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950 Danforth Avenue (West of Donlands subway station)

Cost: approx $20 a person (incl. a drink)

The last time I'd had Ethiopian food was at Ethiopian House at Wellesley and Yonge and although I was not entirely unimpressed, I knew if I were to try it again, it would have to be some really good Ethiopian to make me a fan of the cusine. Dukem has done that. And some.

In trying to organize a surprise birthday party for a friend, one of the requirements was that it was Ethiopian. The other was that it was near a subway station. So, I turned to the world wide web for some help and good ol' reliable Chowhound is where I discovered people talking about Dukem and how good the food is there.

They were right. The food was great and so was the service.

Mike (the owner) and the the waitress (whose name I didn't catch unfortunately) did an awesome job making our party feel at home; fully accommodating our huge group (of 14 people by the end of the night) into their cosy, albeit small space.

We had brought a cake with us, which they instantly accepted and placed into their fridge. They were on the ball with our drinks, our orders, and especially the "surprise" factor of our surprise party - making sure everything was perfect. We may have taken over the entire restaurant for four hours (my apologies to those who were at the restaurant while our raucous bunch was there).

We each started off with a St. George (Ethiopian) Beer. Very tasty.

The ambiance was intimate...the restaurant's not cramped by any means, but it's definitely not huge. However, it had enough tables (inside and outside on their patio) to accommodate us as well as other patrons without ever feeling stuffy. And, it was clean. As far as decor goes - they have a couple of tvs, a few paintings on the walls, plain tables and a red glow from the large neon "open" sign in the front and glowing bar in the back.

But mostly they have amazing Ethiopian food.

Mike knew just what to bring to the table - a couple of meat platters and one veggie platter - shared around with plenty of injera constantly replenishing our plates.

The beef stews (both spicy and mild) were succulent and flavourful.

The split peas, spinach/chard and lentils weren't mushy as I've had before...each with its own distinct flavour. The injera wasn't as sour as I've had before - everything was just delicious and perfect....and is this any indication that we cleaned it up?

The wait for our food wasn't too long either, about 1/2 an hour or so.

And the cost for 11 of us was about $200 including beers/drinks, so about $20-22 a person. Good deal, I say!

Would I go again? Most definitely.

My thanks go out to all the Chowhounders who recommended this venue. The birthday girl was very happy.

Dukem on Urbanspoon

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