Well, after a long wait for it to open, we visited the highly anticipated (by us) new Ethiopian restaurant at Woodbine and Danforth. I was really rooting for this place due to the dearth of nearby eateries of note in our immediate neighbourhood. I really wish I could say something positive, so I will: They are exceedingly nice people and the restaurant is lovely. The decor is well thought out and comforting. Quite stylish, actually.
Now the bad news. By far the worst Ethiopian food I have ever had. Truly. I really hope they can improve, and I will wait a month and try again, but the portents are not good. The Injeera was obviously reheated, as the edges were hard, as if they had been sitting out for some time. We ordered a veggie combo and a lamb dish between the two of us. Despite being an ardent carnivore, the veggies are my favourite part of a good Ethiopian meal, but these were just sad. Comprehensively under-seasoned, served lukewarm and lacking in any character whatsoever. The lentil dish stood out for the fact that it actually had a flavour, even though that flavour very obviously came from a package. The rest was just insipid and tasteless. Particularly bad was the collard greens, which just seemed to have been boiled. There was no discernible flavour and without any spice they were just watery and bitter.
The lamb was just weird. Big chunks of bone with small bits of meat attached. Fairly certain they had been frozen. The texture was not good. The gravy lacked any redeeming qualities and they had put rolled up pieces of injeera in with it, which would be fine if there were any flavour for them to absorb.
To add insult to injury, the prices are above the average for this type of cuisine. One dish was $11, the other $11.50. This would be fine if the food was a cut above the competition rather than several rungs below, When a 10 minute walk or a few subway stops will take me to a sterling place like Dukem, I will accept the minor inconvenience.
We were there at 7.30 and were the only customers. Unless they get themselves a good chef very quickly, I can't see that changing and they will be gone within months. People who choose an Ethiopian restaurant usually do not do so on a whim. Torontonians are quite educated on this cuisine due to the surfeit of good places they have to choose from. Both Canadians and Ethiopians seem to be avoiding this place in droves. I can see why. I really hope they pull it together and succeed, but sadly I can not see it. Damn.