Upon entering the restaurant, you experience the overwhelming olfactory sensation of the pungent spices that permeate the room.
The restaurant has tightly quartered tables which were mostly empty when I visited on an off day at an off time (intentionally). I have passed this restaurant at times where there are no open tables. On the left wall of the restaurant, you will find several basket-like tables prepared for two diners. The remainder of the restaurant has regular tables. I opted for the basket like table which was lined with heavy plastic, with two seats facing each other and a small table to the side for drinks and bread.
Meals are served on a large platter which is covered with a large spongy porous bread that had a thin pancake-like consistency. The bread is called injera, made from an Ethiopian grain called Teff, which is rich in calcium and iron. The entrees and side dishes are served directly on top of the bread, which soaks in the juices from the various stew-like meals. An additional basket of injera is provided to serve as your utensils. The injera is broken into small pieces and used to pick up bite size morsels. These morsels can be shared with your dining partner in a tradition that is known as gursha, where friendships are demonstrated through the sharing of food.
There are several different basic cooking methods to choose from. These methods are applied to chicken, beef and lamb (or vegetarian...Ethiopian food boasts a wide variety of vegetarian dishes due to the strict adherence of Orthodox Christians to Lenten diets). Watt is a stew-like dish that can be fixed a variety of ways ranging from mild to spicy. Another dish called Fitfit (or Sifinfin) also has a stew-like consistency but contains broken pieces of injera cooked into the dish. Pan-fried meat is referred to as Tibbs.
Not knowing anything about Ethiopian food and having an aversion to lamb dishes, I advised my waitress regarding my particular tastes. I was inclined towards ordering the three meat dish so I could sample a variety of cooking styles. This option included a lamb dish, which I was allowed to substitute for a chicken dish (an excellent choice was recommended). My meal consisted of the following dishes:
Minchetabish - Finely chopped prime beef, first pan-fried with Sheba’s spices until golden, then simmered in the famous Ethiopian berbere sauce. This heavily spiced beef had a slightly sweet hot flavor that was very foreign to my taste buds.
Yedoro Watt - Tender chicken marinated in lemon, sautéed in seasoned butter and stewed in red pepper (hot and thick berbere sauce) and served Ethiopian style with hard-boiled eggs, which are knife-poked and simmered in the watt. (This dish can be served with home made Ethiopian yogurt, but I did not have it served that way). These dark chicken drumsticks came served on the bone.
Yedoro Tibbs - My dinner was supposed to be served with a lamb option. I do not care for lamb so I asked my waitress to suggest a dish that I might like. She recommended Yedoro Tibbs, which is boneless pieces of chicken marinated with ginger, garlic, and honey wine, then pan-fried with onions and purified butter.
Friesh made me feel like she cooked for me as a guest in her home rather than a customer in her restaurant. That is a special quality that few restaurants possess. I would highly recommend Queen of Sheba with five stars out of a possible five.
Pros: Excellent flavor, Nice variety, Warm Atmosphere