“Maquis” means a stand of trees and shrubs, specifically in the Med. Not very appropriate for Accra, you might think,...
“Maquis” means a stand of trees and shrubs, specifically in the Med. Not very appropriate for Accra, you might think, but this leafy corner spot in Labone, complete with bright bougainvillea spilling over the compound walls, does a passable impression of a garden restaurant in southern Spain or Morocco. As well as the sheltered ground floor dining area there’s a wooden balcony, handy if you want to make the most of the breeze on a hot evening. It has a modest literary claim to fame, too – a big meal here is the blowout of choice for Inspector Darko Dawson, the hero of Kwei Quartey’s Accra-set crime novels.
Be that as it may, any Mediterranean comparisons end at the front door. Tante Marie specialises in West African food – a huge variety of it, and in large portions. Flick past the token “continental” dishes at the start of the phone book-sized menu and get stuck into Ghanaian classics: a rich, deliciously messy palaver sauce, a spicy light soup or a fat, charred tilapia with banku and fresh peppers. The ever-popular red-red is less successful, coming up rather too dense – though that may appeal to those with an aversion to palm oil, which is prominent in looser versions of the dish.
If you’re tempted to go further afield, there are several specialties from Francophone West Africa, including Cote d’Ivoire’s spicy stew kedjenou, and fish or chicken marinated in Senegalese yassa. There’s even a Ghanaian take on ‘Nyama Choma’, the roast meat tradition of East Africa, here done with smoked goat, smoked mutton or catfish.
Tante Marie also runs a takeaway outlet at Marina Mall and a second restaurant at Accra Mall, but neither has the atmosphere or the pleasant setting of the original. Since prices are high for local food (though still nothing to trouble most Western visitors), come to Labone and get the most out of the experience.
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