Despite a somewhat obvious market demand, there are only a handful of places in Addis catered to the enjoyment of all age groups. “Des Des”, a recreation center previously known as “Fam Affair”, looks to bridge that gap. Situated at the heart of Bole, Des Des takes up the entire 3rd floor of Oromia building. Despite hosting a roller skating rink, burger joint, pizzeria/ restaurant, gaming area, sports bar, and 2 cinemas, Des Des does not feel cramped; the theoretically limited space has been used economically. The affable floor manager, Siyane Ermias, showed us around.
We first found our way to Bikila Sports Bar, the most popular spot by far. It wasn’t hard to see why- the music was light, and the furnishing made it all the more inviting. “All the furniture here is handmade,” Siyane says, “We crafted it ourselves.” Though the place was perfect to just lay back after work, the wide windows brightly lit the area- an odd occurrence in a sports bar. Nevertheless, I was comforted by the fact that wouldn’t be the case once night fell. We ordered some food and continued on our tour.
We made our way past Basilico, the darling little pizzeria, to the café. The availability of excellent Wi-Fi and mini snacks make it an adequate workspace. Its proximal location to the rink also makes it perfect for parents to wait for their kids to finish skating. Heading on over to said rink, I noticed it wasn’t very spacious. Yet because of its smart layout, that didn’t stop anyone in their tracks. Skating shoes were also a dime a dozen. Ranging from the smallest size up to 44, you were guaranteed to have at least one pair fit.
You don’t know how to skate? They have an instructor as well as shoes with training wheels. And if you fall, make sure to get it on tape- if it is spectacular enough, you’ll win free lunch for two (details are on their Instagram).
Adjacent to the rink was Fillies, the resident burger joint. It was strategically positioned so skaters could eat without having to take off their shoes. The gaming area was right next door. Equipped with multiple consoles and around 30+ games, there was surely something for everyone.
Another cool aspect of Des Des is its cinema. It is dine-in – a pretty new concept around here. As far as I’m aware, only Gast’s Gold Feature allows food, not snacks, in the cinema. Here, tables line every other row. And although they haven’t yet started showcasing films, the cinema comes alive during football match screenings. I can only imagine the atmosphere when their second cinema reopens after maintenance.
Having finished the tour, we made our way back to Bikila to eat our food. We were served their signature Fried Chicken, Cheese Burger, and Blanco Chicken Pizza. I started with the pizza, immediately noting the whitish appearance caused by the peculiar base choice- Bechamel sauce. I was happy to note it tasted as good as I suspected. The base was superb, the chicken was soft, and the cheese was wonderfully stringy and abundant. The pizza came with an optional sauce homemade from olive oil and red peppers. It worked better than I expected.
The Fried Chicken was next. Mashed potatoes and a small veggie concoction accompanied two large pieces of chicken fried to perfection. They were wonderfully crispy yet still easy to cut through. Two different dips came with the meal- both homemade. One was mayonnaise while the other was a special combination of hot sauce and barbeque sauce. Though both were great additions, the hot sauce & barbeque sauce combo was an absolute smash and went well with everything. It was just that good.
The burger looked pretty good- well-sized and appetizing enough. It tasted even better when I took a bite. The cheese was remarkably good and the beef was fresh. But the homemade mayonnaise deserved special recognition. This was different from the mayonnaise accompanying the Fried Chicken. It was made from additional ingredients such as radish and pickles yet somehow ended up much lighter in taste. I loved it. The fries were crunchy and dressed with some shredded cheese. It was sufficient to say I was more than satisfied.
Despite being an all-in-all great experience, Des Des had one noticeable drawback. It was somewhat expensive. The price of gaming for 15 minutes is 32 birr while it costs 42 birr to skate for the same time. And considering that a single meal could rack up to 260 birr, a somewhat full wallet is necessary. Having said that, satisfaction is a guarantee. I suppose that is the cost of quality.