Bolat African cuisine is that little blue and white brick restaurant you keep passing by on Clark, right under where the Red and Brown lines meet. You're curious, but you haven't tried it yet, because Ethiopian
is hard enough to figure out. If you're willing to be adventurous, however, your curiosity will reward you.
Bolat African serves up a mixture of dishes from Nigeria and Ghana, and it's one of only two Chicago area restaurants that features food from Ghana. In all likelihood, that's great news for Bolat, but bad news for the rest of us. It isn't uncommon for this otherwise unassuming little place to be quite busy.
And that should come as no surprise. The cuisine is unique and flavorful, and if you like spicy, this is the place for you. The space itself is no-frills, giving off a bit of a homey, casual and low-key vibe, but the only art you're here for anyway is on the plate.
Some of those plates are large and meant for communal eating, such as the various lamb plates at $25. Your group can have it chili-crusted with couscous and apricot, or merely spiced with a cognac sauce and served with sweet potato. You can also try classic, individual entrees, such as the jollof rice, a popular West African dish of rice seasoned with tomato paste, onion, and pepper served along with plantains; a large portion is just $8. The true standout here is the goat pepper soup. At $9, this heaping bowl of piping hot soup is an amazing treat. For the uninitiated, goat meat is much like a savory, beefy lamb, and in this incarnation, flavored with garlic and ginger, it tastes amazing.
Interesting desserts, such as curry ice cream for $5, are worth exploring. A few African beers are served as well: Nigeria's own Star Lager, crispy and cold, is a perfect complement to these hot, spicy dishes.
Centerstage Reviewer: Bill Burman