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Manhattan Birthday Dinner

Birthday dinner - Awash and Kichenette


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Birthday dinner - Awash and Kichenette

krissywats | Jul 23, 2005 10:35 AM

Last night ten of us met at Awash to surprise my husband for a birthday dinner. I called about a week ago to make a reservation but I didn't feel that the woman on the phone 'got it'. She essentially said, "ok, 7pm is ok for us" and then didn't take my name or number or say 'goodbye' and hung up. That was weird. I decided to stop in, talk to whomever was there, introduce my girlfriend that would be coordinating the whole thing before we got there, etc. This proved much more successful. I spoke with an owner, made clear our intentions of surprise, asked about bringing a cake - at that point all was clear and they took my name and phone number.

I had heard good things about Awash (but never had Ethiopian food) so I was looking forward to it - was sort of hoping for the low tables, which they don't have, but that was ultimately of little importance.

The surprise went off beautifully, and once we all sat down and got settled, the server was there for our drink order. She was good natured and took the ribbing of one of our party in stride, she was the type of server that was there when we needed her but wasn't overbearing. She was also willing to do whatever we needed (we were going through the water so quickly we asked for a pitcher and she quickly obliged).

Unfortunately, they were out of a lot of beers, including the one Ethiopian beer they carry. This was disappointing to a few in the group (beer and wine enthusiasts) but we all quickly moved on to other drinks.

The hot wash clothes arrived and that was a nice touch, especially considering we'd be eating with our fingers.

We ordered several plates of Sambusas for the table (similar to Indian Samosas). The beef and chicken were great, but I didn't care for the vegetable. For me they were too much like overcooked mush-of-veggies that have one generic vegetable taste. Others seemed to enjoy them, but I particularly liked the chicken.

We ordered many things all across the menu and our server asked if we'd like to eat it communally. We said yes and three large plates piled high with chicken, beef, lamb, lentils, chick peas, collard greens, and the Teff bread with which to eat it all was placed on our table.

I had been warned about the bread. Three people I know told me they didn't care for it ahead of time. I looked up the recipe before going and understood immediately that A) it's an unfamiliar grain to our palate and B) the dough is fermented for several days. It had a very vinegary/fermented taste but not disturbingly so. Went very well with all of the dishes and was fun to eat.

My favorite was the Awash Chicken - I'm sensitive to really hot spice and this was perfect. The lentils tasted great but were SO hot. The lamb was a little gristly in bites, but had a great flavor. We didn't find one thing on the large platter that someone didn't love.

For a b-day gift, the restaurant gave my husband a bottle of Shiraz at the end of the meal. They didn't bring a bottle opener or glasses so we weren't sure if they were giving it to him for THIS meal (and if so, at the end wasn't helpful) or if we were welcome to take it home. We ended up doing the latter - no idea if that's what they had in mind.

Finally, I went to Kitchenette a few days beforehand to order something for dessert. With a friend, we decided on cupcakes and asked if they could do an assortment of all of their flavors: lemon, pumpkin, chocolate, vanilla, etc. No problem. $40 for 15 cupcakes. My girlfriend was to pick them up before heading to the restaurant last night. When she showed up they only had chocolate and vanilla boxed up. She threw a minor fit and went on about how much the birthday boy loves citrus so to appease her they threw in a small key lime pie (which is his favorite!).

I get that an assortment could be difficult to do in terms of how much batter they make at one time, but if it were a problem, I should not have been told they WOULD do it. Ultimately the key lime pie was redeeming and the cupcakes were fantastic: moist, dense, with cream cheese frosting that wasn't too sweet.

Awash was great about us bringing in our own dessert for a birthday (I asked when I set up the reservation).

Overall, a great evening. We'll be going back to Awash and I'll try more of Kitchenette's offerings.

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