Have you ever asked yourself whatit would be like if your favourite hole in the wall mom & pop restaurant was turned into a trendy resto-lounge? Me neither, until today.
The good news:
The food of Messob D'Or is back, and just as good as ever. Actually, there is a little more variety on Magdala's menu than was ever at Messob D'Or, but the purpose of my trip was to see if one of my favourite restos had indeed risen from the dead, so we ordered only dishes that used to be on Messob's menu.
The chef is indeed the same as at the old resto, (he recognized me, and came over to say hi.) though I'm not sure if he's owner or even part owner of this new venture. One dish, the tibs, was very different than it's equivalent at Messob, but was still quite tasty. The shiro wat was exactly the same, which made me quite happy, as it was my favourite dish. The doro wat was a little milder than I would have liked, but was still very flavourful, and in all other respects just like Messob's. The decor was very nice, beautiful, in fact. Lots of wood, and you have the choice of sitting around a messob on low hand carved stools, or at a normal table with comfy leather chairs.
Service was very friendly, if a little bit intrusive. Which brings me to...
The bad news:
Service was very friendly, but very casual. We knew a good chunk of the waitress' life story by the time we left. For me and my friends, all in our mid-late 20s, it was fine, but I could see how some would be put off by it. The real problem was that our server didn't really know anything about Ethiopian food. We knew what we wanted, so not a problem, but it easily could have been. We were all expecting to have Ethiopian style coffee to finish off our meal, but were informed that it was only really available Fri-Sat-Sun when they do a full coffee ceremony / show. We were told that we could still have a pot, but that it wouldn't be fresh roasted, just regular coffee beans. We were warned, but still ordered, and were only mildly disappointed. One last little gripe: No Wet Naps were provided at the end of the meal, and they were skimpy with the napkins. A small detail, but kind of important when you've been eating with your hands.
All in all I'd say I came away with a favourable impression, and probably would have "really" liked the place if I wasn't still pining for Messob D'or. A lot of their little issues will probably get worked out over time. I'm a little dissapointed, but this place definitely beats the pants off Nil Bleu.