Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dukem #2

Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant is a good date place. I say that because of the way Ethiopian food is traditionally served. You eat large dollops of different Ethiopian dishes served on injera, a very large, spongy pancake-like bread. The injera is not only what you serve the food on, but is also what you use as your utensil. You rip off a piece of injera (usually off of a separate, folded piece of injera they bring with your food), and pinch it between your fingers, using it to pick up a piece of food. Etiquette demands that you are not sloppy with it, though most Americans are incapable of being sloppy, perhaps to the amusement of most Ethiopian retaurant managers (oh, don't ask for silverware; you'll just look silly).

This way of eating is good for a date, mind you, because the traditional way to serve injera to a group of people is to serve all the people on one plate - difficult if there are, say, ten in your party, but ridiculously easy if there are two.

It is Dukem where I recently went on a date (my first in a while - I don't have the time to date anymore). I met my date at the restaurant. Now, he had phoned in reservations (which is probably de rigeur at the original Dukem in Washington, DC, which is probably much bigger than Charm City's small, two-story restaurant next to the Meyerhoff). But he found when he got there that reservations were not needed - the place wasn't terribly busy. It was early, after all.

So my friend and I were given the option of ordering something to drink. The waitress suggested beer or a traditional Ethiopian honey wine, the national drink. I've said before, I don't enjoy wine, and honey wine of all things makes me wince - it's an acquired taste, I suppose. So I went for the beer - Harar Lager. My date, who does prefer wine, ordered the beer, too. It was quite smooth; I could see myself drinking it again!

We avoided appetizers and ordered our meal. We opted for one plate to share from. It seems that, just as most Indian-American restaurants feature lunch buffets, so most Ethiopian-American restaurants feature combo meals - and come on, it's pretty easy to serve six or eight dishes in the Ethiopian style on a large injera bread. Dukem has several combos. Normally, I'd be eating alone - don't feel bad for me; I prefer that - and so would order a smaller combo. But as I was eating with someone this evening, we opted for one of the larger combos. We got Dukem's combo #25, and everything was great. A little info on this combo: it comes with three meat and five veggie dishes. I got the lamb tibs, cubed lamb pieces in a spicy seasoning. It was a little chewy but so flavorful, with little pieces of jalapeños and onions. He got the milder minchet abesh, ground beef cooked in garlic and ginger - yum! In the center was a large beef wot (or wat, a traditional Ethiopian stew), which was also very good. And of course the vegetarian dishes surrounding it were also delicious. My favorite among favorites was the cabbage with sweet potato and carrot - I just really liked the flavor. Also on the plate were some good stewed collard greens, a raw tomato salad and two lentil dishes. It was all too good, another reason why I love Ethiopian food as much as I do.

Afterwards, we passed on dessert and the traditional coffee ceremony. For two people, it was a pretty good $43 before tip. And from there... well, that's none of your business!


darling24_7 said...

Ive been meaning to try an Ethiopian restaurant in my area.

I dont mind eating alone or doing anything by myself either. :) Its good to be comfortable that way.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Interesting blog, I look forward to stopping by again.


Baltmore Snacker said...

Cheers and thanks! I wish there were more Ethiopian places in town, but Dukem will definitely do for now.

verity said...

Sounds like a fun time. Daddy and I have been to Dukem. Loved it, although the service was lacking a bit on a Friday eve.

Baltmore Snacker said...

That sucks, considering they're never usually that busy that I've seen.