I’ve never been to Africa. I’ve never eaten African cuisine. So when my friend suggested Habesha Restaurant on Rideau Street, I was all in.
This tiny restaurant holds 7 tables at the most. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in warmth, friendliness and amazing food. Our server was the owner and he couldn’t have been kinder. He was a good-hearted, funny and well mannered kinda of chap.
My friend’s buddy comes to this restaurant frequently and so we were well armed with a list of his favourite menu items without really knowing exactly what we were ordering. For me, that’s scary. I’m not a dolt but certainly never the first in line for the tasting menu. I like to know what I am about to eat. In this circumstance, I relied on my trusty friend and his buddy. And man am I glad I did.
|Habesha Restaurant, 574 Rideau Street, Ottawa|
Before us appeared a circular platter not unlike a pizza pan that acted as the serving dish. All guests eat from this one platter. The platter held an injera, the pancake-like bread of Ethiopia. On top of the injera was placed an assortment of stews, meats and salads. Extra injera bread was served on the side. You take a piece of the bread, scoop up the food and then pop it into your mouth. Traditionally, Ethiopians eat most food with their hands, no utensils required. I was more than happy to oblige.
|I foolishly didn’t retain the names of the dishes. Next time I visit, I’ll get it right. Apologies.|
|Injera is a yeast-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture.|
The flavours of the food were outstanding. Ingredients such as red chilies, fenugreek and ginger enriched the flavours of the dishes. The bread was a standout for me. Soft and spongy, it reminded me of a crêpe. It took a little practice to eat with the injera but I eventually got the hang of it.
With a full belly and a kind handshake from the owner, my African adventure was complete. I will be going back to Habesha cause I am now a full-fledged fan.