The Cooking Channel says "Stay Hungry." To hell with that.

Cincinnati Bites
Chi-nnati's Pizza

Posted Saturday, March 29, 2014

Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House, which opened this month in Clifton, is among a very short list of area restaurants featuring Ethiopian cuisine, a list that includes Habesha in Cheviot and Emanu in Pleasant Ridge.

The married couple who own Elephant Walk offer a unique twist: two very different menus representing their respective homelands: one featuring North Indian cuisine as well as a menu highlighting delicacies from across the Arabian Sea, in Ethiopia. Mixing items from the two menus is encouraged. The restaurant resides in the new U Square @ the Loop development along West McMillan St. in Clifton, next to Mr. Sushi and across from Pomodori's Pizza and a Stop -N- Go.

We entered one weekend evening and were slightly taken aback by the sheer size of the place. It's a vast and open space with plenty of elbow room, a semi-open kitchen in the back, a long bar, an abundance of tables and barely broken-in booths set with purple linen napkins.

The menus are expansive and perhaps a bit intimidating, particularly for most of us with little-to-no experience with Ethiopian food. The Indian menu is the easy part: if you've ever been to one of the many Indian restaurants in town, then you'll find most of your usual favorites here, including Chicken Tikka, Rogan Josh, an assortment of Naan and many other familiar North Indian entrees.

The Ethiopian menu is slightly trickier. The key to liking Ethiopian cuisine is embracing Injera, the uniquely flat, spongy bread on which many dishes are served. For many, this is the deciding factor on whether they'll like Ethiopian food at all. The texture of Injera, which is made from an allegedly gluten-free grain called "Teff," is unlike anything most Americans have ever experienced. Some people bred exclusively on crunchy French loaves, biscuits and Wonder Bread may find Injera's texture too foreign to enjoy. But it's certainly nothing to be scared of --Injera is quite delicious and, truth be told, a great deal of fun.

Ethiopian entrees usually arrive on a platter and are best experienced sharing with two or more people. The platter is covered with a layer of Injera bread, then topped with ordered sides and entrees. Additional rolls of Injera usually accompany the platter so patrons can tear off pieces of the bread and use them as edible utensils. Simply identify the morsel of food you want, slap a swatch of Injera over it, then pick it all up by pinching the bread with thumb, middle and index fingers.

Beyond the bread, Ethiopian cuisine is an assortment of pleasingly familiar flavors: hearty beef simmered in thick, tomatoey sauces; sauteed, marinated chicken breast; tender lamb; and a variety of vegetarian options like smokey collard greens, spiced cabbage and thick, stewed lentils in either a red or yellow sauce.

Ethiopian combo Ethiopian combo platter

We ordered one of the $28 Ethiopian combos for two, which included three meat and four vegetarian entrees, all served on a platter. The amount of food was extraordinary and easily would have fed three people. As it stood, we had plenty of leftovers.

Having visited Emanu in Pleasant Ridge quite often, we were familiar with the tear-and-eat program. The best part of the platter dining experience is eating the bottom layer of Injera that the entrees had been resting upon, giving time for all the meats and sauces to infuse into it. Injera holds up surprisingly well given all the wet sauces it comes into contact with; I had expected my day-old leftovers to be a soggy mess but instead found a delicious, intact meal awaiting me.

Elephant Walk is a great place to experience Ethiopian food for the first time, and you should avail yourself of the opportunity, for there are only a few options in Cincinnati. We look forward to trying the Indian side of their menu very soon.

Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House on Urbanspoon
Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House

Price: Moderately Expensive ($11 - $16 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 3.0 out of 43.0 stars






Other Recent Reviews

  1. Sandwichy Impressions: Fond: Lunch & Deli
    -posted Tuesday, April 3, 2018
  2. Our first look at Cooking with Caitlin's restaurant
    -posted Monday, March 26, 2018
  3. Chicken Impressions: Revolution Rotisserie & Bar
    -posted Saturday, March 17, 2018
  4. Seitan Worship: Losantivill3
    -posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018
  5. Chinese Impressions: Kung Food Chu's AmerAsia
    -posted Monday, February 26, 2018
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From Leslie about El Trio Mexican Grill:
    El Trio closed last week :(
    posted: Tue., Apr 3rd, 2018 @ 3:19 PM
  • From TJ Jackson about Bourbon Smokehouse:
    Best pulled pork in town: webbs bbq in Newport, open ONLY on Fridays. and cheap.
    posted: Thu., Feb 1st, 2018 @ 12:39 PM
  • From Natasia Malaihollo about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    Thank you for the review and background on the restaurant history! I was a huge fan of huit and super disappointed when they “closed.” Was wondering what’s going on with this musical chairs of a restaurant strategy so thank you for clarifying!
    posted: Fri., Jan 26th, 2018 @ 6:50 PM
  • From Jeff about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    Thanks for the thorough review! It honestly does seem like a new restaurant is opening every other day..but the thing about the wait staff..they might be getting paid a higher hourly rate because they are only open for lunch. I’ve worked at a restaurant where I was paid $10 an hour but the owner kept the tips, it sucked but sort of made sense for the lunch shift.
    posted: Fri., Dec 22nd, 2017 @ 9:00 PM
  • From heather about Wild Eggs:
    we liked it too - things are fresh and made from scratch and high quality - good experiences all around
    posted: Wed., Dec 20th, 2017 @ 10:55 AM
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    Thanks for writing, Heather. I definitely like their other restaurants. Lalo's pazole and fish taco are better than Mazunte's, I think. But I agree they are definitely hit-or-miss. I'm still rooting for them, though. There's talent there. :)

    posted: Mon., Nov 20th, 2017 @ 1:30 PM
  • From Heather JOhnson about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    I tried Huit & Lalo and they were both expensive and so mixed - one thing great - another thing barely mediocre. More of the same it sounds like - hits and misses for a really expensive lunch. Nope on Dope.
    posted: Sun., Nov 19th, 2017 @ 12:41 PM
  • From TJ Jackson about Udupi Cafe:
    I do not know if it is truly a match for the product you remember, but Frostop Root Beer is sold at Jungle Jims and is a personal favorite of mine.
    posted: Fri., Sep 29th, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
  • From Jones about Haru Korean Restaurant:
    As a long time reader, I found this review to be one of your loveliest and most enthusiastically vivid. I can't wait to try this place!
    posted: Tue., Aug 29th, 2017 @ 9:48 AM
  • From Jordan about Grand Central Delicatessen:
    yes!
    posted: Sat., Jun 3rd, 2017 @ 12:16 PM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design