Following a playful ribbing from a close friend (Hi Rachel!), I was coaxed into writing a restaurant review. With new cuisines popping up all over the country as immigrants begin to celebrate their heritage, I thought I’d share my experience of our local Ethiopian Restaurant.
Taking the opportunity to develop friends/alibis (and with the significant other at the local underground Japanese Festival or “Bukakke” as they referred to it), my dining companions were a mismatched bunch:
- Will – the up-and-coming graduate with a charming demeanour, exemplary work ethic and a haircut I just want to coward punch
- Karen – the payroll clerk with the nervous disposition who is either anorexic or auditioning for a role in Schindler’s list 2 – List Harder
- Richard – the accountant that has all of the raw, animal magnetism of a pile of used tampons.
My companions aside, stepping into Geldof’s instantly transports you to the tropical surrounds of Ethiopia. Greeted at the door by an overly emotional Sigrid Thornton, we were seated on grass mats amongst brightly decorated wall hangings, dirt floors and a pack of emaciated dogs looking to pick off the weaker members of our group.
Service was less than attentive, but Karen could communicate on the same level with our waiters by gesturing towards her mouth and slumping on the table. “I don’t like Monday’s” was playing gently in the background as the aroma of tamarind, cumin and high infant mortality wafted from the kitchen.
We ordered 3 glasses of wine and a water due to my pending parole hearing. An awkward exchange followed where we were told that as we hadn’t booked ahead, water would be unavailable. (The little girl who walks 12 miles to the well each day had already left). So I opted for the Goat Surine that was offered as an alternative and hoped for the best.
Food choices were somewhat limited, and in the keeping with the spirit of the night, we flaunted our wealth (as white people do in such circumstances) and ordered everything on the menu. As if to punctuate our choice, an instrumental version of “Feed the world” began playing over the loudspeakers. How we laughed!
Karen had yet to lift her head from the table, and the circling dogs showed ever more interest in her welfare.
The drinks arrived quickly and we were delighted to have them served in the traditional Ethiopian fashion by pouring directly into our outstretched hands. When the food arrived, my low expectations were immediately dispelled: Gruel can be a difficult crowd pleaser, but when combined with corn-meal three ways (mashed, steamed and mashed then steamed), it can form an interesting blend of interment and malnourishment that reminded me of days spent in a prison camp being beaten mercilessly by Syrian guards that I never endured.
If I have any criticisms of the meal, it was this – while the constant flies are an annoyance and the circling buzzards a distraction, the incessant requests for our children to join their militia bordered on harassment. But these are minor gripes.
All-in-all, I rate the meal a 6 out of 18 stars. Not bad, but not great.
Karen was never heard from again.