Once in a while we, as college students, need to get away from the bacon cheeseburgers, pasta and Blimpie subs and delve into something more exotic – something more along the lines of a memorable experience. This year, I made it an initiative to increase my worldly knowledge by going to a plethora of ethnic restaurants, and one in particular has made me return time after time. Abyssinia Restaurant, located on 80 University Ave – right down the block from Eastman Theatre – hit the spot with their Ethiopian cuisine.

Never having tried Ethiopian food before going to Abyssinia, I was in for a complete surprise. Luckily, the people who accompanied me had a basic knowledge of the food and walked me, so to speak, through the menu. It turns out that the best suggestion for first timers is to try out one of their combination platters. By doing so, you can maximize your samples of their meat and vegetarian options.

The smells, sounds and overall dcor makes you feel as though you’re truly not in Rochester any longer. The walls are lined with photographs of Ethiopian landscapes and even the menu is in their native language – with English translation, of course.

One thing to be aware of upon entering any Ethiopian restaurant is that utensils are not traditionally used at all. Instead, a soft, sponge-like bread, called injera, is used to pick up the food. Needless to say, if you’ve never eaten a full meal without utensils, this is the place to do it!

For those chicken lovers, definitely try out their doro wat, a chicken drumstick served over a delectable and fragrant sauce alongside a hard boiled egg. Feeling a little more adventurous? Try out the lamb in their their yebeg wat dish and be ready to be titillated by the tenderness.

My third apportionment was a vegetarian dish consisting of collard greens, their gomen, string beans, split peas and a rather simple tomato salad drenched in olive oil. Minutes into my meal, I was already feeling the injera slowly expanding in my stomach as it became harder to physically continue eating, but my taste buds were going on a rampage, and not even a full stomach could stop them from wanting to taste more.

The service was splendid as they thoughtfully explained their menu, and it was also rather quick. To top it off, Abyssinia is a part of UR’s RED program and you get 15 percent off their already inexpensive meals by just flashing that little red sticker. All in all, it was a different experience, and I’m encouraging as many of you to go out there and skip the mundane routine of the salad bar and the grill and try out Abyssinia. It’s one of the few times where eating will actually be an exciting experience.

Buitrago is a member of

the class of 2007.

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