Awel African Restaurant Bar & Cafe, 2/250 Hight Street, Melton. Phone: 9746 6483
Ahhh – a free-hearted romp up the highway to Melton.
Somewhere along the way, I’d learned that an African restaurant had been established in Melton.
My impromptu journey is aimed at checking it out.
This is a trip I’ve been wary of undertaking even just a few weeks earlier.
Since then, new tyres all round and a long overdue service had been booked and paid for, so I’m a happy chappy heading into the sunrise.
Especially with Millie Jackon, backed by the pride of Muscle Shoals, wailing at length about the woes of her love life.
Once parked in Melton’s High Street, I find Awel no problem.
The restaurant is a breezy, casual affair, with a different and bright tablecloth on each table.
A couple of those tables are occupied as I peruse the menu.
It’s a mix of Ethiopian dishes – there’s wats and tibs and the like – and dishes I suspect have a Sudanese flavour.
I go Ethiopian, though, with zilzil alicha ($12.90), which is described as diced lamb and seasoned vegetables slowly cooked in a green pepper sauce and seasoned with ginger and jalapenos.
It’s a typical Ethiopian meat dish, like a wet tibs.
The serve looks modest of size but is more than filling enough.
And best of all, it has a big chilli kick of the kind often promised by East African food but not always delivered.
The simple, crunchy salad, for which I am charged a little extra, is very good.
After my dinner, I chat for a good while with Amiol, who runs the restaurant with his wife, who happen to be in Africa catching up with the rellies.
Like her, Amiol is of Sudanese background.
He tells me Awel has been going for about five months and that the reaction of locals has been favourable.
But he is bemused by the outlook of some in the significant Melton East African community.
“In their heads, when it comes to food, they’re still back in Footscray,” her says. “They like our food but say, ‘Oh, if only you were in Footscray …'”
People can be so nutty!
Come on Meltonites – support this colourful and fine addition to your culinary line-up!
As I cruise on to the Western Highway home, Millie and the Swampers kick in to a funkified version of Feel Like Making Love.
I cackle and pound the steering wheel.
What use doing anything else?