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RISC Global Cafe
35-39, Reading, RG1 4PS
0118 958 3555
Tutu's Ethiopian Table won the Restaurant of the Year award in the Pride of Reading awards in 2008. The title was judged by celebrity chefs Daniel Galmiche and Antony Worrall Thompson, with Chris Tarrant presenting the awards.
In 2009 Tutu also received the Innovative Business Award in London from the Habesha Business Association, an organisation that recognises excellence in Ethiopian businesses in the UK. The award was inscribed "In recognition of your many outstanding achievements and contributions to the community throughout the year." In 2010 Tutu named as Reading Food Hero.
Tutu has been very clever in adapting to British tastes while staying close to the genuine flavours of Ethiopian food. The result, as all will know who have already tasted her food, is stimulating, delicious and certainly varied.
For anyone who grew up in the '80s with Michael Buerke's famine reports, great cuisine might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Ethiopia. But a lot's changed since then. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that it had the fastest-growing economy (10% annual growth) between 2004 and 2009 and Ethiopia now boasts the largest GDP in Central Africa and East Africa.
If you've never tried Ethiopian food, you're missing a trick. And if you've never eaten at Tutu's, you're missing an even bigger trick.
If its casual, laidback canteen-cum-cosy-bar atmosphere and casual, laid-back clientele don't make you feel at home, its super-friendly and helpful staff (even at the end of their shift, when we arrived) will. One of them veritably skipped through the place to bring us our drinks and another brought us out our own bonus dish when one of the buffet foods ran out before we could come back for seconds.
There was a good reason food was running out. It. Is. Delicious. We were there on the weekly Thursday buffet night (£10.95 meat/£9.95 vegetarian all-you-can eat) and each grabbed a hub-cap-size injera (flat Ethiopian pancake) to soak up the spiced beef, hot lentils, herby potatoes, vegetables and rice. Leave some room for the locally home-made desserts though - the chocolate cake was the best I've had in years.
On a la carte days, European food is also available.
My husband and I went there for date night but the informal atmosphere makes it perfect for bigger social gatherings. While not specifically aimed at children, there's wheelchair/buggy access and a large disabled toilet with changing facilities.
Get there immediately (unless it's Sunday or Monday, because it'll be closed).