[London] Ethiopian dinner at Queen of Sheba, Kentish Town

This Queen of Sheba is a tiny Ethiopian eatery along Fortess Road, not to be confused with the Yemeni/Arab one of the same name on Edgware Road. Absolutely jam-packed when we were there last Friday, as it was Ramadhan and we went close to the time when Muslims (which many Ethiopians and East Africans in London are) break their fast.

We ordered a mixed meat-and-vegetable platter, enough for 2-3 persons (£45), but our ever-smiling waitress managed to somehow get it wrong, and we ended up with the vegetarian platter (£35) instead. Too bad, whilst I was acquainted with Ethiopian cuisine, one of my 2 dining companions wasn’t, and I had wanted her to try “doro w’et”, the chicken stew which has become synonymous with Ethiopian cuisine for most newbies, besides the sour-tasting, moist spongey pancake: the ubiquitous “injera”.

There were 4 hot dishes piled atop a large injera:
Kik Alich’a We’t (split yellow peas with turmeric, ginger and green chilli), Gomen (fresh spinach sautéed with onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeno ), Misir We’t (Spicy red lentils stew simmered in the chef’s special hot sauce), Atkelt We’t (fresh cabbage sautéed with slices of potato and carrot) and a fresh salad. Fat rolls of extra injera are provided, and one is encouraged to dig in the communal platter using one’s hands.

The spicing of the dishes, plus the serving style indicates Arabic influence in Ethiopia’s culinary origins. Addis Ababa’s St George lager is also available there:

Address
The Queen of Sheba
12 Fortess Road
London NW5 2EU
Tel: 020 7284 3947
Opening hours: 6pm-11.30pm daily

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This is giving me major Kentish Town nostalgia, and we just moved away. Great photo of the main dish.

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The cooking here is more subtle, with a restrained hand on the spicing. Their counterpart over at Borough Market has a more robust take on the cuisine.

But I’m no expert on Ethiopian food, really - previous times I had these were all in Oakland, California, especially up in Temescal where there’s a large Eritrean/Ethiopian community, and good restaurants like Addis and Enssaro.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold