Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dinknesh Lucy

Winter is on its way.  Juicy steaks on the grill give way to luscious braised chunks of chuck steak.  There's nothing more pleasurable on a cold day than coming home to a house filled with the scent of chilli or pot roast emanating from the trusty slow cooker.  Roasted pumpkin is such a pleasure too, the taste of autumn itself - rich, sweet and slightly musty, like piles of autumn leaves.


Ethiopian food is brilliant for cold weather in my opinion.  I'm yet to find a "bad" Ethiopian restaurant in Footscray - they all have their charms.  Dinknesh Lucy, next to Lentil as Anything on Barkly Street, is named after one of the earliest hominids ever found, unearthed in modern-day Ethiopia.

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Here's the little dais dedicated to the coffee ceremony which you can book ahead.  The green beans are pan-roasted before being ground, brewed and served.  You can see/buy the green beans at Blue Peak Coffee and Nuts, next to Coles in Footscray Plaza.

My understanding of Ethiopian food is rudimentary at best but it can be vaguely divided into wet stews (wot are spicy, alicha are mild) and tibs dishes which are drier, like stir-fries.  B and I couldn't decide between the yebeg tibes and the zil zil tibes.  We asked the lady and she immediately said, "Yebeg tibes.  Zil zil tibes, you might not like."  So naturally we wanted the zil zil!

zil zil
Zil zil tibes, $12

I have had yebeg tibes before and it is great - juicy lamb pieces dry-fried in clarified butter with onion and green chilli.  Apparently the zil zil is partly dried meat - the pieces were long "steaks" that had been cut to open somewhat like paper dolls in a long zigzag.  The flavour was fantastic, rich, aged, complemented by the tang of the onions and green chilli and with a fabulous charred flavour.  The meat was so tender too yet hardened as it cooled, which is not a criticism - evidently the heat must "wake up" the fibres somehow and it kind of re-dries as it cools down again.  Really fantastic - definitely one to order again.

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Lucy Combination, $15

The chef's combination is always a safe bet in any Ethiopian restaurant.  This didn't follow the exact dishes on the menu, which I didn't mind in the slightest.  Starting from the bottom left-hand corner is "sugo" which is a meat stew not on the menu - rich and tomatoey.  Going clockwise, bozena shiro, chickpea flour with beef pieces and berbere (tasty but quite salty), alicha wat, lamb pieces in a mild sauce with garlic and ginger (divine!) and in the middle, key wot, lamb pieces again with ginger, garlic and the addition of paprika-rich red berbere spice.  On the right lay magenta beetroot and potato and turmeric-yellow potatoes, carrots and cabbage.  All very individual, totally yummy, rich but not overpoweringly so.

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Injera, Ethiopia's national bread, made by fermenting flour and then cooking on one side like a pancake - see Kenny's recent visit to Footscray's Lemat Bakery to see how.  Just tear off pieces and pinch up the meat or vegies, like pita bread.  My kids love it and I am happy to let them eat nothing but bread and save all the rest for myself!  Eventually they get curious and ask to taste a bit of yours.  This goes for rice at Asian restaurants or roti at Indian restaurants - it doesn't matter if they won't eat the whole spread, just start them off with the basics and you can build on it.  Or not and leave it all to yourself, heh heh.

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Love this place - we did not need both dishes; one would have sufficed and fed both of us for $12 or $15.  That night we were served by three gorgeous women who had such snappy panache.  Don't let the empty chairs fool you, it was relatively busy when we arrived.  Dinknesh Lucy do live traditional music about once a month - give them a call to find out when the next night is on.  Worth the walk, even on a wintery night.

Dinkensh Lucy Ethiopian Resturant on Urbanspoon

Dinknesh Lucy
227 Barkly Street, Footscray (map)
Phone:  9687 6444
Hours:  7 days 11am - 11pm

Wheelchair Access
Level entry


  1. I walk past this place every day, and often wonder if I should try it. I definitely will - once I'm eating red meat again, because that zil zil looks amazing!

    Thanks for the tip. Looks like I'll have to find other ways to walk off dinner, it being so close!

  2. Oh I am so jealous. I need to move to Footscray.

  3. I had a Monday morning appointment in Church St, Brighton. It'd been a long time - years - since I'd been in that part of the world. OMG, beautiful houses, beautiful people. But no injera, nor all the things that go with it. Not to mention all the other great westie foodniness/culture icons. How lucky we are!

  4. That chef's combination looks like a fantastic spread. My partner and I occasionally walk to Lentils to eat... Next time I think we might go a few steps further.

  5. The vegetarian options look really good, beetroot and potatoes, two of my favourite food groups!

  6. I remember my family and i went to Awash on Hopkins St and my grandfather asked the waiter "how do i eat your food?" Being Filipino he just had to ask ;)

    So what the waiter did when the food came is he picked up some of my grandpa's injera, scooped up some Doro Wot and demonstrated how to it eat by shoving it my grandpa's mouth!

    Oh it was sooooo funny! The waiter wasn't trying to be funny either, he just genuinely wanted to help out:)

  7. Thanks for the review, Lauren... Always levitate towards Cafe Lalibela when thinking Ethiopian, but we'll have to give this one a try!


    1. Hi Matthew - do try it! It's always a good idea to book at Dinknesh - even for two - as Mulu makes all the bread herself and needs to know how much to do. We are so ridiculously spoilt in Footscray when it comes to Ethiopian, aren't we?

  8. Yumm.
    Out of all Ethiopian restaurants in footscray, which would you most recommend for a vegetarian?
    Mikaela at www.dertischblog.blogspot.com.au

    1. Hi Mikaela! Thanks for the link to your blog - looks delicious. It's been a while since I've visited, but the best vegetarian spread I've had was at Addis Abeba in Nicholson St. You will be well looked after anywhere you go, though - in Ethiopia, Orthodox Christians "fast" (which translates as eating 100% vegan) regularly, so there's a strong tradition of vegetarian/vegan dishes.


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