Last night pangolin and his band of kitchen rats made it to Dukem at 950 Danforth Ave. I have not dined at every Ethiopian place in the city, but Dukem is excellent. The service was occasionally a bit slow, but so far as I could tell, one girl was taking care of six or seven tables, and despite being in a constant state of motion, she seemed as efficient as possible under the circumstances, and maintained a fairly pleasant demeanour throughout.
The atmosphere is nothing special, but it is pleasant, extremely clean, and well maintained.
But, it's all about the food, right? We ordered kitfo (minced beef, traditionally served as tartar), doro wot (chicken stew), zilzil tibs (sauteed cubes of lamb), and the vegetarian combo. The only moment of confusion during the evening was a slightly comic exchange about the kitfo. One can ordered it seared, medium, or well done, as well as the raw. Whe ordering it I paused, and the server asked "well done?" Well, all of us were (very) pale faces (very much the minority in the restaurant), so perhaps she thought that we weren't up to the challenge. I asked for it seared, but raw. It arrived raw and unseared - minor quibble, and I didn't care. We said that we were going to share, and asked that we get a communal platter. The dishes arrived on the communal platter, surrounding a green salad, with a smaller dish holding a large stack of folded injera. The kitfo, garnished with a bit of dry cottage cheese and stewed spinach, was finely minced, and as fresh as one could hope for. The doro wot was a chicken leg and thigh, accompanied by the customary hard boiled egg, in a very rich and nuanced sauce, which, for all its richness, was not the least bit greasy - it might be the best I've had. The tibs (I've always wanted to say in an Ethiopian restaurant "They call me Mr Tibs", but haven't) was the only weak spot, as the cubes were a little bit tough, and there was less sauce than I like; but, that said, it was adequately flavourful, and actually the favourite of one the kitchen rats. The veg combo was stewed red lentils (excellent), stewed greens (good), and stewed yellow lentils (good). The injera seemed to be less dense than normal - a nice change. We went for the coffee ceremony (we ordered that when we ordered our food), which was a nice addition for the neophytes, but while it had the requisite pot, stand, and frankinsence, (as well as a huge bowl of popcorn) it was a bit perfunctory. Again, the poor girl was run off her feet, so I'm not really complaining.
So, all that food, plus two bottles of wine (your choices are a red and a white), three Heineken, and a vodka tonic, came to $105, including tax, but before tip. Dukem is a great little place. Go go go.
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