The charming restaurant space at the corner of 10th Avenue East and East Miller Street — on the less party-centric, northern tip of Capitol Hill — has had so many tempting incarnations over the years. It’s a tough location. There are more cars heading toward the nearby onramps to Interstate 5 than hungry diners strolling the sidewalks.
Now calling the storefront home is Abay Ethiopian Cuisine, which brings a heaping dose of East African spice to an otherwise chilled-out neighborhood.
The menu: The complex flavors of Ethiopian cooking come through in the stewed chicken, beef, lamb and vegetable dishes that make up the lengthy menu. Doro wot, chicken cooked in a chili pepper, garlic and ginger sauce known as berbere and served with a marinated boiled egg ($14), and yebeg tibs, lamb pieces sautéed with garlic, green pepper, cardamom, ginger and awaze, a red-pepper paste ($13.50), showcase the incredible layered quality of East African cuisine.
Meatless options include shiro feses, toasted, ground chick peas cooked with berbere, onion, ginger and garlic ($13).
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You will use your fingers a lot here. Dishes come with the spongy, fermented flatbread called injera, to scoop up the various dishes, which are typically thick stews.
What to write home about: If you’re a vegetarian, or even if you’re not, it’s hard not to appreciate the array of choices on the vegetable-combo platter ($13). It comes with intricately seasoned split lentils, split yellow peas, whole lentils, cabbage, collards and fosolia, a spiced green bean and carrot stew, all on a slab of injera with extra bread for serving.
What to skip:
Minchet abish, a dish of ground beef braised in a spicy ginger and garlic sauce, with sides of house-made cottage cheese and injera ($12.5), was unappetizing on the plate and heavy on the palate.
The setting: Dark colors and clubby mood lighting make for a stylish hangout.
Summing up: Minchet abish ($12.50), a vegetable combo ($13), a glass of Ethiopian honey wine ($7) and a glass of the house white ($6) came to $40.92 plus tax and tip.
Tyrone Beason: email@example.com