Monday, October 15, 2012

Vegan MoFo 2012, Ethiopian Food and Fiona Apple

Friday night I had the distinct pleasure of meeting friends for a delicious meal at Mesob Ethiopian restaurant in Montclair, NJ.

Later that night, there was more fun in store when we saw my favorite (vegan) Apple, Fiona, in concert at the Wellmont Theater.

Mesob serves their vegetable entrees "vegan style," as is custom for (most) Ethiopian restaurants.  But to go a step further, they also plainly state their vegan efforts on the menu, "All vegetable entrees are prepared vegan style; no animal products or by-products are used.  All entries are also gluten-free."  

The seemingly freezing temperatures serving as a reminder, I finally remembered to order their Ethiopian tea; it really hit the spot.

Mesob's food is the lightest, cleanest, least oily Ethiopian food I've ever eaten.  I also like that they make a ceremony of serving.  First, a platter with just injera is placed before you.

Then, each of the table's selections arrive in individual bowls and are served one by one- with an explanation of each.

My choices, starting top left:

  • dinich wat: potatoes simmered in a spicy sauce seasoned with spices and herbs.  I can't pass up potatoes, but I should remember that the sauce is very similar to the mesir and only order one.
  • buticha: chick peas pureed and chilled and seasoned with red onions, garlic, jalapeño pepper, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and spices (served cold).  This dish is so unique and yummy; I urge you not to skip it.
  • mesir wat: split lentils simmered in spicy hot sauce.  Rich and delicious, but not spicy.
  • shiro: pureed split and chick peas cooked with red onion and garlic.  The chick peas really add a nice element to their version of shiro.
  • gomen: fresh collard greens simmered in mild sauce and seasoned with spices and herbs.  The garlic in Mesob's gomen is a nice touch.
  • azifa: lentil salad seasoned with red onions, garlic, jalapeño peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, herbs and spices (served cold).  These lentils can get away from you!  Lucky for me, I had a spoon from my tea at my disposal.

You'd think all of this would have been enough...and it was.  But I could not resist supporting the restaurant in their newest endeavor: vegan dessert!!

I was too full to partake right after dinner, so I took a sampler of their beautiful vegan chocolates home.  I have to admit that I was a little startled by how small these chocolates were, but what they lacked in size they made up for in divinity.

They all had a creamy, rich center surrounded by a hard chocolate shell.  The flavors were subtle, but distinct.

  • The one shaped like a cup was Ethiopian coffeea miniature cup of Ethiopian coffee in dark Belgian coffee.  VM and I both loved this one- both for it's adorableness and taste.  
  • The one with the gold decoration was Kemen Shaidark chocolate ganache infused with dried ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and black East African tea and enrobed in dark Belgian chocolate.  I think this was my favorite and VM really liked it too.
  • The pink-decorated was Berbere: dark chocolate ganache infused with berbere spices covered in dark Belgian chocolate.  I wouldn't order this flavor on purpose, but because the chocolates were so good, it was still enjoyed even though it wasn't a favorite.  VM liked it better than I, saying it reminded her of a certain Mexican hot chocolate donut.  
  • And the white was the Hibiscus: dark chocolate ganache infused with Kerkede shai (hibiscus tea) and topped with a piece of hibiscus.  We didn't see any indication of a "piece of hibiscus", nor did this chocolate taste at all flowery.  Instead, it was the mildest of the bunch yet delicious in and of itself.

A wonderful evening of friends, food,

and music.

Not a bad way to have kicked off the weekend.


  1. Abby,

    Friday evening was perfect! I really enjoyed our food at, Mesob and Fiona rocked the house.

  2. Like MVG said, Friday evening was perfect! Although I now wish I had gotten some chocolates. Guess I will have to go back to Mesob soon!

  3. Mesob looks great. I'm very interested in trying this place. How does it compare to Queen?

  4. Ahh I love Fiona Apple. That alone would have been an awesome night but Ethiopian food is always nice too. I like lentil purees more for that reason - I get frustrated when food runs away from my mouth.

  5. foodfeud- I couldn't agree more. Makeda in New Brunswick has always made an excellent azefah, but of late they have not been able to confirm that any of the veg offerings are vegan.

    Fiona put on a great show, but barely addressed the audience. To be fair, it seemed like those in the back and on the second level were busy with conversations, so perhaps she was giving what she was getting.

  6. Mesob is right near me and I never go! The food looks great! Will have to try soon!

  7. I love Ethiopian food but because butter is a standard ingredient in just about everything, I'm always leery about what I'm eating. It's nice that Mesob states so clearly that their dishes are vegan.

  8. I love mesob! im going there this sunday for my birthday!!

  9. Hindy, It's a gem; enjoy!

    Andrea, It would be nice if every restaurant was as transparent.

    kzcakes, So nice to find another vegan fan to appreciate them. Happy Birthday!


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