Updated: Sep 29, 2019
On Father's Day, I took my Dad out for Eritean food at a beautiful restaurant in Brixton called ‘Adulis’. When he received the Guinness bottle I ordered for him, he looked it up and down and commented “this is not Nigerian Guinness”. He thought that that was what he would be getting. He then went on to describe the intricate differences between Guinness bottles from Ireland and Guinness bottles from Nigeria. Maybe he should start a food critique platform too seeing as he has such an eye for detail.
I’d been to Adulis before, but years ago, and alone. I remember looking at the platter they brought me that time and feeling like I was definitely in the right place. The portions are perfect for those who like to leave the table feeling like they’ve achieved something.
The restaurant is stunning. It is filled with Eritean artefacts and art; the entire place is spotless too. My Dad and I chose to sit near the window on a table that could seat four people because we came to EAT!
I ordered myself an Eritrean herbal tea. I’m not sure of what the flavour was, but it was warming and only slightly bitter.
Upon my recommendations, we ordered chicken sambusas, vegetable sambusas and kategna. The crisp outer layer of the sambusa was so good – I didn’t have fingertips coated in oil after eating them. They were very fresh. I preferred the vegetable sambusas over the chicken ones. They were filled with potatoes and mixed vegetables. They had a bit of a spicy kick.
I’d never tried kategna before – it is (according to their menu) ‘fresh and crispy injera soaked in seasoned ghee or olive oil’. I expected a biscuit like crunch from this side order but it was more on the chewy side which wasn’t bad! Considering the texture of plain injera, the texture of kategna made sense. It came rolled up and slathered in a peppery red sauce. It had a sour, sharp taste. I’ve done some research and it looks to me that this could have been a ‘berbere’ sauce. Berbere is a spice typically used in Ethiopian and Eritrean cooking. I’ve heard a lot about it but haven’t actually been able to pick it out in the dishes I’ve tried! So, I will be doing some spice shopping at some point because clearly this is something I need some more education in.
Now onto the main! The bit you’ve been waiting for.
Every time I visit an Ethiopian or Eritrean restaurant, I am always enthralled by the presentation. I love the richness of the colours, the perfect circular dollops of food on the carpet of injera. We ordered a mixed platter which came with several small portions of vegetarian and meat dishes with a generous portion of injera. The waitress was kind enough to talk my Dad and I through all of the dishes. I asked for us and for you!
In the middle, was ‘chicken dorho’ with soft cheese, and going from the salad in a clockwise motion, was: salad, chickpeas (either Shiro or Shimbra Assa), Timtmo (lentils), Alicha (carrots, green beans and cabbage), Hamli (spinach), Minchet Abish (minced beef), Zighni (beef stew) and Dorho special (chicken cubes).
You don’t really need a review on soft cheese and I didn’t eat it anyway so we will focus on everything else. My favourite dishes were the Timtmo, Alicha and Hamli. The lentils melted in my mouth; the carrot, green bean and cabbage mix was slightly sweet, presumably because of the natural juices in the carrots. The spinach – Hamli – was so uncomplicated yet delightful to eat. I should have ordered more of that. I tasted a bit of everything and out of all of the meat dishes, I liked the Zighni the most. The flavours in this dish were the deepest, in my opinon. I would have liked for the chicken in the Dorho Special to have been more moist. The Minchet Abish was juicy. I think eating a bit of a vegetarian dish and then a bit of a meat dish was the best technique. After eating all of this, I was VERY satisfied.
The service was excellent. The staff were attentive without being intrusive.
The restaurant started getting busy once we were halfway through our meal. That is a testament to how good the food and ambience is. The price of everything was very reasonable considering how much we ordered (two side dishes, a platter and four drinks). I can’t wait to visit again and try something new.
Interested in visiting Adulis? Visit the website first: http://www.adulis.co.uk/