As we made our way to the bottom of the stairs I took note of the empty tables filling the restaurant’s interior and of the sole woman stacking glasses behind the bar on our right. “How can I help you?” the woman asked in an unfamiliar accent as she looked up from her task. I briefly explained we were looking to grab a seat outside and have a meal, which prompted the woman to hand me two menus and explain she would be up to help us shortly. With menus in hand, Rachael and I climbed back up the stairwell and found an empty table near the back of the outdoor seating area. Upon taking a seat at the small wooden table, I immediately began looking over the menu. With exotic names and ingredients jumping off the page, I knew my first experience with Ethiopian food would be much different than my typical dining experiences.
The woman set our drinks and food on the table before asking us if we were ready to order. Rachael asked a few questions about the menu before settling on Misirwot, a dish of lentils, split peas, and potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce over a Ethiopian sourdough flatbread called injera. After jotting down Rachael’s order, the woman looked at me with her pen at the ready. Still undecided and I looked at the woman and asked, “What is the most authentic Ethiopian meal you offer?” Thinking for a moment, the woman replied, “Really… anything, but I recommend the Dorowot.” I took a brief moment to read the description of the entrée, which indicated it contained chicken and carrots in a berbere spiked red sauce over injera. Heeding the server’s advice, I agreed to try the entrée. After scribbling on the notepad the server stated she would put in the order before walking back into the restaurant. Now turning our attention to the Samboosa and drinks in front of us, Rachael and I dove into the first course of our meal.
|St. George saves the day|
After trying Ethiopian food for the first time, I must say this is something I think everyone should try. The unique aspects of the cuisine make it stand out among the other foods I have experienced, with the spices, presentation, and flavors coming together in something altogether different. While I cannot say Ethiopian food is among the very best I have ever tasted, it is high on my list of delicious meals. The spices and injera alone make it fit comfortably on that list. With the pending redevelopment, I don’t know if Buraka will be around for very long, but my first experience with Ethiopian foods makes me think I will definitely make it a routine stop in downtown Madison for as long as the restaurant remains open.