Tayo Bolodeoku, the founder of Hans & René says she started baking as a form of release during a difficult time and it is interesting and apt, that the Gelateria has also become an escape from the busy and difficult city for many Lagosians.
Hans & René used to be limited to cakes but opened their first Gelateria at Radisson Blu in Victoria Island in early 2015 and has since opened two more cafes; one at the Palms Shopping Complex and the other at the Ikeja City Mall.
Hans & René wants you to know the difference between ice cream and gelato.
It’s supposedly less fatty than ice cream, has less compacted air and is of “indisputable higher quality”.
Long story short, the layman might not be able to tell the difference at first, but if you close your eyes, tilt your head and concentrate – maybe. The technical skills on the making of gelato were learnt from maestros in Italy, so they mean business.
It’s refreshing that there are as many flavours as there are; about sixteen gelato options and sixteen sorbet (no dairy in sorbets) options on most days (in the Radisson Store, less at others). Although the skills were learned in faraway Italy, there’s been such an innovation in the flavours available.
The Agbalumo sorbet, Zobo sorbet and cashew nut are highly recommended for those looking for where sorbets and Nigeria can meet.
The Store gets full sometimes, especially weekends and this is where their clunky method of payment starts to frustrate. Where most establishments have you choose/pick your item then pay for it and leave the counter, Hans & Rene offers you an invoice after you’ve chosen and then you take this to their teller who offers you a receipt for your purchase. It is this receipt you then take back to the counter to get your items. Whatever their reasons for this method, it surely doesn’t justify the stress.
The spaces themselves are clean and bright and the cloud effect on the ceilings encapsulates the ambiance of the Stores: an airy freedom as gelato melts on your tongue. It’s interesting how this vibe becomes immediately edgy when one steps into the restrooms. The psychedelic design of the toilets has been raved about everywhere.
There’s a quaint balcony at the Radisson branch. Granted, you’re only getting a view of your parked car, but if you look straight on, it is reminiscent of an outdoor French cafe.
I decided on my staple again. A glazed donut and a scoop of the hazelnut gelato. Boring maybe – but you know how good a cafe is based on their consistency. Right? And I wasn’t disappointed.
My donut was fluffy as always, the glaze sticking to my lips with the right degree of attention. My hazelnut gelato was silky smooth-y creamy and even though I’d have loved more nuts, that’s only a personal preference and not an indictment of Hans & Rene’s goodness.
I later on visited the Ikeja store because I was hankering for their red velvet cone, something I have not seen anywhere else in Lagos. And that’s a perfect summation of what Hans & Rene is: something special and exciting and carefully curated that you can’t find anywhere else in Lagos. And that’s why you should go.