Restaurants & Bars

St. Louis - Addis-Ethiopian

Kbear | Apr 29, 200201:02 PM     6

Oh boy, this is one for the skeptics out there -

We are a group of immature gourmands who try to eat something ethnic each week. Since the board has been pretty dry lately, I thought I would share a review of a recent Eating.

Last month we went to Addis on Delmar. I know a lot of Eaters did not come because they were not too enthused with the idea of Ethiopian food. Big Mistake. It was, by far, the best of the dining experiences we have had with our ethnic eating group.

Addis is a small, narrow restaurant. The atmosphere is set when you cross the second threshold and have to push through beads to enter the dining room. The walls are painted a basement white and there are lots of odd little paintings on leather and unique colored baskets on the walls. There is red carpet on the floor, and this is, amazingly, very clean. The tables are covered with white cloths. No silverware is in evidence, and you soon find out why.

We started with Ye Awaze Dabo, a red pepper bean ginger root sauce. This was served with chunks of bread, just normal ol' bread. However, the sauce seared the tonsils. It was so spicy, that we had to beg for water. The flavor was pleasant, though, and the appetizer was like stepping into a Jacuzzi - hot at first, then pleasantly warm and soothing.

Then we committed the first error of the evening. We each ordered an entree. This sounded reasonable, with just a single appetizer among all four of us. However, when the food arrived, we were blown away by the generosity of the portions. Two HUGE platters arrived, covered in an enormous moist, delicious crepey thing, which was astoundingly in one piece and was even hanging over the edge of the platter. Nestled on each platter on top of the crepe were two entrees and two sides. We fell upon the food, ravenous from the aromas that wafted up the nose. Now we come to the part about the silverware. The crepe is ripped into pieces by the diner and then the entree and sides are scooped up with the pieces of crepe and popped into the mouth. You get to eat with your hands! How cool is that? The bread is called Injera and begins with a sourdough started that is begun each business day at the restaurant. The food itself was exemplary. We had main dishes of #31 and #28 beef, #30 lamb and #14 chicken. #31 was billed as an Ethiopian Steak Tartare with herbed butter sauce and berebere. #28 was finely chopped beef with purified butter and robust spices. #30 lamb was sauteed in butter with lemon, jalopenos, onion, rosemary and black pepper. #14 was tender chicken in purified butter, stewed in berebere, flavored with onions, garlic, ginger and cardamom. Mysteriously, a hardboiled egg sat in the midst of the dish. Except for the lamb, the entrees were almost pureed into a hash (think corned beef). The lamb was in little uniform chunks. The flavors came through beautifully and we couldn't stop eating. We ate and ate and ate until we were all stuffed to the gills, and there was still food left! In addition to the main dishes, the side dishes were served on the platter. We had cooked carrots and potatoes, yellow split peas, cooked spinach and hot red lentils. If you do not like heat, order the lamb - it was the blandest (and boy is that relative, not derogatory) dish on the plate. Otherwise, each entree and side had different flavors and awakened different parts of the tongue and sinuses. It was electrifying food.

Background music was unobtrusive but interesting and service was very nice. Wines were decent, and reasonably prices, as was the food. Our server spent a considerable amount of time discussing the bread and coffee routines that the restaurant offers. He even brought us the flour they use, which is now being grown in some of the U.S. wheatbelt states. Next time I go (which hopefully will be SOON), I will order one entree at a time, so that the bread doesn't grow cold. This is not a complaint, actually I can't make any complaints, this place is that good. More important, as one Eater put it, this food does not cause Dehli belly. The place was more than half full, with all kinds of people happily digging in.

I have lots more reviews of St. Louis ethnic food if anyone is interested. I really hope more people try to form eating clubs. I just email a group of people each Monday with the info on the destination and the review from last week. Then, on Thursdays, we meet at 7 at the place. People tell me if they are coming by noon that Thursday and I try to give the restauarants warning. It is an easy thing to do and has been much fun.

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