It’s interesting how you can live so close to a restaurant and never visit. For many years, I lived to blocks from Rasoi, an Indian Restaurant just off the corner of Ellice and Sherbrook. I don’t think I ever went in, although I do recall someone bringing their Samosas to some event. Then, one day, Rasoi was gone. I don’t know what I missed. However, with the space being taken over by Palm Tree Restaurant, I don’t really care either.
Palm Tree Restaurant is, and I stand to be corrected, Winnipeg’s first Somali restaurant. Having been a couple of times I certainly hope that it won’t be Winnipeg’s only Somali restaurant. On both of my visits here the food was of extremely high quality, and the service very friendly and welcoming.
Palm Tree Menu:
The menu here is a little bit confusing. It lists dishes as breakfast, lunch or supper. First, it doesn’t seem to matter what time of day it is when you are ordering. First, most of the breakfast items would be foreign to a North American breakfast table. Second, I didn’t actually try ordering porridge at supper time.
The first time I went in I ordered the beef stew with rice. Somehow or other, either I forgot to take pictures or my camera didn’t save them. This is disappointing because I’m unable to show you the portion size. The rice was heaped up across a dinner plate. I’d swear there was closed to four cups of cooked rice on the plate. In the middle of this heap there were a few vegetables to add a little extra flavour. The stew itself along with the vegetables it came with took up another dinner plate. The meal comes to $13.99, and it’s a bargain at that price. Plus, you could share it between two people and be quite satisfied.
The beef in the stew was tender. The sauce was spicy, but not particularly hot. Thankfully, they offered a little dish of hot sauce on the side. I decided to restrain myself and not ask for extra hot sauce, but there was plenty of kick to what I received.
The soup above is a broth that is brought to your table as you wait for your order. Given that everything is prepared from scratch and that service is leisurely, it’s a nice little touch as you start off your meal. As soups go it is very much an appetite whetter, rather than one that fills you up. This appears to be a regular custom, as I received it both times I went.
Given the size of my first order, I decided on something a little bit lighter the second time around. I went for the Foul Beans. This seems to be the Somalian equivalent of Ful Medames, a dish common to many North African countries.
When I ordered this the server asked me if I knew what the dish was. I assumed he was referring to content so I said yes. It turns out that his concern was probably related to the fact that the dish is typically eaten using the chapati it comes with as a utensil. This was no problem for me, as Ethiopian food such as that served at Kokeb is generally eaten this way also.
I really liked the rich flavour of the Foul Beans, but did wish that there was more bean and less gravy as it made it a little difficult to pick up with the chapati.
As I was finishing my meal, my server brought me a small, sampler dish of the sauce that they serve with their spaghetti, and which can also be used as a dip for the chapati. When I was paying my bill I asked what the ingredients were. He informed me that it was ground beef, tomato, and spices. What the spices were, I didn’t find out. However, it has a nice kick to it. I think I would probably choose it over most of the Italian spaghetti sauces.
The Palm Tree restaurant is a great addition to the Ellice and Sherbrook neighbourhood. I hope it’s there for a long time to come.