A BEAUTIFUL AFTERNOON WELL SPENT IN A LAGOS-ETHIOPIAN HOUSE
Never have I been so immersed in a different culture just by visiting a restaurant!
Well yes, it is a cultural restaurant (East African) so you expect it to represent but trust me when I tell you that this place gives a lot more than just “oooh this is what we eat in our country”, it is more like an in-depth experience of “welcome to our home, feel free to indulge”.
Walking into the picturesque space instantly warmed my heart as there were several jitters in my tummy earlier…..my lack of skills in navigating Lagos mainland roads which was solved by simply typing “Kaldi Africa” into Google maps and my arriving at the compound and feeling I was in the wrong place, it looked like a factory-office situation.
Thankfully, I swung open the glass door and felt very pleased with what hit my eyes. It wasn’t a big place but it was set up to be very functional and of course the room was filled with cultural décor….colorful woven baskets that serves as stools and even actual dining tables, African print chair covers, portraits of beautiful people clearly from East Africa, sculptures, and my favourite part, the bathroom doors which holds striking pictures of Ethiopian natives as sign – a man for the male bathroom and a woman for the female bathroom. As a Nigerian, it struck me that they look quite similar to people from the Hausa/Fulani tribe.
Just as I was about to settle down, my dining partners arrived….it was a lunch hangout for three. Their car AC had developed a fault on the way and exhaustion was written on their faces. A waiter took the initiative to serve us water immediately which was quite a good gesture as we watched her fetch spa water from a tank displayed at the bar and she brought it to us in beautifully hand painted glasses.
At this point, I was charmed by the bar area – high chairs clearly made from simple African wood, coffee making machines and a 3-part gold coffee dispenser with flags of Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya. Apparently, Kaldi House is a Coffee House with a sister company, Kaldi Africa, a coffee factory sited right behind the building, hence the factory-office premises situation. The flags show where the coffee beans were harvested from. I sighted a shelf of packaged coffee and teas from each of these countries for sale. It felt good to know that I could pick what country’s coffee I wanted to indulge in.
We decided to go with Ethiopian coffee called Buna. Boy, this was indeed a coffee ceremony. Ahaaa did I already mention that the room was filled with Ethiopian music? So yes, while listening to some very soothing sounds, we got served in a traditional tea-set coupled with heavenly scents from the incense burning on our tray. In my heart, I was in Ethiopia. There wasn’t a lot of talking as we sipped our cardamom infused hot drinks. Now, I had to take off my jacket. After the Lagos sun flogging I went through earlier that day, maybe I should have gone for one of their cold coffee options.
Let’s take a quick break to introduce my dining partners….Ify and Zara. Ify is typical Igbo, not very willing to joke with her palate while Zara is more open minded and accepting to foreign culture in general. At the end of our experience, we could tell Zara was very excited about all the new flavours her taste buds had just discovered, while Ify was going through some sort of culture shock in her mouth. She explained that the only familiar thing she had was the samosas we got as starters, actually, we all loved the samosas, would definitely come back for more.
Now, we decided to go head-on Ethiopian with our meal choice…Addis Platter – Meat Based, good for 4 people. It was actually Injera!
We learnt that if you visit Ethiopia without having a taste of Injera, then you didn’t even go to Ethiopia at all. Injera is sponge-like flatbread made from teff flour (Hello Fitfam 👋🏾) artistically served with little portions of sauces. I was particularly excited about the suya-like pepper (not actually suya pepper oh, lol) and very stewed chicken although they have vegetarian options. In fact, they have a whole page dedicated to vegetarian cuisine on their menu, apparently, Ethiopia observes meat abstinence at some point in the year for religious purposes.
Another major discovery we made was that Ethiopia follows the Gregorian calendar and is currently in year 2011 while we are in 2018. Amazing information dished out to us by the restaurant host who was more than willing to indulge us. She also lectured us on how to eat Injera traditionally. It got served in a colorful basket stand on one of those our grandma trays and one person had to feed another person on the table. Ify and Zara did the honors. I was heavily reminded of my child days when my mum would make my brothers and I eat from the same bowl and they would eat all the meat hurriedly, leaving me with big Eba and tiny soup.
Thankfully, they have Injera trays for one. When I come here with the guys, we won’t need to struggle for who gets the most meat.
Finally, we broke bread Ethiopian style for dessert and I sat back staring through the glass door at their outside space (a thatch house), all along there were other diners there, group of four expats sipping beer and devouring a mountain of wings and fries then another group of two men clearly having a meeting with their computers and a bottle of Ethiopian wine. This space perfectly suited for these purposes.
Just behind the restaurant’s space is the tea and coffee factory, would have loved to go check that out as well but I doubt it was a place that just anybody could visit.
But overall, it was definitely a beautiful afternoon in Ethiopia and I can’t wait to go back!
|WHAT WE HAD
SAMOSAS (3pcs)- ₦1,000
ADDIS PLATTER – MEAT BASED – ₦20,000
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