Review: Red Sea Ethiopian & Mediterranean Restaurant

After seeing lots of hype about the new Ethiopian Restaurant coming to Homewood, AL over the past week, we decided to try it this weekend.

We thought it was cute that they conveniently changed the neon, red-lettered sign from “Red Bowl Restaurant” to “Red Sea Restaurant” and slipped in a smaller sign that reads: Ethiopian and Mediterranean. We had to give them some points for economizing.

IMG_0394The restaurant is shared with a Halal market, so we veered to the left upon walking in, towards the dining area, promising ourselves to stroll through the market upon exiting. The staff was very welcoming. We were seated and began digging through our menus. Both Ethiopian and Mediterranean menus were present and divided nicely.

A bowl of fresh dates was brought to our table for snacking on while we waited. I had actually never had fresh dates before and I was surprised to find that they tasted very similar to dried dates, only the texture was firmer and more crisp.

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We asked our server for recommendations from the menu. She was a fan of the vegetarian dishes and encouraged us to try the Misir Key Wot, a combination of split lentils cooked in Berbere sauce.  We decided on the Ultimate Combination (Red Sea Platter), which includes a variety of meat and vegetarian options, but we were told that this dish takes quite some time to prepare and that most people call ahead for this order. So, we opted to try some meat dishes.

I ordered the Doro Wot. It was a combination of dark-meat chicken (on-the-bone) simmered in a savory/spicy Berbere sauce and served atop Injera bread. Rice was also available as an alternative to the spongy, rolled bread, but we decided to keep it authentic on this trip. The dish is also served with a boiled egg, a small side salad and a serving of house-made cottage cheese (although they never actually brought the cottage cheese). I found this dish to be tasty and very flavorful.

My guy ordered the Lamb Alicha Wot, a curried lamb stew also served atop Injera bread. I found the broth to be a little too thin to complement the Injera well on this dish. Perhaps it would’ve paired better with the rice. It was very similar to the Doro Wot, otherwise.

It was a rather messy experience. Both dishes are eaten by tearing apart the Injera and using it “as a spoon” (as instructed by our beautifully-designed henna-stained server) to scoop up the meat and sauce. We left with several stains on our clothing. Rookie mistake.

The most remarkable thing about this restaurant was the friendliness of the staff. They truly wanted us to be happy and to share in the cultural experience. Upon closing out our experience, I wished that we had tried more vegetable-based dishes. The heavy meat and bread just needed a vegetable complement. Next time we will order one meat dish and one vegetable dish to share, or perhaps call ahead and plan for the combination platter.

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