As a child you’re taught a lot of life lessons. Some, like pleases and thank yous, are essential. Others, like not eating before having a bath, are worthless - everyone knows that a pasta baby needs a bubble bath to digest, right? But worst of all is the idea that you get what you pay for. That less money equals less good things. Try telling that to the guy with the car-boot Rembrandt. Or, to anyone who’s had a slap-up meal at Andu Café.
Andu is a small, cash-only, BYOB Ethiopian restaurant in Dalston serving up vegan food that’s low in price and high in quality. Learning what to do here is simple, because you can only do one thing. Whether it’s lunch or dinner, that one thing is a ‘sampler platter’: a six dish mixture of spicy lentil stew, greens, spiced potatoes and onion, two split pea stews, and some vegetables. It’s £7 for one person and £12 for two, and aside from being a deceptively large amount of food, it’s enormously tasty as well.
There is one choice to make, and that’s whether to have rice or injera bread with your platter. We recommend the latter. Injera, like a crumpet, is one of those foods a slightly trypophobic person may look at fearfully, but the holey texture is essential to your meal, because you’ll want to mop up all the remaining sauce at the end. And its sourness goes with spice like gloves go on hands.
While Andu’s menu options aren’t vast, the ways in which you can use this little restaurant are. It’s an easy quick and healthy dinner for one or two - the food is ready to be plattered up instantly - but it’s also great to come en masse, jangling bags from the offie in tow. Or, if you’re in a rush to have a bath, you can also get everything to takeaway for £5. Whichever way you want to do it, this is a meal where you spend a little, and get a lot back.
You can only get one thing here, but Andu’s sampler platter is made up these six dishes.
These crunchy greens are very necessary and very tasty in a platter full of soft stews.
This tingly lentil stew is cooked in a Berbere sauce - an Ethiopian seasoning blend - and goes perfectly with the injera.
This beige on beige mix of cabbage, potatoes, and onions is lightly curried with a nice bit of bite.
A much milder split pea stew, we could eat this in trough-loads quite comfortably.
A mix of green beans, carrots, and other vegetables that may or may not give you flashbacks to the school canteen.
This stew is almost dip-like and has got a load of tomato and ginger in it. You’ll want to mop every bit up at the end.