Monday, June 08, 2015

Restaurant Review: Hareg Ethiopian Restaurant

As the summer time is here, I’m guessing that most of us would want to spend less and less time inside cooking over a hot stove. Eleanore decided that it would be a good idea to review restaurants around Ottawa instead.

I want to tell you about this great new find that I discovered last weekend. It’s called Hareg Café and Veggie, located in the Glebe. It’s very tiny and hidden, and given the name, you would probably not realize it’s a restaurant, but it is one of the best restaurant experiences I had in a while in Ottawa.

My foodie friend actually found out about it online and recommended that we try it. We had both only tried Ethiopian food once and both didn’t like it, so we were skeptical. Nonetheless, we decided to give it another shot. We were glad we did because the experience was fantastic!

First of all, the atmosphere was really nice. They had a great ambiance immediately when walk in. Nice décor, but not overbearingly so. There was an area at that back that’s sort of a sitting area, which we initially didn’t know what it was for (more on that in a minute).

The restaurant itself was not that big, and it was pretty quiet. We went at around 7:45pm on a Saturday night and we were a table of 4. We stuck around until about 9:30pm or so and there was only one other small table of three beside us the entire time. It’s a shame that no one else knows about this place yet. I guess right now it’s a secret gem!

The sign for the restaurant says veggie restaurant and café, so initially we were worried because there were others there for dinner that would be really unhappy if there was no meat. But have no fear! They do have meat!

You can either get a la carte, or on Fridays Saturdays, and Sundays, they have buffet for dinner. The buffet is $8.99 for vegetarian section only, and $13.99 for meat section, as well. Naturally, we went for the all you can eat with meat. Everything was amazing.

This was my plate. I thought I would be getting more, and this was just my “starter” plate, but that was all I could have. It’s amazing how filling lentils can be. Everything tasted great, really flavourful and I could say I can do without meat, because you hardly realize that it wasn’t meat at all. The only thing I thought they could have done was label the food items, because we weren’t really sure what exactly type of yummy food we were eating.

The injera was really good as well. Injera is sourdough flat bread with sort of spongy texture that you eat the lentils, sauces, veggies, etc. I never liked it that one other time I tried Ethiopian food, and neither did my friend, but we both agreed that it was delicious this time around.

The buffet comes with coffee, which the lady prepares fresh. She does a full on coffee ceremony for you. After dinner, you can go to the back and sit around her to watch her prepare the coffee (which is what that area at the back is for!). She shows you the raw green beans that she makes the coffee with, lets you smell the freshly roasted beans, grinds it, and serves it to you. It was cool watching the whole process.

She apologized for not having popcorn that day, to which my friend and I looked at each other and was like, did we hear wrong? Popcorn? We googled it afterwards, but apparently the coffee is normally accompanied by popcorn.

It was a great experience overall. The lady there was very nice, the service was excellent, the food was great, and the price was great.  Hareg was actually doing a demonstration on lentils the past weekend at the Ottawa Veg Fest! Unfortunately, we had just missed the demonstration when we went, but it's nice to see that the restaurant is getting out there. I highly recommend checking it out for food or coffee. I will definitely be going there again.

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