We went to Asmara last night. Not the Eritrean city, but the namesake restaurant on Mass Ave. in Cambridge.
So how does Ethiopian slash Eritrean food compare in a plethora of other ethnic choices?
Pretty, pretty good.
They are next door to Picante's which is my favorite in and out Mexican place. And every time I go in Picante's I always notice the big upturned sombrero tables in Asmara.
We walked in and were immediately moved to our table. It was a little close to the door, so we kept our coats on, plus the AC was blowing up a storm. Towards the end of the evening our waitress apologized for the cold, she explained that the kitchen was red hot, so they keep the air-con on full tilt.
Anne and I agreed on the Sega Bebayneto, a sampler dish of chicken, beef, lamb and vegetables.
We also asked for Asmara beer. Two bottles came and as Anne poured, I did the same. Mine didn't come out. It was frozen. Still a replacement came and all was good.
Within 10 minutes we were each given a hand wipe, and this was a sign that our food was imminent. You eat with your hands in this place.
Sure enough, a huge platter of food followed, along with injera, an Ethiopian bread that looked like chamois leather but tasted delicious.
The food was great. That's all I have to say. You grab some bread, and pick up the food, like a self-serve stew.
Who else was dining? A classic Cambridge intellectual - complete with the 4 essentials, a bow-tie, tweed jacket, high waisted pants and a dowdy unimpressed wife. His table was rounded off with 2 younger women who did not seem happy.
Mostly, the place was full of people who seemed to enjoy the food and/or the concept.
One unrelated bizarre incident. At the exact moment a couple entered the restauarant, the Red Sox had scored and the people in the bar across the road let out a huge cheer. To those of us inside the restaurant it sounded like Mass Ave had a "Canned Cheer" track running, activated by the door of the restaurant. I guess you had to be there ...
So it all seemed very authentic, except for the huge espresso machine. I know Ethiopia is a large coffee supplier, but somehow I cannot imagine an industrial sized "La Spaziale" in Addis Ababa. Then again what the hell do I know?
We'll go back.