Although not the most renowned cuisine in the world, the owner of the new “Oh Canada Cafe and Restaurant” , in Addis Abeba, feels passionate about the country she called home for 22 years, and where she learned her trade. The themed decor makes you feel a part of the Canadian culture and the quality and value of the food is fast making it a popular eatery writes TESFAYE EJIGU, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.
Foreign cuisine is abundant in the Bole area of Addis Abeba. On the long stretch of road by the European Union offices on Cape Verde Street, all the way up to the area known as “Chechnya” on Mikeleland Street, restaurants of Italian, Sudanese Yemeni and, of course, Ethiopian origin, are plentiful. Joining their ranks is a new eatery, from a country that is usually not known for its food –Canada.
Oh Canada Café & Restaurant is situated in a four-storey building, known asKelsamBuilding, roughly 200m from Atlas Hotel. The owner, Kassahun Eshete, bought it from an architect eight years ago. He now rents out the basement and the first floor to his daughter, Lily, so that she can run her dream restaurant.
Lily, who spent over one million Birr renovating the restaurant and buying equipment, is looking forward to opening a catering service and conference rooms on the first floor of the building. After spending 22 years inCanada, she decided to return toEthiopiato put her expertise to use.
The bright red on the walls, cushioned chairs and uniforms of waiters, is the first thing that catches the eye of anyone that walks into the restaurant. The Canadian flag theme dominates the interior of the restaurant and is reinforced by the large red maple leaf that is painted on the ceiling.
A map ofCanadahangs on one wall, whilst the area surrounding the bar is covered in pictures of famous Canadian artists, ranging from the world-renowned Celine Dion to the soulful Michael Buble, as well as teenage popstar, Justin Beiber. At no point can one forget that they are in a Canadian establishment.
Across from the bar is the open kitchen, modeled after a restaurant that Lily used to work at inOttowa,Canada.
“I made the kitchen open so that people can see what goes on inside,” she said.
Lily has hired an Italian chef for the main menu, which constitutes of pizzas named after Canadian singers; burgers categorised by hockey teams, as well as pasta dishes and sandwiches. The restaurant also offers apple pies and cheesecakes, among a variety of pastries, for those with a sweet tooth.
“Canadian’s don’t have a Canadian dish, since it’s an immigrant country,” says Lily. “But you can get Poutine, which is Canadian,” she adds.
Poutine is a Canadian concoction of french fries, cheese curds and gravy, which is eaten widely inCanadaas an appetiser.
Prices for the main menu range from 85 Br to 120 Br a dish, VAT and service charge not included; pizzas cost from 64 Br to 94 Br, whilst a sandwich or a burger can be anywhere from 60 Br to 95 Br.
There are plans to add more to the menu soon.
“I have a backyard where we are going to have barbecues and draft beer soon,” Lily told Fortune.
The backyard will provide a place for smokers to relax as well, since the restaurant is strictly non-smoking.
A pastry chef by training, Lily is eagerly anticipating the task of baking for the restaurant, which also makes cakes for birthdays and weddings. Until then, she is busy training the rest of her staff and running the restaurant, and she has been receiving positive feedback from customers.
“They have friendly people, good food and fair prices,” commented Simmone, a Swiss student on an exchange program with the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture Building Construction (EIABC). “I feel relaxed here,” she added.
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