Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another Score for Ghana

Some of you may remember my paean to Florence's, a Ghanaian restaurant in Harlem. Well, Florence now has a rival for my West African culinary affections, Mercy, the woman who runs Meytex Cafe in Brooklyn. And Meytex has the advantage of being within walking distance of my apartment.

There's a printed menu, but on the night I ate at Meytex Mercy's verbal description of what was actually available superseded it. One of the items, not on the menu, was a whole tilapia. It had a spicy rub and was garnished with peppers and onions. It was served with a side of boiled white yam.

A spinach and egushi (pumpkin seed) stew was delicious, with a smoky taste I couldn't identify.

The spicy fried plantains were not as addictive as the crunchy version with ginger (kelewele) at Florence's, but the rice and beans were wonderful. Mercy explained that the dark color of the rice comes from a leaf they cook it with, but when we asked the name she couldn't think of the English word. She consulted with several men at the bar and told us, "bay leaf." She showed us a bag of a ground herb which didn't illuminate much. I don't know if it's the bay leaf we're most familiar with.

The rich peanut soup with goat meat rivaled the one at Florence's. Fellow diner Dave Cook of Eating in Translation is a serious photographer with a serious camera, and his shot of this dish puts mine to shame.

There are some major differences in atmosphere between Meytex and Florence's. While Florence's is a bright BYO place with kids running around, Meytex has a bar, which I suspect accounts for much of their business. I tried a Ghanaian beer, the eminently drinkable Stone Strong Lager. I understand they also serve palm wine. The night we went Mecry and several African men were watching primary results on CNN on the large-screen TV by the bar. The Meytex menu says it's the "1st Food/Chop Bar in NYC." "Chop bar" is a common term in Ghana for simple eating establishments. If you're sharing dishes at Meytex, Mercy will give you plastic dishes and forks.

According to the blog Across the Park, Meytex has killer fried chicken. Unfortunately, it wasn't available when I visited. Maybe next time, which will be fairly soon, I'm sure.

Meytex Cafe is located at 545 Flatbush Avenue, close to the Prospect Park stop on the B & Q trains.


Blogger Eating In Translation said...

According to the 2004 edition of Robert Sietsema's Best Ethnic Eating, which uses a slightly different spelling, "the delightful musky flavor of egusi comes from dried shrimp."

12:45 AM  
Blogger Peter Cherches said...

Went back recently. Most of the food was excellent again, but the fried chicken was really nothing special after all.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are the two restaurants you mention serve/use halal meat? Would love to try real African food. Thanks.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Peter Cherches said...

It appears that Ghana is majority Christian, so I wouldn't bet on halal at these places. I suspect you'd have better luck with Senegalese restaurants.

9:32 AM  
Blogger SugarHeart said...

Hi Peter,
I too was once a lover of Florences..however it seems they are closed now..I am definately going to try Meytex. There is an excellent Ghanaian restaurant in Union New Jersey you should try.. its called Garden City Restaurant. Food is great there as well!

7:41 AM  

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