Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Assignment #3: Reviewing reviews

This assignment was more difficult for me then the last two week's assignments.  Reading reviews of a restaurant and dissecting them can be a challenge! I decided to post about a little Ethiopian restaurant on Magazine St. called Cafe Abyssinia.  I've only been to this restaurant once, but from reading the 23 reviews on "Urban Spoon" I have concluded that my experience was very similar to the experiences of other diners.   Overall, the reviews reflect a similar notion, and one that I agree with: the food was pretty good, the atmosphere was "awkward", and the service was awful.  It's also worth mentioning that most of the Urban Spoon posters, similar to myself, had never before experienced Ethiopian cuisine and therefore were basing their judgements of the food quality on how it tasted to them, not how authentic they believed it was.  However, judging from the decor, seating, and smell of this place, they aren't trying to fake anything.  Let's jump into the comments, shall we?

First, my favorite review (bolding done by me):
"I came here wanting to love this place. I have been to ethiopian restaraunts and have always enjoyed the experience and the food. My wife and I ordered a lamb dish which was very good and the samabas(?) which were amazing.
If we had to do it again, we would probably want to come with a group of 6 to 8 as one dish and one serving of two samabas serves two people. I feel Ethiopian food is best enjoyed in large groups so you can try a bunch of different things.
The restaraunt really needs to work on its service. Our waiter was doing the congenial NOLA thing of being nice and talking to everyone which I don't mind. However, there is a fine line between friendly and OMG get me my check. He crossed it. He was a nice guy but I wish he would have just been a bit more "rushed."
I would give the place 3 out of 5 stars that could have been 4.5 out of 5 stars with better service.
Anyway we will return

This poster comments on a number of things.  He remarks that Ethiopian food should be enjoyed as a group.  I tend to agree with this.  Just like traditional New Orleans food (read: jambalaya, gumbo), Ethiopian food is often prepared and served family style.  This makes eating with one or two people kind of awkward because its a large amount of food meant to be shared, relished, and enjoyed over loud conversation that has now been reduced to "just a meal."  Eating this kind of food without a large group almost detracts from the authenticity of the food itself.  The poster then goes on to state that the service was slow and the waiter, though Ethiopian, was participating in "the congenial Nola thing of being nice and talking to everyone."  This is the second parallel in this relatively brief post that relates NOLA food with Ethiopian cuisine.  The waiter was being friendly and talkative; however, many people find this as an annoyance.  The poster obviously found this to be irritating and therefore may not have gone to this restaurant looking for a true Ethiopian experience along with his true Ethiopian food.  

The commenter had a very similar experience to my own experience, making me feel like I understand what this man wants when he goes out to eat.  He ends his post with "we will return", which can be seen as his way of letting people know that despite the small issues with service, this place is worth going to more than once. I tend to agree. 

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