On Friday we dined at The Blue Nile restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan where they serve traditional Ethiopian food. We had a group of six and it was a unique experience with delicious food. The service was a bit slow at first, but we were having such a good time talking that we hardly noticed. Once the starters came, the wait staff was very attentive and friendly. It was a Friday night toward the end of Ann Arbor’s Restaurant Week and I’m guessing they were swamped. The photo above is the woven basket that sat on top of our table, which was made out of the same woven material. The seating arrangement had us sitting around it as if it were a bonfire.
We were allowed to choose from three starters and between the six of us, all of the selections were represented. I went for the mysterious soup of the day, which only said that it had simmered all day long and that was enough for me. It was silky and flavorful without being heavy. My first guesses were that it was a potato or bean soup (pureed), but it was a cauliflower soup with a touch of cumin. The lentil salad was possibly the best thing I tried. It was very fresh with what I imagine was lemon juice along with spices and a touch of jalapeno, but not spicy. The people in the group that chose the timatim salad (basic green salad) were not excited about their starter, but I didn’t try it.
Above is the main course. We chose between Vegetarian or Meat, basically. The photo above does not have the meat, but shortly after the photo was taken they added chicken (Doro Alecha), spicy chicken (Doro Wat) and spicy beef (Zilzil Wat). All were very good. Most of the chicken was on drumsticks and fell right off the bone. The vegetarian options above are (let’s start with the easy-to-spot collard greens and go clock-wise, shall we?) Collard greens (Gomen), red lentils in sauce (Yemisir Kik Wat), sauteed cabbage (Tekil Gomen), brown lentils (Defen Yemisir Alecha), mixed vegetables, spicy yellow split-peas (Metin Shiro Wat) and mashed yellow peas (Kik Alecha).
My sister-in-law deemed the red lentils in sauce the best, but my favorite was surprisingly the sauteed cabbage. Marc loved the cabbage, too, but the spicy yellow split-peas were his favorite. Everything was quite delicious and I did not shy away from any of the options. You use stretchy and holey bread to scoop up what you want to eat. All of the food above was served on a bed of the special bread. If you are a germophobe, I recommend not going with anyone you suspect of not being a hand washer. They do give you piping hot towels before and after the meal, which made me happy. I snapped a shot of Marc inspecting the bread.
I do not have any dessert photos for you, but we were able to choose from rice pudding, raspberry or lemon sherbet and sponge cake. The meal was very filling and we all decided that the bread must expand once it hits your stomach. We barely had room for the dessert, but enjoyed the sweet treat at the end. They were selling an Ethiopian cookbook in a glass case close to our table and I wondered if the lentil salad recipe was in there. I will be taking a closer look the next time we visit.
I really love trying new food and I have yet to try Indian food. I’m a little afraid, but people seem to go crazy for it. What is the best new food you’ve tried? Should I just get over it and try Indian food already? I’m pretty sure the answer to that last one is yes.