Ever tasted tibs? What about wot? Or maybe devoured a dulet?
If the answer is no - like mine would have been until recently - then I can safely say that you’re missing out.
The names all come from the Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisines that have been the speciality at Frehiwet Habesha since it opened in Exchange Street in 2013.
I knew nothing about the food or the restaurant before I went, but on the basis of several recommendations I gave it a try with a couple of family members one Saturday afternoon.
Sat next to the derelict Market Tavern and the huge site where Castle Market once stood, Frehiwet Habesha does not benefit from great surroundings. It stands out as one of the few buildings with lights on in that area, and perhaps as a result does not attract much passing custom.
But don’t let that or the basic decor inside put you off. This a restaurant that must be judged on its food.
The menu offers a range of meat and vegetable dishes, including tibs, in lamb, chicken, beef or egg form, and various vegetable dishes known as wot. The descriptions of each promise plenty of flavour, and most things sounded delicious. But with all three of us being newcomers to Etho-Eritrean eating, we went for the ‘ultimate combination’ - a platter with a mix of most of the meat and vegetable options.
The food came served on a kind of spongy bread called injera, which you then use to eat with. It’s not the kind of meal to share with someone you don’t know well - it’s a messy affair - but that didn’t bother us.
And despite not really knowing what we were eating, we were all impressed with what we had ordered.
The meats were tender and had clearly been marinated well, with every handful packed with spice and flavour. There were plenty of vegetable options as well, including lentil, spinach and cabbage, along with a boiled egg to top things off.
We needn’t have worried about running out of bread either, as another three rolls of the stuff were delivered to our table.
The menu also includes some Italian dishes such as risotto and lasagna, but you would be a fool not to try something new here.
The platter was delicious and plenty for three - we left some and you could probably feed four - and for £43 all in, including two pints of lager each, that’s a real bargain.
The restaurant was quiet when we arrived at 4.30pm, but by the time we left two hours later it was packed and a good atmosphere was developing. I’ll happily return.
Food - 4
Service - 3
Atmosphere - 4
Value - 5