Hotly anticipated Pan-African restaurant Tatale to open on 14 July
Akwasi Brenya-Mensa’s debut London restaurant Tatale will open its doors on Thursday 14th July 2022 at the Africa Centre, a former 1960s office block in Southwark that will be a home for contemporary African culture and heritage in London. The restaurant and bar will be situated on the ground and first floors with outside space in the form of a street-level terrace and a balcony. The interiors of the restaurant are curated by multidisciplinary designer and creative director Tola Ojuolape, who uses contrasts of indigo and terracotta, baked clay and live-edge timber throughout the space.
The restaurant seats 33 diners with a bar that has capacity for 100 people standing. Both spaces will embody the same spirit of the old chop bars that are a defining feature of the West African culinary landscape: bustling roadside joints that open their doors to all, from well-heeled businessmen to tired trotro drivers, young lovers, bachelors dining in the early hours and playwrights finding their characters – all while Highlife pulses from the stereo.
Like Brenya-Mensa’s sold-out supper club series, Mensa, Plates and Friends, Tatale will be more than just about the food. It provides a space for Brenya-Mensa to flex all of his talents as restaurateur, broadcaster and curator. So patrons should expect alternative sounds from the Black diaspora, much like his radio show Black to the Future (which broadcasts on both NTS Radio and Ghanaian community radio station Oroko), as well as regular talks and collaborative dining events.
The contemporary Pan-African concept of telling stories through food, art and culture takes its name from the plantain pancake, tatale – a quintessential Ghanaian dish – referencing Brenya-Mensa’s belief that, wherever you are in the world, plantain is synonymous with the Black experience. This idea of universality and heritage has become the backbone of the restaurant’s concept and, ultimately, the menu.
Not one to sit still, Brenya-Mensa has spent the first half of 2022 gathering cultural knowledge of the cuisines of the Black diaspora through his international events, which have taken him to San Juan in Puerto Rico, Accra in Ghana, Berlin, Amsterdam, Belfast and Lisbon. After over a year of experimenting with dishes at pop-ups and festivals, understanding the flavours that people are most receptive to, the long-awaited restaurant opens with a menu that represents the restauranteur’s own Pan-African lens.
Featuring dishes and techniques originating from the Continent, the menu offers an opportunity to introduce people outside of these communities to the vast array of amazing dishes, ingredients and techniques. With the future in mind, the menu takes into consideration the various health benefits of recreating heritage dishes with less oil and meat to avoid some of the issues the older generations are now facing (for example, diabetes). It will include offerings such as Chichinga Buttermilk Fried Chicken Wings, Dill Emulsion (Ghana, West Africa); Ackee Croquettes, Curry Emulsion (the Caribbean); Berbere King Oyster Mushroom, Jollof Couscous, Plantain, Red Stew, Palm Wine-Pickled Shallot (Ethiopia, East Africa/West Africa).
The significance of a Black restaurateur opening a restaurant with a permanent site in a central London location is not lost on Brenya-Mensa: Black-owned spaces in the UK are still few and far between. Tatale offers an opportunity to raise peers and the community too. Building on previous cultural events and panels curated by its owner (such as Food for Thought: Surveying the African Culinary Scene in the UK and Black Women in Hospitality), Tatale will continue to hold space for brilliant Black minds operating within the food and drinks space to tell their stories in their own way. It will also be home to a training and mentorship scheme for aspiring Black hospitality professionals, as part of an ongoing agreement with the London mayor’s office, and in the long term it will house the Pan-African Social Club Incubator, which will launch later in 2022. This initiative will be a dedicated programme and space for Black people in food to come together, share resources, up-skill and progress in their careers. It will also see that Black food talent is represented at major festivals and events in London and further afield.
The food desk
Tatale will open on 16th June 2022. To book a table at Tatale, 66 Great Suffolk Street London SE1 0BL, visit their website here.