Phoenix Bar & Restaurant
By Surafel Solomon, July 01, 2019
Waking up on Saturday morning, early afternoon, to be honest, was no easy feat. The ever recurring search in your maze of a memory for what happened last night always occupies the first few minutes of someone who indulges in a lifestyle such as mine. You try to piece bits together but it’s no use, when you meet your friends later and talk about it, you all have different patches of the night that occasionally overlap. It is a bittersweet feeling, I tell you. But these benders always have a starting point, a trigger, something that made everyone have an unspoken understanding that “we are all staying out late tonight”. And that was Phoenix.
It started as a lazy Friday, most of which was spent lounging around at home with a friend; we had plans to checkout a relatively new restaurant that opened close by. Walking there tiredly, I was having second thoughts, so we decided to have a pit stop on the way, at least until the rest of our friends had arrived. But shortly in our interim establishment, I get word that the rest of the crew had indeed arrived quite a while ago. We arrive at our destination “Phoenix”, a small and cozy bar and restaurant located near Bole Medhianalem. Our friends are having beers on the outdoor section; not wanting to be black sheep, we opt for the same.
Inspired by the small French cafes that serve, unlike in Addis Ababa, everything from breakfast crepes to Beef Filet, from Macchiato to wine and Negroni, Phoenix is true to its inspiration. Taking a glance at their menu will back up this statement with its diversity of choice. Since ordering is an arduous task which would involve thirty minutes of debating whether this dish goes with that or whether it is good, we decide to let Metti, the founder and main influencer of the food section, give us her recommendations. While she orders for us we start talking about how Phoenix came to be, and she explains it’s relation to the mythical bird that burns itself and is born again, this being her second venture into the bar/restaurant business. The food is mainly inspired by French and Mediterranean cuisine, she explains, as our starters come. The Beef Carpaccio, velvety smooth, thin slices of marinated raw beef with salad was the first thing I tried and as soon as I had a taste, I didn’t want to share any of it. The paper thin sheets of quality beef just melts in your mouth. Next we try the Exotic soup, a thick and rich soup that none of us could put a finger on the ingredients. This creamy bowl of goodness is closer to a puree than the runny and solid food filled soups I have tried elsewhere. With two starters down and two more to go, when the waiter asked if we wanted another round of drinks, we chose to go for cocktails.
Looking at the cocktail menu, it is split into two sections. The Classic cocktails section consists of cocktails which are internationally known and standard, like the aforementioned Negroni, Long island Iced Tea, and others. The other section is the House specials section featuring cocktails you can’t find anywhere else. These cocktails were contributed by the owners and friends. Obviously we choose from the House Special section and go with Oasis, a Rum based cocktail with a date as a garnish. Neither too strong nor too sweet, this was perfect to go with the coming two starters, the Roasted Zucchini tuna melt and the Mediterranean Salad. The first dish, a hollow zucchini stuffed with tuna tomatoes and parmesan cheese and cooked in the oven, is a pescatarian’s dream dish. The Mediterranean Salad almost made me love salad (I’m not really into salads), with its bits of chicken breast, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and red onions tossed with a pesto vinegar dressing.
Satisfied with our starters, we start looking at the main courses. First on the list was the Beef Filet, a classic staple dish that I doubt needs any introduction or description. To go with our main course we decide to switch cocktails and ask Sami, Metti’s partner, for a recommendation, he sends us Kafa, a coffee based drink which upon deeper analysis my friend expertly described it as being close to a Black Russian. This was definitely stronger than Oasis, which was the way we wanted to go, progressively stronger drinks. Then comes our second main dish, Chicken Skewers seasoned and glazed with honey marmalade and sesame seeds. A great dish to share with friends over some of the house specialty drinks. Then we had Chicken Penne, a pasta dish with a creamy chicken sauce. Being stuffed to the brim we double down on our Kafa and every mouth that was too busy to talk occupied with great food gets into roaring conversation.
After a round of drinks, we are offered desert. Crepe, a thin French pancake served with Nutella or homemade jam and an expertly made Chocolate Fondant made with imported French chocolate graced our pallets accompanied by a cocktail called Chocó Pop, a creamy whiskey based cocktail that balances sweet and strong.
Eating that much had made us underestimate what we were drinking and after desert is done we keep going with this silent agreement to continue ordering drinks. I am not an advocate of mixing drinks, none of us are, I don’t know who is, but that night we all seemed to completely disregard that creed we seemed to share and kept doing so the entire night.
Though I cannot say much about the rest of the night, I am really happy I didn’t forget the beginning. The little Parisian café/ bar/restaurant was and will be on my mind next time I am thinking about good food and great drinks with friends.