Long Overdue Trip to Aster’s Ethiopian

Reading the reviews on Yelp, it’s pretty clear that there’s no middle ground on Ethiopian food. It seems you either like it or you don’t, especially injera bread, the spongy, slightly sour bread you use if you don’t want to use your hands to eat. I thought some of the reviews there were pretty ignorant and obnoxious, something you *never* see in Internet comments.

Veggie Dishes - photo by yiI first tried Aster’s as a lunch takeout option from Whole Foods, but ever since the restaurant at 26th and I-35 opened, I’ve been wanting to go check it out. My introduction to Ethiopian food was at a restaurant in Washington DC about 8 years ago with an old college friend of my wife’s. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the place, but I enjoyed it. If you’ve never had it, Ethiopian food is a little like Indian food, but different enough to make it a nice alternative.

The decor of the restaurant is pretty spartan, but the place is inviting. It’s not very big, roughly 10-12 tables. The patio looks like it nearly doubles the capacity though it was too cold last night to eat out there. We ordered three meat dishes for three adults and two kids and had plenty of food. Each meat dish includes smaller or side portions of three vegetarian dishes and two injera breads. Our food arrived on a large platter with all of the choices spread across three injera breads opened out flat (this is where taking a picture would’ve been a good idea, but Yi to the rescue via Flickr).

We ordered the DoroWott, Kitfo and the mild lamb dish (either the Keyi- or Alicha- BeggWott). We were served FasoliaWott, Gomen, AlichaMiser, KeyiMiser, Azifa and Bedergan as sides with double-helpings of some of those. Many of the dishes are spicy, but there’s enough mild dishes for those who don’t go for that. I’d never had the Kitfo, which can be served uncooked or seared. I went for the seared version. The flavor isn’t like many things that I’ve had before. I quite liked it. I’ve left out the descriptions, but you can find them on their web site, which, incidentally, needs some help.

The service was good. Our waiter was knowledgable and attentive and the price was reasonable. It was just under $60 for the five of us. I was the only one who ordered beer or wine. My mother-in-law enjoyed the Ethiopian spiced hot tea. If I didn’t work so far away, I’d be all over their lunch buffet and specials. The place was pretty well packed at 7pm last night. I hope they’re doing that well as a general rule because I’d like to see them stick around.

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