Test Driving Akara - deep-fried delights in Borough Yards

roomLooking into Akara. You can just pop in for a drink if the bar is free. 

What can you tell us about Akara?

Akara is the latest restaurant from the people behind the very popular (and extremely good) Akoko. While that restaurant is more of a high-end affair, Akara aims for more of a casual vibe with a menu that's centred around the titular fried black bean fritters (and a lot more besides). 

roomFrom the outside, this is what you're looking for. 

Where is it? 

The restaurant is the latest addition to Borough Yards, which is also home to Barrafina, Burger & Beyond, and more. You'll find it on the outer part of that relatively new development. Head down Stoney Street, walk past BAO and the main entrance to Borough Yards and you'll find Akara just past the bridge on the left. 

It's a large double-height building and, much like Akoko before it, looks great inside. Here, there's lots of exposed brickwork and a light-hued modern approach to the furniture. The design team made great use of the railway arches to create a really lovely space. 

roomThe ideal place to sit - right up at the counter

Where should we sit?

The best option is up at the counter. There are just six chairs here, well spaced out and it gives you a great view of the action. That said, if you're thinking of coming in a large group, we also liked the look of the private room upstairs.

roomUpstairs, you'll find this private dining room hidden away. 

Onto the food, what can we expect?

As with Akoko before it, Akara has a West African menu, but one which is really quite different from the original restaurant. This is a small/large sharing plates affair and a key part of the menu is based around the akaras themselves. As a measure of what to order, we'd say (between two people) get a couple of akaras along with two of the sharing dishes with sides and that should do.

Starting with the akaras, these are deep-fried fritters made from black-eye peas that originated from West Africa but are also popular in Brazil. Here, they're fried, then cut open for several fillings that include ox cheek and scallops. Here's what we went for: 

roomBBQ Tiger Prawn Akara (£10)

roomBBQ Wild Mushroom Akara (£7)

Pick them up, dip them in the hot sauce and you're good to go. They do get a little unwieldy and start falling apart, but that doesn't matter much, frankly as they work extremely well as a great fried snack, with a little heat added. Talking of heat, that spicing informs the whole menu here but it's never overwhelming and really just compliments all the dishes (and drinks). 

As good as the akaras are, it's with the main courses where Akara the restaurant really shines. Here there are strong options including grilled pollock with yassa and BBQ Maitake (mushrooms). We'd definitely push you in the direction of what we had below, but frankly as good as those were, we can only imagine you can't go wrong at this point. 

roomLagos Chicken (BBQ Poussin), Senegalese Hot Sauce (£22) - a glorious chicken dish and that sauce heightened everything. 

roomEx-Dairy Sirloin Suya, Charred Onion, Sweet Pepper Sauce (£34) - one of the best steaks we've had all year, packed with flavour. It's also one of the milder dishes heat-wise. 

After all that, dessert too?

There are just a few on offer, including a coconut and lime sorbet if you need something simple at this point. However, the strongest dessert was this one:

roomTamarind Date Cake with Tonka Bean Cream  with some great rum caramel sauce poured all over (£7)

How about drinks?

Make sure you try one of the soft drinks on offer, the Scotch bonnet cordial (£5). As you can imagine, that packs in a fair bit of heat but it's also very, very good (just don't gulp it down) and it actually helps set you up for the meal going forwards. There's a vodka and peach soda with added scotch bonnet if you want something similar with a little booze added. 

Otherwise, there's a decent cocktail list on offer and a wine list that's primarily European, with a few forays into South Africa. That list starts at £33 for a Marsanne and £40 for an Alicante Monastrell.

roomThe Scotch Bonnet cordial at the back (£5) and at the front is a plantain and butter old fashioned (£12)

Overall thoughts

It's been a while since we've been to Akoko, but our meal there led us to expect great things from the sequel - and Akara didn't disappoint. Great deep-fried snacks, plenty of hot sauce and two really great main courses show this restaurant's a lot more than just the titular akaras. Add to that a great-looking room and this new addition to Borough proves to be well worth checking out. 


More about Akara

Where is it? Arch 208,18 Stoney Street, London SE1 9A

How to book: Book online

Find out moreVisit their website or follow them on Instagram @akara.london.

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Akara. Prices are correct at the time of writing.


Subscribe to be the first to get the news from Hot Dinners

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy.