After another long winter-spring break, we’re back! While the break lasted a little too long, it allowed us to visit a few places that we plan to write about in the near future and research new places to visit. Hartford’s Abyssinian Ethiopian Restaurant intrigued us because it exists as one of the few known African restaurants in Connecticut. When only a few restaurants of a certain cuisine exist in Connecticut, they tend to be expensive. This rule generally applies to French restaurants and Russian restaurants in the state. We saw the $12 for $24 deal on Groupon and hoped Abyssinian would prove to be the exception. Here’s how our night panned out.
Abyssinian Ethiopian Restaurant
Location: 535 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT
Atmosphere: 8.5/10-When we walked into Abyssinian, we were drawn to the African paintings on the wall, the miniature statues that were placed above the cashier’s counter and the music that played in the background. These three factors intrigued us. These factors let us know that the owner(s) wanted to distinguish this restaurant as uniquely Ethiopian. We also noticed the dim lighting in the restaurant and unlit candles that sat atop our tables. If the staff altered the lighting or lit the candles on the tables, they would be more likely to attract customers from the outside.
Service: 9/10-We found the staff to be pleasant and quick-handed. We received our meals in a timely fashion. We wondered how the staff would fare on a busy night because we were only one of few groups of people in the restaurant that night. If Abyssinian finds that they are understaffed on those nights, the management should consider hiring more employees to help, especially when the Groupon deal results in an increase of customers.
Price/Selection: 8.5/10-The prices are reasonable and affordable. Appetizers range from $6.95 to $7.95. Entrees range from $11.95 to $16.95. You won’t make a dent in your wallet here and with the Groupon deal, you can get much more for your money! Abyssinian also offers a diverse selection of Ethiopian cuisine with plenty to choose from.
Composition/Taste: 9.5/10-If you have never tried Ethiopian cuisine, we strongly recommend you do so. Ethiopian cuisine typically consists of a variety of vegetables and spicy meats that are served atop injera, a sourdough flatbread that is so large you might mistake it for a napkin! Ethiopians eat this cuisine with their right hands. They use pieces of the injera to pick up the various meats and vegetables. Don’t make the mistake we did. We used our spoon to pick up the ingredients. When the ingredients entered our mouths, we found ourselves immensely enjoying the flavors that touched our taste buds, especially the flavors absorbed by the injera. We recommend you try any of the chicken, lamb, beef, seafood, vegetarian or rice dishes to taste what we’re talking about.
In a nutshell: 35.5/40-Abyssinian has the look, the taste and the staff, but they need the extra “wow” factor to make their restaurant stand out. In other words, they need something from the outside to draw the customers from this busy street in, something that says “look at us.” Abyssinian is restaurant worth stopping by. The management needs to find “something” to let Connecticut know this.