Traditional Ethiopian restaurant where a spongy pancake serves as your plate. There’s not much for veggies, but the meaty stews are cheap and tasty
It’s safe to say expectations are low when you have to enter a restaurant via a metal staircase in a takeaway that’s surrounded by tens of nightclubs and bars. While Habesha certainly is a little rustic, once you’ve grabbed yourself a bottle of St George (an Ethiopian beer), you’ll soon forget about the precarious entrance.
For the uninitiated, Ethiopian cuisine tends to revolve around injera, a flatbread made from teff flour (teff being a grass native to Ethiopia and Eritrea). It’s basically a cross between a crepe and a crumpet, and makes an awesome base for soaking up flavoursome sauces.
Additional injera are also provided, which are to be used instead of spoons for scooping up the rich, meaty stews. Pleasingly, the menu is short – ten dishes in all – though pretty low on choice for non-meat eaters. The doro wot (chicken marinated in lemon), served in a red pepper and cardamom sauce is a speciality of the restaurant and offers nothing too surprising for western palates. Adventurous diners should try the kitfo – minced beef, served raw, with Ethiopian butter (similar to ghee and usually infused with cardamom, nigella, cloves and fenugreek) and chilli powder.
The decor is traditional, the chairs are wicker and it’s not going to win any prizes for presentation. Moreover, all dishes are priced between £5.50 and £7.50, so you’re going to eat really, really well for under 20 quid. It’s not a place to come for your sister’s graduation, nor to take your boyfriend for an anniversary. But if you fancy reliving those fading ‘gap yah’ memories, or simply to eat somewhere cheap, friendly and humble, Habesha’s the one.
29-31 Sackville Street