My fourth and last birthday celebration was to be with old friends Queen Viv and Miss America. African cuisine is one of those cuisines that I've enjoyed immensely in the past but is a little harder to find. Certainly there aren't that many restaurants and most are concentrated in the Glebe/Newtown/Enmore area. The Second Wife, always a trusted source for restaurant recommendations enthused about Lat Dior and about the stunning woman in traditional African dress that works there. So of course we just had to try for ourselves. As they use native African ingredients which are often hard to find here, they import a lot of it from France where there is a large existing African community.
Traditional African wooden bowls
There's a no booking policy and as it's Sunday night and people need to work the next day, we decide to eat at 6.30pm which also assures that we get a table. The menu is charmingly written with things such as "Tangy!", "Delicious!" and for the broccoli dish "Quite green in appearance!". There are dishes from all over Africa with some marked according to the country of origin. We make a selection of mains and sides and entrees. Our waitress is the gorgeous African woman in traditional dress that The Second Wife mentioned.
Flower drink (left) and Ginger Drink (right) $2.50 each
We can't resist ordering the drinks: a Ginger drink and a Flower drink. The ginger drink is heady in ginger and pungently refreshing. The flower drink is deliciously sweet with a flavour and sweetness similar to Ribena or a Hibiscus syrup.
Fataya pastries. From top to bottom Lamb $3, Fish $3.50 and Vegetarian $3
The pastries come out warm in their puff pastry shell and we divide them into 4. Miss America and I prefer the beef one which reminds us of a pastry laden beef pie whereas Queen Viv and Mr NQN prefer the Vegetarian one. The fish one is very fishy in taste - stronger than any of us really like. The accompanying tomato sauce is mild and tastes like tomato and capsicum and is nowhere near as fiery as it looks.
Flat bread $2 per piece
The flat bread comes out and it is delicious, like a folded crepe. As the kitchen is small and on this evening the restaurant is full, things tend to come out when they come out and we've finished the bread by the time the mains come out.
The Yassa is chicken off the bone, marinated for hours with mild African spices, fried and them steamed with onions. It's said to be tangy but we don't find it tangy as such although it is creamy and delicious, like a non spicy curry.
Tajine Lamb $10.50
The North African tagine lamb is boneless lamb marinated for hours with fresh Tahitian Lime pickle, olive oil, saffron and pepper. It's soft and falls apart easily and is great with the bread to soak up the juices.
Perfumed couscous $10.50
The evocatively named Perfumed Couscous consists of boneless lamb cut into cubes steamed with a mild African sauce with vegetables on a bed of grain couscous. The meat and vegetables are soft and delicious with the sauce soused couscous.
Sossou Gorgiguan $12.50
The item that was described as "Has to be tested to be believed", the Sossou Gorgiguan is originally from Senegal. We were lured by the description we admit, particularly the part that said "the name Gorgiguan literally translates to "Homosexual" in Wollof". It's a Tuna fillet steamed with netetou (african spice) and tamarind. Unfortunately it's as dry as dusty cotton wool and I have trouble forcing my bite down as do the rest of us as it is incredibly overcooked. We presume the same cooking method of slow, long cooking which works for chicken and lamb was used but of course the same principle shouldn't be applied to fish. We leave most of this behind.
Lat Dior's Delight $6
The green beans steamed with African spices and a blended celery sauce are perfectly cooked with a nice crunch to them. The blended celery sauce is unusual but works.
The item described as "Quite green in appearance!" is indeed very green in appearance. It's broccoli steamed with green blended tomatoes and tamarind and again the vividly hued broccoli is perfectly cooked with a crunch and the green blended tomatoes sing with tamarind flavour. Perfect Winter cuisine.
Tell me Dear Readers, does you diet change considerably with the seasons?
150 Enmore Road, Enmore, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9557 4467
Open 7 days, 6pm until late