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Is there such a thing as an upscale Ethiopian restaurant?

porky pine Feb 11, 2008 10:05 PM

I've been to a 12 course Thai fusion restaurant, crazy good high class Indian fusion restaurants and prix fixe Mexican restaurants. I've yet to eat at a high class Ethiopian restaurant, generally the places I go are divey, but excellent. Are there any fancy Ethiopian restraurants or such a thing as Ethiopian fusion?

  1. b
    Big Bad Voodoo Lou Feb 17, 2011 11:38 AM

    I've only had Ethiopian food once (and loved it), at Nile restauarant here in Orlando. I definitely wouldn't call it divey at all. It isn't necessarily a white-linen tablecloth kind of place, but it was very nice, and not cheap either.

    1. r
      racer x May 11, 2008 01:40 PM

      Merkato 55 is an upscale pan-African restaurant that recently opened in Manhattan (star chef Marcus Samuelsson, who is part Ethiopian). There are some Ethiopian touches on the menu - eg kitfo, injera.
      I haven't been so can't offer a personal opinion.

      2 Replies
      1. re: racer x
        soupkitten Feb 17, 2011 07:47 AM

        how exactly is chef m. samuelsson "part" ethiopian? he's 100% ethiopian, just raised in sweden. . . but being adopted does not actually change anyone's genetic ancestry.

        1. re: soupkitten
          racer x Feb 17, 2011 10:35 AM

          I believe he is an American citizen, and he was raised in Sweden. His training was in Europe.
          You don't learn how to cook from your genetic ancestry.

      2. t
        tvdxer Apr 3, 2008 08:34 AM

        Ghenet in Manhattan is hardly divey.

        284 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

        1. l
          ladybee Feb 21, 2008 03:16 PM

          Caffe Adulis in New Haven CT is great! or at least it was when i lived there some years ago! it offered good cocktails, wine and a nice atmosphere.

          1. nliedel Feb 21, 2008 12:27 PM

            Gotta second the Blue Nile comment from MacArthur Mike. Excellent food (Ann Arbor) and excellent atmosphere.

            1. r
              rjm1604 Feb 21, 2008 12:11 PM

              There is a new place called Desta in Atlanta's "Little Ethiopia" (Briarcliff and Clairmont). I've eaten there several times and would consider it upscale, at least in terms of freshness and quality of ingredients.

              1. l
                lowandslow Feb 21, 2008 11:43 AM

                in Boston Addis Red Sea on Tremont St. is upscale. The injera is really white white white though. It has almost no sour flavor. I much prefer Fasika (way divey) at least the old Fasika in JP, can't speak to the new Fasika in Somerville...

                1. Eat_Nopal Feb 21, 2008 10:13 AM

                  Personally I think the beauty of Ethiopian cuisine is that it can deliver exotic dishes, using fine ingredients & a cool atmosphere (I have been fanned by pretty Ethiopian girls while listening to traditional Salterio-like music)... without having to pay upscale prices. Honestly, the best traditional Ethiopian restaurants produce food that is more compelling (thanks to classic recipes that have been culled and perfected over a millenium) than most fusion or inventive dishes that our most famous chefs can come up with.

                  I don't understand the obsession for "Upscale" renditions of ethnic food. The reason we must have Upscale version of American, German, English cuisine etc., is because the traditional versions range from not very exciting... to downright bad. Anyway I guess if you want to pay more for inferior food... who am I to judge.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Eat_Nopal
                    Sam Fujisaka Feb 21, 2008 11:01 AM

                    Although the milleniums old food in the Ethiopian countryside is generally prertty bad.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                      Eat_Nopal Feb 21, 2008 12:07 PM

                      We all know purely peasant food is usually dreary... the treasurs of Ethiopian cuisine are the result of palace cuisine that existed as far back as King Tut.... the nice thing about many Ancient Palace Cuisines.... is that they have lived on in the grassroots and can be so affordable.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal
                        Sam Fujisaka Feb 21, 2008 01:48 PM

                        Funny you would say that. Peasant food in Mexico (!), Guatemala, Laos, Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Bolivia, ... is great! The problem in rural Ethiopia is poverty and lack of vegetables.

                  2. orangewasabi Feb 19, 2008 09:30 PM

                    I am totally looking forward to going back to Minneapolis to try T's Place - Ethiopian Asian fusion. There are a couple positive reviews on the mdwest board.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: orangewasabi
                      soupkitten Feb 21, 2008 10:19 AM

                      specifically, it's ethiopian-singaporean.

                    2. dagoose Feb 14, 2008 01:58 PM

                      There is one in seattle. It's not 12 course fusion, but I enjoyed it... http://seattleweekly.com/2008-02-13/f...

                      1. Sam Fujisaka Feb 14, 2008 03:53 AM

                        There is at least one upscale Ethiopian in Nairobi. Can't remember the name.

                        1. Ruth Lafler Feb 13, 2008 09:44 PM

                          What about places that are between "upscale" and "divey"? Most of the Ethiopian restaurants where I live are "nice": attractive decor, but not fancy or upscale, nor culinarily innovative.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                            porky pine Feb 13, 2008 10:03 PM

                            I guess what I should have asked about originally was if there were any culinarily innovative Ethiopian restaurants out there. I have eaten at some Ethiopian restaurants with attractive decor and the food there is usually similar to the divey Ethiopian restaurants I've been to. I really like most the Ethiopian food I've had and good food to me is more important then atmosphere. I think Ethiopian fusion food has a lot of pontential.

                          2. w
                            wayne keyser Feb 13, 2008 05:09 PM

                            Fusion? There bleedin' oughta be, but I don't think there are yet. When I buy injera for home use (we're lucky to have scads of Ethiopian markets nearby) I use them to eat everything from my own versions of Ethiopian, to curries, and even plain cottage cheese. Anything they serve at a kebab house could be eaten with injera. Enterpreneurial chefs, can you step up and give it a try?

                            Upscale - yeah, I'm used to seedy rooms with missing ceiling tiles and decor leftover from the previous owner. But just opened in Arlington VA is Meaza (5440 Columbia Pike) with a large and elegant dining room, stylishly decorated in lovely wood, a place I would not hesitate to take a respected guest.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: wayne keyser
                              porky pine Feb 13, 2008 09:23 PM

                              I think an Ethipoian fusion restaurant would take off if done well here in SF, Portland or Seattle. I love the seedy Ethiopian restaurants here too because I can eat great food for under ten bucks but I think it would be interesting if regional chefs could put a twist on the cuisine.

                              1. re: wayne keyser
                                alkapal Feb 14, 2008 02:11 AM

                                hey wayne, what is the cross street on columbia?

                                1. re: alkapal
                                  wayne keyser Feb 21, 2008 01:04 PM

                                  Forgot - it's just a couple blocks East of Rte 7 (before you get as far East as Carlin Springs). On the North side of Columbia Pike, next thing down from the strip that has Circuit City in it.

                                  1. re: wayne keyser
                                    alkapal Mar 15, 2008 12:55 AM

                                    thanks, i think i know the spot.

                                2. re: wayne keyser
                                  MsDiPesto Apr 3, 2008 10:40 AM

                                  Have you been there yet? I'd love to find an Ethiopian place where I actually got my food before everyone who came in after me.

                                3. yumcha Feb 13, 2008 04:49 AM

                                  Le Nile Bleu in Montreal has a sister restaurant which I feel is jungle-chic. Lots of low lighting, gorgeous plants to decorate - just gorgeous atmosphere. I feel it is upscale without being something it is not.

                                  Also their cocktails are wonderful! :)

                                  1. s
                                    silverlakebodhisattva Feb 12, 2008 09:51 AM

                                    In L.A., I think "Meals By Genet" qualifies. . .

                                    r gould-saltman
                                    no avatar

                                    1. coney with everything Feb 12, 2008 04:36 AM

                                      In the Detroit area, the Blue Nile restaurants (one in Ferndale, one in Ann Arbor) are not divey.

                                      1. m
                                        MacArthur Mike Feb 12, 2008 02:18 AM

                                        If you are ever in Washington, DC try Zed's. Food is good, not divey at all, and I would consider it more upscale without the "upscale" prices....

                                        Zed's Ethiopian Cuisine
                                        1201 28th St NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: MacArthur Mike
                                          hill food Apr 4, 2008 02:14 AM

                                          Zed's is nice and a more white linen place than others, just not the best anymore (but they do have pictures of Hillary eating there in the early 90's)

                                          porky: when I lived in SF, the problem was the restauranteurs were so strictly Coptic, that half the menu was not offered on most nights.

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