October 09, 2006

Starving children at the Ethiopian restaurant

Addis Abeba
1322 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 328-5411
Entrees run $10-$15 per person; many vegetarian options

It pains me to make such an obvious and cheap joke, but it's true. We arrived at Addis Abeba after a busy three-hour beach clean-up and the boys were tired and hungry. While waiting for our food the boys were moaning loudly, "We're starving! When is the food coming?"

I'd say it was worth the wait.

We started off with a shorba, a satisfying cold soup made of with yogurt, honey, cucumber and mint. Given that the boys like all of the ingredients I was sure the soup would be a hit, but the "starving children" stopped after only a taste. Oh well, that meant more of the yummy soup for me and DH.

After soup, we moved onto the main meal. We selected the "combos" which allowed us to try small portions of several items. The meal is served on a single platter mesob (traditionally a hand-woven basket, but the large metal substitute is likely more sanitary) and accompanied by a basket of injera, large flat Ethiopian bread. To eat, one tears off a piece of the spongy bread and scoops up the food in small mounds. Once the novelty of eating with his hands wore off and he'd filled his rumbling tummy Smartypants decided he didn't like the food after all. The rest of us enjoyed the whole meal.

Our choices included:

Asa: fish cut into cubes and sauteed in Ethiopian herb butter seasoned with garlic and pepper. I found it a bit salty, but Splinter could not get enough of it.

Yebeg Alitcha: this lamb stew is always a hit.

Yeater Kik Wot: DH really liked this dish of yellow split peas cooked in spicy wot with garlic cloves and cinnamon.

By the end of our meal, the platter was wiped clean and we'd exchanged several gursha by rolling samples of the food in injera and feeding them to each other. According to the menu it's a traditional way of showing somebody that you care.

If you've got adventurous eaters definitely give Addis Abeba a try!

October 08, 2006

Something for everyone at Old Country Buffet

Old Country Buffet
8780 West Dempster Street
Niles, IL
(847) 296-9681

Although we drive by this place twice a day during the school year, we've never bothered stopping in. We figured it was worth a try though after the boys received free OCB meal passes upon completion of our library's summer reading club.

OCB is a generic, but clean, all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant (chain). They've got salad, Mexican, Italian, and kids-themed stations plus a full line of desserts and unlimited soft drinks. Lunch runs about $8 for adults and kids pay something like 55 cents per year over age 2.

Here's how the boys describe it:
You walk in the door and wait in line to go to the cashier and pay. Then you get a plate and put food on it. Then you find a table and sit and eat. OCB is a good place to go if you are really hungry because you can get as many servings as you want They play music and there are lots of people talking and having a good time.

Kinds of food: They have healthy foods like fruit and salad and chicken and corn and watermelon and unhealthy stuff like mashed potatoes and dessert. (Eight year-old Smartypants could not believe that cornbread stuffing fell into the later category- after all, it's got corn.)

The kids' buffet has fries, burgers, nuggets, hot dogs, mac and cheese, pizza and chicken legs. The chicken legs are bone-sucking yummy, the cornbread is delicious, the Orange Fanta is great and the service is good (they picked up our dirty plates promptly so we could get more food.)

Bonus tip from Mom:
Feeling ambivalent an upcoming 30th, 40th or 50th birthday? Stop in here and you'll leave with a renewed spring in your step. With the exception of a few families, the average patron age hovers around 67. This may explain the stewed prunes at the salad bar.

The boys eagerly await their next trip to Old Country Buffet. OCB offers variety, speed and convenience in a clean setting- key factors when you're dining en famille. If you're the kind of parent who takes the path of least resistance when going out with the kids, consider this a key stop on your route.


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