First Bite: Gatur’s Ethiopian Cuisine

With three Ethiopian restaurants in the city of Buffalo, we knew that eventually we were going to have to try one of them. Neither Alli or I have an any previous experience with Ethiopian cuisine and we didn’t exactly know what to expect when we decided to have dinner at Gatur’s last week.

Gatur’s is located at 69 Allen, which has been the home to Falafel Bar and recently Nadia’s Taste of Soul. The owners have definitely done some renovations to the place and the inside has a comfortable, home-y feel. We walked into the restaurant on a week day night to find only one other table of diners. We grabbed our seat and ordered a couple waters and their spiced tea, which only had a very mild flavor but still welcome on a cold night.

Quick Info:

  • Restaurant Type: Casual
  • Cuisine: Ethiopian
  • Location: Allentown
  • Prices: Meat Dishes $12, Appetizers $3-8, Combo Platters $22

Our server was cordial but not overly welcoming. What was really annoying, however, was the hostess (it also could have been one of the owners) who was standing at the cash register/hostess table which was not to far from where we were sitting. From the time we walked in until we received our food (so about 20-25 minutes), she stood there on the phone arguing with someone. It was very distracting and quite unprofessional. She did not seem to care that all of the diners in the restaurant could see and hear her.

After looking at the menu, we decided to try a combo platter that featured injera bread (to get the full experience) and a 2nd appetizer (our 1st appetizer came with the combo) to sample more of the restaurant’s options.

Our appetizers came out right away; we ordered the Sambusa (gallery) and Ful (below). The Sambusa was a thin wrapped pastry that was filled with beef and deep fried. Our order only came with two and they were pretty small. Not ideal for sharing, but still very tasty, basically a less fried/greasy version of a pastelillos and served with an incredibly spicy dipping sauce. The Ful was basically a dip (actually more of a hummus consistency) of beans, spices and peppers that’s served with toasted pita. It was probably my favorite dish of our entire meal. The texture was somewhat grainy but also had a nice layer of oil on top that prevented each bite from being too dry. The flavor was wonderful and I gladly took the leftovers home to enjoy the next day.

Our main course came out shortly after and was supposed to be the star of the meal. Both Alli and I turned down the offer for utensils and tried to have an ‘authentic experience’  by pulling pieces of injera apart to scoop up the meat/veggies with. The veggies on the plate included a salad that had a flavorless oily dressing and some bitter greens. The meat included Beef Wata and Doro Wata, both meats in a thick and spicy sauce that were a little tricky to try and pick up with the bread. Alli and I both enjoyed the tender pieces of chicken, but it was still on the bone which made it a little difficult to eat and there wasn’t a lot of meat to pull off. Sadly, we didn’t really enjoy the beef that much; the texture and flavor was quite unappetizing. We had mixed experiences with the injera. Alli wasn’t a fan of the texture of the spongy bread and I didn’t enjoy that it was quite cold. From what I understand injera is supposed to be served at room temperature, but ours seemed like it was in the fridge before it was served to us. It didn’t really have any flavor whatsoever and acted as merely a transportation vessel for the food. The entire time I thought about about how much more I would have enjoyed the dish if it was served with pita instead of the injera, which is an option.

The meal had it’s ups and downs. The service was really dissappointing and we weren’t overly impressed with a lot of our food. I’m glad that Alli and I decided to finally try an Ethiopian restaurant, and I’d like to try Lucy’s and Mike’s before I completely write off an entire cuisine, but I can’t say that anything from our meal was outstanding or worth walking back down the street to try.

**For any of our readers who have gluten allergies, you’ll be pleased to know that the injera (and almost their entire menu) is indeed gluten free.

Photo Gallery:

Gatur's Ethiopian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

5 thoughts on “First Bite: Gatur’s Ethiopian Cuisine

  1. Yes, injera should be room temperature. I’ve been hesitant to try Gatur’s after trying Lucy’s, because I feel like that latter has set a pretty high standard (aside from the longer-than-usual wait.) Now…I’m not sure if I’ll try it. Thanks for the review!

  2. Rachel

    Don’t write off Ethiopian quite yet! Try Lucy’s, and, if you’re in Rochester, try this vegan Ethiopian place: http://www.naturaloasisny.com/cafe.htm

  3. Having been to Ethiopia, I must say that Lucy’s is the clear winner of the local scene. The only downside is that the best Ethiopian food, comes with authentic African speed – do not plan on stopping in for a quick meal, but instead set aside time to enjoy the entire experience – and be sure to check out a coffee ceremony, or enjoy their homemade chai!

  4. I’m a fan of Lucy’s, too––definitely give it a shot before you give up. I’ve heard good things about the place on Bailey, as well.

    Ditto the comment about African restaurant culture; one of my coworkers in South Africa, Leon, was fond of saying, “No hurry, no worries!” (incidentally, he also said, “No money, no ‘honey’!” a lot) and that pretty much sums up the attitude there towards eating, whether in restaurants or at home. It can come off as simply bad service to Americans. I’d be annoyed by the loud phone conversation, though. You can’t relax and enjoy the company and the experience if someone is shouting nearby.

  5. Tariq Qasas

    I’d have to say Lucy’s is the clear winner of all three. Don’t count out Ethiopian yet!

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