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mama desta's restaurant on georgia avenue is the first taste of ethiopian cuisine i recall a couple of decades ago, and we had some favorites in adams morgan for a while before eventually tiring of the food. but reading todd kliman has rekindled our interest, and our initial return to ethiopian revealed that there are once again some new things happening in these kichens, whose origins in washington were full of novelty. we thought we would be eating at his favorite ethiopian restaurant in the area last night, sodere. finding it closed, we turned the corner of ninth and u to find etete just a couple of doors down. this is a narrow restaurant, with eight tables for two and a few tables with bar stools and a small bar. its furnishings are surprisingly contemporary, and it has the appearance of wanting to be half a bar hangout, although the selections, which include alcohol, are a bit limited. i had a harrar beer, which was very mellow and i would say it had a note of honey. it was a good accompaniment to the food. we ordered a fasten vegetable sampler that included good renditions of greens, lentils, potatoes and carrots, and a small lettuce and tomato salad that was a bit out of place. the centerpiece of our meal was tikul, a mound of ground (whipped) beef, and it stole the show. soft, buttery, (my wife thinks cheesy) and with a mysterious (to us) spice, with a great, unique flavor. lentil sambusas were soft and slow-burn spicy, and the injera had a more interesting, tripe-ish texture than the smoother versions served in the old days. the waitresses here are glamorous and nice, although they may not have enough command of the english language to tell you what's in your beef. for that, you might attempt to get the answer from the chef herself, who was totally engrossed in her preparations from what we could see through the swinging door to the kitchen at the end of the room. i'm not sure who's allowed to invade the kitchen, but one customer did, probably a regular or friend or relative, dressed up as some sort of chieftain, and he exited back through the restaurant a bit later with a big plastic bag of carry out. the disappearing into the kitchen for extended periods includes the waitresses, who are apologetic about their long absences without really having to be. we were well aware that we had entered another time zone, and appreciated the leisurely pace. a solitary diner, on the other hand, was in and out quickly. on a sunday night, there were about a dozen customers over an hour-and-a-half span. outside and after dark, this may not be the safest neighborhood to be strolling around in, but there is a metro station just one block away if you're worried.
I went to Dead Rabbit for the first time last night. The cocktails were quite good. We got there in time for the $1 oyster special (5-7 M-F upstairs, IIRC) and while they were good, they were rather poorly shucked. Downstairs, it was hectic but kind of fun.
I went to Songbyrd a couple days ago, ordered a Large Iced Coffee ($2.75), and really enjoyed myself. Songbyrd offered both traditional drip, and cold-filtered (for 48 hours) as iced coffee - they have the inside of two small stores, and the south side has a selection of vinyl on sale - worth browsing through just for the memories. My barrista was pleasant as could be, and I wouldn't hesitate to return here, especially considering the location - almost right on the corner of 18th and Columbia, on the northeast side of 18th Street. I can't help but think they could make a more efficient use of their space, but that's only hurting them; not the customer. The north side is the "cafe side" and the south side is the "coffee and record" side, and each menu is covered with a vinyl album cover. Definitely a welcome, quirky addition to the neighborhood.
I guess this doesn't count, huh. http://www.marxcafemtp.com/drinks.php