Restaurant recommendations from friends are always appreciated. They may not necessarily be to our liking, but when they are, we are forever grateful. With that, a major THANK YOU goes our to Michelle P. who highly recommended Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey.
Neither of us had ever eaten Ethiopian food and didn’t know what to expect. Mac’s only knowledge of Ethiopian cuisine was from a former co-worker of hers who would often eat a meat dish with a white sauce, never knowing the name of it. However, at Mesob, we knew there would be vegetarian options, as Michelle was one herself.
Upon entering the restaurant, an earthy and spicy aroma overcame us. You knew you were brought into another world, per se, and we were eager visitors. The decor was a clear lesson in Ethiopian culture from the pillars at the bar to the textile pieces that adorned the walls to even the wooden tables.
We made our visit on Sunday for an early lunch. It just so happened to be the day Mesob offers their brunch menu, offered on the last Sunday of each month. Though the brunch menu was appealing, we decided to order from their standard lunch menu. Something that we really liked about Mesob is that you don’t have to feel limited by a single dish for one. There’s an option to order a sampler of SIX (6) dishes, be it for one, two or more. We went with the vegetarian sampler, as all vegetable dishes were vegan (YES!), and ordered the following:
- Ingudai Tibs – grilled portobello mushroom with red onions, fresh tomato, garlic jalapeno peppers and spices
- Gomen – collard greens in a mild sauce with herbs and spices
- Atkilt Aletcha – green beans and carrots in a mild sauce
- Misir Wat – split lentils in a spicy sauce
- Dinich Wat -potatoes in a spicy sauce with herbs and spices
- Buticha – pureed chickpeas with red onions, jalapeno peppers, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and spices
While waiting for our food, we noticed no utensils, but there were wet towels. We quickly confirmed with each other that we would be eating with our hands. Our inner children screamed with joy to be “playing” with our food.When our lunch was ready, a large platter lined with a spongy yeast-risen flatbread called injera was placed on our table. Each vegetable dish was carefully spooned onto the injera. We were also given extra pieces of injera for our meal. That presentation alone showed us that the team at Mesob really took pride in their cuisine. The minute the last dish was poured onto the injera, we couldn’t help ourselves.
Right: The aftermath!
Every single dish was delicious! We tore through the injera at least twice and the staff gratefully served us more. If we had to pick favorites, it would be the Gomen and the Buticha. The Atkilt Aletcha was so good that Mac said it tasted just like her South Carolina’s grandmother’s green beans. When a foreign meal can remind you of “home,” you know you’re in a good place.
For dessert, Mac’s eyes got wide, seeing vegan dark chocolates on the menu, especially their sampler of 4. Unfortunately, we learned that they didn’t have it that day. Nevertheless, we weren’t limited by that. There were vegan cookies to be eaten! We ordered the Cherry Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip cookies (You get 3!). With a name like that, we knew before the first bite that they would be good. They didn’t disapoint! They were flavorful and crispy, but not dry or cakey.
Though soft-spoken, the staff at Mesob is really nice and personable. They make sure their guests enjoy their experience, checking in at the right moments. If you have questions, they are knowledgeable and willing to share, as we witness with party sitting near us. That spoke volumes to us and had us already planning our next visit.
Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant
515 Bloomfield Avenue
Montclair, New Jersey 07042