In the past year, Abyssinia has expanded, taking over the next door Indian restaurant's space which shut down. The added space makes the restaurant feel very roomy, and you can tuck yourself away in the corner alone if you want. The place seems to be gaining ground with consistently happy customers, and there are many reasons why.
Only time will tell if this restaurant will have a reign like that of Abyssinia, the old name of the empire comprising Ethiopia in East Africa, which lasted from 1137 until 1974. In typical mid-century African fashion, it was overthrown by a coup d'etat and changed hands as well as names.
One reason for a happy customer.
One fresh appetizer, and a good way to get the injera into you as soon as possible is the yetimatim fitfit ($7, below). Mixed with the sour bread are tomatoes, hot green peppers, and onions, while the whole bowl is doused with lemon and olive oil.
The sambusas ($6 for three, above and below) come in both vegetable and meat varieties, both with crispy fried triangle shells. Our ground beef version is tasty, but using the accompanying sauce is definitely recommended for more flavor.
As the St. George beer bottles continued to roll out, we were presented with the large plate below, the vegetable sides selected by our server, which also comprise the main options if the veggie combo ($16) is ordered. Clockwise from the top, kik alicha (split peas in curry), ye misir wat (split red lentils in berbere sauce), gomen (collard greens), tikil gomen (cabbage), shiro (ground chickpeas with onion and tomato), and fossolia (string beans and carrots in spicy garlic sauce).
Our first plate of extra injera (free with meal, and unlimited, below) also arrived at this time and we all glanced around wondering if we should just go for it or wait for the meat selections.
As the meal is also covering another sheet of injera, you will not be lacking for things to eat, only for stomach space. When our meat entrees arrived, they were expertly piled onto our plate in separate piles. Three options were laid in five piles in between the vegetables.
Our chicken option was doro tibs ($15), boneless chicken breast marinated with garlic, ginger, and dozens of other spices it seems. Lamb came in the form of yebeg awaze tibs ($18), cubes of boneless leg of lamb marinated with awaze and sauteed with fresh tomato, onion, and jalapeño. Last but not least, the beef selection was lega tibs ($16), tender beef cubes sauteed in the same manner as the lamb.
The meal almost won over even the most discerning of my friends who declared Ethiopian food his least favorite of any. The quote of at least the month was "This was my favorite least favorite food I have ever had."