Belge Café is a true café, as defined on the Internet: “a small restaurant selling light meals and drinks.” My definition includes: a neighbourhood oasis for a drop-in visit or take-out. Simple and unpretentious, Belge Café is a place to relax, check emails on free Wi-Fi, and then dig into a sweet treat or a satisfying meal.
Opened during a hiatus in pandemic restrictions in July 2020, Belge Café was soon forced to close. On March 8, it reopened, to the relief of its proprietors, Belge Yimenu and Abiy Andeyhun, a husband-and-wife team.
Yimenu sighs. “Being closed was very difficult,” she recalls.
In the display case is Yimenu’s baking. After coming to Canada from Ethiopia 10 years ago, she continued her culinary career, working for three years as a cook at Chateau Lacombe.
The café offers a slew of Yimenu-baked sweet choices, including eclairs, tiramisu, lemon slice cake, baklava, chocolate cake, and muffins. Two vegan options, icing-topped cupcakes and carrot cake, were tempting. I chose a cupcake with pink icing, although vegan is not my usual choice. It was melt-in-the-mouth yummy.
Specialty cakes are a main feature. Weddings, birthdays, graduations, and more deserve a cake made by Yimenu. My favourite was a white two-layer cake, topped with swirls of cream, ready for decoration. Call ahead to order.
Andeyhun is the coffeemaker, and he uses Ethiopian beans. Grown in the south, the beans are known for their rich flavour. In addition to a variety of coffee drinks available on-site, customers can buy the high-quality roasted beans in bright red packs for $22. I bought one and gave it to a coffee-loving friend as a gift. A month later, he went back for more.
In true coffee shop fashion, quick meals and snacks are on the menu. Four small tables and a coffee bar with tall seats provide seating. Try the café’s beef sandwich on a bun, overflowing with sauteed vegetables. A vegan sandwich is also available. “We’re going to have more breakfast and lunch dishes soon,” says Andeyhun.
Belge Café also offers Ethiopian fare. I tried quanta firfir ($14.99), a traditional breakfast meal. Topped with a boiled or scrambled egg, quanta firfir includes beef, sauteed onion, and tomato. A vegan version is on the menu. The hearty dish is spicy, and perhaps not everyone’s ideal breakfast dish, but can be ordered with less heat. Coriander and black seeds give it a smoky, barbecue-like flavour. My salad was “all in” ($7.99), a refreshing mix of romaine lettuce, boiled potato, lima beans, cherry tomatoes, avocado, corn, and mango, topped with a homemade balsamic vinegar.
As a bonus to my visit, Yimenu offered me her specialty tea ($3.99), a blend of ingredients guaranteed to fortify the constitution. The mix of hot tea, orange juice, fresh ginger, honey, and a dash of liqueur left me yearning for another tasty glassful.
Rating: 4 out of 5 forks
11307 95 St, parking on side street and on 95 street
To order: 780.761.8444
Monday-Saturday: 9 am–8 pm
Sunday: 2-8 pm
Price range: $2.99-$14.99