Addis Ababa Restaurant

1184 Queen Street West 
(416) 538-0059

Located right on Queen Street near the Gladstone hotel in Parkdale, Addis Ababa is a popular and crowded place where yuppies, intellectuals, students, and artsy folk gather to dine on delicious and savoury Ethiopian cuisine. Spread across an open concept dining hall this dimly lit place plays traditional music and has a touch of traditional art on the walls. Not kitschy and overdone but very tasteful in decor.

The menu is simple and only 2 pages. One page are the vegetarian dishes and the other page meat dishes. All dishes are served with injera, traditonal Ethiopian flatbread. I ordered a personal combo dish for one with an assortment of items like Shiro Wat (roasted spiced ground peas in a Berber red pepper sauce), Yekik Wat (boiled split peas in Ethiopian style mild sauce), Yatakilt Wat (steamed cabbage and veggies with garlic and ginder), Gomman Wat (spinach with garlic and ginger), Fasolia (green beans satueed with garlic, onion, baby carrots, tomatoes, and ginger), Beets (beets and potatoes with onion, garlic, and ginger, Misr (black lentil sauce with onions, garlic, and ginger). All veggie dishes are $7.00 and $8.00 each

I ended up ordering the combo dish since it was a good price ($11.50) and you can a taste of every veggie dish on the menu. The combo dish only gave me “sampler” size of all of these dishes but I always pick this one because I love all of the dishes. I cannot decide which is my favourite, maybe the Shiro Wat but it’s difficult for me to decide since they’re all so good. I find most Ethiopian dishes highly spicy and I know there is a lot of garlic and ginger in the dishes. I find the dishes possess the flavour and texture of an Indian curry but i could be wrong.Ethiopian food is a dream come true for both vegetarian and meat eaters alike.

The “other” side of the menu offers cooked beef, chicken, and lamb dishes as well as kifto (steak tartar). Meta dishes are between $7.50-$11.00 each. Faline and Daniel ordered kifto (steak tartar) topped with hot pepper sauce, chopped collared greens (spinach) , and home made cheese for 2 people ($14.00 each). They loved it.

Other meat dishes include Alitcha Wat (lean beef in a mild curry sauce), Doro Alitcha (chicken marinated in a light sauce with garlic, ginger, tumeric, and butter), Sauteed Chicken Breast (with rosemary, onions, tomatoes, and butter), Doro Wat (tender chicken marinated in Berber red pepper sauce topped with a hard boled egg), Key Wat (strips of Canadian beef braised Ethiopian style in a red pepper sauce), Tibs (cubes of Canadian Beef fried with onions, garlic, rosemary, and other herbs with hot peppers), and Lamb (cubes of Canadian Lamb fried with onions, garlic, rosemary, and other exotic herbs and topped with hot peppers).

For every dish, we are served this sourdough flatbread called Injera where the savoury dishes lay atop. The best part of devouring Ethiopian food is the lack of cutlery. We literally scoop the various dishes with pieces of injera. Think of the injera as both the dipping bread and the utensil at the same time. It’s great when the food stains and drenches the injera, then we eat the moist dough off the circular aluminum dish. I prefered not mixing the meat and veggie dishes so I asked for my own plate for my veggie dishes.

For dessert, we all ordered deep-fried bananas with honey and sesame seeds ($3.50 each) The dish was delicious and it certainly did not taste oily or greasy. We also shared a pot of traditional Ethiopian coffee ($5.00 each). The tradition when serving Ethiopian coffee is to serve it in a clay kettle with incense. The coffee is thick and has a muddy look to it. It’s quite strong in flavour but as soon as I added sugar, I was a happy camper.

Our bill came out to over $80.00 for 3 people, including our mains, 3 desserts ($10-$12), soft drinks ($2 each), and traditional Ethiopian coffee for 3 ($15). Although it was expensive i would definitely go back, despite the very casual restaurant environment, I could not help but notice the clientele had the edge of “I’m too cool for you”. A very slight artsy-fartsy yuppie Parkdale pretentiousness. It did not bother me that much but you could feel the vibe of the Parkdale artists who have that very slight attitude and edge to them. Partially cool and partially pretentious.

Large tables can accomodate big groups at Addis Ababa. A great place to bring a date or bring a large groups of friends. One page of many veggie options, including many bean and vegetable dishes. Expect live entertainment (there’s a piano at the back of the restaurant) on Friday and Saturday. Open Tuesday to Sunday 5:00pm-1:00am. Accepts all cards.

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Full Moon Vegetarian Restaurant

638 Dundas Street West
(416) 203-1210

Tammy and I went to a new vegan restaurant (just opened in July 2005)
called Full Moon at Dundas near Bathurst, right next to Cafe 668 and
Buddhas Vegetarian Restaurant. Serving all vegan fare Asian style, this
place is large, bright, open, and very casual. Decor is not trendy,
yuppified, and not cheesy either. Very casual and almost “diner-like” with
big bright windows, large tables and paper menu to take home. Tammy
and I started with green tea and some soft drinks. For an appetizer, i
had the small size sweet corn and mushroom soup (trying to stay away
from soy for a while) and it was delicious and only $3.99. Size was
perfect and the soup was thick, sweet, and had a nice mix of 2 types of
mushroom, white and shitaki. For my main, i ordered the braised mushrooms
and bok choi which was simply delicious. The dish was not too greasy
and had a nice light sauce and the braised mushrooms were absolutely
excellent. Tammy ordered vegetable spring rolls and her main consisted of
mock beef with sauteed vegetables and Udon noodles.

For dessert, we shared a taro balls
covered in a rice glaze and topped with a sugary syrup. Looked like
Greek deep-fried “dough” balls filled with syrup. Indian food also has
these deep-fried “dough” balls that are syrupy sweet.

Full Moon
serves Asian vegan fare. Many large tables, not jam packed like Cafe 668
(next door) or “cracktown decor like Buddhas Vegetarian Restaurant.
Simply a nice humble, non-trendy, non pretentious, no bullshit, non cheesy
establishment. Bill came to $25.00 for two people including main,
drink, dessert, and appetizer. Menu features over 80 items written in both
English and Chinese. Most dishes include mock meat, mock fish, or bean
curd (tofu). Open Sun-Thurs 11 to 9:30pm, Fri and Sat 11-10:30pm. Accepts all cards. Liquor license (large bar with an assortment of beer but no wine).

LIVE [Mark Aaron]

264 Dupont, at Spadina
416-515-2002

 

LIVE is a raw, organic vegan restaurant and is located at Spadina and Dupont in the “upper” Annex. About two months ago, Aaron and I heard about LIVE from a review in Now

magazine (see )and we thought it would be great to have brunch there.

href=”http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005-08-11/goods_foodfeature.php”>review

Unfortunately, this review was a teaser (and inaccurate) since LIVE does not serve brunch at all (or as

of yet). In addition, they are closed Sundays so when we went there to enjoy our first experience at

LIVE, we were disappointed to find that LIVE was closed.

With much anticipation, I decided to plan a get together with Aaron, Wendy, her boyfriend Brandon, and two other friends to have dinner at LIVE. I like LIVE’s philosophy. I think the ideology of LIVE is that

food should be eaten in the most natural form- raw and unprocessed.

LIVE’s review claims

Reservations are recommended so I called to make reservations but to my disappointment, LIVE does not

accept reservations. Either the journalist who wrote the article was on crack or LIVE really

misrepresented themselves. LIVE is closed on Sundays but the NOW review claims it is opended for Sunday

brunch. There is no Sunday brunch at LIVE.

We planned for a Friday evening dinner at 7:00pm. The staff at LIVE could not make a reservation but

they did “take note” that they would be expecting 6 people for dinner. I prepared to leave at 4pm to be

in Kitchener for 5pm to meet my lift who would take me close to downtown. To my dismay, she had a flat

tire and we had to stop by several places in Kitchener to fix the tire. We finally found Wal-Mart

(since all small auto-shops were closed) so Wal-Mart saved the day!

I finally got into Toronto at

8:30pm instead of my 7:00pm time frame. Having known that LIVE closes at 10pm, I knew that calling each

of my friends on their cells phones and notifying them of my delay would allow them some more time to

relax at home before venturing off into the cold December air on that Friday night.

When I finally arrived, I was greeted by my possee. LIVE’s colour scheme is lime green and bright

orange with green grass “peel and stick” floor tiles and the whole decor looks lively and bright like a

children’s playroom in neon colours. There are only about 10 tables and they are not packed in tightly

like most Toronto restaurants. Decor does not have any wood or metal but a lot of bright plastic and

thin tables and chairs, patio style. Decor is very funky and hip, different than Fressen which emulates

a tropical rain forest in an ultra modern hip and cool yuppie setting. LIVE looks less slick and

polished and more like Juice for Life.

I started with a tall smoothie (raw cacao, dates, figs, walnuts or pecans, almond milk) for $5.25 and a warm borscht (beet and carrot soup) ($6.25) with an order of raw multigrain manna bread with a sunflower seed pate ($1.00)

which tasted like a cream cheese dip. LIVE mostly serves raw food and some items are “gently

cooked”. It is important to remove all of your visual interpretations of items like pizza, pasta, cream cheese, and eggs because LIVE re-defines the possibilities of what pasta can be if made “raw” and “vegan”. Quite creative on the part of the cook. I had to remove my traditional image of what a pizza should look like, what

cheese or eggs or lasagna or any pasta dish resembles since I know that LIVE serves very little “cooked” items.

We all decided to order the combo plate ($13.50) since we would be able to get a taste of

everything. The combo plate include canneloni (thinly sliced zucchini) with ricotta cheese (cashew puree), raw pizza crust (multigrain manna) with a medley of toppings, including fresh cilantro, tostitas (Mexican pizza type dish) with many veggie toppings, a nice cheesy dip (sunflower
seed pate), and a large salads of organic greens in a ginger viniagrette.

The meal was very colourful,

full of amazing aromas, texture, and flavour. I felt light and healthy and i knew i was eating high

quality food. Bread was bursting with many grains and I could not believe it was not baked. I felt so much energy after finishing my meal. I felt full in a healthy way, not “gut

rot” like at an Indian buffet or a Chinese buffet. I had a pleasant feeling of satisfaction since the food I ate was extremely tasty, healthy, low in fat and grease, and because it was organic, it did not contain hormones, pesticides, anti-biotics, or any other toxins. Of course

organic food is not as attractive as “mainstream” food. Portions are always smaller and prices are higher but taste is always 100 times better. The food’s flavour was heightened due to how “raw” it was. Cooked food loses some taste and nutrients, thus its nutritional value becomes depleted. When I used to make stir fries for myself, my friend Wendy used to tell me how I cooked “the shit” out of my vegetables. Dishes were flavourful, aromatic, and had texture.

For dessert i ordered the raw chocolate fudge banana coconut

cream pie. It was composed of a dollop of raw cacao chocolate fudge (dairy free) and the pie was

comprised of a flourless banana coconut puree that was shaped like a cake. I love banana and coconut

and chocolate and the dish was sweet but not sickening sweet. The cake was heavy on the banana flavour

and i did taste the coconut “meat” part very much. ($6.00)

On my second visit to LIVE, i ordered a nice vegan minestrone soup with raw manna bread. In addition i ordered the linguini (made of shredded zucchini) topped with a cold marinara and pesto sauce. It was accompanied with a delicious salad of spring greens. Don’t get me wrong, the food at LIVE was delicious but after my second visit i was getting frustrated with having my mains served with 90% salad and 10% actual meal. I felt ripped off. I was told to always choose the combo meal but even if I opted for that option, most of my meal would still be salad.

In general, my experience at LIVE was very good. With good friends enjoying a high quality healthy meal. The only

drawback was I felt it was too expensive for my budget and the portions were too small. I know that organic food is not as large or attractive but i left LIVE hungry on both visits. I would definitely not go back, unless it was for special occasions. Menu changes every 2 weeks. LIVE also features a full range of vegan and

raw cookies, pies, and cakes, and other squares change daily. Smoothies are a bit watery but are very flavourful and fresh. You can select any kind of “milk” for the smoothies (soy, rice, almond). An interesting observation from my dinner companions was that there was very little soy products.

Our complete meal including tax and tip for soup, smoothie, our main dish, and dessert was $37 per

person (a bit ridiculous for vegan fare). Does not serve brunch to date (Dec

2005). Average main is $10-$12. Open Tuesday to Saturday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. Closed Sunday and

Monday. Does not take reservations. Cool washrooms in the basement with slogans like Supercucumbers,

Monster Tomatoes, Mega Grapes. How can I eat this food? Maybe this food will eat us ( some type of

slogan written on the walls!). Very pro-environment, with natural products and all organic ingredients. Very cosy

and calm atmosphere. Very enthusiastic and energetic staff. Accepts
all cards except American Express.