Queen of Sheba, Chapel Hill
I just noticed that Queen of Sheba made Greg Cox's list of top 10 new restaurants in the Triangle. I did not realize that they had opened in a new location.
Have any Ethiopian food aficionados tried it? Back in the mid '90s, the QoS's owner, Friesh, had a terrific little Ethiopian takeout place, the Blue Nile, on Chapel Hill Rd in Durham (the way, way back location of Suman's Indian takeout, before Suman opened on Main St, and back when that was the only Indian food to be found in all of Durham). Then the Blue Nile moved to Lakewood, and the quality of the food went way, way down. I also was not particularly fond of the Carrboro Queen of Sheba food. I found much of it to be non-distinctive, underseasoned, and not terribly fresh-tasting. But I know Friesh knows how to cook, and I love great Ethiopian, so it would be great if this new incarnation of Queen of Sheba is really that good.
Not sure why, but I cannot get any comments about this restaurant to show up in the search. I know there were comments about the new place in Chapel Hill that were posted here and they seemed positive. I would think it would definitely be worth a try. They've updated their web site, too:
I tried it last month. I love Ethiopian food, and lived in an area of DC where there are probably 10 different Ethiopian restaurants, so I've eaten a lot of it. I did like Queen of Sheba. I would say that of the 5 things we tried, 4 were hits. I thought the chicken dish was just sort of eh (something like chicken with ginger), but I loved the kik watt (I think she calls it something slightly different, but it is the spiciest of the lentil dishes) and thought it was as good as any I've ever had. The side dishes she chose to go with each were also very good. A fresh tomato salad and a potato salad. We also tried the samosa-type things as an appetizer (my brain must be blanking, all I can think to call them is sambucas, which is definitely wrong). These were pleasant, not the best I've had, but nice. I think it would help if they did a little more with the space - the atmosphere is a little bland and unwelcoming, but everyone was very helpful and charming and nice.
Yeah I have been once since it reopened. Definitely a better space than the former place. Unfortunately, when I was in DC I did not get to visit their well known Ethiopian food staples. I don't have anything to compare it too as far as whether it is a good representation of the food. I did like what I ate (don't remember what it was), but felt like for the price there could be more of it. The areas wehre the food as sat makes the injera very hard to pick up and eat but that just may be the way it goes. I thought eating with my hands would be easy but it does take some getting use to. Same with chopsticks.. I still have no idea how to eat rice with them.
We ate there not too long after she'd re-opened. We had some trouble finding the restaurant but that's probably due to the fact that it was pouring that night and we really don't know CH all that well. We thought the food was pretty much the same as it had always been, which is to say we enjoyed it. It's been a while, but I remember our major complaint was that the food was expensive. Not so much that the prices were high but that the amount of food served seemed far too little for what was being charged. I also would have preferred the availability of more Ethiopian style dining, as opposed to Western style, but I'm sure that's dictated by space limitations and customer demand.
All in all, Friesh is a lovely person and I wish her long and continue success. I'd also like to hear if anyone has a more recent experience to relate.
We have a tradition of going to Queen of Sheba on Christmas Eve (as well as other times, but that was our most recent visit).
We're never left wanting for more food -- our M.O. is to get two veggie and two fish combination platters and share as a family of four. Sometimes we get a meat dish, but the shrimp and fish are hard to beat.
Now granted, two of the four are pre-teens, but they love the food as much as Mom and Dad, so we're all eating our fair share.
The spicy red lentils and the fish tibs are my favorite. The sides are great, too -- vinegary tomatoes, cabbage, green beans and potatoes...yum.
I continue to love this place, and I totally agree that Friesh and family are super-nice. They deserve our support and they have our loyalty!
I just hosted a birthday party there for 11 last week. The waiter suggested we choose the large group option: $20 a person included appetizer, 3 vegetable dishes, 1 beef dish, 1 chicken dish, 1 fish dish, 3 sides, and butter coffee. Everything was delicious and on par with the places I used to eat at when I lived in DC. Friesh was a lovely hostess, very accommodating and gave us three times more food than we could eat. We all took boxes home with us.
My main complaint is that the waiter was a bit inept and clueless and that the wines, at $37.50 a bottle, are overpriced (at least in my opinion).