At an evening meal with our guide, Eskedar, talk turned to our three favourite meals. Two of Eskedar’s involved the Ethiopian speciality raw meat – kitfur (raw mince) and kurt (raw sliced beef). Mine, in order, were, lasagne, fish and chips and shepherds pie. I expected having to explain what shepherds pie was, so was really surprised when Eskedar told us that a Scottish lady ran a restaurant in Lalibela famed for serving the very dish. As Lalibela was next on our itinerary, Eskedar promised to take us.
The restaurant, Ben Abeba, owned by Scottish Susan and her Ethiopian business partner, was set high on a hill. It was like fairy tale castle with the design based on a central circular ramp with turrets all over. I have honestly never seen anything quite like it. The place is open for breakfast lunch and dinner with the fresh food being sourced from local farmers which puts money into the local economy.
Because of its hilly position, and the fact that we were sat on a terrace, it was really windy on the day we went for lunch and we had to weigh down the table cloth with condiments and cutlery.
Although the menu had both traditional Ethiopian and western dishes (quiche, pancakes, meatballs and burgers), I just had to order the shepherds pie with vegetables of the day which were beetroot, carrot and cabbage. I chose to have the original version rather than the Ethiopian one which had the addition of shiro wat (a spicy chickpea stew). Meanwhile, Roy opted for a tuna fish cake with chips (which came with a home-made tomato sauce).
Having seen the portions being presented to other diners we sensibly opted for half portions which were plenty. Both dishes were good, but personally I found the shepherds pie a bit dry and would have liked a jug of gravy.
The loos were an experience and down the long wooden ramp into what were cave like toilets with circular tardis cubicles. On looking around there were a number of other areas – a huge sun terrace out at the back with no one sat there and also an inside area.
We both agreed we weren’t that keen on the design which was a little wacky for us, but at it was an experience never to be forgotten. I suspect that in the evening when it is all lit up, it is a very different and magical experience.