Saturday, January 22, 2011

Addis Ababa Cafe, South Australia by Big Fil

A few years back SBS ran a series produced by The Lonely Planet called 'Six Degrees'. Running for three seasons the idea behind it was that if you knew one person in town they could introduce you to an interesting friend, who could introduce you to someone else (and so on), enabling you to develop a feel for how the people who live there view their city.

In series two they visited Melbourne. That episode had a few interesting food related moments, including a comparatively svelte Matt Preston playing sport (lawn bowls) and George Calombaris with hair. Another was the comment by Matt Preston that one of the first things that immigrants do when arriving in a new place is open a restaurant.

Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia. While traditionally Australia hasn't received many arrivals from this part of the world, over the last ten years or so that has changed quite dramatically. As per Mr Preston's observation that has resulted in a number of new restaurants, including Addis Ababa and The Abyssinian in Adelaide.

While we had visited The Abyssinian surprisingly Hungry Pete wasn't aware of Addis Ababa. From the outside it's a fairly rustic looking place. A misshapen sign, grass walls to make it look like a hut, a few decorations in the Ethiopian national colours.

The inside is kind of eclectic in design. A few Ethiopian related pictures on the wall, a front counter through which you can see the cold drinks, tables that wouldn't have been out of place in a 1950's suburban kitchen and for unknown reasons a few fairy lights. The café is a little dark and could do with a bit more lighting. I did like the addition of a few family photos for that family restaurant feel though.

If you haven't tried it before Ethiopian is a real hands on style of food. Food is served with a slightly sour, spongy bread called injera. You tear strips the injera off for use in place of cutlery, scooping up and then eat your food. Its also quite a communal experience, with the dishes placed in the middle of the table for sharing.

The menu at Addis Ababa includes three or four vegetarian dishes and around eight or so meat based dishes. These are of varying spiciness, with a few containing berbere, a spice mix which includes some chilli. Even these dishes were mild to medium though rather than hot. Our choices for the night were the Minchetabish Kay (mildly spicy beef), Tibs (sautéed beef cubes), Fusolia (string beans, carrots, carrots, garlic and ginger) and Misir Watt Vegetarian (split red lentils with onion and bebere). Unfortunately the Doro Wat (Chicken stew) wasn't available.

The type of spices used (or at least the combination) are dissimilar to most western spices and result in rich, earthy flavours. The Minchetabish Kay everyone's favourite, with the lentils almost as good. While I found the Tibs a little chewy all the dishes were quickly consumed. Cakes from the Gluten free bakery store are available for desert, and the tea (with cinnamon/cloves?) was a nice way to finish off the meal. Ruby and Hungry Pete returned the following weekend to try some of the other mains and reported they were equally as good.

Nothing fancy but a nice family style place to try something different at a good price. Service is friendly if a little slow, and the communal sharing of food is something I always enjoy. Don't expect anything too fancy but just give it a go.

Food - 8
Service - 7
Ambience - 7
Price - 8

462 Port Road
West Hindmarsh SA 5007
Tel: (08) 8241 5185

Addis Ababa Cafe on Urbanspoon

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