Ethiopian: Lalibela

Posted by Krista on October 3, 2007

Lalibela
137 Fortress Road
NW5 2HR
Tel: 020 7284 0600

EthiopianDate of Last Visit: Sunday, September 16th

The Victims: Gerry, Ben, Matt

The Damage: I want to say that it was about £15 a head. Maybe £20. But no more.

The Background: So you know that the other night, I took the bus to Tufnell park. I liked Fortress Rd so much that I was determined to go back.

Enter Gerry and Ben and their new flat in Holloway. After checking out the digs, we enjoyed a pint at their new local, The Swimmer. Love it.

So the topic of dinner arose. You might know that I have this thing for Ethiopian food. I suppose I like eating with my hands. And on Fortress Rd, what do you know…there's a cool looking Ethiopian spot. (Two, as I would find out a few weekends laster.) I suggest it as our ultimate destination.

The Entrance: Suggestion accepted. We hop the bus down Tufnell Park Rd and there we are. I love it immediately. Seriously oozing in atmosphere. Whoever designed this place was a very interesting person -in a good way. The only miss decor-wise us the strange mannequin on the 2nd floor. I could have lived without that.

The Ordering: Service was sweet but confused. It was almost like it was her first night waiting tables. We very clearly…I think…ordered a vegetarian dish for the vegetarian. We had a long discussion with the server about the size and the type of the dish because we are sensitive to Gerry's veggie needs.

Well, we get lamb. And a long discussion on how we had definitely ordered the lamb, when we are sure we did not.

But that was the only glitch in what was otherwise a lovely meal in lovely surroundings.

Okay…two other glitches…

The spongey lemon-y Ethiopian bread. (Injera.) We ordered too much. And this was on the advice of our server.

The height of the table. It was knee high. This was fun at first but not really.

So About the Food: Loved the traditional chicken dish with the hard boiled egg. So spicy in an edible way. Loved the two salads that we started out with–avocado with tomatoes and chick peas and tomatoes. They were light and summery. Really, the chicken dish was the stand-out. We had a fish dish that was only okay, and I am back to being terrible and totally drawing a blank on what it was. Oh, we had some rice that turned out to be a nice surprise–but I think we may have imbibed a few too many St. George's (Ethiopian beer) by that point to remember.

What Matt Says: Tricky. Ok we had two appetizers. One was seafood, I think prawns. The other I'm blanking on. Our mains were lamb, lentils, chickpeas and a chicken dish. All I remember now was that the chicken and chickpea dishes were quite good. I don't know what they used for flavouring the chicken dish and I wasn't expecting much but we were licking it off the bread and bowl. And we had waaaay too much bread.

Was Jealous Of: The Ethiopian Coffee ceremony that went down at the table by the window. Now that was cool. Although the frankincense thing threw me back to 3rd grade in Catholic school.

The Verdict: I liked it. I really liked the atmosphere. I love that chicken dish with the egg. Love the bread. Love communal dining. Service was a bit off, but not bad. Just spacey.

Lalibela on Urbanspoon

3 Responses to “Ethiopian: Lalibela”

  1. chrisc
    Oct 03, 2007

    I somehow admire the way that NW5 has resisted total gentrification.
    It’s the last outpost of “old” middle class (1960′s/70′s) North London where I was brought up.
    NB it’s Fortess not Fortress Road


  2. Gerry
    Oct 12, 2007

    The bread thing was actually Ben’s fault… Kind of.

    The server had recommended three or something… It wasn’t enough so when we started running out Ben ordered 2 more. But I think the server thought it meant, 2 more orders not too much pieces. I think that’s why we ended up with all that bread.


  3. Laura
    Mar 08, 2008

    Thanks for this great recommendation. I tried Lalibela last night and loved it. This place happens to have the same name as my favorite Ethiopian restaurant in Seattle, which makes it even better!

    As a fellow American in London and general food lover, I’m delighted to have found your blog. Thanks for the great reviews and recommendations. I can’t wait to try more of your top spots!