I decided I would splurge a little with my money and dine at what my guidebook said was an excellent restaurant. The book told me to make reservations, so I walked there to see the restaurant and hopefully make a reservation. The gate was open so I walked towards the entrance up some stairs. As I began to look down at the small garden they had - 2 men appeared and began to absolutely go ballistic. They were both shouting at me aggressively and let me know in with angry voices and hand gestures that I was to leave immediately. I really thought the larger of the 2 was going to grab me as I walked back outside the gate. When I turned around to try and ask a question - they just kept up the abuse.
So I went to another - friendly - restaurant and had a great meal.
Sorry, but I would recommend that any and all tourists avoid this place. They just don't get it.
If you really want to know:
They are open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 - 15:00 and 19:00 - 22:30 and 19:00 - 22:30 Monday. You have to spend a minimum of 14 000 FCFA! Reservations recommended.
I had read about this place as being an ex-pat heaven in the middle of an ex-pat area and decided I would go for a beer and maybe eat here. I wish I had not. I pulled up on my motorcycle taxi to see a packed outside terrace at the front. I made my way inside for a beer and a seat. After a long period of trying 3 different ladies to order a beer- I sat down with my nice Flag beer. That's when it all went wrong. I snapped 2 pictures of the bar and then one of my beer in front of a little gnome character in a funny uniform.
"What are you doing!?"
"Why are you taking pictures!?"
I never want to see a man that big and that angry ever come running at me in any situation for the rest of my life. I honestly thought he might do me or my camera (or both) harm. I made the mistake of being shocked and silent and this seem to make the big man more angry. It took me a few seconds to even connect him with the restaurant. When I tried to explain he let his facial expressions know I was very unwelcome. He watched me until I finished my beer and left.
I find it hard to believe that no one ever celebrated a birthday or had a night out in this place with a flash camera before. I have been treated better by armed guards after taking an accidental picture of a Presidential Palace before.
This was the only aggression I ever had in Benin. All the other businesses I went into were very nice. Some even posed with my VT flag.
So if you are a Tourist - please find somewhere else. Its shocking that any establishment serving customers would become angry because a customer took a photo of the beer they just paid for.
I didn't even get a menu!
My guidebook said this was a good restaurant and I must say I had a nice meal. The surroundings are an airy tastefully decorated, open area with some nice ceiling fans. The temperature was exactly right. The service was friendly and I was given a nice dish of popcorn and peanuts while I waited for my food. A nice cold Flag beer arrived and I managed a few postcards while my dinner was prepared.
My starter, a mixed tuna salad, was fresh and tasty. I ordered the Poulet Yassa, having absolutely no idea what it was. What a great choice! This is a chicken dish from Senegal. It is made by marinating the chicken with onions and lemon or lime (lime in this case). The chicken itself was a little on the thin side, but reflect the local chickens I guess. Once I had it off the bone and mixed with my rice I was amazed at just how good it was. They also have a good wine selection and several desserts made from local fruit. Main meals are around 4700CFA (7€, $9).
All in all, a nice meal.
They are open for lunch and dinner.
Please note: If your motorcycle taxi does not know the restaurant, ride with another. Its down a side street. My driver took me straight there for 250CFA.
A niced mixed salad with tuna to start. Poulet Yassa with rice for a main meal. All washed down with some Flag beer.
Le Festival des Glaces is a popular restaurant chain with restaurants in Cotonou, Lomè, Douala and Dakar. They have bakery, pizzeria and ice cream as the speciality. The food and the prices attract tourists and the local middle class.
There are two Festival restaurants in Cotonou. One close to the traffic circle, Carrefour de Cadjehoun and one in Boulevard Steinmetz, not far from the Missebo market. The warm streets of Cotonou makes this aircondion restaurant a good choice.
This restaurant is a meeting point for young, middle class Africans.
Salon Glacier is a eating place located 200 m from the airport terminal. I ate a skinny chicken and icecream as desert right before I left Benin. Without stumach problems afterwards.
It is a tivoli or children playground right beside this restuarant. Maybe a good place for the children to use up their energy before a long air flight.
The food is Belgian, and many dishes can be called authentic Belgian. The owner, Valerie, takes pride in serving Belgian food and her restaurant is cosy.
It is special for good service, good food, good wines and ...
Favorite Dish: Shrimps Croquettes and Steak Tartare. It's the only restaurant in West Africa where I will eat a Steak Tartare (raw minced beef where you add the condiments yourself). You do not want to mess with the condiments yourself, ask Valerie to prepare it for you. Delicious. And I never got sick, not even a stomach ache, from the Steak Tartare.
Intimate small restaurant with a choice of genuine Moroccan dishes. Nicely decorated. The owner is very helpful explaining the dishes. GO there.
Favorite Dish: The stews are excellent. You can also ask if they can propose dishes. GREAT.
Outside restaurant of the Benin Marina Hotel. The right place for lunch. Very nice staff. Good value for money and the view is great around the poolside. Their extensive a-la-carte menu also offers indigenous african dishes.
Favorite Dish: Langouste Thermidor.
Nice place to have your meal. Enclosed patio. Live music on saturday nights. Pizza's and Lebanese food. Good value for money.
Favorite Dish: The fist page of their menu. Order must be for 3 minimum but check with the waiters. It is a table full of delights from Lebanon. Not their cheapest dish but definetely their best.
Nice to sit outside and have your meal. For 5.000 Fcfa per head you'll have a meal. Drinks are not to expensive. Place is frequented a lot by expatriates living in Benin. Pizza's, Pasta's, Seafood etc.
Favorite Dish: Crevettes Americain
Like most nice restaurants in Cotonou, it is above street level. The tables are arranged so that each table seems private. The owner is accommodating and has a daily menu. This is a great place to have a business lunch or dinner.
Too good--you enter by passing the 6'x6' grill where the pork is cooking. You let them know how many you are and then grab a seat at one of about 9 picnic style tables with benches. The center is open air and the tables are under a palm/thatch roof.
What you get--a plate with pieces of grilled pork, fat pieces and liver pieces. You probably get every part of the pig, but in our 3 trips that's all I had on my plate.
Accompaniaments-a plate with strips of onion and two pepper sauces. You also get a plate with a sauce that tastes a bit like bean soup, there may be a bone with some meat on the plate also.
Then you can dip in peppers and sauces to your heart's content. It's very good and relaxed eating. I think you can also request feet and other parts, but we passed on those specialties.
I drank beer at most meals, but they did have a wrought iron tree wine rack sporting some red table wines.
They don't open until 9:00ish and if something has come up with the family they won't open. There are 6 tables outside next to the grill and the sky is your ceiling. It's dark and quiet in the evening.
Favorite Dish: You'll choose from FRESH fish caught that day which will be grilled in a local style with a spicy sauce and a diced tomato/vegetable mix with a side of your choice. You eat with your hands. I always chose rice (harder to eat with your hands) or plantain. You can eat really well for a great price. I think with a beer it was US$2 or less.
Le Livingstone is a popular restaurant run by an english expat. The food is good with pizza as one of the specialities. The prices are however slighly more expensive than usual.
Favorite Dish: Pizza
The aircondioned restaurant Byblos is located close to Le Festival des Glaces in Boulevard Steinmetz. It is a good place to eat.