Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • June-July 2024 • Circulation 5000


Find Homemade Flavour Surprises North of Chinatown

Team Cafe serves family style Ethiopian food.

Two of the dishes experienced at Team Cafe. Alan Schietzsch

Team Cafe
10858 97th Street NW
Phone: 587-520-6669 

Everyone knows 97th Street is full of interesting food, but did you know that restaurants extend well beyond Chinatown?

On the west side of 97th Street just north of St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Cathedral, which is on the east side, you’ll find Team Cafe, which has been open for about a year. Owner Semir brings a delicious, homemade style of Ethiopian cooking to the area.Owner Semir brings a delicious, homemade style of Ethiopian cooking to the area.

Our curious group of five went on a Wednesday night and discovered that it’s a small space that does mostly takeout and delivery. There are a handful of tables for one or two as well as a small room off the side which had a booth perfect for our family group. We were charmed that the table was an oval kitchen table. It was like being invited into someone’s house!

With a smile, Semir gave us the small menu showing a variety of many different main meals on one side, and a breakfast menu on the flip side. We were lucky to go as a family, as it let us explore the choices, from mild to spicy, with something for each person’s preference.

After ordering, we each were served a complimentary bowl of soup based on red lentils, with small chunks of potato and carrot, seasoned almost like a very mild vegetable curry.

Dishes were served family style to share, arriving as each one was cooked rather than all at once. First came the Hanide (a roasted leg of lamb), then the (huge!) chicken thigh, both on a bed of amazing rice that is among the best I’ve ever eaten. Perfectly cooked, the grains were topped with crispy onion for a contrast in texture and were not at all dry. Never did I think that rice would be the part of a meal that I’d especially want to go back for. The seasoning was deep and mild, and may please even those who are hesitant to try Ethiopian food. Both dishes also came with salad on the side. After gnawing on the flavourful meats, only a bone was left where there was once roast lamb.

The Zilzil Tibs arrived next. It was little chunks of beef served on a “pancake” of injera bread. A little mound of berbere spice on the side of the platter is there for you to sprinkle on as much or as little spice as you like. There are also a few slices of a mild jalapeño pepper. You tear off a small piece of the bread, scoop up a few morsels of beef, and pop it into your mouth as a little parcel of meaty flavour. I considered this dish to be medium spicy.

Next came a traditional dish, Hulbat Marakh, a deep stew bowl with layers of injera under a very robust spicy sauce. This one’s for folks who want an experience: over-the-top flavour from a very spicy sauce covering two enormous hunks of beef, cooked to falling-apart perfection. 

At the end, we were given a big plate of fries with ketchup, which was like a mild dessert after the intense flavours - an unusual (for us) and very smart way to end the meal. Also smart was the price: just $82 for enough food for five stuffed people, including a bottle of water each, and with a container of food for tomorrow’s lunch. What a deal! As I write this, it’s just an hour afterwards, and we can’t stop talking about the flavour. We’ll definitely be back for another homemade Ethiopian meal.

Alan lives in McCauley. He is the Chair of the paper’s Board of Directors.

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