Zed’s deserves a shot

Zed’s Ethiopian Cuisine

28th and M Streets N.W.

If you have been to Georgetown, you have seen it; in fact, you have probably made a comment about its name. We wanted to unlock the mystery behind the big white building that we have all seen but never ventured into.

The exterior of Zed’s mirrors the understated and elegant interior of the restaurant. The dining room is white and dimly lit. The heavy, black and red hand-woven carpets coupled with the mirrors and tasteful African d?cor give it a pleasant touch.

Though the menu seems self-explanatory, virgins to Ethiopian dining should keep in mind that the food is eaten with one’s hands by using pieces of injera, spongy Ethiopian flat bread. So while the menu may say “pieces of meat,” the majority of the entrees are stewed and accompanied by some type of sauce. All the servers were very knowledgeable and accommodating and welcomed questions about the cuisine.

For an appetizer, we shared the Mushroom Inguday Tibbs, priced at $5.95. The name of this appetizer might sound exotic, but basically it was a plate of diced mushrooms lightly saut?ed (and by that we mean practically raw) with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers in Chili powder. The first bite tasted somewhat promising; after a few more bites we realized that the mushrooms were undercooked and the whole thing was pretty bland.

Next came the Ethiopian Potato Salad for $5.25. The menu said the potato salad would be potatoes saut?ed in garlic, lemon and parsley. We were served undercooked chunks of potato overpowered by lemon. We could not taste garlic, and we did not see any parsley. It might have been a little bit better if the potatoes were served hot, or if they were cooked through, for that matter.

For the main course, we sampled Zed’s Combination Meat Platter and Zed’s Combination Vegetable Platter, priced $14.95 and $14.50, respectively. The meat combo platter had beef, chicken and lamb, although we could not actually find the chicken. The meats were either stewed and saucy or chopped amongst boiled vegetables. All of the meat was overcooked to the point where one type was indecipherable from the next. The sauces varied but the ingredients were unidentifiable and not very tasty.

The veggie combo platter was a bit better. It consisted of green beans, cabbage with carrots, lentils, pureed squash and boiled spinach with Jalapenos. The lentils were the best part of the meal; they were very flavorful, and slightly spicy. The squash was also tasty but mild, while the spinach with Jalapenos offered a little bit of zip. The green beans tasted suspiciously Green Giant-ish to us. The cabbage was like something that grandma used to make, which brought back memories one does not wish to recall during a supposedly enjoyable dining experience. So, even though the vegetable portion of the meal was a bit better than the meat, we would not necessarily call it great.

Overall, Zed’s is more of a cultural experience than anything else. Though the food was not great, the experience of eating with your hands at a nice restaurant was awesome. Leah said it best at dinner: “It’s your duty to go once … after that it’s up to you.” We both concluded that it is the type of cuisine that you love or hate immediately – so try it out once and see whether you are a lover or a hater.

Rating: 2 wet naps out of 4

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