I heard about Solay Bistro from the fine folks over at AltEatsColumbus. It would have been easy to miss Solay Bistro amongst the cadre of international options in this one strip mall. Luckily, since I was alerted to the vegetarian choices available at Solay, I can share the delicious flavors available to diners at this eatery.
Solay Bistro is a medium-sized family place that features organic food from a variety of cultures. The majority of the menu is Somalian and Ethiopian, with a smattering of Italian, Mediterranean and New World options.
Vegetarian selections include hummus, sambusas, black eyed peas, salads, spinach, lentil curry, veggie burgers, falafel sandwiches, an almond butter, banana and jelly sandwich, pasta alfredo and many flavors of fresh fruit smoothies.
I sampled the potato sambusa, an Ethiopian cousin of the Indian samosa. The cultural exchange between Ethiopia and India dates back to the anchient trade routes, which along with spices and fabrics brought both countries a dynamic culinary tradition. There are still large Indian populations in Ethiopia and vice versa. The sambusa at Solay Bistro is stuffed with spicy potatoes and peas, served with a slightly spicy green sauce. The flavor is fantastic.
The green lentils are prepared fresh, and as a result, they take about 20 minutes to prepare from scratch. The lentils are augmented with peppers and green herbs, and they are delicately seasoned. Again, the culinary similarities to Indian dishes like chana masala are evident, but the dish is unique enough to stand on its own.
I sampled the lentils with a tasty herbed cous cous. Ideally, the best way to enjoy Ethipian food is accompanied by the national flatbread, anjeero. Anjeero (sometimes spelled injera) is a soft, spongy bread made from the African grain teff. It is delicious on its own, and it allows diners to eat off of other people's plates by scooping up samples with their hands.
The staff at Solay Bistro provides excellent service. They are very accommodating to vegetarian inquiries. Solay also passes the other eye test: the restaurant had three tables full of international clientele that didn't speak English (or at least converse in a language I don't speak), which is a testament to the restaurant's authenticity.