Couldn’t point out Eritrea on a map? Don’t worry; let the super friendly and helpful folks at Mosob explain how to eat well.
This part of Westbourne Grove is certainly the poorer cousin to Notting Hill, and there isn't a huge number of venues in the area to recommend. However Mosob is clearly a local go-to for dates and events.
The low lighting and gorgeous, cardamom-like aroma of the restaurant are especially conducive to date nights. Timber furniture and, of course, a plethora of colourful and more functional mosob baskets (baskets for serving food on), adorn the space in a comfortable and unobtrusive manner.
The explanation as to the difference between Eritrean and Ethiopian food is somewhat sketchy. Perhaps there’s a little more Italian influence (Eritrea was ‘left’ to Italian invaders by Ethiopian forces when they fought them out of the rest of the region and it has been suggested that as a result Eritreans use more tomato in their cuisine), however anyone familiar with Ethiopian food will quickly find their feet at Mosob.
This is food for sharing, literally, as main courses come adorning a huge communal round of injera bread (tangy, sourdough fermented, spongy flat bread that may look a little unappealing in its greyness but is the perfect vehicle for absorbing rich sauces). Food is eaten by tearing a piece of injera and using it to scoop or pinch up sautéed vegetable dishes, richy spiced stews and pulse purees.
For starters try the Eritrean version of felafel (£3.95), more akin to Egyptian ta’amia: pillowy and crunchy little morsels. Main dishes are highlighted by a simply perfect rendition of shiro (a smooth chickpea flour sauce, £7.95) and sweet, lean, hand-minced kitfo (raw beef, £8.95), just buttered enough to a glossy sheen with niter kibbeh (aromatic spiced ghee). For the squeamish the kitfo can be cooked rare or well-done, neither of which can beat the raw version, however. Otherwise there are stewed or sautéed meat or vegetable dishes with which to top the bread.
Ethiopian beers are represented by the perfectly acceptable St George and Castel lagers (£3.25), and whilst there aren’t any Ethiopian or Eritrean wines (they do exist) on the list, if you ask nicely you will get a glass of Eritrean mead, called meis (tej in Ethiopian), which is a heavy but dry wine brewed from honey (and is not on the menu). At the end of the meal order coffee – they do it so well in that part of the world – accompanied by incense and popcorn (£9).
The Last Word
From the waft of frankincense and sweet spices on arrival to the friendly service given by everyone in the restaurant, Mosob is about as inviting a restaurant as they come. Ask questions, try something new and you will come away having had a great experience of a cuisine that deserves to be better appreciated.