Jun 11, 2009

Touba Lamp Fall

Lavapies is a hotbed for curry, boasting a large concentration of Indian restaurants lining all the major arteries. There's perhaps more curry houses here than in all of Spain combined! OK, maybe not. Certainly there's plenty of selection so it's a real treat to find other ethnic offerings, such as, the cuisine of Senegal. Lavapies has a sizable Senegalese population so it seems reasonable to expect there to be restaurants that serve the locals. I've heard of three. The one I decided to try out has many young Senegalese men loitering around front and more dudes hanging out inside.

The Touba Lamp Fall on Calle Amparo 62 is a no frills restaurant to look at. The yellow sign outside screams Restaurante Senegales so loud, it overshadows its own name. But at least there's no mistaking what type of food is served here. As you enter, the air is thick with the rich aromas of home cooking. We sat at a table in the front of the restaurant not knowing there was another section in the back.

There was a Senegalese wrestling match, called Lutte, on TV so the room quickly filled up with fans who cheered and hollered. Unfortunately, I had my back to the giant screen so missed out on most of the clash of these loin clothed titans... though I did notice my amiga's eyes bulge at their bulges.

From the smell, I expected rustic goodness and I wasn't disappointed. My friend ordered the Yassa Pollo, a dish of grilled chicken marinated with onions and lemon juice. I ordered the Thiou Ternera, a rich beef stew. Both dishes were generously served in glass bowls, which made it easy to share and came with two big plates of flattened rice accompanied by lemon wedges. Simple fare but very tasty. I felt like I was in the living room of a large Senegalese family, eating what they eat, watching what they watch on TV. Each dish on the menu was only 6 €, a bargain for the delicious portions served. Our meal ended with Attaya, a sweet Senegalese tea with mint, which was included in the price. Que rico!

The only thing lacking was the service, which was a tad on the slow side. At one point, we ordered two exotic bouy juice - the fruit of the baobab tree - but it never came. The woman probably forgot due to all the excitement of the Lutte match. Our tea also took an extremely long time to get to us. The guy behind the bar had his eyes glued to the big screen. So I'm not sure if the service we got that night is a true reflection if what goes on there or merely a consequence of the African Wresting Championship, which began in Dakar, the Senegalese capital last week. Not that it matters much. I'd happily go back there for a meal even if I have to wait for tea and go elsewhere for a glass of wine afterwards as this restaurant doesn't serve alcohol because they bow to Allah.

So the next time you're wandering around my barrio and you're not in the mood for curry, give Touba Lamp Fall a try. I'm sure you'll leave with a satisfied belly full of soul food.

Photo credit: © copyright by lilion. All rights reserved. Her work is really beautiful. Please visit her Flickr photostream. 


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