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Restaurante Etiopico Afrika: Ethiopian San Fernando

May 3, 2017
Inside Restaurante Etiopico Afrika

Just where in the world is Gran Canaria? Well, it’s under 100 miles west of Africa and over 800 miles south of mainland Spain. A geographical location that’s echoed in its cuisine: with more culinary diversity than your average “provincial outpost” including the newly-opened Restaurante Etiopico Afrika.

We’ll begin this post by showing you how to get to Restaurante Etiopico Afrika before offering a history of their project. Next we’ll tell you what you can drink there. Ending with an overview of their menu’s edible section.

1. Restaurante Etiopico Afrika: where it’s at

Restaurante Etiopico Afrika’s located in the basement of the CC Rondo, a fairly unremarkable San Fernando shopping centre. San Fernando’s residential Playa del Inglés. If visiting from Puerto de Mogán, estimate a journey of up to half an hour by car and dead on 40 minutes from capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on four wheels, whilst heading there on a Global bus from either direction will at least double your travelling time.

The history of the restaurant is a love story. For around eight years ago, Italian aid worker Ivan Drudi was based in a remote Ethopian village where he met Genet Demeke Tadese. Two weeks later, they were engaged to be married and they eventually returned to Drudi’s native Rimini.

This is where you’ll find the genesis of Restaurante Etiopico Afrika as general manager Ivan and chef Genet set up Ristorante Etiope Ketfó and Piccolo Ketfó catering/street food truck in the province’s Pietracuta. The pair were joined front of house and in the kitchen by Demeke Tadese’s sisters, Kokobe and Messer.

It’s a formula they’ve transferred to Gran Canaria and they opened in the Rondo back in December 2016. Ivan is there to greet me and fill in the gaps on arrival. Later, Kokobe will carry out the ritual of washing our hands prior to eating as cutlery is a novelty in decidely old-school Ethiopia.

The restaurant itself is an intimate space with a few tables outside. Inside there’s more seating including the traditional floor type and soul-stirring Ethiopian music wafted across the breeze of conversing multinational guests which, on Mr GCL’s visit, included a trio of Swedes comparing the eatery favourably to a much-loved Ethiopian restaurant in Stockholm. There are photos of the village the Demeke Tadeses hail from which wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery.

2. Restaurante Etiopico Afrika: what to drink

The drinks menu reflects the nationality of ownership as well as the restaurant’s physical location. So, there are rich reds from east-central Italy’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Tuscany’s Sangiovese described by noted wine critic Jancis Robinson as occupying a taste “spectrum somewhere between mulberries, prunes, spice, tobacco, sometimes leather and chestnuts” (both priced at €15,80 a bottle/€3,50 a glass).

There’s Tenerife’s Dorada Especial on tap (€2,00 for a caña/half pint and €3,50 for a jarra/pint). From the Spanish mainland, there’s craft beer such as the artisan wheat brew Lluna de Blat (€4,00 a bottle). Mr GCL, however, finished his meal like an Ethopian with a cup of the country’s chocolately coffee (€1,50); Ethopia after all being the birthplace of the beverage.

3. Restaurante Etiopico Afrika: what to eat

This is the first time Mr Gran Canaria Local had sampled Ethopian cuisine. It was heartier than he’d imagined, which might also have something to do with the fact he was visiting for lunch after staying at three hotels in a row. Along with being served platters which looked big enough for two let alone one.

Mr GCL began with a Gran Plato Mixto Vegan (7,50€) reflecting the many meatless dishes (there are regular themed vegan nights). Looking not dissimilar to an Indian thali, there were further flavour parallels with the food of India in the samosa-like sambussas. The sambussa de lentejas arrived stuffed with lentils, onion, garlic, and spices which were more fragrant than pungent whilst the sambussa de maiz came to the table filled with sweetcorn, raisins, onion, tomato, extra-virgin olive oil, green chilli, and the aforementioned spices.

Felafel were moist falafels with the traditional chick-pea-and-parsley-heavy recipe augmented by ginger, garlic, potato, and fennel. Teclal was a completely new one on Mr Gran Canaria Local, sweet spongy Ethopian bread, enveloping a fiery lentil stew. Elsewhere, a hummus de garbanzo was far more piquant than the Greek, Middle-Eastern, or Turkish varieties.

Despite being veggie, Mr GCL’s meal was exclusively vegan. Ivan explained that dairy products are not used in Ethopia because of the paucity of refigerators with cheese and milk liable to go off in a climate that’s more furnace-esque than freezer-like. Up next for Mr Gran Canaria Local was a Bayainet Vegan (15€), a veritable smorgasbord of meat-and-dairy-free mains.

This included Yeseitan Tebs, a motley medley of Berbered seitan, sauteed in onion, fresh chilli, and punchy Ethiopian spices. For those with more carnivorous tastebuds, there’s Yefijel Tebs (13€) with the meat substitute replaced with goat. A family-friendly establishment, Restaurante Etiopico Afrika includes some less spicy Italian classics such as oven-made lasagne (10€) and artisan burger and chips (6€).

A freshly rotund Mr GCL couldn’t find space for a dessert. Again like dairy, these are uncommon in fridge-free Ethiopia. So Ivan has taken Italian classics and imbued them with Ethiopian flavours. Such as Panna Cotta (5€) with ginger and turmeric.

Disclaimer: Mr Gran Canaria Local was a guest of Ivan Drudi and family. Restaurante Etiopico Afrika opens Tuesday to Saturday from 12:00pm until 3:00pm and from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. They do takeaway too.