**NOTE: I’m in no way a food critic, reviewer or expert. Just an average Joe…Jane…whatever, who is passionate about food, loves eating out and has a food blog that makes me feel important and heard (sometimes 😉 ) . This review is not sponsored. I don’t get paid in money or free food (although I wish!) or any other way by the restaurants for writing these. I personally read a lot of reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor and the likes before I try a new restaurant and thought I could share my own personal views, experiences and photos of the places and food I try on my blog. **
Located in a historic Flour Mill Building in Downtown Spokane, WA, Queen of Sheba is a quaint little restaurant serving up traditional Ethiopian cuisine. My companion diner (my sister-in-law) and I had never tasted Ethiopian food before this. We didn’t know very much about the cuisine either, so it truly was a new and exciting experience for us. Right off the bat, a very friendly and courteous waitress showed us to our cozy table, handed us menus and took our drink order. Minimally decorated in an African style, every table in the small dining area had a traditional Ethiopian game called “Mancala” (pictured below) with instructions on how to play slipped under the glass table top. There was also a a little guide to some words and sayings in the local language with their English counterparts. It was a nice touch and added to the experience of a new-to-us culture.
We started off the meal experience with Chicken Sambussa as an appetizer and right off the bat I started seeing a lot of similarities and influences from Indian cuisine. Needless to say I knew I was going to like it! However, even my very American friend loved the flavors which weren’t too crazy or spicy for her. Dinner was family style picks of meat, vegetable or lentil preparations served on a spongy injera bread that is used as a spoon to pinch the delicious dishes. It serves as your silverware which is noticeably absent from the table, as you traditionally eat with your hands in most African countries, the Middle- East and the Indian sub-continent. The injera also is the perfect vessel to soak up all the flavors of the various preparations.
We ordered 3 dishes giving us a a great sample of what the menu had to offer. The Yatakilt Alicha (vegan) described as “Potatoes, carrots & cabbage delicately sauteed with ginger, garlic, onions and turmeric” was a nice mild vegetable dish. Second we tried a poultry dish called Doro Alich’a described as “A non-spicy version of the Doro We’t. Turmeric and cumin along with other herbs make up this dish (topped with a hard boiled egg”. This dish served up complex spice flavors without the heat. Served on the bone the was chicken flavorful and tender. And Lastly we had Yebeg Kay We’t- “Succulent lamb cubes cooked to tenderness in thick & spicy Ethiopian berbere sauce. This was my favorite dish of the night as it packed flavor and heat which paired well for the slightly sweetish injera bread.
To wrap up the meal we wanted to try a traditional dessert so we opted for the Pani Popo – “A fresh baked bread roll with a light coconut cream sauce made in honor of Debbie Enesi” . It wasn’t my favorite dessert to be honest as the bread was tad dry and the coconut cream sauce a bit too sweet for my taste. But, it should be said I am not a big sweet/dessert person to begin with so someone with more of a sweet tooth, may have liked it a lot more than myself. Overall it was a nice sweet ending to a meal.
All in all it was a wonderful experience and refreshingly different from the restaurants we were used to going. Take along an adventurous friend and I guarantee it will be fun and won’t be a meal you’d forget easily!
Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Cuisine (The Flour Mill, 621 W Mallon Ave #426, Spokane, WA // 509.328.3958)