Restaurant Review – Adulis – Battersea, London

Recently the Mighty One and I attended the Fabulous Feast in Battersea. There were plenty of stalls with a myriad of different local suppliers touting their wares and some great entertainment to boot. Part of the Feast included a selection of restaurants offering special £15 menus. We took advantage of this unique offer and chose to go to Adulis, a restaurant specialising in Eritrean food. Having no idea what to expect, apart from it being African, we turned up with open minds and willing stomachs.

We arrived at the restaurant at 6pm and it was pretty quiet. We were greeted by a lovely lady and seated at a table which had a good overview of the whole place (all the better for me to check out what everyone was eating). We each opted for the starter and main course on offer, meat, but there were vegetarian dishes available too of course.

As we were waiting for our first dishes to arrive, our hostess roasted some coffee beans at the front of the restaurant and then proceeded to waft the beans between the tables stopping at ours to allow us to get the full aroma. It was a rather pleasing fragrance and something that you don’t often see. It definitely added to the ambience.

Our starters arrived and we had opted for one of each so we could get a taste of each dish. The humus and pitta bread option was ok but didn’t rock our boat so to speak but the sambusa (samosa to you and me)? Well, they were really good! Big portion sizes and made with a filo-like pastry rather than the heavy pastry you get at other places.  We had chosen the chicken variety which was well-seasoned and temperature hot. They also have meat and vegetarian to choose from. Having clearly devoured and enjoyed the sambusa, we were ready for our mains, bring it on!

Do you know what a Beb’aynetu is? No, us either apart from it was assorted meat dishes chosen by the chef. What appeared in front of us was a big plate each with something that looked like a pancake and a chopped salad on the side. We were then presented with and served our meaty option. As the different meats were placed on top of our pancakes we were told what they were, beef and chicken in a variety of different curries. Some spicy and some mild. There were 6 different types, not huge portions, but enough for you to have 4 or 5 mouthfuls of each. As this is an Eritrean establishment there is no cutlery on the tables, hurray, a place were you get to dig in with your hands. It turns out the ‘pancake’ is for you to scoop up the curries with. The pancake is very moist and spongy with very little taste which is great because you want to taste the curry right? They were delicious! Each one was different and as the Mighty One and I oohed and aahed over them  it was obvious to the other diners that we were relishing each mouthful.

Other diners? I looked around and realised we were not the only ones any more. Just goes to show how into my food I was. The place was rammed with more people waiting for tables. Clearly booking is a good idea!

Now when you go out for a meal we all like a glass of something to wash it down with right? But what do Eritreans drink? Honey wine that’s what. I’m not keen on honey but I am on wine so why not, when ‘in’ Eritrea do what the Eritreans do, honey wine it is. Adulis have their own wine made especially for them in the UK so they don’t have to import but can still let you taste the genuine article. And you know what…….it was good, not sure if I would buy it in the supermarket but with our meal it seemed to really fit the bill. To start I couldn’t really taste the honey but when I tried a sample of  drier wine and went back to it it was easy to pick up the honey notes. All-in-all a very quaffable drink.

After finishing our meal and wine we like to enjoy a nice coffee. The stronger the better for our journey home. At Adulis they have a dedicated lady who performs a special coffee ceremony. Dressed in traditional Eritrean dress she brews coffee from beans for you at the table, pours and leaves the pot. It was a lovely way to end the meal and the complementary popcorn was a nice touch.

It is clear to see why Adulis is fast becoming one of the most popular restaurants in the area. The food is unique and very tasty, the atmosphere is warm and friendly and it’s great value for money. I read other reviews and they all said the same thing: I’m glad I tried it and will be back for more. All I can add to that is ‘Amen!’

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