Shop 2, 46-82 Hopkins St, Footscray. Phone: 9687 1955
We don’t mean to celebrate the frequently wicked ways of the world, but we feel blessed nonetheless to be able to enjoy the diversity and flavours varied African tribes have bestowed on Melbourne’s west.
Only problem is, some of the nicer and more appealing places these days have pricing that marks them – for us – as likely venues for a night out and/or special occasion.
Not that the prices are in any way exorbitant – especially in contrast to “proper” restaurants of the classier category.
Adulis, for instance, is calling to us – particularly after a full-blooded endorsement by Ms Baklover at Footscray Food Blog.
But the prices are such that we’re saving that experience for a windfall day or something similar.
And that’s why we headed right next door, to Awash, for a cheap and cheerful Saturday lunch.
I’d dropped in the previous week and had been mightily impressed with the mixed non-meat sampler ($12).
This time around, though, Bennie as adamant: “I want meat!”
So after discussing the non-meat option with the staff, we ordered the meaty pea stew ($10) and a side salad ($5).
A little while later we were presented with … the non-meat sampler.
Oops! Communication breakdown among the staff!
To their credit, they repeatedly offered to replace our meal with the food we had actually ordered.
However, I was equally adamant that we’d make do with what had arrived. After all, the food had already been placed on the injera, so presumably would go to waste if we sent it back. No way!
And so it went.
Bennie overcame his disappointment at his non-meaty repast, and joined me in devouring the lot with glee.
There were pulses three ways – brown lentils and yellow split peas rather plain, and another lentil brew a rich dark red with just the right kind of chilli kick; all good.
The vegetables consisted of the familiar cabbage/carrot mix and a serve of the likewise familiar silverbeet concoction; all also good.
A bonus of going the non-meat route in an Ethiopian eatery is that the food uses enough oil/butter to get the job done, but falls way short of the very high levels found in many of the meat dishes.
I’m also often impressed with just how good the salads are at a great number of Footscray’s African restaurants. Usually there’s nothing whiz-bang involved – just incredibly fresh vegetables beautifully presented and anointed with a lemony dressing.
The Awash salad was a good one that upheld that tradition.
There was nothing remotely spectacular about our food – it was plain, but also wholesome and tasty. And at $17 for two, truly sharp on the pricing – a bargain, in fact, that required no troubling mental maths or hesitation.
Moreover, such was the warmth of the service – and the upfront and happy manner in which the ordering contretemps was handled – that we are looking forward to returning for the likes of their doro wat or tibs.
I remember the first time I tried injera – and found the rubbery clamminess of it rather unappealing.
All ancient history these days – injera has become just as commonplace, delightful and essential as a bowl of pho!
As we ambled over the road to Footscray Market, Bennie opined: “That was a mistake – but it was a good mistake!”