Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lalibela Ethiopian Cuisine

37 South Moger Ave, Mt. Kisco, NY 10549

There was a time in the 1980s and 1990s that almost every Ethiopian restaurant was called Blue Nile, just as every Mongolian eatery would be called Khan’s Mongolian Barbeque. Such were the inroads of ethnic cuisine into America. Lalibela is most likely Westchester County’s first Ethiopian restaurant and we don’t need to drive down to upper Manhattan, to the Columbia University area anymore for Ethiopian, when the need arises. It is also a commentary on the changing dynamics of global cuisine in the small towns of Westchester—Lalibela stands today, right next to a Jamaican restaurant and opposite a Japanese restaurant. That area, roughly a few blocks of downtown Mt. Kisco, in addition houses Chinese restaurants, South American restaurants, a couple of Asian fusion type places, an Asian tea house, an Indian restaurant and a Lebanese eatery, in additional to an Italian and a contemporary American place.

Lalibela has opened recently, and the owner is a pleasant lady who used to work at the venerable Crabtree’s Kittle House before starting this new venture. This is a small restaurant, and on the Saturday evening that 6 of us went, the place had a reasonable number of diners. Clearly the staff was going through the break-in period—we were asked whether we needed water by three separate waitresses, and while this attention was appealing, each query appeared to add some more time to when we actually received the water. As we decided upon the order, we were served warm, moist bread and a dip of berbere paste, the classic Ethiopian mix of dried spices such as ginger, garlic, rue berries and ajwain. The fiery red paste looks more lethal than it actually is, so one can scoop up generous portions to flavor the bread without concern.

We had Lalibela Kifto, Lalibela Tibs, and Lamb Tips served in the typical Ethiopian communal platter-- chopped beef, beef chunks, and lamb chunks sautéed with vegetables, respectively. The Injeras served with the food were cold (added later:as one reader points out below--this appears to be normal), but otherwise fine—we ascribed this shortcoming to teething troubles. The food felt like it was homecooked, and I mean this in a good way. The vegetables were fresh, the spicing was held back a bit from typical Ethiopian food that we have had, and the dishes were less rich and less saucy than what I have been used to. Do not expect firecrackers in your mouth going in there and you will be fine. Ethiopian food right here in Mount Kisco, is not a bad deal at all.
Lalibela Ethiopian Cuisine on Urbanspoon


  1. From my experience dining in DC and from my Ethiopian friends injera is always served cold and if you like the dish you order to be very spice they'll make it that way. I'll check out Lalibela. Thank you for the info.