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Feb 16, 2009 05:13 PM

New Ethiopian Resto at Bloor and Ossington

I noticed a new Ethiopian restaurant that has recently opened just a few doors west of Lalibela (a pre-existing very good Ethiopian place), at Bloor and Ossington. I can't for the life of me remember the name of it, but it looked rather classier than most of the other Ethiopian restos on that strip. Has anyone been there who can comment? Or at least remind me what it's called?

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    1. Yes, is the colour scheme grey-ish, and it's on the same side of the street as Lalibela? If so I was there this past Saturday and the food was EXCELLENT. The injera itslef left a little to be desired ( too thick, a bit tasteless), but everything else was so good. I had fassolia ( the string bean and carrot), key wot ( beef), misir wot....MMMMM. Better than Lalibela, I dare say ( and I grew up eating Ethiopian food...)

      7 Replies
      1. re: mamiwata

        Thank you guys, that's the one. Sounds very promising! I'll have to make a visit.

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            Haven't been yet but I'll post price points here when I go...

          2. re: mamiwata

            I am wondering if you know what inerja is made out of? I have a wheat allergy and I was curious whether you know if it is wheat or another type of flour.

            1. re: HerMajestyPrincessBaklava

              It's made of teff, which I think may be distantly related to wheat. Check with your doctor, just to be sure.

              1. re: piccola

                I have been told that the injera made & sold in north america is not always faithful to the traditional injera recipe in Ethiopia - something about the water/altitude/quality of teff - so often,, the injera at restaurants are made with flour or a mix of flour and teff. I would ask the staff at the restaurant and advise them of your wheat allergy just to be sure. I am sure they would be very helpful.

                1. re: berbere

                  i think you are right berbere--most of the injera i've eaten in restaurants here seems to be mostly wheat flour ( or possibly a combo of rice, wheat,other?) with very little, if any, teff. the worst part is that something else ( i dunno what, baking soda, or vinegar, or something) is added to make it sour, rather than good injera, which is fermented properly.

          3. Yay! Another option in the 'hood. Do they do breakfast?

            1. As a side note, we're having Ethiopian for the first time on Saturday. How much time should we budget for dinner?? We're going to the Ron White show later.


              5 Replies
              1. re: Davwud

                it depends a lot on where you're going... some places are much more relaxed with respect to how quickly you get served your food so it can take a while. i've probably sat waiting for food in some cases near an hour! average wait is probably more like 30-40 minutes though and then it depends on how you or your dining companion adjust to eating with injera.

                  1. re: Davwud

                    you're in for a looooong wait if my last visit is any indication of anything. the place was pretty full the last time i went and we were 40min-1hr wait for food if i remember correctly. tables that were seated there before us and had obviously been there for a while already only were served around our 30 min wait mark.

                    it's your first time and lalibela is probably a nice spot for it.. but if you're into the real hole in the wall experience then i might try to grab a table at nazareth a block or so west. their menu is much more limited (ie. meat or veg) and they only have maybe 3 types of stews of each but they are definitely quicker, cheap and very very very tasty... love their kitfo, best in the city i dare say. just hope there isn't a line out the door!

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                      Mrs. Sippi works with an Ethiopian (Among many other nationalities) and this is the place he suggested. We'll go from there I guess.



                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                        Well, we just finished dinner and we're waiting on our coffee. We've been here about an hour so it's not been too slow.

                        The food was incredible. We both absolutely loved it.



                1. So I want to follow up on my original post, because I stopped by Zagol today for lunch with a friend. Here's the scoop:

                  After being greeting just outside the entrance by a schizophrenic-appearing street person in a red beret who then proceeded to shout colourful obscenities into the street, we made our way into the spacious and somewhat empty dining area. Just so you are aware, this place has only been open since last Saturday, so very new. As a result, the menu is somewhat limited (this will be increasing however as they get busier and more established). We were offered the standard choice of veggie platter or meat platter, and decided on the veggie platter. Someone on this thread commented on speed of service (or lack thereof) so I would like to corroberate that service, while friendly and helpful, was extremely laid back and relaxed. If you are looking for a quick lunch this is not the way to go. But I digress...after a slightly longer wait than normal, an absolutely heaping platter of delicious smelling food was brought out. More than enough for two. I would especially recommend a mixture of spiced green beans, carrots, and potatoes, the yellow lentil stew, and the collard greens. My dining companion, for whom this was a first foray into Ethiopian food, thought it was all exceptionally good, though was slightly horrified at having to eat with his fingers (I told him to suck it up).
                  According to the waitress, the inerja is made mostly out of barley and teff, with a little bit of wheat.
                  Following the meal, my dining companion wanted a coffee. He was offered cappuccino, or a latte, but decided on Ethiopian coffee since he wanted the complete experience. Being a regular of Lalibela, I was in the mood for the black tea with cardamom in it. We ordered, and after another long period of time the waitress brought out a tray with a beautiful clay flask full of coffee set on a handwoven basket, a pot of smoking frankincense (incense), cardammom seeds, and my tea.
                  The incense, while lovely at first, then became too smoky, to the point where they had to crank the door of the restaurant open to get some fresh air. The coffee resembled a thin turkish type coffee and was reasonably good.
                  Then came the bill. We would have been gleeful at having spent $12 on ample lunch for two if we did not suddenly see that the coffee performance had just set us back $11 alone, almost the price of our meal!
                  The verdict: This is a wonderful laid-back restaurant with great food and great potential to become the newest popular Ethiopian place on the strip. But unless money is not an issue, skip the Ethiopian coffee!

                  Zagol Ethiopian Restaurant, 875 Bloor St. W. at Ossington Ave.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: HerMajestyPrincessBaklava

                    not sure if you would have noticed, but would the lunch pricing be different from dinner pricing?

                    i've personally found the entire coffee ceremony a bit much but mostly because the incense is really just too strong for my sensitive nose. did the menu not mention a 30 minute preparation for the coffee? i find most other restaurants mention this but they may be too new to the game. i think it usually costs that much if i remember correctly... again another reason i don't bother with it. i find i'm a fan of very oily coffee.

                    and one last thing... because i'm probably being a bug on this thread. can you describe the food a bit more? i haven't been pleased with lalibela in recent times because of the long long long wait and that i found their food too "fresh"! i didn't feel that each of the stews had cooked and simmered for a good amount of time and that the collard greens were more like a salad. it all just lacked that extra awesome cooked down depth of flavour i've come to expect out of such simple but tasty food.

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                      We asked about lunch specials and were told "Actually everything is on special right now because we are new." I don't know if that means that a price increase is lurking in the near future, or if there will not be a difference between lunch and dinner menus.
                      The menu did not mention a 30 minute wait for coffee, nor did it name a price for the ceremony. The server seemed to hesitate slightly when she said that they had Ethiopian coffee, perhaps assuming that we knew what we were in for.
                      I enjoyed the food at Zagol more than that at Lalibela. I think I know what you mean about the food at Lalibela being too fresh...I didn't find that to be the case here. The green beans, carrots, and potatoes were lovely because they seemed to have been cooked long enough to have the flavours merge nicely. Collard greens, even when cooked well, tend to be a bit crispy, but these were cooked more than Lalibela's in my opinion. The only thing on the plate that I wasn't crazy about was the spicy red lentil stew, whose spices tasted a bit too musty.
                      However, stews tend to be a matter of personal preference, so I suggest you give it a shot and post your thoughts...

                      Worth noting too is that they offered us free glasses of wine. We declined, but noted that "House" wine on the menu is unidentifyable, and $22 per litre. Consume at your own risk.

                      1. re: HerMajestyPrincessBaklava

                        You mentioned earlier you are 'wheat free' I have a gluten intollerance and have been avoiding going to the Ethiopian restaurants in the area because I am not familliar with the food but I am dying to try it! Other than the injera was the rest of the food ok for you to eat?

                        1. re: bacchus_is_watching

                          I am a bit ignorant as to what other ingredients have gluten other than wheat (I was told to keep away from wheat specifically). If you can tell me what other ingredients you are avoiding I can tell you whether I noticed them in the dishes or not...

                          1. re: HerMajestyPrincessBaklava

                            Gluten-containing grains are wheat (including kamut and spelt), rye, barley and triticale. Some people with a gluten intolerance react to oats as well. The biggest troublemakers for people with celiac disease who are trying to avoid gluten are: stabilizing agents or thickeners added to processed products (such as ketchup which are wheat-based and glutamic acid, which is naturally found in many fermented foods, such as soy sauce, cheese, MSG, miso and other fermented bean pastes, worcestershire sauce, steak sauces and yeast extract (such as Marmite or Vegemite), to name but a few. It is even present naturally in many meats and some produce items, but most sufferers can tolerate this form, at least in small quantities.

                            Thanks, Wikipedia!

                            Sorry to get so technical, but reading this post and the responses really made me start to think. I had no idea that injera recipes might vary so much and that the traditional recipe might have to be altered for one reason or another to create the right texture and a reasonable flavour. I just assumed that all injera was made with 100% teff, which is gluten-free. I would think that anyone who really suffers with this disease would have to probe the chef for a complete ingredient list (which any good chef would be reluctant to divulge), since there are so many potential offenders that could be lurking in the delicious stewed dishes of Ethiopian cuisine.

                            1. re: 1sweetpea

                              Indeed, definitely question the staff at the restos if you have any food allergies/sensitivities. My experience at the Ethiopian restaurants have been very good in this respect ie. they are quite up front about the ingredients and cautious not to expose patrons to their stated disinclinations -- unlike, say, some asian restos with their cavalier responses to MSG-additions. I understand that most of the injera at toronto restos are not house-made tho they are homemade by someone locally and they will readily let you know if there is more than just teff in the injera. That said, in my experience the teff-only injeras tend to be very dark in colour, almost chocolatey in colour while those made with other wheats are lighter (almost white) in colour.

                              1. re: 1sweetpea

                                Thank you sweetpea! In that case, Bacchus, it would seem to me from the ingredients on the veggie plate that apart from the inerja, everything else is gluten-free. However, as sweetpes said, I don't know whether there were any sauces or thickeners added, so a quick chat with the waitstaff might be best. The food tasted pretty clean though...

                                1. re: HerMajestyPrincessBaklava

                                  Wow thank you all so much for the help. As you can see in the wiki answer above it is almost impossible to be absolutly safe which is why I don't take chances very often. Even if they don't contain flour they may use something like Barley Malt (A hidden ingrediant with gluten in tons of food items) that would make me ill. I will have to give this place a try (obviously after asking tons of questions to the wait/kitchen staff) - maybe this weekend! Thank you again for all the help!