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Fasika - Strange...

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Last Wednesday was my boyfriend's birthday and he decided he'd like to try Ethiopian food. I had read about Fasika on this board and thought it would fit the bill. I checked their web site and saw that they open at 5 p.m., which worked for me because I get out of work downtown at 5. Remember, last Wednesday was the day it was slushing out. Very unpleasant.

We got to the restaurant at 5:20 and there were two people sitting at the bar talking to the bartender. They were all very friendly, but the bartender told us they were a little slow in the kitchen that night, so could we come back in half an hour. He said the cook was still chopping food. Neither my boyfriend nor I drink, so we headed back out into the cold, wet muck. We came back half an hour later and the bartender said they still weren't ready yet, but he seated us at a table and brought us soft drinks on the house for while we waited. The only other people in the place were the two people at the bar.

So we waited. And waited. The big screen TVs (one in the bar, and one in the restaurant) were on loud, and the ambience was non-existent. I suppose if we were sitting at the bar, we wouldn't have felt so out of place, but we stay away from bars. From where I was sitting, I could see into the kitchen. The Ethiopian woman who was in there didn't seem to be cooking or chopping any food at all. We couldn't hear any cooking noises, and I saw her picking up pots and pans and shrugging her shoulders. It looked like she was either looking for something or like she had no idea what she was doing in the kitchen. After half an hour, she came out to us and told us that she was sorry we had to wait, but that the waitress was very late. We expected her to take our orders herself, but she just turned and walked back into the kitchen. Then she made a phone call and spoke very animatedly to the other person, all the while, picking up pots and shrugging her shoulders.

We gave her 10 minutes during which time nothing changed. We thanked the bartender for the drinks, and left. It was 6:30.

What was that all about?!!! I understand that unforeseen circumstances can throw everything off, but why didn't they just tell us up front, instead of having us wait for nothing? I wonder how long it would have taken them to let us know what was going on. I don't know if we'll ever go back.

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  1. And not like the woman couldn't take an order for two people. That's a drag.

    1. Yeah, this is one of the hazards of trying out some of the smaller places. Pity.

      Specific to Ethiopian food, I tried out Fasika and Asmara once each, but eventually settled on Addis Red Sea (Tremont St). Excellent food, slow but good service and nice ambience.

      1 Reply
      1. re: butter_chicken

        And, as mentioned in other posts, Addis is opening a second location in the Porter vicinity.

      2. The atmosphere at Fasika is surely seriously lacking, but when my girl and I tried it a month ago or so, the food was great (and cheap).

        That's weird about your experience (or lack of experience) there. Thanks for sharing though - I'll be calling ahead from now on before I leave.

        1. Sounds to me like the chef didn't show up for work on time and she was just stalling you, trying to hang on to a couple of potential paying customers in hopes someone who knew how to cook would arrive.

          1. Very Strange..

            Yep, sounds like one of the hazards of a place like this. Think of them as a dicey bar that sometimes serves Ethiopian food, rather than a restaurant. You caught them very early in the evening on what was surely a slow night (a weekday with nasty weather). Not to excuse your experience there, which doesnt sound fun.

            Read around on the boards a little more - those of us who have said we liked the place have done so on the basis of food, I don't think anyone has suggeted the place offers much in the way of atmosphere or graceful service. Most posters have mentioned the awkwardness of the bar/resto split, the strange service issues, etc. To my mind, it is not a good place for a birthday celebration, especially if you are not interested in the bar portion of the room.

            The food is still good (though by no means among the best Ethiopian I have ever tried), and if you have never tried Ethiopian, it might be worth a trip back sometime when you are in the mood for casual and funky. Try them on a Thrusday or Friday and go later, like 7:00 or so. They seem like a place that does better when busy.

            Addis Red Sea might have been a better pick for a celebration, or perhaps some Brazilian Fish Stew at Moqueca. Sorry about your bad experience, esp on a birthday.

            1. We were totally bummed when the Fasika's on S. Huntington closed. I thought it was the best and most authentic Ethiopian restaurant in Boston for the past few years. So we were delighted when we learned it had been reincarnated, more or less, in Somerville.

              My happiness was short-lived. We went on Saturday night, and the whole time we ate, a DJ was setting up equipment and sending flashing lights in our direction.

              We ordered the Fasika Fish, which had been a favorite at the old place. It was horrible. The fish was old and tasted it. We sent it back and got a vegetable dish as a replacement. The vege dishes (various lentil preparations, etc) were adequate but not up to the standards of the old Fasika's. They also did not have whole grain injera available. Overall, big disappointment. Still miss the old Fasika's!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Annediamo

                That's funny what you say about the old location because when they were on S. Huntington, I went twice and both times they were not serving food and was told to come back later. Granted the first time was a bit early, but the 2nd time it was at least 7PM. I decided to try them a third time, but by then they had already closed down.

                I happened to be at Costco in Everett last Sat and decided to stop in after I was done. It was around 4:30 and nothing was happening except for a few dregs hanging outside smoking butts and a few people slumped over their drinks at the bar. Just like their old location, I was told to come back later. Needless to say, I am done with Fasika's. I don't know what their story is, but it seems like it's some kind of front for something else. Obviously, serving food isn't their number 1 priority. At least at Addis, you wait an hour or so, but the food eventually does come.

                To me, it's a new location, but the same old problems.