Dined with friends last night in the Fillmore Jazz District at Sheba Piano Lounge. I had suggested it after Yelping for the best Ethiopian food in the City. When we lived in San Jose we had a favorite Ethiopian spot, Red Sea, which is (or at least was) near City Hall. But I can’t recall having had Ethiopian cuisine since arriving here in Queeristan.
But a few weeks ago I had noticed an Ethiopian place on Valencia Street, and a cab driver at about the same time mentioned to me that he was planning to open a new Ethiopian restaurant here. So I have had the spicy food on my mind. Sheba came up as the leading contender – so we made reservations for four and were not disappointed.
I was expecting a more dive-y or at least homestyle place but this ethnic restaurant is higher end. The decor is Ethiopian crafts and artifacts (like a reproduction of a real church door) rather than Ethiopian Airways travel posters (a staple of such places in my San Jose experience) and because it is in the Jazz District it features a huge piano and room for jazz musicians to play in the front room.
We had started early and the live music began to kick in about halfway through our meal – it made a nice accompaniment. We had a soprano sax player, a man on what looked like an electric ukulele but sounded like a regular guitar, and a drummer / percussionist sussing out tunes.
The food was archetypal – served on the spongy flat injera bread, with flavorful sauces, and no table utensils. You eat it with your fingers and the injera bread. All the better to sop up the delicious sauces. We asked to be served family style – doro wat (chicken), yega tibs (lamb) and beef dish and catfish. I don’t know if the catfish is a soul food addition to the repertoire or they have it in Ethiopia.
Nothing was left – I highly recommend it!