Shebelle: Ethiopian & Moroccan Restaurant, Café & Bar

African is the new Mexican. Well… For me, at least.

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Shebelle
241 Barkly St
Footscray, VIC 3011
AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 9689 8188

The new, soon-to-come restaurant location: 33 Holmes Rd, Moonee Ponds, VIC.
My visit/photos are from the restaurant’s old location.

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Although they share a continent, Ethiopia and Morocco aren’t exactly close in proximity. Their cuisine, however, pairs up pretty fantastically. Shebelle is just up the street from Lentil As Anything; look for the numbers on the shops, because the signage doesn’t stand out when you’re driving past.

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The restaurant was quiet when we arrived, but we were quickly greeted by a charming African man who was both the owner, chef and waiter. That’s right, guys. It was a one-man operation – and an impressive one at that. So if you sit down and aren’t served immediately, try to be patient because he’s juggling a few jobs at once. Later when more people arrived, there was also a friendly woman helping out who was very modest when we showered the food with praise.

In regards to ordering vegan, I noticed “clarified butter” listed with some of the dishes, so I asked the owner about this and he raised his arms and said “I’m the chef, I’ll cook it however you like!” (seriously, this guy has such a happy, relaxed attitude, he’s great), so I just asked for all the veg dishes to be cooked with oil instead of butter. You might want to do the same if you’re vegan/can’t have dairy.

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Injera

For those of you who’ve never had injera, it’s like the amazing love child of pancakes (flapjacks) and sourdough bread – and it’s both gluten free and vegan! Traditional injera is simply teff flour, water and salt. Teff flour is made from the milled seed of teff grass (native to Ethiopia) – it’s not a grain.

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Injera – close up

Check out that sexy, spongy goodness! This didn’t come with anything we ordered, so we asked for it as an extra on the side, and I’m glad we did.

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Guacamole served with a basket of pita crisps (basket not pictured)

This was a Moroccan style guacamole that had tahini stirred through it. The owner gave me a big grin when I ordered it and said “you won’t like it” and asked me if I knew what tahini was. We both laughed and I insisted on trying it, because I love a bit of food-adventure. Turns out, this was so freakin’ great. Jasmine (who I’d brought to the restaurant with me for her birthday) couldn’t get enough of it – she was full and STILL TRYING TO FIND ROOM TO KEEP EATING THIS. I can’t believe I never thought to mix tahini into my guacamole; what brilliance.

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Shebelle Special

The description in the menu said “combination veggies and Ethiopian salad” – I didn’t immediately identify any part of this as being “salad” but didn’t care because it was all delicious! Clockwise from the top left was: mashed split peas, beetroot, greens and an unidentified legume. The mashed split peas and beetroot were subtly spiced, the greens were fairly straight forward (which I loved, because greens are great just as they are!) and the other legume dish was a little heavier in flavour, which I think was predominantly cinnamon and chili (?). I ordered this mild for my dinner guest but I think when I go back with Mr. AA, I’ll ask for it hot!

The greens and split peas were my favourites, while the beetroot was Jasmine’s favourite.

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Moroccan Eggplant

I don’t know how I can explain how much I loved this dish without sounding like a dirty food-perv. I pretty much creamed my knickers with the first bite. The eggplant had been left in tact at the top and sliced through (see photo below) which I thought was a pretty special touch and the tomato based sauce had a variety of veggies in it, including my favourite: broccoli. It was firm but not crunchy, total perfection in my opinion. Nothing makes me sadder than people over cooking broccoli.

The fresh herbs on top were a tasty, bright addition to this dish… As I write about it, I’m seriously sad that I’m not eating it again right now.

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All of this plus a non-vegan dish (not pictured) cost only $50. I gave them a 20% tip and still didn’t feel like I’d paid enough for this amazing experience.

Shebelle Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

10 thoughts on “Shebelle: Ethiopian & Moroccan Restaurant, Café & Bar

  1. I wish I lived closer Natalie. This looks amazing. That Moroccan Eggplant sounds and looks absolutely like my kind of food. What’s not to love about eggplant!

    • Thanks Shane! I mentioned this place to an online vegan community and was told there’s a place in Adelaide called Habesha Afro Cuisine and half the menu is vegan! I’ve put it on my to-do list for when I’m in Adelaide next :)

  2. Pingback: North African Inspired Guacamole | Appetite Affliction

  3. this looks fantastic. thanks for the heads up because im super behind on my blog roll. Ive been super disappointed to find injera in melb they also use some wheat or other flour as well as teff !

    • Hi K,

      You might want to double check with the owner that his injera is 100% teff, as I didn’t specifically ask that question. I assumed that it was, and a few days after writing this, I read about the Injera Bakery in Footscray mixing wheat flour with teff to make their injera. If you find out, please let me know!

      I didn’t get sick from eating this, but I’m not a celiac either – I just eat a low gluten diet.

      Nachos x

  4. I love Shebelle and went there a couple of weeks ago for dinner. Unfortunately, they have closed :( They were such lovely people. Hopefully they’re cooking somewhere, or have opened another venture – if anyone finds out, please post back here?

    • Oh no! That makes me so sad :( I heard on the grapevine that they were thinking of opening a restaurant in Fitzroy… I hope that pans out for them and they’re not closed forever. Thanks for the comment/letting me know :)

Chow down on this!