Restaurant Review: Lucy Ethiopian Cafe

Prior to dining at Lucy, I knew nothing about Ethiopian cuisine. Yelp! reviews and Wikipedia let me to believe that it was comparable to Indian and Caribbean gastronomies. As far as I’m concerned, these are the most accurate comparisons of what Ethiopian food is – think curried lentils and collard greens with a whole lotta bread.

Before I give my 2 cents about Lucy, there’s something to note about Ethiopian dining: you’re expected to eat with your hands. The injera, or spongey sourdough flatbread, serves as the vehicle for feeding yourself. You could say injera is what naan is to Indian cooking or pita bread is to Mediterranean.

I’ll have to admit that while shoveling food in my mouth via sponge bread, I had a very real desire to be sitting on the ground in the jungle instead of at a table in central Boston; there’s something very primal, but beautifully efficient, about replacing a modern utensil with something edible.

The Food

Nadia and I shared the veggie combo for two, which consisted of the following:

  • Misir wot (stewed red lentils)
  • Kik alicha (yellow split pee puree)
  • Gomen (collard greens)
  • Tikel gomen (stewed cabbage and potatoes)
  • Dinich wot (stewed curried potatoes)
  • Spinach
  • Warm potato salad

You’ll notice a common theme here, namely stews. This a primary reason why one doesn’t need to use a knife and fork. If you think this is a plate of mush reserved for senior citizens, think again. Many of the dishes were complex in flavor, and nothing on the plate was poorly cooked. However, a few of the dishes left something to be desired.

Perhaps my favorite item was the kik alicha, which had flavors of ginger, turmeric, and onion. The ginger gave a refreshing bite, while the other spices added heat and depth. Also delicious was the misir wot, which is made with an Ethiopian spice mix and tomatoes. It was a little more familiar in taste than the kik alicha, but still fantastic. I very much enjoyed the dinich wot as well, which was the probably the most “exotic” tasting portion of the meal. It had a anisette-like bite that contrasted its curry flavor nicely. While relatively simple, I also found the tikel gomen to be quite good, as it allowed the natural flavors of the vegetables to be the star.

The downside of this platter was the overwhelming amount of carbs. The plethora of potatoes combined the the never-ending injera was overkill. I would’ve replaced the simply stewed potatoes with another vegetable or bean dish. Also lackluster was the spinach; there was nothing memorable about it. I will say that the collard greens were perfectly cooked and not at all bland.

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The Tea

Only once in my life have I been blown away by a cup of tea, but this one came pretty close. Reminiscent of spiced chai, this “traditional” blend was described as being a mix of bark spices. It was a great after-dinner palate cleanser and dessert beverage all in one. It managed to satisfy my craving for something sweet while being refreshing and a little bit spicy. Just wonderful!

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Overall Impressions:

  • Unique menu offerings with something for every taste
  • Affordable for the amount of food provided
  • Some items extremely tasty, others bland

The Verdict:

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