A little nook

Modern serves up diverse and delectable East African tapas

A delicious dish from Modern. Cindy Titus
A delicious dish from Modern. Cindy Titus
A delicious dish from Modern. Cindy Titus

354 Portage Ave.

In a little nook tucked beside Warehouse One at 354 Portage Ave. is a delicious eatery appealing only to the most adventurous of palates.

Those accustomed only to meat and potatoes need not enter. Modern opened its doors not two months ago, and this eatery only offers traditional East African cuisine – unless you’re ordering off the kid’s menu.

The restaurant is traditional East African food with a modern flair in design. The dining room and lounge area consist of clean lines, bold colours and interesting art.

Modern deals mostly in tapas, or plates of food designed for sharing. Each plate comes with injera, traditional African bread, comparable to a very thin spongy pancake. You use the injera to scoop up whatever it is that’s on your plate.

Did I mention you do this all with your hand, specifically your right hand? So you had better be ready to roll up your sleeves if you want a true African dining experience. 

Save for those with a knowledge East African cuisine, most of the items’ names will seem unfamiliar, but the staff at Modern is eager to explain and share their scrumptious edibles.

There is a wide variety of tapas made with thick stews, warm lentils, mouth-watering spices and other Ethiopian delicacies.

The crew I ate with sampled a platter of various veggie dishes and one with various meat dishes. One I particularly liked was called fir fir: moist cubed beef with berber sauce, garlic and other spices.

Modern is veggie friendly, identifying items without meat clearly on their menu. Dishes with chickpeas, thick sauces and spices, fresh tomatoes and lettuce are available and very delectable. 

It is also reasonably priced. For a platter of food that three or more could share, depending on appetites, you pay only $14, the highest price point on the menu.

Even better is the lunch buffet (available only on select days) ringing in at only $7.99. As with most dine-in locations, alcohol and desserts are a little pricey.

Overall, the experience at Modern is great, with helpful staff, clean facilities and open spaces.

Published in Volume 65, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 17, 2011)

Related Reads