Review: Adulis, Battersea


The Eritrean restaurant provides an authentic African experience.


By SWLondoner staff

Geography has never been my strong point, so when someone asked me if I wanted to go to an Eritrean restaurant for dinner, I had no idea what to expect.

Adulis is one of a number of popular restaurants located in the middle of St John’s Hill, and easy to reach from Clapham Junction Station. Despite being ideal for commuters, the restaurant was quiet on the night we visited, but luckily the lack of bums on seats didn’t equate to a lack of atmosphere.

Once you’re inside, it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of Battersea. I don’t normally like to wear my glasses ‘in public’, but here it was a necessity so I could have a closer look at the random objects scattered around the walls and surfaces. It was the type of stuff you’d quite like to steal and then have in your house for all your friends to admire. But apart from that German beer glass I once stuffed in my bag (under duress I must add), I’m no thief, so I left all the interesting trinkets there for other diners to enjoy.

Our decision to visit Adulis was made by the fact it was participating in The Fabulous Feast, where a number of restaurants offer a sample of their menu for £15. Although this meant we were slightly limited in what we could try, it did mean we got a lot for our money.

Between two, we had beb’aynetu meat – a meat platter which included different types of chicken and lamb stew, and its vegetarian counterpart, which offered dishes such as spiced lentils and cooked spinach. Both come with a special type of flat bread called injera, which is rolled up and looks suspiciously like sponge. All the dishes are eaten by hand, something most of us probably haven’t done since we were in a high chair. Luckily, our very helpful waitress gave us some tips and although it was slightly messier than a normal meal, we both managed to escape without too much damage.

The dishes themselves were fragrant and more-ish, which was lucky as we had enough for four people, and although quite same-y in texture, provided a good mixture of flavours. The injera, which you tear off and wrap around the stew dishes, was not to everyone’s taste. My partner, who eats more Warburtons in a day than a normal family consume in a week, was thrown by the rubbery texture and slightly acidic flavour. On the other hand, as someone who tries (and usually fails) to avoid carbs and white refined flour, I enjoyed being able to eat large quantities without feeling too guilty. It’s certainly not something you would want to have for your cheese sandwich every day, but it complimented the dishes very well.

Although the food was good, the reason I would go back to Adulis is the service. The waitresses went the extra mile to give us the true Eritrean experience, and whether it was because they were quiet or not, we didn’t have to wait long for any of our dishes. They also performed a coffee ceremony, which left the whole restaurant with a delicious scent, before bringing a pot of freshly brewed beans over to our table, acompained by frankincense. 

Adulis also has a branch in Brixton, which has been serving the community for over 15 years. I’m already looking forward to visiting. 

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