Addis Abeba

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220 Nicholson St, Footscray. Phone: 9041 2994

Our normal early-in-the-week routine is all business – work, school homework, commuting and homecooked meals.

This week we break out for a Tuesday night foray.

It’s the bitingly cold start of a nasty cold snap, so the whole exercise could be deemed silly, but happily our first port of call is open.

Addis Abeba is a relatively new kid on the block in Footrscray’s collection of Ethiopian eateries, situated on a stretch of Nicholson St known for the presence of a venerable old stager of an Indian restaurant, the Taj.

The restaurant is done out nicely in a tranquil sort of green, the walls adorned with art work, photos and posters.

We’re the only customers and naturally gravitate to the table nearest to the glowing heater.

Dad’s happy to go vego, but the boy wants meat.

It seems the days of us ordering only a salad and tibs at Ethiopian places are gone – the staff advise us that, no, that won’t be enough. I shouldn’t be surprised – Bennie’s a 10-year-old rugby player whose appetite is expanding.

We order salad ($6), beef tibs ($12) and lamb key wet (wot, also $12).

At first blush, the tibs look a little pale and pallid – there’s little by way of seasoning or gravy. But Bennie loves  ’em, especially the onion strands.

The key wot is the hit of the night – nice lamb pieces swimming in an incredibly rich and oily/buttery dark red-brown gravy with that distinctive flavour of berbere spice mix prominent. The chilli hit seems to become greater as the meal goes on, but presents no problems for us

The salad is the usual jumble of leaves, capsicum, onion, green chilli and tomato. It’s very wet with a lemony dressing, but we like it a lot.

We eat almost all that is before us, including the injera on the serving platter and the extras on the side.

On an earlier visit on my ownsome, I’d had kikil – described as “lamb stew with special sauce sauted with onion and garlic”, it was actually a typically flavoursome broth, in which was submerged a meaty lamb bone. It was delicious, though $12 seemed a little pricey for a bowl of soup. It was beaut, however, to use injera with soup – the sponge-like texture, unsurprisingly, was just right for the job.

Based on our experiences to this point, Addis Abeba presents a fairly typical Ethiopian fare very capably, if without really knocking us out. Yet.

I’m keen to return to try the non-meat combo of pulses two ways and various vegetable dishes. It’s priced at $12, $15 with salad, $26 for two and $40 for three, which seems fair and sensible.

For breakfast there are the likes of foul ($8) and scrambled eggs ($7).

All other things being equal, Addis Abeba is likely to find long-term favour with us for being slightly removed from Footscray’s African hub, hopefully easing the car-park situation.

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