I walk down Dalston high street almost every day. It is perpetually busy, any time day or night. Particularly Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays when throngs of people invade the streets, and you have to fight your way to Tesco for almond milk to put in a cup of tea. There are plenty of new hipstery places for vegans to eat in Dalston now, they thrive off the people that delay my tea drinking. Sometimes I love this, I love treating myself to the newest hip food. But a little past Dalston Junction, where the street is less busy and you will find a different kind of Vegan eatery. Andu Cafe is a small Ethiopian cafe serving either a single or sharing platter and low and behold its vegan. As soon as you walk into the cafe, you call tell this place is authentic, you aren't going to find Andu cafes popping up as a mega chain any time soon. The walls depict scenes of some of Ethiopia's amazing scenery, as thought straight out of a travel brochure. At the back a women cooks Ethiopian flat bread, Injera, on a small stove and calor gas.
I had never eaten Ethiopian food before and was so excited to try it. You can bring your own bottle, which we duly did, and we ordered the sharing platter for two, which is actually six dishes. At £12 and the BYOB this place is perfect for when you are on a budget, as I literally always am, (forever broke). The platter consists of Gomen; steamed collard greens with garlic and traditional spices, Yemisir Wot; zesty lentil splits cooked in berbere sauce, a traditional Ethiopian spicy sauce, Tikil Gomen; spiced cabbage, potatoes and onions cooked in a mild sauce, Ater Kik; Split peas simmered in a herb and turmeric sauce and Shiro wot; milled split peas cooked with spices, garlic, tomatoes and onions. This is all served with either rice or inerja. Inerja has a springy pancake like consistency and is perfect from mopping up all the spicy sauces on this dish. The platter itself is a beautiful balance of spice and tang. The flavours in each mouthful take you down a culinary journey, maybe familiar to others, but completely unexpected and exciting to me.
Andu Cafe shows you don't need to spend ridiculous money, inside the decor is simple and perhaps even dated. But I love it. This place is full of charm! I've never been to Ethiopia but on a sunny September afternoon in London I imagined I was there, sitting in a roadside cafe, tucking into local delicacies, watching the world go by. Ok so I have absolutely no idea if my vision of Ethiopia is true, but I love that this place can conjur that up in my imagination.
I can't get over how much I like Andu Cafe, I like the food, I like the decor, I like the staff, I like the price, I damn well like it all!