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Mar 25, 2007 08:02 AM

Dashen-Worst Service EVER (MSP)

Last night me, my husband and a friend went to Dashen, an Ethiopian restaurant on Lake Street. We walked in and were told to sit where we wanted. They brought us menus right away. A few minutes later they brought us water, but didn't ask if we wanted a drink (which I thought was weird since it has a huge bar and is a nightclub after 10:00.) The third time they came by was for our food order.

Now, I say "they" because we didn't have a server. We had two servers and a bartender waiting on us all night. No one quite knew what was going on.

My husband orders Tibs and one of their five Ethiopian Beers on the menu. He was told they only have one of the five beers in stock, so that's what he ordered. I ordered Tibs in Berbere Sauce and a beer. My friend ordered Doro Wat, but with Rice, since he is allergic to wheat gluten, and rice is an option for all enterees.

The guy who took our order, comes back and asks what we ordered again, since he didn't write it down the first time. He comes back again in about 5 minutes to tell us there is no rice. This is a problem. Doro Wat cannot be eaten without something to sop up the sauce, so my friend asks for a menu. A different guy gives him a menu and we are talking about it, and I ask if they can run to one of the local Mexican places and get some rice. His face lights up and says "Maybe."

The same guy went into the kitchen and comes back and we are told that the cook could make rice, but it takes half an hour, can we wait? Yes, but we need a menu to order some appetizers. We get a menu and order the meat sambusas. They are out of the meat sambusas.

Of course they are.

We order the lentil sambusas and the BBQ chicken wings. He says yes to the sambusas and maybe to the chicken wings.

Along the line there are some screw ups with drinks, like the bartender filling a order for beer and it sitting on the bar and us having to get it ourselves. And filling our glasses with soda water instead of real water.

Half an hour later, about the time the rice should have been getting done, we got our chicken wings and sambusa. Both were very good. No complaints there.

Another 15 minutes later, my friend got his Doro Wat and rice. It came with two chicken wings instead of one, as it should, and no hardcooked egg, as it should. I'm guessing they didn't have the heart to tell us they were out of something else.

When my husband and I didn't get our good right away, we told our friend to eat. That was good, because it was another 15 minutes before we got our food. Which was good. They served it on plates on top of the bread, instead of just on the bread, which would be normal. We just dumped our plates on to the injera.

The food was good. Not the best I've ever had, but good. It just took FOREVER and they were out of so much food. It was really sad. Based on the food, we would have gone back, but because of the service, I doubt we ever will.

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  1. What a story. They were just trying to give you a true developing world dining experience, and at no extra charge.

    Just out of curiosity, do Ethiopian restaurants in the mid-West make their injera out of teff (as in Ethiopia) or wheat flour? Your friend may not be allergic to teff.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Varies. I think the Blue Nile uses teff.

    2. wow, this is awful, and rather a shame because I like the Dashen takeout I have gotten from the coops. I hope the folks at Dashen will read this and realize that they have a problem.

      What kinds of experiences have other people had at Dashen?

      10 Replies
      1. re: Cassandra

        I just ate there two weekends ago. Food was great. We were waited on by two different people, and one of them (the bartender) was much more helpful than the waiter. There is some variation in the waitstaff; some are more helpful than others, some speak far better English than others. Service was slow. Slow to get drinks, slow to get food, slow to get the check.

        And it always will be, and I don't care. Having had a lot of personal experience with east African immigrants, Somalis in particular, to them the concept of time is very different than it is to Westerners. When I make a trip to an east African restaurant, I expect the experience to be very, ah, unrushed, shall we say.

        Dashen uses teff, not wheat.

        The plates on top of the injera is weird though, I've never had that happen to me there.

        1. re: Mill City Modern

          I would agree with Mill City Modern - concept of time isn't the same to us Westerners. Having dined out at the other east African places - Blue Nile and Red Sea - I know they make everything from scratch and yes, it took forever for us to get our food. And at the Red Sea, they also forgot our drinks until our food was ready.
          Sorry you had such an awful experience!

          1. re: martaru

            I think a number of places combine teff with some wheat flour so it would be
            important to ask about the wheat issue.

            1. re: martaru

              I've eaten at a variety of Ethiopian and Somali restaurants. I've never experienced slowness like this before. It was actually comical. The other East African patrons were also going up to the bar to get their own drinks

              And it wasn't just the slowness that was bad, it was that they were out of everything and apparently didn't know that their injera was made of teff, not wheat, because my friend said, "I'm alergic to wheat" and the wait staff said "you shouldn't eat the bread then."

          2. re: Cassandra

            We've eaten at Dashen 3 or 4 times in the last year. In my opinion, the food (both portion size and quality) has slid each time we go there. Service has been consistently friendly but slow. We've always expected the pace to be slow, but don't mind this as we've gone with friends and enjoyed the opportunity to hang out. We have not had any problem with forgetfulness,etc. sorry to hear about your disappointment.

            We will probably go back to Dashen if we're in the area, but we're on the lookout for other opportunities. We'll probably check out Fasika or Queen of Sheba first.


            1. re: bob s

              With all this talk, I had a major craving for Ethiopian last night and we went to Fasika. The place was swamped and the staff did seem overwhelmed but they were relatively quick and friendly. The food was amazing as always, and my husband had two of the Ethiopian beers and they were surprising good - it was a stout and had a similar coffee taste to many more common stouts (I'm not a beer person in case you can't tell).

              I only go to Blue Nile if we can't make it over to Fasika. The place always seems empty and kind of depressing, like they're waiting for huge crowds to show up. I also don't like how they always seems to have clueless college kids as servers. The good side is that they do have an excellent bar selection.

              1. re: katebauer

                Fasika is next on our list. Thanks for the hint on the beer.

                I agree with you about the feel Blue Nile. One good thing about it, though, is that it makes it a fairly kid-friendly place. We've gone with our young kids a few times without incident. (the big problem is trying to come up with food that's acceptable for picky eaters.)


                1. re: bob s

                  I think you'd be fine at Fasika also. There were at least 2 kids there last night between 3 and 5 years old and no one batted an eye.

                  My husband and I were actually talking about how much fun Ethiopian food would be for little kids - it's acceptable to eat with your hands and pull things apart!

                2. re: katebauer

                  Oh, but the people do show up at Blue Nile. Stop by at 11:00 on a Saturday night and the line is out the door. Live bands, dancing, good beer, it is a great place.

                  1. re: churchka

                    I figured the bar was pretty busy later in the night, but that doesn't change the fact that we want to go for dinner, and it's kinda depressing.

                    (I don't think I've arrived anywhere at 11pm in about 5 years (I'm a very boring almost 30-something :)