Friday, January 12, 2007

bow down before the Queen of Sheba

Queen of Sheba was much better than I ever could have dared hope. On the way to the restaurant I told the Armeniac my theory that Ethiopian food is a type of food that vegetarians pretend is good, but I was so wrong! They have really turned around the look of the place. Where Sweet Fingers was dark and sketchy looking, Queen of Sheba is light and filled with charming Ethiopian-themed art. They were playing good, jazzy-type African music, too. I wanted to ask what it was but I felt like a dork and the server's accent was really strong so I was afraid it would be awkward to ask. The owners are so cute and friendly that you want to die. Because I'm ignorant of Ethiopian cuisine, the menu was blowing my mind. There are numerous dishes that contain raw beef. After my meal last night, I think I will trust the Queen enough to try some next time. They have three different combos that each contain three dishes. We got all three, which were nine different dishes in all. Well ten, because I told him I really wanted to try the greens so he threw them in. They brought us an enormous platter with many little piles of food, all on top of a big piece of the traditional flat sourdough bread. They also gave us a little basket of rolled up bread to scoop up the food. I don't like eating with my hands (because I knwo where they've been) but the bread makes it more bearable. We got the spicy beef (delicious) the lamb with peppers (delicious), spicy red lentils (salty and delicious) a "famous" dish with a chicken thigh and a hard-boiled egg in a red sauce (delicious), collard greens (maybe the best thing), yellow lentils (interestingly spiced and delicious), chicken breast meat with peppers (just OK, the breast meat was a little dry) and fish with tomato (the only off note, the fish tasted kinda freezery). With tea and coffee, each of us paid 16 total including tip for this. We were sated but the food is very healthy so we all felt like we were walking on air after, not overstuffed.

Queen of Sheba is in the soft-opening phase (hot!), so they are still a little scattered and the food took a long time. The server apologized profusely and urged us to come to the grand opening on January 27th. By that time they will have their liquor license and will be serving Ethiopian beer and honeywine. If you can't wait for then, be warned that it may take a while to get served and BYOB. The table of hippies near us had brought their own Fat Tire.

In other wonderful news I am almost finished with reading the Fucking Magic Mountain by Fucking Thomas Mann. Thanks for torturing me Mr. Mann. You have written a book that is so amazing and impressive and striking for the first few hundred pages that you fooled me into spending months reading all 700 pages, only to just start throwing in a bunch of unrelated crap at the end that seems like tacked-on short stories. Curse you! I can't wait to read something else! I have like five books lined up waiting.

21 comments:

FFT said...

addis ababa on fulton and alta arden also is great. you can get a veg sampler of like six dishes on enjera and honey wine for 10 bucks.
your review of sheba has me totally stoked--thanks!

alice said...

ethiopian food used to be my favorite cuisine. i don't know what my favorite food is now but i don't think it's ethiopian.

i never finished the magic mountain either, becky. i didn't actually find the first 200 pages that interesting. i found the first 50 pages interesting. then i got bored. the only way i could get involved in it was hoping something would happen -- like someone getting killed or knocked up or at least some sexual tension between someone other than his bland obsession with that russian lady. maybe the heat turns on eventually but i just couldn't take it. i don't know if i'll ever get back to reading it cuz i bought it like 2 years ago.

beckler said...

i'm eleven pages from the end. it does end with a suspenseful duel. who will die, the humanist Settembrinin or the consumptive Jesuit Naptha? No spoilers!

alice said...

ok. so something happens other than them taking their temperatures and laying around in bed and listening to lectures on things? you know, i like settembrini despite him being long winded. it's been a while since i picked it up but i remember him being somewhat of a contrarian to the whole dictatorship of health in the sanatorium. i can't remember Naptha. maybe he's introduced later?

Anonymous said...

The music was probably early 70s Ethiopian jazz-- possibly the funkiest music ever recorded (there's a lot of it on the soundtrack to Jarmusch's film "Broken Flowers"-- as one character says, "This Ethiopian music, it's good for the heart"). There's a great series of albums out of France called Ethiopiques that collects a lot of that music-- start with "Ethiopiques Volume 4:Ethio Jazz and Musique Instrumentale 1969-1974": it's much better than Thomas Mann and your life will improve considerably...

Anonymous said...

The music was probably early 70s Ethiopian jazz-- possibly the funkiest music ever recorded (there's a lot of it on the soundtrack to Jarmusch's film "Broken Flowers"-- as one character says, "This Ethiopian music, it's good for the heart"). There's a great series of albums out of France called Ethiopiques that collects a lot of that music-- start with "Ethiopiques Volume 4:Ethio Jazz and Musique Instrumentale 1969-1974": it's much better than Thomas Mann and your life will improve considerably...

Anonymous said...

sorry for the double posting... new at this etc. etc...

beckler said...

who are you new to it person? thanks for the info.

yes, more does happen than just the taking of the temperature. there is even a super creepy seance at the end. i have a very soft spot for settembrinin especially because of the way he wears the same threadbare clothes every single day. i'm afraid he's gonna get it in the end. but he's close to death with tb anyways.

Jackson Griffith said...

Izzat the same Queen of Sheba that used to be on Howe just south of Arden, between Rickshaw Rick's and the geeky gamers store (and Hitek)? You should see the "Chicken & Waffles" joint that just went into the location vacated by the Ethiopian joint. Haven't tried the food yet, but everyone who eats there weighs like 455 pounds, which usually is a good sign if you're peddlin' Southern cooking.

And Éthiopiques Vol. 4 is the cat's meow; it's like Booker T & the MG's, Bitches Brew-era Miles and old Joe Gibbs "African Dub" sides all rolled into one. Real stoner tunes. Fave jam is "Yèketit" by Mulatu Astatqé.

Anonymous said...

I love the hard-boiled egg!!! It's one of my favorite things in ethiopian and indian cuisine is to egg that curry-covered egg. I used to be a hater on Ethiopian cuisine too, probably because of the shitload of shitty places in the bay area. I was actually converted in Rochester, NY! This new place sounds tight, I wann go when I'm home!

-michele

Anonymous said...

Washington DC is home to an endless supply of Ethiopian restaruants, and Eritrian restaurants, which to me are identical. (I'm sure the Eritrians would beg to differ.)

The spongey bread is called injira, or n'jira or however you spell it. It's sourdough, made of rye flour (i think).

I;ve never been to an Ethiopian place in the US that serves italian-influenced food, but apparently in Ethiopia you can get amazing italian-local hybrids, as well as amazing traditional italian dishes. Some big culinary mag last year named a restaurant in Addis the best italian restaurant in the world!

katymonster said...

wait, queen of sheeba on Fair Oaks just before Howe? that place has been open forever. i`m confused by the soft opening. or did they open a new one?

their lunch time all you can eat 5$ buffet will rock you. it`s veggie only though.

and yea, Washington has a plethora of good Ethiopian spots. i`m curious why, but they`re awesome.

katymonster said...

uh yea, so i see now there`s a new one on Broadway. did they keep open the old spot as well?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how the ethiopian places get away with the raw stuff? We ate at a joint in Ann Arbor and they pulled up their noses at us for wanting them to cook it just a little...

JBG said...

Shit, this thing won't let me log in as me. Um, to answer the question, the Queen of Sheba vacated the Howe Ave. location. What's in there now is Chicken & Waffles, a soul food joint. I'd found a MySpace page for it once, but can't find it now; shoulda bookmarked it.

Anyway, most of the Ethiopian joints in D.C. are in the Adams Morgan district, in Northwest just above downtown (White House, etc.). D.C. is a really great city for international eatin', because of the huge amount of embassies.

Anonymous said...

Josh wrote:
>I;ve never been to an Ethiopian place >in the US that serves >italian-influenced food, but
>apparently in Ethiopia you can get
>amazing italian-local hybrids, as >well as amazing traditional italian >dishes. Some big culinary mag last
>year named a restaurant in Addis the
>best italian restaurant in the world!

I guess the Ethiopians have finally forgiven Mussolini for that little "thing" in the 1930s and other various and sundry events from earlier times.

President and Strongman For Life,
SASSF

alice said...

yeah, i was thinking the same thing about the ethiopians and the italian fascists. amazing how they would even want to cook italian food after that "incident."

Anonymous said...

I spaghetti & meatballs, pizza and ravioli win out over fascism. That's one spicy a meatball...

President and Strongman For Life,
SASSF

Garrett said...

I just wrote a review for that place for Edible Sacramento. I became totally addicted and already plan to go back!

Smitty said...

Military invasion can make for good cuisine. The French colonization of Vietnam is a good example.

I don't think the Germans brought good cuisine anywhere. I'll try to find good German food when I'm over there.

Anonymous said...

Smitty writes...
>Military invasion can make for good
>cuisine. The French colonization of
>Vietnam is a good example.

Some entrepeneurial person should open a sushi restaurant to commemorate Japan's invasion of Kiska, Alaska during WW2!

President and Strongman for Life,
SASSF