free meal she willingly would have given you. You do not need to malign her to get one. If you went to a restaurant to eat, and you took so much interest in the way two ladies made conversation, the languages they spoke, the way they discussed, and their nationalty/ties, then your interest is beyond eating. I know Ronke is a respectable pretty lady, but this your approach is the most crude and outdated method of toasting a woman. Whatever your write up contains, it will not make Veronica give you a free meal anyway. As a lost Nigerian who has checked out long time ago, you can not pull us apart in this community, because if you are not lost, you should still be able to put together your cultural recipes to make your choice meal at least on a week end. I must tell you that I have met Americans - Black and White, even Caribbeans, with their families in Lagos Cafe happily enjoying Nigerian dishes in that restaurant even with take away. They all feel at home while you happily feel homeless. What a Shame. Try and find something more productive or constructive to do with your time than being a name dropper.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous name:Toks
Ambrose said…
In Nigeria, Dele Giwa was murdered in the most brutal of circumstances with a letter bomb. What was his crime? An investigative journalist trying to provide the public with authentic information. In the same Nigeria, Tunde Thompson and Nduka Iraboh were slammed for letting the public know how a dictatorship is about to ruin its country. Elsewhere, there are many cases like that. Pulitzer fled Poland.

Let me start from the subject matter. I salute my critics who had bent on the issue, the write-up and not my character. Stanley, Udemezue, Jenny, Dubmaster, Ardis, JB, Brandon, and Pat -- I salute you all for your contributions which is healthy in any democratic fabric. For the anonymous, all I can say is: there is nothing wrong in voicing out your opinions. It is normal. Nevertheless, I will not respond to cowards who cannot stand the truth and now I know why Nigeria is a rubbished country, unfortunately.

I am not going to drag on this issue because the article is out there and what I did was the right thing to do. Before this article, I have been to Lagos Cafe several times; and that's what critics do. For the anonymous who couldn't even write coherently, I have no word for you. I would not drag myself to the mud for I will be insane, too, like you.

And for the Yoruba nation who collaborated in killing my kith and kin, raped our women, this is just the beginning.

Enough said.
Adanna said…
Ambrose stop responding to these fools who hate Igbo people.
Chibueze said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Godsent said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bee said…
What is sad is that some of you are bent on personally attacking AMBROSE,but the fact is that his experience still remains his and nobody elses so please people back off.
reggie said…
Well Ambrose you've achieved your objective and so a google search for Lagos Cafe reveals your post even before Ronke's homepage comes up; soon Ronke will be out of business. Even the Department of health when closing a restaurant for health reasons gives the offending party a few days to "clean up their act". You've had your say, why not take this string down? I've tried both cooks; no doubt beyond cooking Veronica is a community leader; you need look no further than how she rehabilitates Nigerians/Africans who - just out of jail - she offers employment to help them get back on their feet. We are a community; not one or the other!
Anonymous said…
As an black American married to a Nigerian man I will say that you Nigerians can be rude anyway, so I'm not surprised by this account. I went to a Nigerian restaurant a few years back and it was awful, unprofessional and down right ghetto.
The food was good though
Anonymous said…
Miss Akata who happens to be married to a Nigerian. Please don't ever think that because you are married to a Nigerian, you are a Nigerian and have any right whatsoever to comment on the Nigerian culture. When I see ghetto, I see you, you black americans.

Now on to Ambrose's criticism, I actually prefer Lagos Cafe's food to Veronica's Kitchen . I am Igbo.
Anonymous said…
Veronica's Kitchen has more business than Lagos Cafe simply because Veronica understands the importance of having returning customers. Lagos Cafe does not seem to give a damn about customer satisfaction. I used to love going to Lagos Cafe but after my recent experience with the very rude waitress....I will not return there. Lagos Cafe needs to learn about being kind, cordial to their customers and taking every criticism as an opportunity for improvement. Hate that Lagos Cafe. And that sour faced waitress.