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West Long Branch, New Jersey
September 8, 2004
The waitresses and barmaids wear costumes that may or may not be authentic, but they look very regal. Unfortunately, the interior decor is not as stately. The bar below street level looks like the kind of hall you would rent out for a really cheesey banquet.
The Ethiopian beer, Harar, isn't anything special. But the honey wine tastes great. The Sambussa (thin dough shells stuffed with beef/chicken/shrimp/lentils, green chili, and herbs) are excellent, and cheap. You get two for $3.
From journal Capital City
April 2, 2003
Food at Meskerem is very different from what you have on a regular basis. Most of the foods are basically thick stews, or sauteed chunks of meat, from the Watts, which are stews in a thick spicy sauce made from a spice mix called berbere to the milder Alitcha. Fitfits are similar to the Watts and tibs but with pieces of bread mixed in, and Tibbs are pieces of meat or shrimp sauteed in seasoned butter.
Vegetables get a delicious treatment at Meskerem, as the berbere and spiced butter are very suited to vegetables, Split Peas, Lentis, cabbage, carrots, string beens, collared beans, chick peas, all get either the Watt or Alitcha treatment or some other equally delicious treatment.
Meskerem also has kifto, a seasoned rate steak tartare. I have never had this.
The Mesobs, a combination of different dishes, both meat based and vegetarian, are a particular delight, giving you a chance to try all of these.
The spicing here is different enough to be a bit exotic, but recognizable, and particularly tasty.
The most unusual aspect of this restaurant, though, is the way you eat. Rather than giving you dishes and silverware, you are greeted with a warm wet washcloth, with which you clean off your hands. Then the food is served, poured onto a huge platter covered with a thin pancake made out of a grain called teff. This is a sourdough pancake with a bit of a bite, and it complements perfectly the sauces, particularly the spicy Watts. You also get a basket with more of this pancake. You tear off a piece of it, use it to wrap a morel of food and eat.
Meskerem is off 18th street just south of the intersection of Columbia Avenue. Nearest metro stations are DuPont Circle and Woodley Park Zoo on the Red line. Since the walk is all uphill from DuPont, I get off at Woodley Park/Zoo, and head over the bridge onto Columbia Avenue, then south on 18th. This is a bit of a walk, so you might consider a cab. Parking is abysmal here, though somewhat less so than downtown. I always return to the DuPont Circle metro, South (Downhill) on 18th to P Street turn right to DuPont Circle.
From journal Wonderful Washington DC
London, United Kingdom
August 21, 2002
From journal Washington DC and other Animals
by Adventures With Adam
New York, New York
September 23, 2001
On the restaurant’s walls, African instruments and paintings depicting Ethiopian village life hang, adding to the atmosphere. For the most authentic experience, ask to sit upstairs, which features both Ethiopian-style basket tables and low stools.
I began my meal with vegetable samosas -- not spectacular, but with a nice, savory mixture of carrot and cabbage inside. If you are at a loss over what to have for the main course, do as I did and order the Meskerem Messabi, which will give you samplings of several dishes. Lamb, chicken, beef, lentil, and vegetable selections -- even a hard-boiled egg -- all appeared on my plate. The dark, tasty lamb and lentil dishes tasted best. Though they were certainly spicy, there were not overly hot.
Eating Ethiopian is a hands-on experience. No utensils are given or needed. All the main dishes are served on a large, round slab of spongy Ethiopian bread. Just yank off a hunk of bread, dip it into one of the stews, and enjoy.
I ordered a glass of Merlot to accompany my main course, though beer would have been a better choice to complement the spicy dishes. Just one note of caution -- the spongy bread tends to expand in the stomach. An hour after my meal, I was feeling very full. The entire meal set me back only $24.
From journal Adventures in D.C.
January 8, 2001
From journal D.C. is the place to be