Traditional Ethiopian food served in a homely environment is on offer at Real Habesha on Stapleton Road, which is run by a husband and wife who moved from east Africa to Bristol a few years ago.
Solomon and Seniit have created a restaurant that is perfect for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, sharing the customs and traditions of their home country at the same time.
With an unassuming beige front and small entrance on the corner of the street next to a barbers, Real Habesha – which opened last year – could easily be overlooked, but that would mean missing out on an enticing and multi-sensory treat.
On a recent Thursday lunchtime, the early spring sunshine could be enjoyed at a window seat as typical Ethiopian music featuring kebero drums and the lute-like masenqo filled the room.
Seniit asked if any help was needed to decipher what the Ethiopian dishes were and kindly pointed out some of her own favourites.
The menu here is split into breakfast and lunch, with prices ranging from £3 to £10, and several versions of injera listed among the lunch options. The national dish of Ethiopia, it’s a sourdough flatbread reminiscent of a pancake; with the vegan option of pickled vegetables, salad, lentils and stew sounding too good to miss.
Service may have been slow but a more better description would be relaxed and laid back, with conversations from the kitchen floating through the restaurant.
The injera was served in a beautiful woven basket which was almost as big as the table. Clearly needing direction, instructions on how to eat the dish were also served with the meal: rip of a piece of injera and use it to pick up different parts of the dish, with spice on the side to add for those feeling brave.
Taking a piece of injera and dipping it in the lentil stew, it was clear that there is a reason that African food is gaining an appreciation in the UK. It’s perfect food for sharing.
The lentil stew was a challenge for a novice to eat initially, but soon getting the hang of it, the pulses were perfectly cooked and the bright yellow sauce was packed full of flavour. The stew was spicier, the salad crisp, and the pickled vegetables, gherkins, peppers, carrots and potatoes tangy and perfectly balancing out the plain injera. It was a filling dish and could have easily satisfied two people.
Sitting in the sun, with yellow-stained hands, the waitress asked if the food was good. With friendly service, great prices and delicious food hard to find anywhere else in Bristol, all it took was a nod. The waitress smiled knowingly in agreement.
Real Habesha, 146 Stapleton Road, Easton, Bristol, BS5 0PU
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