Last night we ventured to Warka, a relatively new Ethiopian restaurant in an industrial park at the Sunset Hills/Fairfax County Parkway intersection.
Quick summary: Food good, service pathetic.
Disclaimer: I'm not as familiar with Ethiopian food as I'd like to be.
The interior of Warka includes freshly painted green walls, a bar with brightly colored lamps, and a large flat-screen TV displaying Ethiopian music videos. The sound on the videos was at a reasonably low volume and the content of the videos is family-friendly. Most of the shots appear to be of fully clothed men and women in agricultural situations doing a sort of shimmy. Tables are topped with glass over hand-crafted white woven cloths. The customer base seemed to be about an even split between the Ethiopian community and everyone else.
Upon arrival, there was no wait staff evident. We seated ourselves; the lone server eventually appeared and provided menus. Then she disappeared. For a long time.
The menu is very limited. There are about a dozen entrees and one appetizer, indicated as being vegetarian. We opted for the appetizer, the vegetarian combination plate, a stir fried lamb, and a meat combination plate.
The chef came out of the kitchen. She speaks fluent English, evidently our server did not. The chef indicated that we had ordered too much food and suggested just the lamb and the vegetarian combo, plus the appetizers. Kudos to her, she was absolutely right.
The couple who arrived after us received their main course.
Time passed. We discussed the possibility of paying for the mango juice the chowpup had consumed and going to Teocalli Tamale.
Our appetizer came out. The appetizer was a little triangle of philo-type dough wrapped around a dense mixture of some sort of legume, possibly tiny lentils. The filling was mildly spicy and had a definite meatiness to it. We'd ordered two of them.
The two gentlemen who'd just ordered were served their main course but seemed confused by all the vegetables.
I was suspicious. Very suspicious.
Time elapsed from entry to the restaurant. . .over an hour.
The chef emerged again, with our food, appologetically indicating that yes, the gentlemen over at the other table had been given our meal.
The long-awaited food was good. The vegetable combo was served on the injera, with the lamb in a bowl to be added as needed. There were collard greens, cabbage with tumeric, lettuce, tomatoes, two different spiced and ground legumes, one more yellowish, and one orange, and a deep red dish with lentils. The last came out both on the injera and with extra in a bowl. (Remember that disclaimer?) The stir-fried lamb was almost a dry stew, with some onion, slices of hot green pepper, and plenty of savory lamb. Everything was tasty and yes, a third entree would have been ridiculous. The spicing was no higher than moderate.
Our total bill, including 2 mango juices, was under $25.00. If not for the service, it would be on our regular circuit of Herndon-area restaurants.
So if you have a lot of time, and aren't starving, Warka seems a reasonable option.
Warka is at 275 Sunset Park Drive, in the same little industrial park that has Taste of the World.