Café dez Amis seems to have some form of identity crisis. On one hand they serve up one of the worst breakfast and their lunch options are mediocre at best. Apart from the Wireless internet, spacious parking space, Thai coffee and the freshly baked baguettes, my impression of the place was not so great and I am still not sure I will be inviting any friends for lunch.
My entire breakfast experience on the morning of 1st March, 2010 can be compared to eating in the dining room of an “old folks” rehabilitation or convalescent centre – the tea was cold, the bread was too dry and the scrambled eggs were watery, under-cooked, unseasoned and so bland that it felt as if whoever cooked it seemed to know very little about salt. The only appeasement was that my complaints did yield a free croissant and pizza slice to make up for the bad experience.
Directly opposite the French Embassy (off the Independence Avenue) at the Afrikiko leisure centre, the café opens 7 days a week, from 7am to 10pm. The atmosphere in the exterior garden seating is very relaxing and you will never have trouble getting a table for 5.
The interior of the café itself was uninspiring. It is not too big and can seat up to 25 people. I found the decor gimmicky and overdone; the roofing was unsightly and seemed somehow whitewashed, something I did not find very appealing. On my second visit, the air conditioners did not seem to be functioning and the room got quite stuffy.
However, the neat and immaculately clean tiled floors impressed me. The little red and yellow flowers in petite vases on the metal tables; the orange kente strips hanging on the walls and the African art, carvings and paintings on the walls also gave the room some colour and a little bit of sophistication. There is also a small lounge area at the far end of the café where customers can have discussions while sipping their coffee.
The food at this café is not one to boast about. When I go out to eat I expect something tasty. For the money, I know I could have eaten somewhere cheaper with a better flavour.
To start with, the cupcake was disappointing. The cake was dry and the chocolate flavour was not as pronounced as it could have been. The frosting was delicious although it was more meringue-like. Good frosting, but in no way did it make up for a dry cupcake. The cappuccino I ordered, however, had whipped cream on top and tasted like it was homemade. The giant chocolate-chip cookies were crumbly and tasted pretty awesome too. Another fantastic delight was the cinnamon roll. The roll was not too sweet, which I liked. It comes out warm and is not slathered in syrup, so the amount of guilt is lessened when ordering for it.
Then I had the doughnut and was absolutely smitten!! It was moist and not too sweet. There was a little sugar sprinkled on top and once you bit into it, you felt the mushy sugary goodness beneath which made eating this doughnut a treat. If you happen to like smoothies then you also should try the pineapple and watermelon smoothie… It is one big flavour bomb!!
For lunch, I ordered the Assorted Meat Platter (GH ¢12.25) with fries. The meal was just ok; nothing really extraordinary. But the French fries I sampled was the worst ever. I am convinced they were frozen and then barely cooked. A true ‘French’ joint should at least have properly prepared “pommes frites”. Some of us have had the real thing and know the difference.
The wait staff are not very professional and not very attentive either; you may want to ask the waiter to repeat your order because they keep getting confused. On my first visit, I arrived at the restaurant around 7:40am and the waitresses seemed to be more interested in primping than attending to my friend and I. Overall, service is rude and they have the audacity to refuse any deviations from their limited menu.
But one thing I should commend about the service; the manager. She is almost always present and always takes a minute to stop by and help if any customer has a problem. On my second visit for instance, there was a petite Caucasian lady who was having problems finding a socket to plug her laptop and the manager offered help and made sure she was attended to.
As you can see, Café Dez Amis has a long way to go. It is not quite a diner or a café but rather, a desperate ‘continental’-wannabe specialising in bad English breakfast and lackluster service. Nonetheless, they still pride themselves in having some great pastries, smoothies and ice-cream priced moderately (not more than GH ¢2). Generally, I think their pastries and entrees (GH ¢6 – 12) are better than their lunch options. The food, bad service, attention-deficient hostesses and long waiting times seem to confirm the struggle of many Ghanaian eateries to institute a culture of efficient and polite customer service and make the dining experience worthwhile. If this diner-cum-café wants to attract more people than it already is, then it must be prepared to clean up its act or prepare to lose the ‘friends’ they have managed to attract.