I had first been exposed to Ethiopian cuisine during the late 80’s when I was an undergraduate at The American University in Washington, D.C.. Among the many ethnic cuisines available in that city, D.C. is known for its large Ethiopian community, and thus Ethiopian restaurants, known for their low wooden stool seating around a central woven table or Mesob, serving spicy wat stews you eat communally with your hands on top of injera sourdough crepes.
Unfortunately Ethiopian food is not nearly as common in New York City, and even less so in New Jersey. So I was really happy to hear that a particularly nice Ethiopian place existed in Montclair, only about 40 minutes from home.
A look inside Mesob restaurant from Bloomfield Ave in Montclair.
Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more Ethiopian food at Mesob.
The bar area is illuminated by lamps that are creatively wrapped by alphabetic charts that are normally used to teach schoolchildren how to read in 4 of the native languages of Ethiopia.
A Mesob, the restaurant’s namesake centerpiece of a Ethiopian meal. They are only used decoratively at the restaurant, for the most part.
The restaurant has sort of a “museum” area where they have all the grains and pulses used in Ethiopian cooking on display, as well as eating and serving vessels typical of the country.
One of the many interesting art pieces on Mesob’s walls. This particular picture is kind of a comic-book depiction of the story of how Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia. The legend goes that a goat herder noticed his flock was getting agitated and jumpy and saw his goats eating coffee cherries. Then the Ethiopians learned to roast the coffee beans from the cherries and turn it into a hot drink, and started trading it with the Middle East. The picture depicts also the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony which can be performed at the restaurant for four people, where the beans are fresh roasted in front of you.
I was feeling a little under the weather that day so I had a really nice ginger tea that put me back in the eating mood.
These are rolls of injera
Two types of teff grains. In Ethiopian culture teff is solely used to make injera, although it is grown in the United States to make wheat-free pasta.
Ingudai Tibs. Sauteed portobello mushroom appetizer, eaten with injera strips.
A fully plated injera waiting for the stews.
The stews arrive.
Different types of Wat stews and Tibs sautes and vegetable dishes. This was the combination platter for two people that gives you a good selection of the entire menu. You’re given injera bread on the side to tear up and sop up the stew with your hands, and when all the solid matter is sopped up, you eat the “plate” itself, which is considered to be the best part.