09 March, 2009

Restaurant Review: Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant

Credit for this find goes to BrixChico, Vince, who scours the offerings on KQED religiously. Red Sea, located on the corner of Telegraph and Claremont is a simple, unprepossessing location, but watch out: the food is off the hook. Whether you are a vegetarian or like meat with your meat, there is something on the menu to delight. For 16 years, the folks at Red Sea have been putting out authentic and tasty Ethiopian food. Our visit was no exception. Another nice feature for us wineaux, is the $5 corkage. Since BrixChicks/Chicos (emphasis on the CHICO) can be Wine Snarks, this was a nice feature as it freed us to bring some finds of our own, rather than settle for beer or cocktails. We congregated at this spot on cold, rainy evening, but our server/hostess had a smile that lit up the space and was cordial, helpful and fun. In fact, we all got a chuckle as we ordered, when I misspoke the combo I was ordering and she was concerned we would not have enough food. Clearly, she didn't know who she was dealing with! By the end of the order, I think her concerns had shifted to the kitchen---as in would they have enough food! Schedules being what they are, it had been a long time since Xandria and I had hung out, so I picked something I thought she liked and she also dusted off something she thought I would like. BrixChicks rule! So, I brought an '08 Ironstone Riesling I had acquired on a recent trip to Murphys. With a petrolly nose and floral spicy notes, it was the perfect counterpoint to the crispy, fried Vegetable Sambusas. The heat of the jalapenos which infused this appetizer were zippy with the refreshing off dry Riesling. The four of us positively hoovered the Riesling and apps, in time to clear the table when our main entry arrived. Xandria had brought a delicious Boarding Pass Shiraz This dark, fruit forward wine had enough presence to stand up to the exotic spices in the food. So excited at the wine was I that I neglected to snap a photo of the delectable color wheel presented to us. They had aggregated the the Vegetarian House Combo with the regular House Combo, which featured chicken, lamb, beef, and shrimp alitcha. Alitcha means sauteed in garlic, gingerroot and turmeric sauce, which produces a bright yellow, aromatic delight. But my personal favorite was Bamiya, okra and potatoes cooked in mildly spiced red pepper sauce with onions, garlic and ginger. We sopped all this up with the Injera. Injera is the Ethiopian bread, which looks like acrylic fleece, but has a soft, sour taste and makes it easy to grab all the delicious sauces up. The restaurant website encourages "the giving of gursha. Gursha means 'mouthful' and refers to a small morsel of food, which one places carefully in another's mouth. This is an exciting and somewhat erotic part of the culture. Used as a gesture of affection, Gursha can be exchanged between husband and wife as well as among close friends and relatives". Maybe next time. All in all a fabulous find. I will so go back!

Red Sea Eritrean & Ethiopian Restaurant
5200 Claremont Street Oakland, CA 94618
Phone (510) 655-3757

Hours: Mon - Sun 11:30 am - 10 pm


Anonymous said...

Is there a way to email a Brix Chix?

Anonymous said...

We can all be reached at "name"@brixchicks.com. THanks for your interest!

Anonymous said...

Ethiopian food, how I miss it! Reading your post made me a little bit nostalgic for The Red Sea restaurant in my old stomping ground of Wash. DC. I'd really love to try that riesling. Great write up! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Riesling rocked! Hopefullyh you are planning on taking an extra day for WBC and making the trek to murphys!