This winter has stretched so far into eternity I’m pretty sure Game of Thrones is a true story and White Walkers are about to burst through the Watford gap on the back of an undead Geordie. All we need is a bit of sunshine through those grumpy clouds, but since the sun is conspiring against us, I suppose we should turn to food. And as if the planets aligned, Zoe Adjonyoh – chef extraordinaire of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen – announced that the new permanent residency for her vibrant West African food was The Institute of Light. Was it a sign? I needed to see for myself.
The menu is split between traditional sharing plates (with an impressive selection of vegan and vegetarian options) and bar snacks, including Ghanaian twists on popcorn for the movie goers. We were hungry, and I brought a friend who was “not being vegetarian today”, so we opted for half the menu. The first of the table-consuming dishes were Oto Cakes (£7) with soft boiled organic egg, which looked like it was plucked from a brunch Instagram and tasted amazing. We also ordered the Suya meatballs in jollof gravy (£7), alongside the grilled plantain (£4). Unlike the traditional baked kind, grilled plantain is huge, and is like someone fused the glorious taste of sweet potato with the texture and strength of a real potato. Not to be That Guy, but I’ve been to Ghana before, (I know, I know, call me Phileas bloody Fogg), and the food there is so spicy I forgot my mother’s name. Here, the dishes are more of an accessible, all-levels kind of deal, with the spiciest of the night being the wonderful Suya free range beef Chichinga skewers (£8), though it was less dragon breath and more like licking the delicious and tender side of a semi-active volcano. But the star of the evening was the kenkey and freshly grilled sardines (£9), arriving as two whole fishes we tore apart on the plate. I had to fight my friend for the last scrap of that. He’s a vegetarian.
You’ll find this adorable cinema-cum-bar-cum-restaurant in London Fields’ arches, which seemed like a fitting swap from her former long-term pop-up in the sprawling container maze Pop Brixton. The artsy venue works; the food is amazing. We might never see the sun again, but in the meantime, let Zoe show you the light.
Zoe's Ghana Kitchen is at the Institute of Light in London Fields from 7th March 2018.