The first monthly chowhound dinner of the year, and a rebirth of sorts after a significant break, the hounds returned to a familiar (to most of them) cuisine. The first ever Toronto chow dinner is said to have been at Ethiopian Village, but I wasn't, so you'll just have to take their word for it.
Ethiopian House has a very long, yet suprisingly short, menu. Pages and pages are devoted to various specials at one item per page, while the standard menu is jammed into a single page at the start. We opted for a series of meat and veg combo plates to be served together for our large crowd. A few dishes of the special, weekend-only chicken stew were added, as well.
Spiced teas were ordered for most of the table, and with a little additional prompting, they actually all showed up. Getting the glasses taken away again when we were done was an even bigger problem. The tea itself was rather mild and didn't live up to the promises made by its delightful aroma.
After a significant wait, the platters of food appeared. Aromatic stews were spooned over soft injera bread. More logistics issues arose, as these platters should have been identical and weren't - one had almost none of the meat dishes, for example.
The food ranged from mild to ouch, with dense flavoured stews muted by the injera. With everything served together it was difficult to recognize individual items, but a carrot and cauliflower blend, along with a lentil stew and a meat and tomato stew were amongst my favourites. The chicken stew was flavourful and tender, but at one small chicken piece for $12, hardly worth the price.
The true delight of the meal came at the end when the stews had largely been scooped away with the extra injera. All that remained was the injera that had been lining the platters, each pocket of the absorbant bread soaked with sauces and gravies, full of condensed flavour.
At $22 per hound, the meal wasn't cheap, but it was cheerful, flavourful and worth the price. The restaurant has some logistics problems to work out but the food shines, overpowering the difficulties.
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