Gotta love Houston's Richmond Avenue!
If you don't make an effort, you can drive down this long stretch of ugly shopping centers and not realize it's packed with adventure! Right next door is a Columbian restaurant. A few doors down there is a Jamaican place. There's also an island in the parking lot that holds a diner-like Mexican spot, where they speak no English. I love traveling without jetlag!!
2 bonus points for this quirky location! 3 bonus for these curious painted windows!
When you walk in, the first thing you notice is the smell! Incense! Reminded of Catholic Church when I was a little girl. 3 bonus points for a smell memory!
There's an inviting open dining space, but also lots of cozy corners. These gathering spots have small woven tables with matching lids to cover your feast. Maybe these are designed for outdoor eating where bugs are bothersome? The uncomfortable looking stools actually hold cushions when in use. I can't think of another Houston restaurant that has such an unusual set up for sharing a meal. 5 bonus points!
Ethiopian Honey Wine
It may look like Cheryl and I are pinching the tops of filled water balloons, but these are really individual wine glasses. I guess we could have used the drinking straws that were on the table, but that would have been extra silly! 3 bonus points for drinking (somewhat sloppily) out of these crazy bottles! Tasty too!
Lot's of help from our server, Kassig
Don and I shared a regular table with our friends, Cheryl and Bob. This photo looks extremely serious, but we actually had lots of fun and Kassig was a great sport with us! She helped us figure out the menu and put up with the clicking camera. There was a lot to teach us, since this is a culture that uses no eating utensils! 4 bonus points for no spoons, forks or knives!
This is odd stuff! If you are like my sister-in-law's friend, you would unroll one of these on your lap...thinking it was a napkin! But no, this spongy stuff is made from 100% Teff. Teff is the smallest grain in the world, but packs in 17 times as much protein, iron, minerals and calcium as wheat or barley. It also serves as your eating utensil! 3 bonus points for having my first Injera experience!
Ahhh! The Food!
We each had one veggie Samossa (left) as an appetizer. Without a dip or fork, we devoured these piping hot treats in no time.
For our main meal, we ordered a veggie sampler, a beef and a chicken dish. All came served on this giant tray...which now, you can visualize on one of those woven tables with a cover!
We tore off pieces of Injera and scooped up green lentils, red lentil stew, split peas, potato and carrots, beef cubes sauteed with onion, peppers, jalapeno (Tibs) and chicken and boiled egg with an Ethiopian sauce called Berbere.
5 points for the tasty food, that was more appetizing than it looks!
3 bonus points for problem solving fun! How do you share one egg? We sawed it in half with a straw!
Minus 1 point for our sloppiness now and then. As you can see, we were leaving our fingerprints in a few dishes!
Warmth and Authenticity
I always give extra points for authenticity. Kassig is from Ethiopia, so that's 4 bonus points right there. Her outfit adds another 2 bonus points.
But 4 extra bonus points for Kassig's sweet smile and warmth. Even though the place began to get busy and we only saw one other server, Kassig took her time with us. She even answered Cheryl's interesting question.
"What would you pick, if you could only pick one food to eat for the rest of your life?"
Kassig picked Collard Greens! You have to love someone who gives that for an answer!
3 bonus points for collard greens!
Total of 44 Points for Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.