Santa Rosa – Abyssinia (Featuring a Guest Appearance from Sebastopol’s Screamin Mimi’s)
It was a very exciting Friday as I had just gotten paid. YAY! What a better way to celebrate than have a few beers and go out to Abyssinia?
Located in Santa Rosa, Abyssinia features some great Ethiopian food–something one would only expect to find in larger cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. I was quite excited when I discovered Abyssinia as the first time I had Ethiopian food was in Reno, and I loved it!
So two of my friends (we’ll call them George and Charles because I don’t know if they care if I use their real names and I’m too lazy to find out) joined Dana and me for a yummy dinner. This was my fourth time at Abyssinia, and I was very excited for my return!
As my beverage choice, I ordered the honey wine. Honey wine tastes pretty much as you would expect: like fermented honey with a similar finish as grape wine or rice wine (sake). I actually really love it, which is rather surprising because it is sweet, and I much prefer dry wines and sakes. I suspect what I enjoy about it most is that it tastes like honey!
Something you should know about Ethiopian food before we get to the actual food part of this entry is that it is usually served on a communal (large sharing) plate with a type of bread called injera, which is made from a grain called teff. This is my limited understanding of Ethiopian food, as people in general have a tendency to modify any ethnic food they are unfamiliar with. Anyway, back to how Ethiopian food is eaten (at least in the USA). A group of hipster foodies gather round to talk about their hipster trophies and how they were the first of their friends to eat Ethiopian food. They take turns dipping the injera into individual dishes.
I insisted that we order an appetizer as this is a restaurant review blog, and I am trying to eat off of as much of the menu as I can afford and fit into my growing tummy. So, I decided on beef sambusas (because who cares what anyone else wants). It tasted a bit like a hamburger in a pastry, if you can imagine that. There were lots of spices and it tasted great, though it’s nothing that I would absolutely have to order next time.
As always, we ordered a Vegetarian Combo and an Abyssinia Combo because it lets us taste a bit of everything. The Abyssinia Combo includes samples of chicken and lamb dishes while the Vegetarian Combo is made up of mostly samples of lentil and garbanzo bean-based dishes.
- Shiro We’t – Roasted garbanzo beans simmered with berbere, olive oil, and Ethiopian spices
- Miser We’t – Lentils stewed in a red-pepper sauce and Ethiopian spices
- Yater Kik Alecha – Mild split peas flavored with garlic, ginger, turmeric, & green pepper
- Yabesha Gomen – Collard greens cooked lightly with tomato, garlic, and rosemary
- Miser Alecha – Lentil stew flavored with garlic, ginger, and a touch of turmeric
- Tikel Gomen – Cabbage, carrots, and potatoes lightly cooked with ginger.
- House Salad
- Doro We’t – Spicy chicken stew simmered with berbere, garlic, onion, and nitre kibe; served with hardboiled egg
- Yebeg Key We’t – Lamb
cubesstewed with awaze and onion (by the way, am I the only one who thinks “cubes” should never be used to describe meat?)
- Yebeg Alecha – Lamb strips seasoned with garlic, onion, turmeric, and ginger
- Tikel Gomen – See above
- Miser We’t – See above
- House Salad
I love food with lots of spices (like curries, as I’ve mentioned before), so I enjoyed everything. My favorite item of all time there is tikel gomen (cabbage, carrot, and potato), which is a bit odd for my meat-lovin’ self. I also particularly enjoy the yabesha gomen (collard greens), and the yebeg alecha (lamb strips). Overall, I love both combos and would order them again and again. However, I think next time, I will actually order individual items instead since I am finally starting to figure out what I like most.
Dana, George, and Charles (I’m cracking up at these names…) all enjoyed their food, but not as much as I did! I think Dana prefers the restaurant in Reno, but I don’t remember that meal as well as he does.
After we finished the combos, we didn’t feel like sticking around at Abyssinia for dessert, so we decided to go to Screamin’ Mimi’s in Sebastopol instead.
I was so excited that Mimi’s had pumpkin ice cream because I love pumpkin-flavored desserts! This ice cream tasted just like pumpkin pie, mmm mmm mmm. The hazelnut ice cream was also great, and it tasted like–you guessed it–hazelnut! It was an odd night for me since I did not have chocolate! My favorite ice cream flavor from Mimi’s is probably the Midnight Menthe (chocolate ice cream with mint), which is not there every night (for those who don’t know, Mimi’s rotates their flavors). Another big plus about Mimi’s is that all of the ice cream is homemade, and they use real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup (I’m looking at you, Honeymoon).
Please go give both Abyssinia and Screamin’ Mimi’s a shot!