Date Night: Queen of Sheba

Friday, November 13, 2009

Last night, Don took me out on a date! This was a bonafide date, folks. Last Thursday when I got home from work, he politely asked me out for the next Thursday. I was totally impressed. He'd arranged for us to have a sitter (Thanks Sam!) and told me not to worry about planning a thing. I was so excited. When Thursday came around, I was anxious, and actually considered my outfit and was lamenting that I didn't make time to straighten my hair. He'd kept our destination a surprise all week, so I was very eager to learn what the night had in store.

We headed out towards Addison and I realized that we were heading to Queen of Sheba. We had been talking about eating Ethiopian food for a couple of years now and FINALLY today was the day.

Our server was incredibly beautiful and gracious. We definitely felt like royalty. I thought it was sweet that Don had called in to make a reservation. Our table had a small reserved sign in the corner. Of course, when we walked in, two ladies had walked out, and there was just one other table that was occupied. Empty, but that just added to the romance of our date. The layout of the restaurant reminded me of those old supper clubs, which didn't surprise me much because it was right next door to the Italian club. AND this place serves both Ethiopian and Italian food. I wasn't sure how the two of those meshed together until we pulled up and noticed their neighbor to the left. It was ornately decorated, but welcoming at the same time. The mood was relaxed, unpretentious, but definitely evoked a higher level of class.

To make things easy on me (and my incredible indecisive nature, especially if there's an exhaustive menu!), we opted for the Queens Dinner. It is a 3-course meal, complete with appetizers for two, a shared plate of several dishes , honey wine, dessert, and coffee. We asked them to make it mild hot. Still wanted some spice, but not out of control heat. And for a tiny side of heat for Don. We had no idea what food they were going to bring out. We knew, though, that we'd be in for a treat!

Our server disappeared momentarily and reappeared with a fancy, fancy gold pitcher, and a gold plate with 2 freshly sliced lemons. She instructed us to use the lemon like a bar of soap to cleanse our hands. Next, she poured perfectly warm water over our hands and into the bowl. The top of the bowl had a lid with slats that made it easy to contain the water and prevent splashing. It was heavenly and my hands felt oh-so-soft! We made a mental note to wash our hands with lemon once a week to achieve that same silkyness. WOW, such service!

Next, we each had a sambusa, spiced ground beef in a pastry wrapper that reminded us of a cross between an Indian samosa and an Allsups burrito. Both of which we very, very much enjoy. The lentil sauce was awesome. There was this tomato "sauce" that was a lot like pico de gallo minus the cilantro. It too was very good.

Then she brought out the honey wine and a very large plate of food. We also had a side of injera, which is the sourdough spongy bread used as a utensil to eat with. You're supposed to eat with your hands, not traditional silverware. Even though she did bring out a fork, we did our very best to stick with just the injera. This plate is MASSIVE and smelled incredible. Looking at it, I was reminded of the first (and only) time I'd eaten Ethiopian food back in DC. (Thanks Breeyon!) I explained to Don what we should do, but he was already tearing away and diving in. I remember when I was younger, I used to use tortillas to eat my meal, so this felt familiar. The honey wine is very, very sweet. Not sweet like a Riesling, but sweet like nectar with a kick. I want to find a bottle to enjoy some time at home. I know it would pair wonderfully with a freshly baked loaf of whole wheat bread!

All of the food was amazing, but I did enjoy a couple just slightly more than the others. My favorite meat dish was a lamb dish, either the Yebeg Wott (lamb with butter) or the Yebeg Alitcha (lamb with garlic and ginger). I really enjoyed two vegetable dishes: Gomen (spinach and onion sauteed in olive oil & garlic) and the Shiro (pureed yellow peas with olive oil and garlic sauce). Of course, we tore up the injera! When our server came by to ask how we were, the spinach dish was gone. She took notice, smiled at our approving grunts and smiles, and returned with a side of more spinach and injera! Wow...we were already having difficulty finishing what we had. We knew we weren't going to be leaving empty handed. We NEEDED to-go dish, because this food was too delicious to not enjoy the next day.

Then came dessert! Like who had room? But we made room. Traditionally, she would have brought us out some Baklava, but instead she gave us the choice from their selections. We asked her for her favorites and the first two she mentioned we selected: Chocolate Godiva (dark chocolate cake) and Tiramisu. Both were the perfect finishing touches and both of us had an incredible desire to just sit and be.

We spent the next half hour, sipping our honey wine, tasting the coffee (which we got to go because it was unlike any other coffee I'd had. Tasted like chai tea, but coffee.), and generally catching up on life and discussion. One of the things that I first loved about Don was our ability to talk about everything and nothing, and walking away feeling not only like I connected to someone, but that I also learned something. I look forward to those moments where we can just talk and not worry. Not once were we interrupted by our server. I do remember glancing down and noticing that our water glasses had been filled, but I couldn't tell you when she'd come by.

It was such a romantic date and I would highly recommend Queen of Sheba to anyone! The food delicious, the service is impeccable. If you can swing it, opt for the Queen's Dinner ($35 a person), you will NOT be disappointed! I enjoyed it so much that I'm considering having my birthday celebration there this year. It's already outfitted with a small stage, dance floor, speakers, and best of all, a disco ball!!!

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