Eri Restaurant

Etheopian eatery with plenty of authentic staples
  • 2

Time Out Says

I walked in to billowing smoke. There, sitting on the floor, was a smiling African woman with a wooden stool of sorts in front of her, tending to hot coals. ‘She’s making coffee,’ the manager explained, before introducing himself as Abi and asking if I wanted a cup. Did I ever. Ethiopians take coffee seriously, roasting it for a rich, full-bodied flavour. It’s not easy to get a cup of the authentic stuff in Dubai, but at Eri Restaurant they offer a traditional ‘coffee ceremony’ for Dhs20. I thought I’d just try a cup first.

As I waited, Abi asked if I’d tried Ethiopian food before. I had, but my date hadn’t, so we spent a fair bit of time deciding what to order from the menu, which thankfully has short descriptions written in English. In the end, we went with Abi’s recommendation and ordered a ‘vegetarian dish’, served with five different dips and stir-fried veg mounded on injera bread, as well as the national dish, chicken doro wot.

My coffee,when it arrived, looked like an espresso but had a medium-bodied flavour with a hint of spice that’s unlike anything you’d find at Starbucks. Even my dining companion, who doesn’t like coffee, ordered a cup for herself.

Sipping the steaming drink, I had a chance to look around, although to be honest there wasn’t much to look at. There are no more than 10 tables in all, including one in a glass-walled area for diners who are bothered by smoke from the coffee (it has an aromatic scent, so it didn’t bother us). Not that it would have mattered, because we were the only ones eating.

The vegetarian dish arrived first: a massive circular steel plate that contained injera bread and mounds of atkilt wot (carrot and potato simmered in sauce), misir wot (puréed lentil in red pepper sauce), stir-fried beans and more. It was all very satisfying, though the standout was the shiro alitcha: lentils puréed with herbs and onions to create a creamy yellow dip. The injera shone in all its soft, sour goodness and, unlike the offerings at a few other Ethiopian restaurants we’ve tried in Dubai, tasted fresh and held together well. We hardly spoke as we tore and dipped our way through it, rather enjoying eating from the same plate.

Unfortunately, the doro wot, served with more injera, was a bit of a disappointment. The chicken, though soft and tender, was let down by the layer of oil coating the red pepper stew that didn’t do much for its taste or texture. There was only one chunk of meat inside, so while my date made her way through that, I ate the boiled egg, while mopping up the last few drops of those stellar vegetable dips.

After washing our messy hands, we watched contentedly as more diners walked in and the air filled with words I couldn’t understand, alongside the aroma of smoky coffee.

The bill (for two)
1x Vegetarian dish
1x Doro wot Dhs25
1x Water Dhs2
3x Coffee Dhs12
Ttal (excluding service) Dhs62

By Vineetha Menon  | 29 Jun 2011

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Show number 04 220 8477
Dubai, Deira, Abu Hail Road, Hor Al Anz East,near Abu Hail Centre and Ramada Continental Hotel

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