I love exploring diverse terrains and when it comes to food, I’m fussy – but not at the cost of my curiosity. The experience I had at the Addis in Cape restaurant was one unlike any other. It was as though I had been teleported to Ethiopia, where I was consequently seated at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, among both tourists and locals alike.
This beautiful eatery is located in the bustling CBD; one can best describe it as a glorious addition to the cosmopolitan melting pot of Cape Town city. Except, here’s the thing: This is authenticity in cuisine by the very definition of it.
Once you’ve climbed the staircase to enter the seating area of the establishment, you immediately know that you have come to the right place. You cannot ignore the bursting, vibrant colours in the form of umbrellas hanging from the ceilings – it’s as though they have been strategically chosen to greet patrons as soon as they arrive. The traditionally-crafted furniture pieces are masterfully placed against a backdrop of old walls which stand heavy with paintings that bemoan the sufferances of slaves from the past. Make no mistake – Addis in Cape is not your typical pretentious, touristy attraction and it humbly beckons to Ethiopia’s rich culture in a way that leaves you thirsting for more. It is characterful of a country that has endured many injustices but still endeavours to celebrate its wonderful heritage and delicious cuisine, nevertheless. Now, that in itself is an admirable quest.
Addis in Cape captures the Ethiopian custom of eating in a respectful and intimate manner. I have grown to discover that Ethiopians truly practice a ritual at meal times; the food that they eat is scarce and thus there is a deep reverence involved in savouring the dishes that have been prepared.
The waitress was knowledgable of all the types of dishes on the menu, which was essential to me understanding the food that I was acquainting myself with. Prior to the meals arriving, a conventional Ethiopian pitcher filled with warm water was brought to my little round table or mesob, as the table is called. Naturally, I assumed the water was to be drank, but then the waitress surprised me by lifting the pitcher up and holding it over a portable basin, in order for me to wash my hands in!
As I mentioned earlier, my encounter at Addis in Cape was truly unique, and the same could be said of the food that I had tasted! The waitress indicated that the lunch combo was especially reasonable; an opinion which I definitely second! At R110.00, I received a choice of any two items on the menu + a generous portion of the delicious gluten-free Ethiopian bread, injera. The injera is produced from the main ingredient of rice flour, sorghum, buckwheat or – most commonly – Teff, which is a grain native to Ethiopia. The dough of the injera undergoes a fermentation process, which is similar to that of a sourdough fermentation. It resembles something of a giant pancake and is placed down on a large, circular plate that fits exactly onto the mesob’s top surface. The food is then spooned onto the injera so that one can scoop up their food using a piece of this lovely Ethiopian bread.
The two meals that I ordered was the doro tibs (chicken pieces) and the mushroom wot (mushroom stew in a spicy berbere paste). The chicken was fragrant with the sautéed onion and its aromatic spices, like cardamom. I loved the extreme spiciness of the berbere that the mushrooms had been prepared with. Apparently, Ethiopian food is thoroughly spicy due to the adoption of exotic spices through the early trade routes, and for the fact that refrigeration is a rarity in the country (so the spices serve as a form of preservative to the food). The injera was just very unique, with a spongy texture and a subtle tanginess that could only be the result of its fermentation. I quite enjoyed my meal, and the spices reminded me a lot of Indian home cooking.
Ethiopian cuisine does not have a lot of desserts under its belt, so Addis in Cape‘s dessert menu consists of a selection of popular local choices. I opted for the baklava & ice cream, which is usually my absolute favourite. However, this was a little disappointing because it was made with peanuts and the syrup did not have any balancing elements in it. I usually order some sort of hot drink with my dessert, and the drink that I chose was hot chocolate. This luxuriously creamy hot chocolate definitely more than made up for my disappointment with regard to the baklava. In fact, I almost ordered a second one!
And so, what a wonderful ‘journey’ to Eastern Africa it was, indeed. I have learnt a great deal of things through simply lunching at the Addis in Cape restaurant, and for that I am eternally grateful. My only hope is that you will share in the experience, too!
Addis in Cape Details: –
41 Church Street
Corner of Church & Long Street
Telephone: +27 21 424 5722