Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published July 30th 2011
It's easy to get stuck in a rut when eating out. Familiar places have a comforting appeal to them, as do familiar types of food. All too often we choose the safe option that we've had before over the unfamiliar one. Konjo Ethiopian Restaurant, at 20 Smith St, is the perfect introduction to African food: polite service, cosy atmosphere and delicious meals.
Seconds after you sit down, complementary cups of cinnamon tea will be brought to your table with the menu. A good half of the menu is vegan-friendly, as you'd expect from Smith St, with dishes ranging from mild to very spicy. Even the most spicy options, however, are made palatable with large amounts of injera, a spongy Ethiopian bread that functions simultaneously as side-dish and cutlery.
A typical Ethiopian meal with several different kinds of stew.
The staff are happy to demonstrate how the food is meant to be eaten: rolled up with one hand inside a torn-off piece of injera. Getting it right takes practice, but think of how impressed your friends will be when you show them your new-found skill. The amount of injera consumed with each meal turns generous servings into enormous ones, and a single dinner will easily fill up two people. With that in mind, the food is very cheap.
A large selection of drinks are on offer – try the malt soda or non-alcoholic beer. Seasoned caffeine junkies will want to sample the Ethiopian coffee, although be warned: it's very strong and bitter.
Konjo delivers a distinctive ambiance. The other Ethiopian restaurants in Melbourne are louder, more rowdy, and perhaps more suitable for a boys' night out. If, however, you're in the mood for quiet music or a romantic atmosphere, give Konjo a try. You won't regret it.