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Saturday, February 19, 2011

NILE Ethiopian Restaurant- International Drive, Orlando Florida

NILE is Located in a small strip mall on the busy International Drive in Orlando, and is a truly authentic experience into the culture and food of Ethiopia. From the moment you walk through the door you begin an unexpected food adventure.
 The staff is dressed in traditional clothing. In between taking orders and bringing your food to the table they expertly roast coffee beans in a small pan in the center of the dining room, casting an enticing nutty coffee bean aroma throughout the room. You will also notice at your table the complete lack of utensils to eat with. This is not an accident, it is by design. It is expected that customers eat with their hands in the traditional way. To help accommodate the use of your hands, huge Sourdough Pancakes called Injera are served alongside the meal to help scoop up all the culinary delights. The food itself is an experience ment to be shared, as entrees are served family style, separated on one platter on top of the Injera.

Simone and I started with an appetizer called Sambusa, a pastry crust filled with Lentils, Peppers, Onions, Ground Beef and Spices. It was oven baked to a dark golden crisp. It was flaky and flavorful, with just the right amount of spice. It is not served with any kinds of sauce for dipping, but its okay because none is needed. These are great by themselves.

For my entree I chose Lamb Tibs, which were small bite size pieces of Lamb marinated in cardamon, fenugreek, red pepper and coriander and braised with peppers, garlic and onions. I also ordered a side of Braised Cabbage and Carrots to go along beside it. Simone ordered Chicken Doro Alicha, which was chicken stewed with Turmeric and other spices. With her dish she had a side of yellow split peas that were cooked with garlic and onions.

The lamb was amazing with a slightly mild smokey, spicy flavor. It was fall apart tender and although I always tried to avoid green peppers, i have to admit in this dish they were excellent. The cabbage and carrots were also very good, cooked with ginger and garlic and a nice side to the lamb. The Chicken dish was mild but rich in the turmeric spice. It was also melt in your mouth tender. The Split Peas that accompanied it were the best split peas I have ever had. The were mashed to an almost paste like consistency and worked great with the flavors of the chicken.  The entire meal was fun to eat with the Injera pancakes and all the food was well balanced in flavor. I like to eat with my hands and its great to break the rules of the dinner table that my parents taught me as a kid. If i lived in Orlando I would be a regular here. I have found a new food love, and its all thanks to Nile Ethiopian Restaurant. 5 Stars for this authentic experience.

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