It was the 18th century, and in France, that the modern-day buffet was developed which soon spread across Europe. Serving a meal to oneself has a long and interesting history, but the original term buffet referred to the sideboard where all the various types of food was served, although, eventually this style of eating was converted to modern-day buffets. When I get ready to go to a meal that involves a buffet, I typically try to not eat anything before so I can have enough space to thoroughly enjoy the different food options.
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I happened to be in Ikoyi for a meeting not too far from the Wheatbaker on 4 Onitolo road, so I decided to pop in for a quick lunch. The Wheatbaker is known to be an outstanding hotel in Lagos. It is timeless, luxurious and the story behind what we know as the Wheatbaker is quite an interesting one. The hotel is named after Amos Stanley Wynter Shackleford was born in the Maroon community of Charlestown, near Buff Bay, Portland, Jamaica, he was and industrialist and entrepreneur who started his career in the railway industry and when jobs on the Nigerian Railway were advertised in Jamaica, he took the opportunity offered and left for West Africa in 1913.
He went into business on his own, setting up a bakery on a small domestic scale. This business flourished, and Shackleford introduced new production and marketing methods. The business expanded into other Nigerian towns, and in the 1930s into the then Gold Coast and he became known as the ‘Bread King’ and the bread as ‘Shackleford’. He eventually sold out and retired in 1950.
The story of Amos Stanley a Jamaican who opened a bakery in Nigeria might explain why the bread is so fresh and delicious. The Grill Room which is one of 3 restaurants at the Wheatbaker is situated by the pool and offers an array of food options from roast tomato basil soup to beef carpaccio and all the high-end steak, seafood and poultry you can imagine. I was very pleased to see the design and the amount of food present and exploding with excitement! They also have nutritious salads as well as vegan and vegetarian options.
The Chef’s name at The Grill Room is Jannie Melis. When asked about his inspiration for his food he says “I just like to use good quality ingredients and allow the food to speak for itself is my main philosophy when it comes to cooking.” The buffet food was very flavourful and that is what I like the most about it. The wide selection of food originated from many places around the world. Something to take note of would be the beautiful cheese spread which you can scrape-out to your heart’s desire. Another notable point at the buffet would be the meat station which features several types of cuts from around Africa and South America. Every piece of food I ate from the smoked salmon, various cheese from gouda to cheddar, to the basmati rice and Indian flavored chicken, steak, lamb, and fresh vegetables. The Grill Room takes inspiration from Nigerian climate, South African and local cuisine, grills, seafood, pastas and much more.
I tend to stay away from buffets because I worry about quality control for large numbers. I worry about how each piece is carefully cooked because let’s face it not everyone knows how to cook large portions while ensuring each portion is equally delicious. Whenever I’m at the Wheatbaker out of habit I usually order straight from the menu but I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed my buffet experience at the Wheatbaker and can say that the food is of top quality and it is fresh. As it was a rainy day, I had tea with my meal. I particularly loved the English breakfast blend, it was delicious and had a hint of cinnamon. A perfect blend for a rainy afternoon.
The Wheatbaker is a go-to place for many reasons, comfortable stay, a relaxing spa experience, great dining options, and event spaces too. It’s one of my go-to places in Lagos and I highly recommend it. It’s perfect for a business meeting, brunch on Sundays, afternoon tea or a midday lunch.
Total – N11,000
This review was done by Lehlé Balde on behalf of BusinessDay Media