At 1408 Danforth Avenue sits Rendez Vous Restaurant. The best Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto according to Andrew Gordon, who speaks the local dialect, and has lived in Ethiopia for a lengthy period of time. Massive trust was put onto his shoulders as he was the first to introduce me to this truly foreign cuisine.
I arrived a little early and sat myself down at the back of the restaurant where a beautiful coffee ceremony table is set up and adorned with fresh cut flowers and traditional coffee pots (Jebana). I chatted with my waitress (who I soon found out was the ever so friendly and entertaining owner of the restaurant).
Andrew soon arrived and we found ourselves thrown into insatiable conversation which featured passionate whispers regarding our menu options followed by many a poignant Ethiopian culinary anecdote. The dining experience was fantastic. During this three hour feast I felt as though I was actually off somewhere in Ethiopia discovering the world all over again. I am amazed at how food can take us on such journeys. Much love to my multicultural urban home. In the end I stuffed myself without the use of any formal utensils (save my fingers) and had the most memorable multi-sensory culinary experience of my life.
Ethiopian dining is steeped in tradition, folklore and pomp. The restaurant roasts its own beans in house, grinds it in the kitchen and serves it at the ceremonial table with a showy pour from the elongated Jebana spout. The roasting coffee is paraded in a fry pan through the restaurant when ordered by a table leaving the room filled with the smell of roasting chocolate. Incense is then lit and smacks you in the nostrils as you gobble down and sop up your savories.
Food is eaten with your hands using the national bread called injera; a large round flat bread, light and spongy in texture and tangy in flavor. Quoting my menu, “Breaking the same bread and eating from the same plate has social significance in Ethiopian culture. It strengthens the bonds of friendship and personal loyalty. It is said that people who eat from the same plate will never betray one another.” It is comforting to know that Andrew Gordon and Andrew Dobson will forever remain friends bound by the scent of Frankincense and tear of injera.
Shiro Wat: imported roasted chickpeas with beef cooked in Berber sauce.
Dinich Wut: roasted potatoes, onions and cabbage cooked in garlic and oil sauce.
Buna (Ethiopian Coffee) served with Kolo (roasted barley and peanuts).
#102 restaurant reviewed in Ontario since moving to Toronto in 2010.