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Feb 23, 2013 05:02 AM

(Raleigh) Just haven't seen these places mentioned: Taste, Abyssinia, Tasca Brava

Good morning! Just searched and didn't seen that either Taste or Abyssinia had been mentioned before, so just a quick note. Abyssinia is that Ethopian restaurant in Mission Valley that has been here for a very, very long time. I had always been curious as to what the cuisine is, so last night we took the plunge. I'm wasn't (& still am not) familiar at all with the cuisine of Ethopia, but what I had was tasty and flavorful and fresh. I think a good amount of spices are used in their cooking, so when you walk in, you are greeted by a very pungent aroma that I am wondering may still be sticking to my jacket. Anyway, the bottom line is I am not really sure what I ate, but I liked it - think I'll take my Mom back for lunch one day and see what she thinks.

We stopped by Taste on Medlin Drive (across the street from the original Crowley's) on the way back home. Since we had just eaten, we just ordered drinks and wanted to check out the space because I knew the new chef and owner are in the process of changing the menu (I think they said new menu should be up and running in the next couple of weeks). Anyway, the bar scene was vibrant and reasonably priced and had a great neighborhood-type feel. There were still diners at the table at 9:30 at night, so I thought that was another good sign. It is another place I would like to return to. I think they just have a Facebook page for now, so I included the link below.
2109-146 Avent Ferry Rd Raleigh, NC 27606
(919) 664-8151

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  1. REALLY? Ethopian? I am SO happy. I'm coming to Raleigh soon and I'll make a point. Before moving to Charleston, I lived in DC. THere were several great Ethiopian restaurants within walking distance of that closet I called my apartment. I got hooked and have missed it since then.

    The stuff you couldn't recognize could have been lentils all ground up. Didn't you love eating with your hands!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sue in Mt P

      It was a fun adventure! I always like to try new things, and this was a good one! However, I have to admit that spongy bread for eating the entree kinda freaked me out with its appearance and texture. Tasty, though!

      If you are unfamiliar with Raleigh, let me give you a quick idea of what you are looking for. This is an older shopping center on the back side of the NC State Univ campus at the intersection of Avent Ferry and Western. Abyssia is a couple of spaces down from the movie theater -- another great, dated, establishment that serves beer. In that same shopping center is yummy Baja Burritos (self-explanatory) and Nur Grocery & Deli, a terrific little Middle Eastern spot.

    2. I haven't been to Abyssinia in a few years, but I was going there a few times a year in the mid-00s when I got up to Raleigh more often and always really enjoyed it.

      IIRC my go-to was Yebeg Wat, which was lamb in a red pepper sauce. I also remember getting Yebeg Alicha, but I forget what precisely that was. It was also lamb, but the sauce was different-as I recall, lighter in color and less spicy.

      1. I tried Abyssinia once about 7 years ago. Perhaps it was an off night. Service was appalling, it took almost an hour to get food and our beverages and there was only one other table occupied in the place. We ordered three dishes, lamb was one. All tasted identical and the meat was cooked to the point of being hard and impossible to identify. The seating was uncomfortable to boot.

        I have never had any inclination to go back.

        I have had and enjoyed Ethiopian food in other cities. Our meal at Abbyssian was basically burnt bits all covered with the same hot sauce which had plenty of burn but no real flavor.

        3 Replies
        1. re: meatn3

          I've eated at Abyssinia a couple of times in the past few years. Each time the service was ridiculously slow, despite the restaurant being nearly empty. I thought the food was okay, although a bit overpriced based on the portion sizes. I've no desire to go purely because of the bad service.

          1. re: meatn3

            Not my experience at all with the food-the wat/alicha dishes couldn't have been more different in terms of flavoring, and the meat was cooked just fine.

            Now the service was very slow, I completely agree. It didn't bother me at the time because I had been dragooned into going to Raleigh in the first place and was, let's say, not entirely displeased at taking an extended lunch.

            1. re: Naco

              I think we just had a bad night. You really couldn't differentiate between the dishes. My other experiences have had very nuanced flavors and nice variety between dishes - so this was quite different.

          2. Interesting! I'd say the restaurant was at about 33% capacity (maybe a little more) when we were there and the wait staff was falling all over themselves to be attentive. Maybe they've gotten bad reviews elsewhere and shaped up?

            1. *moderators, can you add "Tasca Brava" to the subject line of the thread? I posted this same review on the Mateo thread (, but was thinking it was more appropriate here (e.g. a thread about restaruarnts that had not been previously mentioed on the Southeast board.

              OH GOOD GOD. This is my first really critical review, I think. Bad. Bad. Bad. Experience.

              We went to Tasca Brava last night. My first - and last - time.

              Just to start, the entire experience took forever --- we were there from 8:15 - 11:15. If you asked for bread - even have to ask 3 times - you are SOL. The only thing you can get is water they want to push on you. "Still" does not equal tap water, which equals another charge on your bill.

              As far as wine goes, we were told my selection was a "killer" but I had to hunt the guy down to get a second glass and he never came back to the table to refill anyone's wine glasses.

              So, you should imagine that a place that uses copious amounts of salt in EVERYTHING, you would imagine the purpose is to get your to drink more. But, in reality, they just want to cover up the flavors and make you so damn thirsty.

              The waiter/owner never answered honestly to a direct question unless you are ready to hear a 10 minute dissertation about how something is being made, but miserably fails.

              As far as the food goes, one appetizer of 4 shrimp arrived in sauce and on crostada, but -- for some freaking reason still had the shell on it, as well as all of the little shrimp feet. So that means having to peel it and getting the sauce all over your fingers, etc. The melted cheese in bread appetizer was so salty that it was basically inedible.

              The empanadas were the appetizer special. But not so special after all. They were the size of a half-dollar and deep fried in some vastly inferior pastry. The beef - of which I ordered one chicken and one beef, but got 2 beefs - was so spicy it was inedible, and on top of it, I had specifically asked this for my entree, but was brought out early with the other appetizers. Later, it is my opinion, the same empanadas were put back in the deep fryer to reheat. That is what it tasted like,anyway, for the 2 bites I had before setting them aside. At 10:30 at night having ordered not a long time after we got there at 8:15.

              We were a table of 6. My BF ordered the pork tenderloin with rice and goat cheese sauce. The pork DEFINITELY WAS NOT MADE THE DAY OF SERVICE. I tasted as well and it tasted like it was 2 days ago. To make us wait almost 2 hours for the entree and to get an entree that was so obviously pre-made and dry is the most pathetic experience I have ever had. It was utterly dry and tough and -- well, I don't know what else to say about how miserable it was.

              The replacement grouper, though in taste better, there was every indication of it having been pre-made as well. So, if everything is pre-made, why did this night from hell take 3 hours? Take me out of my misery and give me the bill. BUT WAIT - THERE IS MORE....

              Basically, I am putting up with no service, hours of waiting, lousy food, but I am not putting up with the request of an itemized bill.

              So, for our table of 6, the over-charging was $378, including a 20% gratuity from a persona that took forever and insulted us and left us thirsty and starving and never brought us the semblance of a snack of bread while we were waiting interminably. This bill must have included a 150% sitting tax.

              Although everyone had an entree except for me, the idea of basically charging me $60 for 2 glasses of wine and 4 shrimp with shells on it is the epitome of horrible customer service and trying to figure out ways to run customers out of his restaurant. (My BF's point of view from a fellow past-restauranteur of the waiter/owner is "I cannot trust anybody and I want to push and BS all my customers and forget about getting a precise answer about your food or bill. I am the fox, you are the chicken. Come in and get devoured. See you next time."

              I love to go out to eat and enjoy almost any type of cuisine. I think this is the first critical review I have posted. I can be extremely forgiving, especially when the restaurant makes amends in some way with their customer service. That was not at all the case here. Not even a little bit.

              The reason why we did this review is either to improve the restaurant or to warn you about it. Now you know what you get. Feel free to say I am wrong.