The adventurous date would love the idea of Addis Red Sea: enjoying Ethiopian cuisine with your hands, huddled on stools around woven tables called mesob.
But this exotic dining spot has its vexations. First, the stools are short, unstable, and offer no back support. I was comfortable, but my date had to reseat himself several times before finding his balance. Service is spotty. As novices to Ethiopian cooking, we needed an explanation of the dishes, but no help was to be found.
Addis offers chicken, beef, lamb, fish, and vegan entrees; to taste the most number of dishes, we chose the Doro Wot combination, which includes stewed chicken and three vegetables.
The chicken tasted wild and gamey, enhanced by a rich red pepper sauce. My three sides, atakilt (herbed mixed potato and vegetables), yesmir wot (spicy simmered lentils), and kinche (cracked wheat) complemented each other well and reminded me of Middle Eastern cuisine.
We clumsily scooped our meat and veggies onto injera, spongy Ethiopian flatbread. Being particularly messy eaters, we needed extra injera to finish the meal.
The warm towel service at the beginning was a nice gesture, but I wondered if that was sanitary enough as I unabashedly licked my fingers.
The mesob’s tabletop was only about the size of a New York pizza, and combined with efforts to minimize the mess, we had to lean forward to take each bite.
While the experience was unique and the delectable food worthy of a return visit, I would recommend Addis Red Sea for a group of four or five close friends to order several entrees to share family style, rather than for a couple looking for an intimate date. —Tracy Kambara