I follow Chowhounds Montreal board pretty closely, and there was a lot of buzz about East Africa, a new-ish restaurant that opened up on Sherbrooke in NDG. I’ve always wanted to try Ethiopian food, and was excited about finally heading out there one night with some gals for a well needed catch up.
First off, the place is pretty… austere. From the outside it looks a bit… whatever… but the sign with words scrolling past in Amharic was a good sign.
Inside is extremely basic as well. There are only a few tables, and not much adorning the walls. Overall, the theme is very…. red… But the place was busy and I was glad we had reserved. Although not very well advertised, it’s a BYOW place, and if you don’t have a bottle there’s an SAQ nearby on Sherbooke and Hingston.
So what exactly is Ethiopian food? Well as far as I can tell, it’s a bunch of curries, and stews that are eaten with a spongy bread called injera. The meal is served in one large dish, which makes sharing easy. We went with #3 – Ye Doro Fitfit – a drumstick with a nice stew, #19 Ye Missir Alicha – lentils with onions, garlic, turmeric and other spices, #21 – ye Gommen Wott – Spinach, and I believe number #17 – Ye Kik Alicha – yellow split peas. We also were given beets (who knew beets were Ethiopian?!), and a little bit of other bits and bobs. By far the best was the chicken dish, and I think we could have ordered two of those. I also liked the lentils and the yellow split peas which were hearty. The spinach I wasn’t too fussed about, but it was OK. The injera was nice – I read people complaining that it’s not great (in general) but it’s just spongy bread – nothing too offensive. I have absolutely no comparison for this Ethiopian food though, so I am purely going by taste buds.
One of the gals I was there with has spent some time in East Africa, and confirmed that this was a fairly authentic experience, in terms of…. the service. Service was slow, and non-existant at the end of the meal. I had to go up to our waitress, who was cheerily talking with the chef, in order to get our bill, and pay. But the bill… $43 for three of us. Wow, you don’t get much cheaper than that.
Overall, I would definitely go back. I’d have the chicken dish again, and try a few more of the meat dishes. I’d also have the yellow split peas again I think. The experience was cool – I mean it’s not everyday you have Ethiopian (unless you are perhaps in Ethiopia…) and the price was right. The light reflecting off the red walls gave everything a red glow, and it was pretty much a hole in the wall but, hey, it just adds to the experience.
They are pretty busy, so I’d reserve. You can also order from them on Just-Eat.ca. Go check it out, and let me know what you think!
Decor: Very basic.
Service: Slow. Our food wasn’t that slow to come out, but at the end of the night the service basically disappeared.
Price: Very very affordable.
Food: Very interesting, and pretty good. I’d definitely go back to explore the rest of the menu.
Good For: Wanting to try something new! They have high chairs and are open for lunch on the weekend. I wouldn’t hesitate to bring baby for lunch, although the space is a bit tight.