Tag Archives: Adulis

Bar 48 wine bar and Eritrean restaurant

A wine bar seems quite a weird concept in 2015, let alone a wine bar that’s also an art gallery and music venue, serving Eritrean “tapas”, next door to what is probably London’s best Eritrean restaurant, Adulis.

Bar 48 exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

We thought Bar 48 must be a new opening from Adulis but it turns out it’s neither linked to Adulis nor new – it has been going for years and has been in its present incarnation for around two years – we just hadn’t noticed it till recently. It’s also rather dark so excuse the photography.

Bar 48 interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Someone on TripAdvisor says “You know how people say that Londoners are unfriendly bastards who never make conversation? Well not here! I don’t know how they do it, but its the kind of place where strangers were striking up conversations with one another all night.” Indeed this was our experience – both the barman and the table next door struck up conversation with us.

And there’s a lot to talk about. They have the kind of events programme that is bound to see Jeremy Corbyn visit sooner or later (unless he heads to i’klectik instead). Plus a grand piano:

Bar 48 grand piano - kenningtonrunoff.com

The owner Fiyori Belay has Eritrean roots and runs the kitchen, while the (bar)man behind the art gallery concept is Joshua Vaughan, who also teaches at City & Guilds. When we visited the art had rather a Dystopian, William Gibson-ish feel.

sculpture at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

should have chained the wheels to the bike

art at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you’re only interested in the food, you should probably go to Adulis instead, which offers pretty much the same dishes (meat and vegetable platters served on injera), at least as well prepared, and many others besides. Bar 48’s wine list is also quite short for a wine bar, but reasonably priced. They do serve an Ethiopian lager, St George Beer (he’s the patron saint of Ethiopia as well as England), which seems more exotic than the Kenyan one they have next door, as well as Brixton beers (should have gone for Kernel, or failing that, Kennington’s own Orbit).

St George Beer at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

But really, you should go for the welcoming atmosphere, and because you will never have been anywhere quite like it. Tonight could be the night – they’re open and have a duo playing covers and originals, then, as far as we can ascertain from their reservations tool, they’re not open again till February 1st.

Address: 48 Brixton Road, London SW9 6BT

The Top Ten Best Restaurants in Kennington – no. 6 – Adulis

Positives: Eritrean food is delicious, unique and great fun for parties. We’ve been to a lot of Ertitrean and Ethiopian restaurants and Adulis might be the best of the lot.

Negatives: Occasionally sketchy, but friendly, service. The coffee ceremony basically involves burning the beans – that’s the Eritrean way – and will keep you awake for a week or so. And the food, although delicious, ain’t photogenic:

Adulis platter - kenningtonrunoff.com

Hygiene rating: 4 out of 5

Address: 44-46 Brixton Road, London SW9 6BT.

Adulis Eritrean Restaurant - kenningtonrunoff.com

Come back next Sunday to find out the number 5.

The top ten best restaurants in Kennington – numbers 7 to 5

7. Dirty Burger
pros: top quality, posh, juicy burgers
cons: the Vauxhall gyratory goes right past the outdoor tables, and the veggie burger features mushrooms, which everyone knows are banned throughout Kennington on grounds of taste, texture, appearance, smell, and name
hygiene rating: 5 (Reassuringly Clean Burger)

6. Doost
pros: delicious Persian specialities, a charcoal grill, and loads of vodkas
cons: it’s a little pricey
hygiene rating: 5

5. Adulis
pros: Eritrean food is such good fun
cons: the service can be a little sketchy
hygiene rating: 4

Doost Persian Grill & Vodka Bar

Doost Persian Grill & Vodka Bar

Adulis Eritrean Restaurant and Bar

There are a surprising number of Eritrean restaurants in London. Adulis is one of the longest established, having been in South Kennington since 1996, and probably the best (also check out Kifto House, just outside the borders of West Kennington on South Lambeth Road).

Adulis Eritrean Restaurant - kenningtonrunoff.com

Eritean food is really tasty and fun. It’s all about the injera – leavened pancakes made with sourdough of teff flour, which is a grain grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea that’s gluten free and nutritious. Your food will come served on a giant injera, and you’ll get a separate bowl of rolled up injera which you’ll use instead of cutlery to scoop up the food. Order the vegetable or meat platter, or a mix of the two, and you’ll get a variety of delicious stews, including goat and boiled egg. It makes for an unusual and enjoyable communal eating experience that’s great for parties – the atmosphere in Adulis is always good. The only snag is it’s arguably the world’s least photogenic cuisine: 

Adulis platter - kenningtonrunoff.com

Eritrea does have one brand of beer – it’s called Gold Star – but in South Kennington you will have to settle for Tusker Lager which is from Kenya and annoyingly owned by Diageo:

Adulis Tusker Lager and flowers - kenningtonrunoff.com

After dinner comes the coffee ceremony, which begins with heavily roasted coffee beans being waved in front of you so you can absorb the aroma. These will then be ground, placed in a traditional clay vessel, boiled several times, and served with popcorn, accompanied by the smell of burning frankincense.

After the coffee ceremony comes hour after hour of caffeine-induced mania (that must be what the early morning clubbers of West Kennington have been drinking).