Dining can create a bond. It gives people a chance to converse while obtaining nourishment. Blue Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant, serves its food family style on a big platter, allowing conversation and conviviality to grow along with the waistline.
I grabbed lunch with my friend Bri, who sadly is leaving town for bigger and better opportunities in the nation's capital. Blue Nile provided a shared experience for us before she leaves for D.C., and according to the menu, eating from the same plate and injera bread creates a bond of friendship and loyalty. I'm starting to buy into this theory. Bri--we're on the same team now. We have eaten from the same plate. I'll expect you to treat me accordingly.
The restaurant, named after the most important river in Ethiopia, has many vegetarian choices that can be ordered individually or as part of a platter. The appetizer was a vegetarian sambusa, a samosa-like dumpling filled with potatoes, peas and spices. There is an interesting shared culture between Ethiopia and India dating back to ancient times. The two countries had a bond in trade, and this link led to related (but hardly identical) cuisines.
The vegetarian combo (pictured above) is huge and can be ordered depending on how many people will share the mosseb, or plate. Our mosseb included tikil gomen (cabbage cooked with onions and peppers), mesir wat (split lentil cooked with garlic and berbere, a spicy stew), kik alicha (yellow split peas cooked with onions, green peppers and garlic), shiro (spiced and milled chick peas with onions) and debinja (fresh eggplant cooked with tomato, onion and spices). It came with an enormous piece of injera on the side, and injera was also under the five items. Injera is a bread that is high in protein. It tears up so you can scoop up the food from the plate.
There is a full range of beverages including beer, wine and liquor. Like an Indian restaurant, there is also rice pudding for dessert.
Blue Nile offers great food and an interesting cultural experience. Check out the pictures and check out the food. Also, don't show up alone. Sharing plates with a companion just might make you friends for life.