06 Sep Pero Restaurant & Lounge | Eating Vegan at Non-Vegan Eateries
Eating Ethiopian food is a unique, amazing cultural and food experience that you should try at least once in your lifetime – though the food is so flavourful and filling that you’ll have to have it more than once!
And yes, Toronto vegans can have their share of Ethiopian food, and very easily too.
Pero Restaurant & Lounge specializes in Ethiopian and Eritrean vegan dishes, though they are a non-vegan restaurant.
How to eat
Ethiopian cuisine is not only unique because of its flavours, but also because you share one big platter of food with others. Individual dishes are all laid over injera – a soft, spongy Ethiopian flatbread made with teff flour and sourdough. Teff is a plant native to East Africa, which is grown and used in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine.
Platters in Ethiopian cuisine are also special because the food is eaten without utensils. Instead, people partaking in the meal use the injera to “sandwich” the different dishes on the platter.
At Pero Restaurant, the vegetarian platter (which is also vegan) has six dishes on top of the injera.
The six different dishes on the platter are all unique in taste and texture:
Shero: roasted chickpeas cooked with onion and spices in a berbere sauce
Timtimo Tsebhi: a spicy red lentil stew cooked with herbs
Cabbage and Carrot: cooked in chef’s sauce
Mushroom Tibsi: sautéed mushrooms and onion with berbere and herbs
Hamli: collard greens, onion, and green pepper seasoned with garlic and ginger
Turmeric Split Peas: split peas in a mild yet flavourful turmeric sauce
The vegetarian platter also comes with a classic mixed salad of romaine lettuce, tomato, red onions, and scallion in a sweet balsamic dressing.
If I had to choose one favourite dish, it would be the mushroom tibsi. The flavour of mushrooms and onion melded together wonderfully. A close second would be the hamli (the collard green dish) and turmeric split peas.
All of the dishes were cooked to perfection and melt-in-your-mouth perfect. Even the salad was amazing! This is definitely one of those meals you eat that you that make you feel thankful for being vegan.
For a one person platter, the price is $18, and for a two person platter, the price is $32. It may seem like a lot, but the meal is super filling – buffet-filling.
Pero Restaurant makes their in-house injera gluten-free, so gluten-free vegans can enjoy this experience too. The injera soaks up all the flavourful sauces of each dish, leaving no tasty morsel of food behind.
Although injera is made with teff and sourdough, the injera at Pero Restaurant is comparatively sour to other injeras. At points in the meal, the sourness overpowered the intricate taste of the veggies a bit, but overall the food was undeniably and truly delicious.
The restaurant is only open during dinner hours (5:00 pm to 11:00 pm), so make sure you plan accordingly…unlike what my friend and I did the first time we went.
It was well worth the wait though, as their food was exceptionally delicious.
The restaurant was created by Chef Pero Berhane, who was born in the capital of Eritrea, a country bordering the north of Ethiopia. In 2015, Pero Restaurant was voted as one of the best Eritrean/Ethiopian restaurants in North America.
Pero is the perfect venue for a date night with its dimly lit environment, upscale yet comfortable decor, and aromatically delicious food (have I used the word “delicious” enough yet?).
The restaurant is a cultural experience in itself.
There are drapes tenting the tables with chandeliers hanging from the middle of the ceiling. Nods to Ethiopian and Eritrean culture are evident in everything from the artwork to the upholstery. Pero Restaurant’s red, dark grey, and black colour palette coupled with the restaurant’s pyrotechnic bar make for a very unique dinner experience.
Click here to see their full menu.