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Hirut...oh dear :(

munchieHK Feb 18, 2010 11:06 AM

Well, after a long wait for it to open, we visited the highly anticipated (by us) new Ethiopian restaurant at Woodbine and Danforth. I was really rooting for this place due to the dearth of nearby eateries of note in our immediate neighbourhood. I really wish I could say something positive, so I will: They are exceedingly nice people and the restaurant is lovely. The decor is well thought out and comforting. Quite stylish, actually.
Now the bad news. By far the worst Ethiopian food I have ever had. Truly. I really hope they can improve, and I will wait a month and try again, but the portents are not good. The Injeera was obviously reheated, as the edges were hard, as if they had been sitting out for some time. We ordered a veggie combo and a lamb dish between the two of us. Despite being an ardent carnivore, the veggies are my favourite part of a good Ethiopian meal, but these were just sad. Comprehensively under-seasoned, served lukewarm and lacking in any character whatsoever. The lentil dish stood out for the fact that it actually had a flavour, even though that flavour very obviously came from a package. The rest was just insipid and tasteless. Particularly bad was the collard greens, which just seemed to have been boiled. There was no discernible flavour and without any spice they were just watery and bitter.
The lamb was just weird. Big chunks of bone with small bits of meat attached. Fairly certain they had been frozen. The texture was not good. The gravy lacked any redeeming qualities and they had put rolled up pieces of injeera in with it, which would be fine if there were any flavour for them to absorb.
To add insult to injury, the prices are above the average for this type of cuisine. One dish was $11, the other $11.50. This would be fine if the food was a cut above the competition rather than several rungs below, When a 10 minute walk or a few subway stops will take me to a sterling place like Dukem, I will accept the minor inconvenience.
We were there at 7.30 and were the only customers. Unless they get themselves a good chef very quickly, I can't see that changing and they will be gone within months. People who choose an Ethiopian restaurant usually do not do so on a whim. Torontonians are quite educated on this cuisine due to the surfeit of good places they have to choose from. Both Canadians and Ethiopians seem to be avoiding this place in droves. I can see why. I really hope they pull it together and succeed, but sadly I can not see it. Damn.

  1. c
    chocohead Feb 19, 2012 02:55 PM

    the last time i went, it was way above average. i recommend going.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chocohead
      h
      helenhelen Dec 16, 2012 12:45 AM

      sounds like this place might be inconsistent? i tried this place on a saturday night around may of 2011 and i thought the food was edible ("okay") but not particularly good.. definitely not a place i would return to if it were not for the live ethiopian jazz (the sax player apparently used to play with ethio jazz great, mulatu astatke). we came here for that but because the room was mostly empty, after a song or two, the band got off stage and hung out with the staff (owners?) at the back, then we saw them leave! damn, too bad. in the meantime, we ate mediocre food. i want to return to catch the band but thinking to go back for just a drink instead (i don't recall seeing they had ethiopian coffee on offer on the menu).

    2. l
      lohorton Nov 14, 2011 05:01 AM

      Just went last night. Was lovely. Fresh and delicious and very nice atmosphere. We will return.

      3 Replies
      1. re: lohorton
        Full tummy Nov 14, 2011 10:04 PM

        Would you be able to elaborate on what you had that was fresh and delicious, and what made the atmosphere "nice?" It would help immensely with inspiring someone like me to give it a try...

        1. re: Full tummy
          mariecollins Nov 15, 2011 04:19 AM

          I retried this place recently after a disappointing experience when they opened, and also found it greatly improved. Staff is very friendly, and while I can't remember the details of the food (veg platter, meat platter, and a lamb dish), spicing was tasty and the food fresh. Worth checking out if you're local.

          1. re: mariecollins
            Full tummy Nov 15, 2011 10:48 AM

            Thanks!!

      2. Full tummy Feb 19, 2010 09:11 AM

        Oh no!!! That's too bad. I live so close and had high hopes, but every time I passed the place, it was empty, and that didn't bode well, so I waited to read something good or bad about it. Was hoping for good news.

        Let us know if you go back...

        Meantime, like yunnage, I'll be sticking with Dukem, despite the longer distance to get there.

        1. y
          yunnage Feb 18, 2010 05:41 PM

          Oh no! We were actually going to go there for dinner tonight, but since I hadn't heard any reviews decided not to. I was really hoping it'd be our go-to place for Ethiopian because Dukem is close, but not close enough. Hopefully they get it together.

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