Monday, March 25, 2013

Great Value at Afro-Canadian Restaurant

Afro Canadian on Urbanspoon Huge portions for your money, considering the alternatives springing up nearby, such as Meat and Bread.

Afro Canadian Restaurant is an Ethiopian restaurant with assorted fast food on the side. You can get spinach pie, falafel, even pizza, all for just a couple of dollars. The main draw, however, is the Ethiopian fare.

The helpful and friendly owner will brief you on how it is served and eaten if you've never had it before. The slightly-sour pancake-like injera bread is torn off and used to pinch a portion of the stew-like items on a very wide plate. You can order single types of stew or sampler plates.

Rotti ($4)
  • That's how it's spelled on the menu.
  • I'm a sucker for roti of all kinds, so I decided to try it. It looked suspiciously like a Casa Mendosa 10" tortilla shell -- you know, those that you can get at Superstore.
  • For $4, however, you get a LOT of filling (either chicken or beef), plus a salad on the side.
  • Not especially tasty, but decent enough and a filling meal for a mere $4.
Vegetable Platter ($17) and Meat Platter ($19)
  • Our platter had a total of three vegetables and three meats. In the middle was also a good amount of rice.
  • Try the peanut sauce -- veggies simmered with spices and peanut butter. Probably not authentic Ethiopian, but interesting!
  • It all sat on a bed of injera bread, and whoever gets to the bottom first can tear off the tasty juice-soaked bread. Injera otherwise has a sour overtone, and for that reason I don't like it all that much, truth be told.
  • You can ask for utensils and sharing plates. I recommend you do that unless you really want to stuff yourself silly using extra injera bread (they start you off with a pile on a plate, free with your order) with every bite. The four of us went with utensils and therefore mostly just ate the stews and the rice, and left the pile of injera on the side largely untouched.
  • We were all stuffed and couldn't finish the platter. The leftovers, excluding the pile of bread, was a dinner-sized portion. So for $36 (before tax and tip), we got about 5 person's worth of dinner.
  • Pay attention when your server points out what is what because you are liable to forget it. The sauce is so flavourful that it largely masks the actual taste of meat or veggies.
  • You can ask for varying levels of spicy-heat or have chili sauce on the side, which is an inferior alternative. The chilli sauce is watery, a bit sour, and looked like just some sort of curry or chilli powder mixed in water. It's better that the chilli were cooked with the stew.
As mentioned before, portions are generous. The food is not superbly tasty -- I'd still prefer a solid Indian curry, I think -- but tasty enough and excellent for the price. Our bill came out to just under $45 for the four of us.

This hole-in-the-wall in an older building has no real ambiance to speak of. We went on a Friday night and it was never more than half-full. The seating can accomodate groups, which is handy for the sharing-style of food, but really you're looking at eating teams of four to six to tackle each large plate.

There might sometimes be just the one person in front and back, so service can be on the slow side (I think our waitress was late coming in that night). If you're stuck for utensils, there's a large platter of them on the counter near the kitchen.

Despite the low prices, Afro Canadian Restaurant does accept credit cards.

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