I don’t know much about Ethiopian food – but I know that at Konjo Cafe Footscray it’s delicious, filling and fun to eat!
Konjo is one of the landmark African restaurants in Melbourne’s inner west. In fact, the French/Ethiopian couple who are owners of the cafe were recently selected to be ambassadors for ‘Your Footscray‘ – a campaign all about sharing the secrets of Footscray and what life is like in this eclectic, vibrant, inner west suburb. By random luck I won a lunch for two at Konjo through one of the ‘Your Footscray‘ competitions.
Konjo Cafe Footscray is a small restaurant of two rooms, simply but colourfully decorated with handicrafts, paintings and a traditional Ethiopian coffee paraphernalia on the shelves. The drumbeats of African music play gently in the background.
On Fridays and Saturdays they serve an all you can eat buffet of 15 dishes, which is a great way to introduce yourself to Ethiopian cuisine if (like me) you have no idea what anything is. For $15 a head it is an absolute bargain and there’s enough choice to satisfy anyone – whether they’re vegetarian, gluten-free or can’t handle chilli.
The food is pulse heavy – split peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans are all served with various spice mixes. My favourite curries are the spicy beef tibs sautéed with onions, garlic and jalapeno and the gentle spices of the ‘Atkilt Wot’ with cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic simmered in turmeric
Everything comes served with stretchy injera bread, which also acts as your cutlery. Beware that this spongey fermented flatbread is dangerous – you use it to grab the curry and mop up all the sauces, take a drink of water and ‘vooom’ everything blows up double the size in your stomach!
As part of the Konjo experience we watch a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, where single origin organic Ethiopian coffee beans are freshly roasted and brewed. I’m not a coffee drinker but politeness compels me to try a few sips of the coffee. It was strong, but not bitter, and to be honest not really my cup of tea (pun intended!).
For those in the inner north who love the relaxed, filling fare on offer at Konjo their restaurant in Collingwood will soon to be reopened. They are also hosting a Melbourne Food and Wine event called ‘Dancing with the Tides’ to transport Melburnians to exotic north-east Africa with the food that I’ve described on offer along with Ethiopian music and dancing.