Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant - Montclair, NJ

Remember me blogging about how Groupon credited $15 back into our account because we had a bad experience with Farm 2 Bistro? Yeah, so we had $15 worth of Groupon credits, waiting to be used. When we saw the deal on Groupon for Mesob a couple of weeks back, we knew that we just had to get it. The deal was $15 for $35 worth of food and drinks. So, that was just perfect for our $15 credit! :D I've only tried Ethiopian food once before, a very very long time ago in D.C and it's been more than 10 years since Kevin had Ethiopian food. Also, we have heard a lot of good things about Mesob, so we were really excited to go check it out.
We headed out to Montclair last Saturday evening for dinner. Mesob is located smack right in the middle of Bloomfield Avenue, the part of Montclair where you can find all sorts of ethnic restaurants, pubs, bars, coffee shops, bakeries as well as some fine dining places. I just love walking along Bloomfield Avenue, it somehow has this New York feel to it. Definitely doesn't feel like Jersey! :P Parking along Bloomfield Ave can be a pain sometimes, especially on a Saturday night. We had to go around the block a few times before getting a spot at the metered parking lot a few blocks away. I would say that it isn't as bad as trying to get a spot in Hoboken on a Saturday night, but it's still pretty bad. All you need is a little patience, you will find a spot soon enough :D
We were really glad that we made reservations earlier cos Mesob was packed to the brim! I could tell right from the start that it was a good restaurant. You should definitely make reservations if you want a table during the weekends. The waitresses were really friendly and they brought us to our cosy little table by the wall. I really loved the decor and ambiance of Mesob. With earth tones walls and dim lighting, it was a perfect 'date restaurant'. There were also all kinds of beautiful Ethiopian tapestry, baskets and leatherwork on display all over the restaurant.
Our waitress took our drinks order and left us to take a look at the menu. Kevin ordered the Ethiopian Iced Tea ($1.50) and I was just happy with the big jar of ice cold water that they brought out earlier when we were first seated. I knew that our meal would be a little bit spicy, so water would work just fine. When I asked Kevin if he liked his Iced Tea, he couldn't really give me an answer and told me to just try it. Let's just say it's an acquired taste :P It tasted like regular unsweetened iced tea but there were lots of spices (maybe cinnamon and a host of other stuff?) in it. Maybe something like chai tea but without the milk and sugar? Hmmm, I don't know but I didn't really like it. Kevin on the other had thought that it was alright. Too bad we are not coffee drinkers though. Many people ordered their famous Ethiopian coffee and it smelled great! Oh and talking about drinks, Mesob is a BYOB. So, you can bring along your favorite bottle of wine to go with dinner, without any corkage. We should have stopped at the bottle shop before dinner to pick up a bottle of wine. Oh well, next time!
Since we were not really familiar with Ethiopian food, we decided to get the Meat Sampler ($44 for 2 people). This way, we get to try a little bit of everything. To start off, they brought out this hugggeeee platter lined with an equally huge piece of injera bread. It was so big, it almost took up the whole table. That was to hold the individual dishes that will be served later. They also brought out a separate plate of injera that was cut into smaller pieces. That's to be used to scoop up our food later on. Injera is a yeast risen flat bread that is a staple in Ethiopia. It is made from teff flour and has a spongy texture with a mild sourish taste (somewhat like the Indian dosai, but more spongy). The teff flour is mixed with water and left to ferment for several days. Then, it is baked on a clay plate that is placed over a fire. Because of that, one side of the injera is smooth and the other side has a porous texture. That works really well when you use it to scoop up sauces and stuff. I like the injera bread. Not only is it yummy, it's really healthy too!
Soon, our dishes started arriving. Since the way of eating Ethiopian food is mainly communal, everybody in your dinner party is encouraged to share from a common platter. What they would do is place the dishes onto the huge injera in the middle and we would use our hands to dig in with the smaller injera pieces. Our Meat Sampler consisted of 5 meat dishes and 3 vegetable dishes (you get to choose 3 vegetable dishes out of a list of 9 different vege dishes). We didn't really know what to pick, so our friendly waitress helped us out by asking us what we liked and recommending the ones that she thought that we might like. They were also really generous with the injera too. Once they notice that you are running low, they would bring out fresh injera to top up the stock! :D Here's the list of dishes that we had in our sampler.

Tibs Wat
(Cubed prime beef sautéed and simmered in hot sauce, seasoned with spices & fresh herbs)

Minche Abish Key Wat
(Finely chopped prime beef sautéed in butter, and simmered in hot sauce seasoned with spices and fresh herbs)

Minche Abish Aletcha Wat
(Finely chopped prime beef sautéed in butter, and simmered in mild sauce seasoned with spices and fresh herbs)

Ye'beg Aletcha Wat
(Tender pieces of lamb simmered in mild sauce seasoned with spices and fresh herbs)

Doro Tibs
(Scalloped chicken breast marinated & sautéed with red onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper, fresh tomato & spices)

Ingudai Tibs
(Portobello mushroom marinated & sautéed with red onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper, fresh tomato & spices)

Kik Aletcha
(Yellow split peas simmered in a mild and flavorful onion and herb sauce)

Tikile Gomen
(Cabbage and potatoes simmered in mild sauce)

I was expecting the dishes to taste like Indian curry but I was mistaken. They were surprisingly really flavorful and the spiciness was totally different too. Itwas the nice kind of spicy. I really enjoyed the Tibs Wat and Ye'beg Aletcha Wat. Actually, come to think of it, I really enjoyed all of the dishes. Really really good and flavourful. It was a delightful mix of different flavours and textures, and somewhow everything just comes together when you scoop it up with the injera bread. We also had loads of fun eating with our! Overall, I would say that we had a great dining experience in Mesob and we will most definitely return again.

Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant - Montclair, NJ
515 Bloomfield Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042
Tel: (973)655 9000
Hours: Tues-Sun (11:30am - 10:00pm)
Twitter: @mesobnj


Vickie Smith-Siculiano said...

It's so wonderful to hear that you enjoyed not only your Ethiopian dining experience at Mesob Restaurant, but you were also able to make good use of your Groupon credit!

Thanks for sharing your very detailed post with us all...I'm going to post it on the Mesob Facebook Fan Page...won't you please join us? I'm sure everyone would LOVE to hear from you!


btw it's @MesobNJ on Twitter...but very close! :)

Charlene n Kevin said...

Thanks for your comment. Sorry about the twitter thing...I have already updated it :D Hehhehe

Yesme said...

Those are really great photos! This is the first time I've read your blog and I really like your style and enthusiasm! Mesob has been my fav for almost 7 years, since they opened and I've never tried that dark iced tea. I think I'll definitely do that next time I'm there! Looking forward to reading more of your foodie ventures!

interesting place to enjoy good food said...

I love Ethiopian food - the injera, the tibs, the gomen wat, - are all good food. And here at Mesob, it was all good and then some. We had the starter sampler and then a vegetarian platter, both of us hoarding our favorite items (me the timatim fitfit and he the azifa) and then eating like gluttons after a week of starvation. It was the first time he had Ethiopian food and I think he liked it. A lot.

filipino dating said...

It was our first time eating Ethiopian food. We have wanted to try Ethiopian food for a while and going to Mesob ended up being a great decision. Initially, we were a little uncomfortable and surprised that we had to eat with our hands but we got used to it really quickly. Our first dish was an appetizer--- spicy portobello mushrooms and some kind of sour dough wrap. The mushroom was delicious. However, the best part didn't come until our main entree; we ordered a meat platter and vegetarian platter. They were delicious. Our waitress was nice and was very patient with us while making our selections. It's a good thing we got the sampler for our first visit. We selected the lamb, chicken, spicy beef, and mild beef. The meats were very tender and my boyfriend enjoyed every single bite as he finished the entire platter haha! don't remember everything in the vegetarian platter but the chickpeas and "couscous" went really well with the meat. it didn't seem like a lot when the waitress brought the small dishes, but once compiled on one large plate, it was a lot. the food was good. all the spicy dishes were good, but i just like spicy food.