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Page history last edited by Mark P 15 years, 6 months ago

Messob Ethiopian Restaurant Review


as part of our Ethiopian crawl

Restaurant: Messob Ethiopian Restaurant

Home Page: http://www.messob.org/

Address: 4301 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, CA

Date Visited: Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Number of Participants: 5, including Mark (add your name if you are comfortable doing so)


Summary Impression

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A quite decent place with a nice atmosphere, though several items felt drier or had less character than the equivalents at the Cafe Colucci from the previous trip. The red lentils were the best item, followed possibly by the chicken and the lamb. -mark

J says the lentils here were good but she likes the vegetarian dishes in general better at Cafe Colucci. -mark


Food and Presentation

We were delivered one large platter of injera onto which each entree was poured into its place. -mark


Food Details: Kitfo (raw meat)

We ordered this in two separate batch, one raw and one lightly cooked.

The raw meat was too moist and mushy; we didn't finish it. -mark

The lightly cooked meat was too dry; we didn't finish it. -mark

Both had more kick than the raw meat at Cafe Colucci, but the kick wasn't subtle. We all preferred Cafe Colucci's version. -mark

This dish was a big disappointment overall considering the waitress talked about it being her favorite.... the gooey slimy consistency of the raw kitfo was an immediate turnoff for a lot of us and hindered us from really focusing on the flavor ... the slightly cooked version was just a bad idea since it seemed like they'd braised the outside edges that were dry and flavorless... -n


Food Details: Meat Combination

Description: Three items One, chicken drumsticks in a large quantity of curry-ish stew, served with ricotta cheese as accompaniment. Two, chunks of lamb with its own subtle sauce (which included turmeric). Three, chunks of beef with its own spicy sauce.

Pretty good. I like the fact that the beef and lamb were actual chunks, not ground meats. The lamb was tender. Two of us like the lamb the best of the meats. -mark

Two like the chicken the best of the meets. Chicken on a bone is usually a pain for sharing, but this wasn't so bad this time because the meat easily fell apart. And the large quantity of stew was better than that which arived on the chicken at Cafe Colucci. However, the chicken was a bit dry. The accompanying cheese matched the sauce well, though we had forgotten about it until the sauce was almost all gone. -mark

the sauce of the chicken dish (doro wat) was spicy and had a great consistency that coated the chicken in its flavoring which was wonderful!... the lamb was another surprising dish... i've never had an ethiopian meat dish that doesn't have a brown sauce... this one was a turmeric based sauce and was delightfully mild in its flavoring... the beef had the same sauce as the chicken (which i enjoyed)... -n


Food Details: Red Lentils

Great. Spicy. -mark

This was by far my favorite dish at this dinner... the red lentils are a new dish for me at ethiopian restaurants as well and i wasn't expecting much from them... but what can i say... they were spicy, coarsely ground so the rough texture was part of the experience as well... and had a wonderful aroma that resembled a combination of cloves and bay leaves... -n


Food Details: Collard Greens

Decent. Somewhat mushy and slightly greasy. Could use a little salt. Definitely had smaller pieces and was cooked more than Cafe Colucci's version (i.e., not much crunch to the collard greens). -mark

this dish was much debated and compared to its counterpart at cafe colucci that had been much liked... this version had been chopped into finer pieces and cooked down too much... making it mushy and a little greasy... lack of salt or a tangy aftertaste like the dish at cafe colucci left us wanting... -n


Food Details: Potato and Cabbage

A curry-yellow mixture of chunks of potato with cabbage.

Most of us thought the dish was fine but nothing more. It reminded me a bit of eastern European cuisine, probably due to the ingredients. (If it had assertive flavors, it probably wouldn't have reminded me of this.) -mark

nothing to write home about... i've come to expect the potato dishes as milder accompaniments that are meant to give the foodie a break from the spicy dishes... it also helps clean the palette to some degree so you can focus on the subtleties of the other dishes more... -n


Food Details: Honey Wine

Description: A bottle of Enat Honey Wine.

Quite sweet and no fizz/bubbles. We all like this better than the bottle at Cafe Colucci, which is slightly surprising given that they are both from the same winery (in Oakland). "I could drink this all day." -o. I'd like it in a smoothie. The details on the label, however, were different for each bottle. Some said this was dangerously sweet, covering up the alcohol. A few (such as j) complained the sweetness made it too heavy and would prefer something lighter. This complaint came primarly from someone that drank two glasses, so take it as you will. -mark

I actually enjoyed the bottle that had more of a fizz (cafe colucci) a lot more... it cut down on the sweetness quite a bit (i prefer my dessert wines that are less sweet) and didn't compete with the flavors of the food as much... overall an enjoyable honey wine though... -n


Food Details: Salads provided on the platter

Okay. Not as good as Cafe Colucci's, probably because it wasn't as fresh and the vinegar dressing didn't have any pepper in it. -mark

Second the opinion. The salad leaves weren't as crunchy and so didn't provide an alternative texture to the mushy texture of the ethiopian food as is most often the case... the salad dressing was very basic and nothing to write home about as well... -n


Food Details: Injera

Was served warm and rolled up into pieces... They brought out more for us when we were running low... this ensured that our injera was always warm which was a nice touch... it also seemed to be rolled thinner than cafe colucci and cafe iretria which i preferred... -n


Food Details: Coffee

Some people ordered coffee after dinner and complained it was burnt and acidic, as if it had been boiled too much. It also wasn't spiced, another disappointment. And the fact that it was served with steamed milk surprised people. -mark

The coffee wasn't very memorable... no hint of the spices that i associate with ethiopian coffee... i thought the coffee had been brewed for a bit longer making it a tad bitter... but the cream seemed to cut that down... didn't really think it was quite burnt... the steamed milk was a nice touch considering it didn't have the trimmings of the other place... -n


Atmosphere & Decor

There wasn't much to distinguish this undecorated restaurant from the coffee shop next door. The only distinctive Ethiopian touch is the large basket on display, the traditional method used for food delivery of Ethiopia. -mark

Nothing memorable really... we were looking hard for something to give it points for when we came upon the basket... we did nearly miss the place as we walked by it... -n

All that said, we had a pleasant evening dining outside. -mark

It was a really fun dinner overall... the conversation being the highlight of the evening :) -n



We were served by a friendly and competent Ethiopian (or so she appeared) woman. They didn't hurry use as we stayed late into the night and watched the chefs and kitchen staff leave (all appearing to be Ethiopian as well). -mark


Miscellaneous (Other Remarks, Interesting Stories, etc.)


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