There are certain ways you can tell if a restaurant specializing in foreign cuisine is any good. Sure, you can read Zagat reviews all you want, but we’ve found even that to be untrustworthy on more than one occasion. We knew Ethiopian Diamond was going to be good when we walked in we saw and saw entire table of Ethiopians eating dinner and speaking amharic. We were not disappointed. Hands down, Ethiopian Diamond is the best African place we’ve found in Chicago, and it’s definitely on par with our other best African food experience – Au Village in Paris.
Zagat had given Ethiopian Diamond high marks for food (a 24) but very low for both service and décor. We have our own standards, but found them wrong on both counts. Ethiopian Diamond is one large room, sparsely decorated with large canvas paintings and small reminders of Ethiopian culture. Our aforementioned table featured four vertical-backed chairs modeled after Ethiopian obelisks, arranged around at a basket table, or mesob. Maybe we’ve just never been the type to critique the way a restaurant looks, but we’ve always found it comforting when a place spends more time and effort on the food then on the interior design. It was just right for us.
With that, we dived into the menu. It had a wide variety of appetizers and stews, meaning we had tons of choices. This wasn’t our first time around the East African block, so we quickly decided on Doro Tibs Watt (chicken breast meat cubes marinated in lemon juice and ginger, cooked in spicy sauce) and Doro Tibs Alicha (chicken breast cubes in a sauce of onions, garlic, and ginger). The menu initially seemed overpriced ($13 a dish) until we received our food. A huge plate arrived, meant to be shared, complete with both our orders, both hot and spicy chickpeas, a cup of hot sauce, a salad, and eight pieces of injera which double-served as both our carbs and our utensils.
The two dishes provided a great contrast: the Doro Watt had a sharp flavor kick, while the Alicha was much more subtle but still delicious. The chicken was perfectly done. The smoky, peppery sauce, which came in a little cup added a kick to any option. However, we kept raving about the injera, the bread was delicate and spongy, with a slight sourdough kick. The seemingly endless bread supply only urged us to eat more, even far after we knew our stomachs were full. After we finished eating, the $26 bill seemed like a complete steal.
If we had any complaint about the service, it was that they never refilled our water cups – and to combat the spicy chickpeas, we definitely needed them. Otherwise they were perfectly efficient and gracious. Ethiopian Diamond surpassed all of our expectations, so if we ever find ourselves around Granville and Broadway again and even mildly hungry, we will definitely be back (maybe to try some coffee and desserts).