Wott's happening at the Queen of Sheba on Colfax
|Lean kitfo snuggled in with vegetable sides.|
The vegetable platter came with two lentil preparations and two kinds of stewed split peas. My favorite was the brick-hued miser wott (red lentils) with a touch of cinnamon and a punch of heat, but the atar wott -- garlicky yellow split peas -- also stood out. Slow-cooked collards and yatakelt wott (potatoes, carrots and cabbage) rounded out the platter.
Mark Antonation Lentils, split-pea stews and lots of injera.
It was a leisurely dinner, paced by the choreography of one woman doing the work of an entire brigade. There was one other cook in the kitchen, but otherwise the atmosphere took on the personality of its proprietor: a little harried but never rushed, spread a little thin but not to the point of frustration, a smile and a gleam in the eye even as she dealt with the confusion of a group of first-time diners. (A hint: Speak up if you want your meats and veggies on separate platters or if you're averse to diving into the same food as your companions.)
Ethiopian food seems built for a contemplative and relaxed experience. Variations on sauces that whisper with cardamom, cloves, garlic and other unfamiliar but evocative flavors sit alongside searingly hot bites to be tempered with cold lentils or a salad of tomatoes and shreds of injera. A shared platter reveals its personality in the course of an evening. The elements line up to be discovered and appreciated little by little, just like a new friend, just like Colfax itself.
For more from our tour of Denver's cultural, regional and international restaurant scene, check out our entire Ethniche archive.