After the sell-out success of Papa L’s Kitchen summer tasting menu last month, Chef Lawrence Gomez has re-employed all of the former staff of the Gojk to launch an à la carte menu for a 6-week autumn run.
Gomez, who started his career at the iconic The Ivy restaurant in West Street, draws on his 15 years’ experience working in some of London’s top restaurants, including Sexy Fish and Scott’s in Mayfair as well as his many experiences cooking for celebrities and royalty including Prince Harry, David Beckham and Patrice Evra, and combines this with his Gambian heritage to bring exciting new flavours to the plate, which he calls ‘African-fusion cuisine’.
Born in Serrekunda, a small village on the Gambian coast, Gomez has incorporated the flavours of several dishes his Mother taught him to cook growing up and infused them into a range of dishes he’s cooked at restaurants across London. His Tempura Okra with his signature lemon and chilli sauce pays homage to his time at Sexy Fish and his West African heritage.
“The concept for Papa L’s Kitchen and African-fusion cuisine is to take modern British food and the classical dining experience and infuse them with high quality, fresh West African ingredients to create delicious seasonal dishes complemented by the subtle African music, dynamic art-work and colourful decor,” Gomez explained.
Other dishes include rib-eye steak with cassava (a popular Gambian vegetable) chips and stone bass with Gomez’ signature BBQ marinade served with his 5-hour slow-cooked benachin rice which his Mother taught him to make.
The menu also includes a selection of wines chosen by Gomez and cocktails developed by Gomez in collaboration with mixologist Ian Burrell. Gomez described the Serre Kunde Sunset, named after the village he grew up in, as a little taste of falling sunshine – a blend of vodka and coconut rum, shaken together with mango puree, coconut cream, pineapple juice and a splash of Grenadine. Desert cocktails include the Rum Brulee – a subtle creamy blend of Equiano Rum, orange liqueur, hazelnut, vanilla and cream, shaken and finished with caramelised sugar.
The Papa L’s experience is like no other – the playlist is curated by Gomez himself. Guests will enjoy their meal to the sounds of subtle African beats, taking in the award-winning African artwork lining the restaurant walls and if it’s a celebration, Gomez personally delivers a personalised pudding.
“The whole dining experience I’m offering now is a culmination of my career and my life from growing up in Gambia and watching my Mum cook, to working at The Ivy and Sexy Fish to being a DJ in Central London. The music is curated by me and the fun and relaxed vibes come from that time in my life. I’m trying to create an atmosphere where people are just having fun, that’s a huge part of the Gambian culture.”
Papa L’s Kitchen pop-up autumn menu runs every Wednesday-Saturday from 9 October to 14 November with amazing specials every Thursday during Black History Month.