Sunday, February 13, 2011

Toronto Restaurants: Ethiopian House

Of all the foods out there that I've had hankerings for, Ethiopian has never been at the top of the list.

I'm going to chalk that up to never having tried it before.

This week, I got to sample it for the first time, and I'll be honest, I never would have chosen to go here if the restaurant choice had been up to me. But, my friend Lindsay was in town, getting a reprieve from her 100 Mile Locavore challenge with some ethno-grazing (which isn't a word, but so should be), and so Ethiopian it was.

Bottom line: it was delicious.

We went to the Ethiopian House restaurant (which is right next to Koyoi, a Japanese Izakaya that I love), a vibrant, low key little joint with bright coloured murals on the walls.

I opted for what I would say was the safest option: the Vege Beef combo. The meal came with the following:

Tibs (fried beef with jalapenos)
Tikil Gomon (cabbage and carrot)
Atakelt Wot (string beans and potatoes)
Cottage Cheese (which tasted more like feta cheese to me)
Injera (a flat bread made out of teff flour)

Oh my gosh. Everything was so tasty.

Injera most reminded me of a soft, slightly sour, flat bread version of a crumpet. If you haven't had Ethiopian food before, it's important to know that it's an integral part of the meal. For the traditional meals, cutlery isn't used. Instead, you rip up pieces of the injera and use it to pick up bits of your meal. The sauces get into all the crevices and it's totally delicious and a great experience for those of you who, like me, enjoy a tactile experience when you eat.

foreground - tibs / background - cottage cheese, salad and tikil gomon
Atakelt Wot

Tikil Gomon
Now, the best part of this was, by far, the coffee service.

At the end of the meal, we were first shown the roasting beans:

After that, a dish with burning frankincense was placed on our table:

With that came the thick, spiced coffee hidden in its pot. Our server took his time pouring it out to us in tiny cups. It was just so beautifully done and reminded me of the Japanese tea ceremony.

Can you sense how thick it was?
The coffee smelled so delicious with undertones of cinnamon and clove. It was thick and bitter at first, but mellowed on the palate. I've definitely never had anything like it before. If you only come here for one thing, be sure you do the coffee service. Unbelievable.

So, we sat, sipping our coffee until it was time for Lindsay and her family to continue with their ethnograzing fest and leave. It was just such a lovely way to spend a Sunday lunch! Old friends, great food, and (for me) a new experience.

The Whole Gang Ready to Dig In
And extra thanks to Lindsay's father who picked up the tab! That was incredibly generous of you. =)


Locavore Family said...

Those are beautiful photos, Alyson! I'm so glad we could make this lunch work and am happy to introduce you to Ethiopian cuisine.

ruby said...

Their coffee is the best.
I'm not much of a coffee person, but they do something so amazing with popcorn and coffee.

Alyson said...

I was totally not expecting the popcorn! That was excellent too. I love the whole ritual to it.

Restaurant bars in singapore said...

Amazing. The color looks so beautiful and lively.

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