Small World Cafe

Updated 10/6/2009

This restaurant has closed.  Goodbye, downtown Ethiopian. For now, we hope.

Date: September 11, 2007
Times Visited: 2

If you had asked us a month ago what food options downtown was lacking, the answer would have been Ethiopian. Next thing you know, there’s a big “ETHIOPIA” sign above the new Small World Cafe, on SW 4th Ave(The sign now reads “Ethiopian”).  Small World features both omni and vegetarian/vegan Ethiopian lunch specials, and Vietnamese sandwiches, go figure. Although there is not a vegan sandwich, the very friendly staff assured us that the vegetarian Ethiopian lunch special is vegan.

Stumptown Vegans tries to keep a $5 limit on our lunch purchases (thank you, India Chaat House!), but the $5.99 lunch special was tempting.  It’s best to go with a friend because of the massive amount of food served, but one person can try their best.  Keep in mind that since Ethiopian food is eaten using injera as your utensil, depending on your outlook it may not be the most ideal place to take a new friend or a client for lunch.

The meal was delivered on a huge plate, fit for a king, atop of one large, round injera. There were 3 small glass bowls that the waiter then dumped into small piles onto the bread. It didn’t look like much due to the scale of the bread, but it was more than enough food for one.

The injera itself was nicely spongy and sour, the flavor of very sour dough bread, as it should be. The meal came with an extra roll of bread so we didn’t have to start ripping apart our ‘plate’ right away. The three piles of food were mild and a bit above room temperature.  At first, the mind wonders if the food was reheated in a microwave that didn’t work properly. The rice dish wasn’t a favorite, and it didn’t feel right eating a grain on a grain. The spicy lentils,  however, were by far the best part. The cabbage and pepper dish was found to be very mild and almost forgettable on one occasion, and spicy on another. It would have been better if we could have ordered a-la-cart and received the two lentil dishes and injera.

It’s a nice option for downtown, but it wouldn’t be an every day lunch option for us. Since leaving, we haven’t had the desire to go back and would definitely prefer running across the street to Hush Hush. While it’s not realistic for one person to consume an entire vegan platter for lunch, take a friend and enjoy eating with your hands. Or order a bunch of food for your office and enjoy the free delivery downtown.

Vegetarian Platter:
Small World - Veggie

Vegetarian Platter, with more options:
small wonder cafe

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Address: SW 4th between Stark and Washington
Hours: Open for lunch, stop by to find out more.


5 responses to “Small World Cafe

  1. Pingback: Connecting News, Commentaries and Blogs at -·

  2. I would give this place a 4/5. I come from India and so eating with bare hands is nothing new to me, and perhaps I prefer to eat that way because I get to feel the texture of my food. To me, dining experience is not complete unless I enjoy the food with all my senses (the aroma, the texture, the presentation and then of course, the taste) and I can happily state that I did have a good experience today at SmallWorld Cafe, downtown PDX. I must have been to a million restaurants so far but this one is among those few where I felt, well, nourished! The food is really simple, with the authentic Injera bread, meat, veggies and cottage cheese but it seemed and tasted genuine, authentic and wholesome. The ambience needs improvement but I could easily forgive that for the great food and friendly service I was rendered. I will remember what Martha, the chef, said today, “I will give what I claim to give”. Easier said than done and she did sound real. Check it out guys, you won’t regret it.

  3. Pingback: Emame’s Ethiopian Cuisine | Stumptown Vegans·

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