Tag Archives: African

L’Appat Patisserie Cafe

L’Appat Patisserie Café
1159 Oak St.
(614) 252-6822

L’Appat Patisserie in Olde Towne East is best known for its sweet treats, but owner Didier Alapini, has started offering a Pan-African day menu every Thursday. Didier is from Benin in West Africa but his weekly Pan-African menus span the continent from Morocco to South Africa and include all kinds of dishes. Here’s the menu from last week’s inaugural Pan-African day.

african food in columbus ohio

The menu will change every Thursday. Each week’s menu is posted in advance on their Facebook page.

“Panafrican Day” Menu (Thursday, October 3rd 2013)

Soupe du jour
Sweet Potato Soup (Zambia) $4.00
Creamy sweet potatoes, rice, fresh herbs, and spice soup

Sandwich du jour

N’Djamena Chicken Sandwich (Chad) $10.00
Sautéed chicken and bacon, in gruyère spinach sauce on ciabatta loaf, served with roasted potatoes

Entrees: (The first price is lunch and the second is dinner).

Black Olive Salad (Sudan) $9.00 $11.00 (with soup)
Mixed greens, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and black olives with citrus vinaigrette.

Moussaka á la mauricienne (Mauritus Island) $13.00 $15.00
Lamb, beef and eggplant lasagna in eggplant sauce with salad and garlic bread

Dakouin (Benin) $11.00 $13.00
Grilled leg quarter with fresh tomato, green pepper and onion sauce served with Gari porridge

Fish Boulettes (Morocco) $13.00 $15.00
Fish meatballs in sweet peppers and onion sauce, served over vegetable rice

Here are a couple of the dishes that we enjoyed last week. Pavlova beef with a spicy peanut and spinach sauce, served with sweet potatoes and plantain. This Ghanaian dish was available hot or mild and the hot version definitely had a kick.


Beef steak du nomade from niger – a panini style sandwich with suya beef steak and cheese. This was served with a large plate of roasted vegetables and potatoes.


L’Appat is also offering a seafood night on Fridays.

Seafood Night Menu
September – October Special

(Every Friday Night only: 6:00pm -8:30pm)

Soupe du jour $5.50

*Salade Seychelloise $16.00
Shrimp, sweet corn, bell pepper and spring mix tossed in spicy vinaigrette
*Dish served with Seafood Barquettes and soupe du jour

Seafood Brik $22.00
Shrimp, sword fish, crab and vegetable in filo dough served with salad

Frites au poisson $18.00
Whole grilled Tilapia served with oven fried potatoes and salad

If you haven’t been to L’Appat we definitely encourage you to check it out. They have a really interesting (and good) assortment of pastries, cookies and cakes. The cafe is a nice light space, open for breakfast and lunch and their regular lunch menu includes soups, sandwiches and salads.

Banadir Cuisine

Cuisine: Somali
3246 Cleveland Avenue
(614) 268-0933
Hours: lunch & dinner (we didn’t see posted hours)

Click here to map it!

Subtitle: In Which We Learn About The Proper Time Of Day To Go Out For African Food

We entered the well-worn dining room of Banadir Cuisine to warm welcomes from the staff, and were promptly shown to our table. Baskets with utensils, napkins and complimentary bananas arrived with the menus.

The menus, here as in every other African restaurant we’ve been to, are notable for their bias towards lunchtime – that is to say, the lunch selection is usually 3-4 times larger than that of the dinner menu. A lot of the lunch items sounded awfully good, but so it goes… it’s dinner, we’re here, and we’re hungry.

We ordered the fish steak, beef steak, and the chicken suqar.  All of the dishes came with the option of jabati, rice, or spaghetti, and when we asked for jabati with the chicken suqar, our server offered to have it cut into slices and mixed it in with the dish, ‘K’ style.  Why not?

We also ordered tea (served with or without milk) and were given soup as part of the dinner order.  The tea, when ordered with milk, was chai flavored – similar to African Paradise’s offering but (mercifully) less aggressively sweetened.  The soup, ostensibly vegetable but flecked with goat meat, looked innocent enough, but was surprisingly rich and meaty tasting – these guys know how to make a mean (apparently goat based) soup stock.

Upon finishing the soup, our mains arrived.  Opting for ‘K’ style on the chicken suqar turned out to be a good move – the suqar struck us as something of a halfway point between a curry and a stir fry, and the jabati bread strips were dense enough to hold their own in the mix, both absorbing the sauce and presumably thickening it.  An unqualified hit with all who tried it.

The beef steak was less well received.  Flavor was nice, with a significant pepper hit, but the consistency of the beef led to murmurings about truck-stop jerky.  It’s possible that the chewiness of the preparation is traditional, but we’re still left wondering how it’d be if the beef were more tender.

Finally, the fish steak.  This was four or so reasonably sized pieces of salmon with a heavily spiced char crust, topped with a mix of vegetables and french-fry-cut potatoes. Slices of lime and a small salad garnished. The flavors of this dish were roundly appreciated, though there was some discussion about the oiliness.

Sated, I walked up to the cash register to pay.  While doing so, I asked the owner about the reasoning behind offering so many more items for lunch.

‘Simple’, he responded (and I paraphrase), ‘Africans, in Africa, traditionally work until about 2:00-3:00pm, and then have the main meal of the day.  This generally translates into lunch for Africans in the US.  What we call dinner here is a minor meal for most Africans. Usually Americans eat dinner here.’

‘Yep, that’s us’, I chuckled to myself.

Our next stop for African cuisine will be the Calanley Restaurant.  For lunch.

Dabakh Restaurant

Cuisine: Senegalese
2225 Morse Rd.
Hours: 10am – 12 midnight, 7 days a week

Click here to map it!

We had no idea that Columbus had a Senegalese restaurant – not from our research (which deemed it, somewhat generically, a ‘West African’ restaurant), and not from Dabakh’s exterior signage, which spoke of ‘African-American’ cuisine.

But Senegalese it is, and exuberantly so.  The building obviously started life as a fast food restaurant of some sort (Wendy’s? Rax?) but has been given a thorough going-over.  Vibrant fabrics and Senegalese handicrafts adorn the walls and tables in the dining areas, and the fluorescent ceiling lights were covered with colored gels.  The effect is somewhat psychedelic, and, at least at night, quite dark.

Ordering occurs as one would expect from the fast-food layout, at a counter and from several menu boards scattered about.  The employees manning the counter are friendly and eager to answer questions and explain dishes.  We recommend quizzing them to your hearts content – though the English descriptions are serviceable, there is much be to gained from discussion.  After conversation, we settled on dibbi (Grilled lamb with a side) and maffe (lamb and vegetables in a peanut butter sauce) as well as a selection of Senegalese beverages.

The maffe came out first.

‘You try it.’

‘No, you try it.’

‘Alright, I’ll do it.’

I did.  And then had more.  It was good.  Our preconceptions about peanut butter threw us for a loop – this is a resolutely savory dish.  The peanut imparted very little sweetness, and was well balanced by the tomato component and a bit of spicy heat.  The lamb was bone-on and very tender, and the veggies (carrots and potatoes, to the best of our ability to discern) were a minor presence.  The sauce was the star, though, and we found ourselves ladling it over the rice and sopping it up with the complimentary french bread.

Next came the dibbi – in staggering quantities. There’s easily a pound of grilled lamb on that plate.  Seasoned with salt, pepper, and a ‘cajun spice’, the flavor was quite nice.  Unfortunately, it was a bit overdone for our tastes, though still enjoyable (we took about half home with us and reheated it for lunch today).  The dibbi came with sweet plantains (a bit greasy), two kinds of marinated onions,  half a hard boiled egg, and a slice of tomato and green pepper.

Dabakh makes their own Senegalese beverages, and we tried their bissap (sorrel juice), ginger (no translation necessary), and bouye (juice made from the fruit of the baobab).  The Bissap, to be honest, smelled like a fruity Listerine and tastes like a sweet cherry juice… spiked with Listerine.  Ginger –  Potent stuff!  Excellent for sinus decongestion, or could be good if diluted. Bouye – this gets interesting.  Rich, slightly creamy, and a bit tart, bouye reminded us of the flavor of jackfruit.  Not too sweet, entirely refreshing.  While the bissap and ginger bottles linger in our refrigerator, the bouye disappeared quickly with dinner.

Dabakh, now open for a year, is said to do good lunch business.  All lunch offerings are $7, and all dinners are $10 (unless otherwise noted).  All preparations are halal.

Should you want a primer on Senegalese cuisine, this link provides a good overview.

African Paradise

Cuisine: Somali
2263 Morse Road
Hours: 7:30am – 10:00pm

Click here to map it!

A bit of advice – just go with the flow when at African Paradise.  From the odd, vaguely Bourbon Street-esque exterior to a menu that, willy nilly, mixes cuisine categories with food items with Friday specials with – hey, no prices on anything? – much about this Somali restaurant will confound the more logically inclined.

Do hang loose, though, because African Paradise has an awful lot to recommend it.

Stepping inside, we found a large, clean space with minimal decor and low lighting.  Our party of 5 was seated between a prayer room and a ‘ladies only’ room (a dining area sectioned off with accordion doors, presumably created to allow Muslim women to dine without the unwanted intrusion of the male gaze).

After trying to make sense of the menu, we decided to simply use it as a starting point for conversation.  The servers were more than happy to explain everything, and if they felt as though they had failed on any point they were quick to provide samples to clear up the confusion.   Such was the case with the mufo and the jabati – both were flat breads, what was the difference?  Their answer:

Turns out, mufo is a dense, tart and chewy cornmeal-based flatbread, while jabati is something like a wheat flour-based cousin to the Indian chapati. These were served with a delicious dipping sauce that Hungrywoolf described as tasting like a curried marinara*.

‘Did we like?’ asked the waiter.  Indeed we did.  With that, a proposition: ‘You can order single dishes for each person, or I can do a large family style dish for everyone with four different choices on it’.  After much discussion, we settled on the family style spread and added rice, more jabati, soup, salad,  mango juice, and Somali tea. All or some of which may or may not have come with the family style meal.  Bottled water was also included.

Soup and tea arrived first. The soup was a simple vegetable mix in a rich chicken broth, and was enjoyed by all.  The Somali tea was reminiscent of chai with strong cardamom notes, but achingly sweet.

Then the main dish:

That’s roasted goat, chicken, and two types of fish (salmon and, um, something else?) The goat was a revelation – while there was some variation between pieces, it was moist, tender, delicately flavored, and as good as any goat any of us had ever tasted.  The chicken was reminiscent of an off-the-bone Indian tandoori, though in my opinion more flavorful and more tender.  Both fishes were seasoned similarly to the chicken and were delicious though perhaps a bit on the dry side.  The rice was subtle with just a hint of cardamom and made for a perfect accompaniment to the proteins.

Quantities were generous – the photo with the oversized serving spoon fails to illustrate this point.  The five of us indulged to our hearts content and had plenty of leftovers.

Now for the check.

Wait… you’ve got to be kidding.  $33?  For everything…. for all 5 of us?! Yeah, we’ll be back… especially since AP has some intriguing breakfast menu items.


*The marinara analogy is interesting because Somalia was briefly colonized by Italy and Italian culinary influence persists to this day.  Pasta items are not unusual in Somali restaurants and were in ample evidence on AP’s menu as well.