In recent times, both business and leisure visitors have had more reasons to visit Protea Hotel Westwood Ikoyi – probably because of the irresistible value-for-money offerings, rebranded luxury rooms, the spectacular river view, easy access, among others.
Yet, there are more offerings you need to explore. A visit to the hotel managed by Africa’s leading hotel group is not complete without a taste of its Fridays’ offerings. Fridays because that is the day traffic on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi seems unending as if all motorists in Ikoyi were charged to leave the island on a short notice.
So, instead of going through all the stress of the traffic with the tear and wear on your health and the vehicle, Protea Hotel Westwood Ikoyi invites you to cool off your stress in the most beautiful ambiance of the hotel restaurant and lounge.
While there, you will be sipping your choice wine in the open view of the lagoon from the imposing waterfront. There is barbeque by the corner that offers variety of barbequed meat amidst a live band that entertains with very subtle jazz that is cool enough to set one in the mood for leisure while waiting for traffic to ease off.
While the Friday adventure at the hotel lasts, one other reason to visit the hotel is to taste the delicacies at the restaurant. It is a call to indulge in world-class cuisine and culinary delights fresh from the kitchen. From breakfast, lunch to dinner, Friday African Night, Saturday open buffet to Sunday brunch, it is simply fine dining all the way.
But behind the restaurant and right in the kitchen that continuously delivers the delicacies is Mikel, executive chef of the hotel. With over a decade experience on the job, Mikel is capable in managing affairs at the sprawling kitchen of the customer-friendly hotel. Chef Mikel has created a culinary tour de force with a simple yet varied menu that will satiate all palates be it African, Asian or continental. A taste of his signature menu at the hotel’s restaurant is all you need to affirm his culinary prowess.
He brings his wealth of experience from the Protea Group to bear. Since joining the Ikoyi Lagos-based hotel, every meal is prepared with the enjoyment of guests in mind – with a strong focus on immaculate presentation, delectable combinations of taste, flavour and individual flair.
So far, guests looking for impeccable cuisine are not disappointed when they visit this superb restaurant because Chef Mikel leads his kitchen team in preparing and dishing out menu that offers an extensive and superior selection of gourmet meals from Africa to Asia.
The satisfactory remarks and gestures from the teeming diners at the end of every meal, according to Mikel, means “We kept to our promise to satiate any desire”. Again, he notes, “No matter how cosy the room is, how classy the facilities are or how engaging entertainment offerings are, the kitchen is still the soul of the hotel. It fetes and brings guests closer to the character of the hotel.”
Because of the importance of his department in the overall interest of the hotel, Chef Mikel is always in the kitchen doing real cooking than giving instructions. “I like doing something, especially cooking,” he says.
But his team marvels at his grasp of African menu as if he were born here. “I cook anything food. My curiosity made me to learn how to prepare ‘egusi’ soup, ‘efo riro’, white soup, ‘afang’, among other local cuisines that are highly sought after by most of our Nigerian guests. This is beside the fact that I do not like pepper,” he adds.
“With my training and years of experience, all I need is the recipe and a little hand from the kitchen. Of course, with the standard recipe, a good chef can cook any food from any part of the world with same flavor like the original.”
Though he is fully on ground at the hotel, he hopes to hand over to a Nigerian chef rather than recommend one expatriate whenever his services are needed elsewhere. “The kitchen department in any hotel is teamwork and my experience here is not different. I enjoy my team here. They are people who are eager to learn, improve on daily basis and are showing great signs of leadership,” Mikel says.
One passion he pursues at the hotel is to expose his team to culinary exchanges, trainings, workshops and practices that will improve their skills. Rather than wait until there are opportunities to enroll them in formal training, Chef Mikel has almost graduated a crop of kitchen staff with his regular coaching.
“Manpower is key to an efficient kitchen,” he says, “but a good kitchen is key to good hotel business. So, training makes my team better equipped besides keying into the vision of the hotel.”
For Dewald Kruger, the general manager of the hotel, to thumbs up for him means Chef Mikel is really good. Just mention the country you are from on the African continent, Chef Mikel will simply show you delicacies with original flavor as some food lovers will say, ‘like a mother cook’.
As food is serious business, Chef Mikel invites you once more to dine at Westwood’s restaurant just to discover how serious the kitchen is at satisfying any diner no matter the taste.