While Ethiopian food may sound slightly dubious to the uninitiated, one only need to read the menu to find that the core ingredients such as lentils, collard greens and chicken, beef and lamb aren’t all that terrifying. But if you are still not soothed by the fact that berbere is a type of spicy seasoning and not some illegal substance, or that injera is meant to be sour, then Ghenet may be the place for an Ethiopian food novice to get his or her feet wet. A restaurant review sitting near the bar at Ghenet likens the food there as “Ethiopian food on training wheels”. Perhaps Ghenet may not serve the most authentic Ethiopian cuisine in the city, it is certainly well liked, judging from the crush of people waiting at the bar for their seats at 7 on Saturday, early as it goes for dinner, in New York anyway.
Ethiopian food is meant to be shared sans utensils, and between the 4 of us, we split a vegetarian platter for 2 and a beef dish. Our food was carefully placed in mounds (or globs as walter calls them) on a single oval platter lined with injera, the distinctive ethiopian bread made of teff, a grain indigenous to Ethiopia, with a taste akin to sourdough and a texture like that of a pancake. More injera was served on the side, folded like a pile of napkins. Those went fast too, as we hungrily tore away pieces and wiped up all the vegetable purees and chunks of meat with them. The flavors were relatively mild and anyone used to Indian food would find the tastes rather similar. We washed down our meal witl Tej, the exotic sounding honey wine tasting like sweet mead, and not so exotic after all as the Tej the restaurant serve actually hails from upstate New York. =p
Besides palatable food, Ghenet’s popularity can also be attributed to several other reasons, namely the warm ambience and location, which is right smack in Nolita, a neighborhood packed with inexpensive ethnic-ish chic spots and plenty of young adventurous diners who require feeding. The crimson walls, the mood lighting and the sensuality of using your hands to share food also make it a wonderful date place as well. With the large number of couples in the restaurant at the same time as us, it is clear that they are aware of that as well.

Ghenet
284 Mulberry St (Houston & Prince)

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