Saturday, October 22, 2011

Meskerem - Washington, DC

The Search for Truly Exquisite Ethiopian Food Continues

Ethiopian food is a unique cuisine that I cannot quite find a comparison to anything else. My introduction occurred many moons ago in Charlotte NC at a small family owned establishment. For some reason, I prefer the vegetarian aspect of Ethiopian, and to this day, tend to order just that.

Since that small funky joint down south, I have yet to discover another wonderful dining experience involving Ethiopian food. I am very sad about this. Unlike other, more Americanized foods, Ethiopian varies greatly from one restaurant to the next. Usually home grown recipes, so consistency does not really exist here. To this day I hunt for my next favorite place.

Last night I tried Meskerem in the Adams Morgan section of northwest DC. It will not go down as the answer to my prayers for finding my next favorite Ethiopian joint. It was not completely horrible, maybe a 2 ½ star place. It started off well. The interior was low lit and 2 floors. Very interesting in design, but I cannot quite find the words to describe it. There were not so many tables as there were these large communal bowls.

When the food comes out, in a large bowl of its own, it fits perfectly inside the big table bowl. The food bowl is lined with Injera, a spongy sourdough pancake like bread that you use in lieu of utensils. This is one of the aspects of the cuisine I enjoy. I am a big fan of interesting methods of ingesting a meal <grin>. My dining partner and I chose one of the few tables in the place. I know that makes me a party pooper, but hey seemed a bit awkward. You can flog me later.

We started with all the vegetarian Sambussas, which included a collard green, cabbage, and lentil. Each mixture is wrapped and deep fried in what feels and tastes like spring roll wrap. They were all delicious, but the collard green was my favorite. I also ordered the tomato salad (Diced tomatoes tossed with onions and green chili on a dressing of olive oil and lemon), this was also divine. Very simple, but bursting with flavor. Unfortunately this would be the pinnacle of a meh meal.

They brought out our bowl, after those who came in after we did, which confused me. But like many other Ethiopian places I have tried, the sampler provided miniscule portions for 2 people. The cabbage was very good, as were the collards. Low points would have to be the Kik Alicha (Yellow Split Pea Sauce). This was always one of my favorite dishes. Somehow this made the disappointment all the more a crushing defeat. There was an extra seasoning that I cannot figure out what it was, but it made this dish crash and burn like the Hindenburg. To make matters worse, it was cold.

Suffice it to say this will not take the crown of the Larisa’s fave, I must continue this long and laborious search until the clouds break and the angel choir sings. I see that, and I will know I have made it. Until that happens, I will just have to taste my way. Until next time, feel free to contact me with your suggestions.

Contact Information
2434 18th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202) 462-4100

  Meskerem Ethiopian

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