37 S Moger Ave. Mount Kisco, NY 10549 • (914) 864-1343 • lalibelamountkisco.com
I can count the number of Ethiopian restaurants I’ve been to on one hand. And part of that is a reflection on me, I suppose. But the balance of blame, to be fair, should be on Ethiopians. After all, it’s not like they have a ton of options out there to choose from. I’m not saying they need to catch up to Italy or anything, but let’s just say there’s room for improvement.
So, why don’t I eat at the ones I have been to more often? Well, to be honest, I can’t say I LOVE the cuisine itself. It always comes up short for me. And while I certainly enjoy the cultural novelty and ritual with the huge, dramatic plates and using bread as a utensil, it’s still not enough to distract me from the inadequacies of the food itself.
But strangely enough, my issues with Ethiopian cuisine of the past was very different this time around. Usually my gripe is that every dish tastes exactly the same. Just a hodgepodge of spices and sauce with some sort of indiscernible meat floating within.
This time, it was nothing of the sort. At Lalibela I could quite clearly taste the differences between each dish, but ironically I found myself missing all of those spices. I know, I just can’t be happy, right? I’m like a bad client. But is it so much to ask that I be able to taste the meat within in my dish and have a little heat? Apparently.
Nonetheless, Lalibela did have its moments. Surprisingly the avocado salad was the runaway success. Highly recommend. Worth 4 or 5 knives on its own. I also loved the roasted beet salad that came as a side accompaniment with our main dishes. Very tasty. And third for me would be the misir dat (alicha) – “alicha” means the non-spicy version and “misir” means lentils. We got it because we were expecting our two meat dishes to be much hotter.
The two meat dishes, a.k.a. losers, were a grounded meat and jalapeno dish- and yes, it wasn’t spicy… And their signature chicken dish with drumsticks and a hard boiled egg. Also not very spicy.
So it would seem that perhaps vegetarian dishes are the Lalibela’s bailiwick. Good to know for next time. Either that or we ask the kitchen to make the other stuff spicier. Always a dangerous game of semantics.
Décor is very charming with its brightly color walls adorned with beautiful photography of the Ethiopian people.
And staff, while friendly, is a touch on the slow side. But I’ll forgive them because they gave a very solid recommendation on the beer. St. George is a very refreshing Ethiopian lager that pairs nicely with the food… and would pair even nicer if the food was spicier. Okay, horse officially beaten to death. Check!