With the exception of the fabulous, boundary-bending African Taste, the Ethiopian restaurants of Footscray tend to toe the line of their traditional cuisine. The differences and variations are still there, but rather than the brash contrast of primary colours, the differences you note are subtle, like the gradations of red in the sky of a shepherd's-delight summer night.
I like many for different reasons but a firm favourite is Addis Abeba. It's owned and run by Bitsat and Tesfaye, an Ethiopian celebrity couple of sorts - she's a famous traditional singer and he is an actor, writer and director. The interior of the restaurant is homely and warm, the dusky scent of frankincense hanging thick in the air.
Vegetarian combination, $12
Special tibs, $12
Special tibs are so good - tiny pieces of very tender lamb, cooked with onion in butter and scattered with green chillis for crunch and punch. The doro wat is amazing too. This celebration dish of chicken and eggs cooked in deep red berbere spice is only available here on weekends and Addis Abeba's is my favourite version anywhere in Footscray. Bitsat explains the onions must be stirred continously for hours or they catch and create a burnt flavour. This is the only version I've tried that doesn't have just a hint of slightly bitter charred onion.
Plenty of injera for pinching up each greedy mouthful. I also love the injera on the bottom of the platter which has soaked up all the juices.
Addis Abeba very kindly hosted us for the photo shoot for this article. Bitsat is gorgeous - the journalist told me he didn't like African food but with cheeky persistence she wouldn't let him leave until he ate at least one bite, explaining that in Ethiopian culture if you don't eat someone's food, it's a grave insult. Trust me - you can't stop at one bite, and the only insult will be the way you bump both sides of the doorway as you stagger out, newly rotund but oh so delightfully stuffed.
Check Addis Abeba out in Epicure. Thanks for the lovely company, Lauren of Corridor Kitchen!
220 Nicholson Street, Footscray (n.b. not Addis Cafe which somewhat confusingly is next door)
Phone: 9687 4363
Hours: Lunch and dinner daily
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