Restaurant Review: Zeni
Pic courtesy Zeni's website
Now this is one restaurant that can be epitomized as “Zany” !! Went there for a quiet celebration, where the setting was perfect for an enjoyable, sit down dinner with friends. The decor in the back area is fun with large, colorful tables in tune with the communal style eating, which is an integral part of the Ethiopian dining experience. The walls and ceilings were interspersed with artwork and animal skin paintings created by Ethiopian artists. Minimal lighting and lilting music set a relaxing mood.
The Zeni menu is fairly extensive compared to other Ethiopian restaurants. As we were a group of 8, we went in for the entree combo, which included any 4 entrees including a meat or veggie combo. If you haven’t been to an Ethiopian resto, your best bet for 2-3 people would be to get a veggie ($9), or a meat combo ($11) . Dessert consisted of Baklava, which while not g8 is an improvement, considering most Ethiopian restos do not offer any desserts.
The food was very good, and paired well with Tej honey wine. Wine snobs who believe that anything sweet does not qualify as wine, can have the Ethiopian red wine, which also goes well with the food. However, do look at the alcohol content as it is significantly higher than American wines ;-)
My only peeve about Zeni was the servers. This is a sentiment shared by other reviewers of Zeni as well. The servers while not openly unpleasant, don't seem terribly excited about being there!! The only time we got to see even a flicker of animation on our server’s face, was when a guy sitting next to us crashed on the floor, taking a few glasses with him! Even then, the best we got from our server was a startled look, a la Miss Universe on winning the not expected to win crown!!
Other than the servers, and the fact that they did not have the much famed Ethiopian coffee that day, dining at Zeni is a fun experience, provided you get one of the seating areas in the back room. The front portion is fairly kitschy, with a tiki hut for a bar and the standard table and chair seating. The location surely could have been better, as I personally am not a big fan of restaurants located in strip malls, but once you look past that and the impassive faces of the servers (not tough to do ;-), Zeni is a good find !!
Food: Mmm... (Good). Healthy portions. Lots of options for vegetarians!
Price: Yay. The $45, 5 entree combo cannot be beat especially if you go with a large group. $6-8 for wine and cocktails.
Would Go Again: Yay!