In the show, Sammy J told an amazing story of his school gardener and love of Phantom comics, with great coincidences. So I am happy to tell you about our own little coincidence in choosing a restaurant tonight.
To eat, we ordered the Herbivore Combination Platter which had a taste of each vegetarian dishes, injera bread and salad. At $23 per person for a minimum of two people, it is great value. It looked really beautiful and was a great introduction to Ethiopian food for us. I was surprised at the injera being more sour than I expected. I had feared that I would find Ethiopian too spicy but it was just a pleasant heat in my mouth by the end of the meal.
The dishes were mostly vegan. Served on a big round of injera, they were (starting in the middle and then left to right on the bottom):
- Shiro (in the middle): a creamy sauce of roasted chickpea flour and barbere sauce with kibbeh and spices. I can see why the menu says this is Ehtiopian comfort food. I could have eaten a lot more of this, if only I wasn't full as a state school from all the other dishes.
- Gomen: collard green simmered in a vegetable brother with onions, garlic and ginger. Nice but not my favourite.
- Kik Alicha: split yellow lentils with traditional turmeric blend. Really lovely.
- Duba Wot: pumpkin cooked with caramelised red onion and barbere. This is like a fancy mash and I loved it.
- Yatakilt Alicha: potato, carrot and cabbage sauted with onions and garlic. I really liked this though my mind kept playing tricks and telling me it was pineapple.
- Kayser: beetroot and potato flavoured with ginger and garlic and a hint of olive oi. I liked this but it was mostly beetroot and a bit more potato would have balanced it up nicely.
- Miser Wot: red lentils cooked with barbere, garlic and ginger. Another winning dish.
As novices at Ethiopian food, we were not game to eat with our hands. When our waiter suggested that we eat with our hands, I was taken back to being offered food by our hosts after climbing a cliff in Turkey and being greeted with no cutlery and the suspicion that they were laughing at the ignorant foreigners. At Mesob, our waiter was very gracious and talked to us about how to scoop up the dishes with the injera. I think I need to have a large drop sheet under me to eat this way, like in that long ago hostel in Turkey.
Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant
213 High Street, Northcote
(03) 9489 6952
Open: Tues - Sun: 5.30-10pm