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My Worst Dining Experience...Addis Red Sea

I went to Addis Red Sea on Tremont St. on Sat. night, and don't think I can adequately explain my disappointment, but I will try.

I had only tried Ethiopian once before, years ago, in Central Sq. I remember enjoying it very much.

I've wanted to check out Addis Red Sea for along time, and the only positive thing I can say is that I am glad I went on a random Sat., instead of for a bigger occasion, where I would have been even more disappointed.

For starters, we were starving, and it took at least 30 minutes for our app. to come... and when it finally arrived, it really wasn't that great. It was a meat filled, pastry pocket that tasted like it had been microwaved, and then quickly fried.

We then continued to wait for AT LEAST another 30 minutes for our entrees, during which time our waitress didn't check on us once to see how we were holding up. Someone (not our waitress) came over at one point and told us that our food would be coming 'soon', which wasn't the case at all.... I asked him for a glass of wine... which never came. I asked him again when I was able to get his attention, and it still took 15 minutes.

When our food finally arrived, one entree (the mild lamb) was ok, and the other (the fried fish) was awful.

The fish consisted of about 3 or 4 quarter sized flakes of fried white fish, hidden within a bowl of scraps... yes, it looked like the greasy, burnt, crusty, left-over scraps that are scraped off of a griddle after several uses and tossed in the trash. And it was one of the more expensive entrees on the menu. It looked as if someone attempted to fry a fish on a griddle, failed miserably, and then just scraped up all of the remnants in order to serve SOMETHING.

I'm not sure what the problem was, as we got there early (6pm)... it's not as if they were in the middle of their rush. It's the first time in my life that I have left a 10% tip, and it was well-deserved.

What have your experiences been there? Any suggestions for a better Ethiopian food experience?

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  1. I reported on Addis sometime within the past year.....my experience matched yours exactly. Food mediocre...Not only was the service horrible, it took a VERY long time to be seated, despite numerous empty tables. Further, I find the seating extremely uncomfortable. You sit on those chairs far away from those little tables, which are not at dining height. IIFC, I had on a short skirt and was distracted the entire time making sure that I wasn't giving "a show" sitting like that!

    4 Replies
      1. re: FrankieSandals

        probably a mis-cue, the 'f' and 'r' are close together.

      2. wow.
        i've never had anything but very good food and warm service. never really noticed an overly long wait for anything.
        sorry about your bad experience.

        1. Can anyone comment on whether the food/service is any better at the Mass. Ave. / Porter Square branch of Addis Red Sea?

          1 Reply
          1. I had a much better experience at the South End Addis Red Sea recently (in the past month), and over many years of patronage have never had the kind of meal there that the OP describes. Though slow pacing is something I expect in an Ethiopian fine-dining restaurant, an hour from ordering to arrival of entree seems awfully long. (I don't order apps much there, come to think of it. We usually get a variety of entrees, often a veggie combo and one of the meat combos, and ask for some teff injera, which adds up to plenty of food and variety for two diners.)

            My disappointments in the South End -- long waits, harried service, lukewarm food -- always seem to occur on weekends when the neighborhood is overrun with non-local diners. As a result, we tend to treat it like the North End, meaning we usually avoid dining out there Friday and Saturday evenings. I know that's hard for some people, but a lot of places just don't seem to be at their best during those peak periods, and the crowds make it tough to enjoy a leisurely cocktail before dinner at most places. It's annoying and counterintuitive (shouldn't you be geared up to be at your best at those peak times?), but long experience has beat that lesson into us.

            4 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              with you there. never during peak times. never.
              (actually we hardly ever dine out on 'amateur nights')

              but an early Tuesday or Wednesday night? always been Very Good.

              1. re: ScubaSteve

                So it's the OP's fault for chosing to dine on a Saturday? Or were you just calling them amateurs.

                I've had a similar slow experience in the Porter Sq location, although the food was decent... on a wednesday.

                1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                  Funny that this should come up- just tried the Mass Ave location on Saturday for the first time, after meaning to check it out for a long time. Even though it was late and the place wasn't terribly crowded, it did seem like a bit of a long wait, not awful, just a bit slow. Service was pleasant if a bit scattered- seemed like we never had the same server twice. The low tables _are_awkward- the large base means that if you are wearing a skirt you have to twist your torso the whole dinner to keep your knees together on one side.
                  Most importantly the food was pretty "meh" my lemony chicken (forgot the name) was tasty and spicy, but the vegetable sides were really disappointing. The collard greens were basically unseasoned and a little undercooked, "mixed vegetables" were unseasoned potatoes, green beans and carrots. The chickpea paste was the most interesting of the vegetable sides, but it was also very odd- too much "raw legume flavor" for my western palate. My DC's beef entree was rubbery chunks of beef in a buttery but bland sauce.

                  1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                    no. i'm just saying that imo you are much more likely to get quality, un-rushed and attentive service on a night when a restaurant is less busy. this also goes for quality of food as the kitchen is less likely to get in the weeds. and the general tone will be better when all staff are not so focused on turning the room.