J. (jmpierce) wrote in boozefoodmke,

Restaurant Review: Alem's Ethiopian Village

Alem's Ethiopian Village
307 E Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee, WI

First: No, I do not work here, and no, I am not associated with this restaurant in any way. I just really love this place and it's within walking distance of where I live and cheap, so I have a personal interest in helping advertise for the place because I want them to stay open! It's a new business and I hate finding a great new restaurant and falling in love with it only to see it go under. I'll try to keep this review as objective as possible, however.

The Food:If you're not familiar with Ethiopian food, try looking at the wikipedia article, which is what I did before I went. Very vegetarian friendly. They have chicken, lamb and beef dishes, but really I go there for the vegetarian dishes. I've brought vegetarian friends there and they were also pleased. I don't know how this place compares to other Ethiopian restaurants, but on its own, it's fantastic. I've never been disappointed and I eat there about once a week.
Items I can personally vouch for:
If you like coffee, try the Ethiopian coffee. It's fantastic.
The honey wine is also delicious.
The "Awaze Tibs," which is beef and onions (and maybe some green peppers? can't recall) was good, if you like spicy. I'm in the "medium" tolerance range, so if you're sensitive to spiciness, this might not be for you.
There's a chicken dish that comes with homemade cottage cheese, I can't remember the name. About the same range of spicy as the Awaze Tibs. I prefered this to the Awaze Tibs (but I tend to like chicken more than beef anyway). Very tender and juicy.
My favorite is the vegetable platter. Several different vegetable dishes of various levels of spiciness. Only one registers as spicy enough to mention its spiciness to me. My favorites are probably the Shiro Wot, the collard greens (sorry, can't remember the name) and a yellow split pea whose name I also can't recall off the top of my head. But I've tried most (maybe all) of the vegetable dishes now and I like all of them.

The Price: Very reasonable. Lunch is cheaper. My sig. other and I split one vegetable combo platter and can both eat until we're full. One vegetable platter costs about seven or eight bucks at lunch time, if I remember correctly. So for two people to get lunch at a restaurant in Milwaukee for a combined total of about eight bucks is pretty freaking awesome. Three people can also comfortably share two of the two vegetable dish plates, if you're willing to share.

The Atmosphere: I really love this place. Sometimes it smells like some kind of incense (smells like sage to me?) so if you're really sensitive to that, you might not enjoy yourself. It's never been overpowering to me and I've never actually seen smoke in the air or anything, so don't worry about smoke in your eyes or anything like that. They play some music but it's not too loud. I really dig the decor, a lot of art on the walls.

The Service: There's always only been one waiter/ress working when I've been there, which has never been a problem when I go in because it's fairly small and quiet, but the times it's gotten a little busy when I've been there, they do have to work pretty hard. However, I've never had a problem getting a refill or anything. Also, I think there's only one cook, so if it gets busy, there might be some waiting involved. Try going at lunch time if you can. Not only is it cheaper but it's a lot less busy. Everyone who works there has always been friendly. :)
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