How do you review one of the most understated restaurants in Abuja? Why not start with what makes it so understated.
Chez Victor is located at 7 Ganges, off Alvan Ikoku Way, Maitama, Abuja. If you know Abuja well, you’d recognize that this part of Maitama (commonly referred to as Minister’s Hill) as one of those tush residential areas for Abuja’s elites. Quiet, lamp-lit streets with trees lining the roadways and large houses blocked off with impenetrable gates. The restaurant blends in easily with this image. No giant, lighted signposts or flashy painted exterior, just a white signpost outside its closed black gates, with the restaurant’s name printed in red cursive text. You’d probably miss it if you weren’t looking for it.
This monochrome exterior doesn’t extend to the interior of the restaurant though. As you’re led in, you’re greeted by shades of red, brown and white with backlit pictures and what looks like handmade wooden furniture. There are no windows to allow natural lighting and the low light gives the place a very cozy and intimate feel. This atmosphere is enhanced by the music which ranged from light jazz instrumentals to mellow African rhythms. All very fancy and stuff if you’re into that kind of thing, this is definitely the kind of place a guy wants to take his lady to for a special occasion, if you can afford it.
But enough of all that ambience stuff, let’s talk about the food. Did I mention that Chez Victor is a French restaurant? Or maybe you already noticed that from the name (Chez Victor roughly translates to Victor’s Place). Well, it’s a French restaurant and they don’t hide it. On the menu, the names of most of the meals are written in French, with descriptions in English written under each item for those of us wey no sabi. Whether you choose to be fancy & place your order in French or just pointing to the item in the menu is totally up to you (though if you want to impress your dinner date, you better practice your French before getting there). Seeing as I was there alone and Je ne peux parler français, na point and kill method I use order ‘Osso Bucco à la Nigeriane’. The menu described it as ‘Knuckle of veal cooked in vegetable and tomato stock, with fresh tomato, Herbes de Provence, aniseed, thyme, served with white rice and green vegetables’ which sounded just alright to me.
The meal didn’t take too long to prepare, probably about 20 minutes while I sipped water from a glass and pretended to be sophisticated to no one but the waiters, but when it did arrive, I was more than a bit shocked. It looked like ‘Osso Bucco à la Nigeriane’ translates to ‘White Rice & Stew with Beef & Vegetables’ in Nigerian-ese.
Plus the quantity wasn’t really that much. Agreed it looked really good but I wasn’t there for the looks na! I obviously couldn’t form vex and leave so I decided to dig in and after the first spoon I immediately changed my mind about the food. Apparently white rice & stew get levels and what I was eating was miles ahead of anything else I had eaten before. I’m not trying to exaggerate but that was a really tasty dish!! The rice was just the right level of done, veggies were extra crunchy and apparently knuckle of veal is cut from some fancy part of the cow that has super soft meat and delicious bone marrow. Dodo is of course epic. My only disappointment was the portion size which wasn’t exactly filling. This was definitely mean to be part of a 3-course meal but I had no appetizer and glass of Orange Juice I had afterwards didn’t exactly qualify as dessert.
So for all this fancy ambience and exquisite tasting food, what’s the damage? Not Cheap. My plate of Osso Bucco à la Nigeriane cost Four Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifty Naira only. Add in Starters, Dessert and some wine/cocktail to that and you’ll be spending well over ten grand for yourself alone, not to mention going with a guest (You can look at the rest of their menu on their website, www.chezvictor.me). Is the meal worth the price? Personally, I feel it’s a bit on the high side but if I’m feeling flush with cash, I’ll definitely go there again without any second thoughts.
Address: 7 Ganges Street, Ministers Hill, Maitama Abuja
Opening Times: Monday – Saturday 11am – 11pm
Price Range: N4000 and above