277 Racecourse Rd, Kensington
Phone: 9376 8754
It was a little bit of serendipity. Belly filling serendipity. I had to meet up with @jeroxie and @eatnik to plan an upcoming event, and the only time we could all squeeze it in was before their dinner with the @eatdrinkstagger crew at the Abyssinian. Wait, what? You guys planned a dinner at the Abyssinian without me? Oh, someone cancelled and there’s an opening at the table. Sure, I’ll come along!
So nine of us trundled down to Racecourse Road, through the insipid Melbourne drizzle, and spilled through the door into the warm, vibrant interior of the Abyssinian. After a cursory glance at the menu, we unanimously decided on the set banquet (with meat – there is a vegetarian option, but that’s not how we roll) and added a beef dish. The beef dishes contain raw beef – think beef tartare – so aren’t part of the standard banquet.
We also took the chance to sample a few of the Ethiopian beers on the menu. I recommend the St George. It’s a pretty light style beer, which goes well with the mild curries served up here.
As there were nine of us, we were presented with three huge platters, each lined with injera – an African flatbread which has the spongy texture somewhere between a pancake and a crepe. Injera has lots of little bubbly holes in the surface, which makes it especially great for slopping up the sauces of the stews and lentils with which it’s served. There’s also a great little tang to the injera itself.
I love this style of communal eating. There’s something about sharing food and diving in unadulterated by cutlery that just seems so much more personal and close than even sharing dishes at your local Chinese restaurant. I guess it’s got something to do with the fact that you’re counting on each other to have clean hands? Nothing like an implicit contract of hygiene to bring people closer together.
Each of the stews were good in their own right, but my favourites were definitely the curried chicken stew (very similar to a Malaysian curry, funnily enough, but without the strong coconut milk presence) and the darker version of the lentils. They had quite an great kick to them, where the yellow lentils were a lot more mild.
I’d definitely recommend you head down to the Abyssinian if you haven’t been there yet. Head down with a group of your besties, and feast it up. Just make sure you wash your hands beforehand!