Cold harsh weather probably calls for a movie night bundled in a warm blanket with a hot chocolate but not for Minnesotans. Though I have lived in Minnesota only for 6 years, I think I have adapted to this harsh Minnesota winter quite well. Hence a snowy day means just another winter day for me no matter how much I hate it! This time couple of my friends and I went to an Ethiopian restaurant that they have been raving about. So we made a plan to go after work so that I can see what all this fuss is about.
From outside it looks just like any other restaurants that you see on Snelling Avenue in St Paul but with a small private parking area (Bonus!). Small parking lot became even smaller due to Minnesota’s generous yearly winter blessing of snow and ice!!! Anyways it is good to have something than nothing. Inside the restaurant, they had a designated bar area and the rest was regular dining areas. As we sat to see menu, one distinctive thing I noticed immediately, was the names of all the dishes. Zilzil, Firfir, Fitfit to name some. They sounded really fun and catchy. I am pretty sure they mean something but it was the name that made me want to try the dish. Who doesn’t want to say “Can I have some Zilzil with a side of Fitfit?” Anyhow, we started off with some appetizers since we couldn’t decide what we wanted to eat (Everything looked so delicious, thanks to the pictures on the menu) and we were super hungry. So we went for something that we all knew and was foolproof, Samosas.
Samosas were served with some salad, which was equally good.
Since we wanted to try a lot of the dishes, we decided to go with The Ultimate Combination aka Fasika. This was basically a big platter of different food items available in their menu. Items in platter included salad, different kinds of beans, lentils, goat meat delicacies, chicken items, some homemade cheese, green spinach and vegetables. It was a lot of food; enough for 4 people. Plus this was served with Injera, which is a typical Ethiopian style pita bread. It is soft, spongy and porous and when eaten alone, it kind of taste sour, almost like eating stale bread. But the combination of this bread with others is just yum! You just tear a piece of Injera and dip it in one of those food items from the platter and eat it!
Isn’t the serving tray for the ultimate platter absolutely beautiful?
We also ordered a separate chicken item. This was included in the big platter too but we didn’t know when we ordered. This also came with Injera, a side of salad and homemade cheese. And this was spicy!!! Chicken drumstick and boil eggs mixed in a super spicy sauce. Not recommended if you can’t handle hot spicy food.
Nevertheless everything that we tried from the bread to the vegetables to the meat dishes had a very unique taste. This place definitely gets thumbs up for taste.
Now, few things I didn’t like about this place or things that can be improved. First thing, the service was pretty slow. I don’t think anyone was slacking. I think they were just understaffed for core dinner hours. Even after we asked for our check, we waited almost 10 minutes to get our bill. This place is not huge so I don’t know why it would take 10 minutes to print a bill. Second thing is not a big deal but still, if they don’t have something from the menu, they should let the customers know in advance. I saw that they had a variety of Ethiopian beers and wines. So I wanted to try but they didn’t have any of the Ethiopian drinks listed on their drinks menu. So either they should have marked it so that the customers knew in advance or should have informed the guest when the hostess brought the menus. And finally one of the tables was very close to the men’s room. I could see the bathroom commode from my seat. The bathroom wasn’t dirty. It is just that you don’t want to see a commode while you are eating. So maybe rearrange the seating chart a little. I am not trying to say anything bad but just giving some suggestions as a customer for things that can be improved. Food is already good here and with some changes in the service, things can be better! All in all, this is a good place if you are looking to try something new!
Here is the link to the restaurant’s website if you want more info!