On my way back from Fulham Palace, I happened to notice a tiny cafe tucked away on North End Road. It wouldn’t have caught my eye except for the sign which promised authentic Ethiopian food. I had tried Ethiopian food once before, at a restaurant by Kings Cross, but it had been almost two years and I was excited to give it another go.
I coerced Top Floor Flatmate, Ann, into coming along with me, warning her that the possibility was high that this would be a disastrous meal. For starters, the cafe itself looked more like a greasy spoon than a location for a fine meal out, and that was just the outside. Upon walking in we were greeted by some aluminum-topped tables, a rather dingy interior and, fittingly, a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony which included a circle of low wicker stools, a central heating unit and a lot of incense.
Odd decor aside, we were warmly welcomed by an incredibly friendly woman who seemed to be in charge – she certainly took charge, waving away the staff’s apparent surprise at our desire to dine there, sitting us down and proceeding to talk us through the menu and, when we showed some hesitation, ordering for us.
A traditional Ethiopian meal is typically a spicy and flavourful meat or veggie dish served on a large flat round of bitter bread called injera. There are no utensils and the porous bread is used to scoop up, sop up and otherwise consume the meat or veggies, which are a stew-like consistency. While the bread isn’t too appealing alone, with the intense flavours of the meat and spices of the sauce, it’s a perfect balance and the Ethiopian style of food was just as delicious as I remembered. I had a lamb dish while Ann went with the vegetarian option but we both agreed it was a) amazingly tasty and b) way more than we could comfortably eat (though not for lack of trying).
The Ghion Cafe was certainly not a looker – and if you want ambiance, this is not your best bet. But don’t be put off by the simple surroundings. The food was authentic, rich and delicious; the service uncharacteristically friendly for London and the food arrived almost instantaneously (although we ended up having to ask twice for the bill before getting up to pay at the counter – a long, drawn out and well-enjoyed meal seemed to be encouraged) and it was an excellent opportunity to further discover food of another culture. Plus at under £10 per person for an incredibly filling meal and drink, it’s an unbeatable price. The perfect combination.
248 North End Road
Fulham, London, SW6 7RS
020 7385 1287