Selam Vegan Restaurant (Toronto)

Walk too quickly and you’ll like breeze by Selam as it occupies the basement of Pero restaurant. The only telltale sign of their shared space is their small signage by the door. Like its sister restaurant, Selam offers Ethiopian cuisine, except their menu is entirely vegan and most things are also gluten free, which makes the restaurant an excellent choice for dining with a group with varying dietary restrictions.

Although there are options to build your own platter, with larger groups, sharing family style is a fresher alternative. Amongst our table of six people, we shared seven items are were stuffed. As a lover of split pea soup, Selam’s version of the main was thicker ($10) and oh so hearty. Enhanced with a bit of curry and turmeric, the spices were lightly added more for colour and a depth in flavour.

For a bit of heat, the spicy eggplant ($10) and red lentil ($12) were both great choices – the latter having the most kick. Maybe it’s me, but I always love a good stewed eggplant, especially when it gets nice and soft and soaks in all the fragrant spices. It just goes so well with the injera ($3 for three pieces) as the sauce gets trapped in the spongy crevices or spooned over plain white rice ($3).

For something interesting, try the flax firfir ($10), which mixes flax seed with gluten free injera to form a dish that’s not saucy but rather eats like a savoury bread pudding. It’s an acquired taste - our table was split on its tastiness.  

With all the heavier stews, orders of the kale ($10) with garlic and ginger and okra ($12) with green onions and chili flakes were perfect to help add some crunch and freshness to an otherwise hearty meal. Selam’s kale is definitely not boring and chopped so finely that you can mix it into some of the saucier dishes to change the texture.

You definitely need a bunch of choices to keep the meal interesting. Rest assured, with smaller tables, Selam offers combination plates mixing 3 or 4 items or there’s also a $18 buffet, which has almost all the items from the menu.

While Selam’s food was tasty, the basement jazz club atmosphere was a bit strange. Moreover, while I understand their desire to showcase Ethiopian coffee, as the roasting beans were brought around, the low ceiling dining room filled with smoke and a nauseatingly strong smell of frankincense.  It’s a smell that just sticks and lingers, detracting from the otherwise delicious meal. In my opinion, skip the beans, and bring on the eggplant.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 812 Bloor Street West (basement)

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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