I’ve been super-lucky in the last two cities where I’ve lived: each of them has contained an amazing African restaurant.
One of the saddest things about leaving Sheffield this September was the fact that the Ethio-Cubano Restaurant closed its doors just weeks before my departure, preventing me from having my farewell do there. Tucked away on one of the grimiest shopping parades in the city centre, Ethio boasted massively friendly owner Dawit, and some of the cheapest, tastiest food I have eaten (though taking down too much injera bread and being unable to walk out the door was frequently a problem).
Fortunately, soon after moving here I found Tribe Tribe over in Canton. This is a part of town that I could do with visiting more often: there are loads of welcoming-looking local boozers, and in order to get my media-sector image nice and polished, I really ought to be putting in the hours at Chapter Arts, frowning over a Macbook while supping a few cappuccinos.
Anyway, I digress. It would be lazy of me to compare Tribe Tribe with Ethio, given that the West African food it serves bears only a cursory resemblance to that from the other side of the continent. However, what it has in common is the comfort factor of the eating – fiery goat or fish pepper soups, delicious Jollof Rice dishes, and rich, spicy stews served with Eba or Pounded Yam.
These are heavy, sticky carbohydrate pastes (kind of somewhere between porridge and dumpling) which you roll into balls between your finger and thumb, then use to scoop up your meal. You then sit quite quietly in a contented haze for a while – particularly good if it’s wintry and you’re hung over, both boxes which were ticked when I visited this weekend.
Oh yeah, and the other similar thing is the loveliness of the staff, owners Charlie and Foluso and their chefs, who I met when I did a write-up for the alt:Cardiff online mag last month. With most mains clocking in at around the £8 mark, you can add a bottle of Gulder beer onto the tab and still only just breach your tenner. I’ll stop gushing now, but you get my drift I’m sure.