First Look - MeskeremBy George Mahe
Photograph by Katherine Bish
Now that we’ve all been indoctrinated into the culture of small plates, this place turns the tables with an 18-inch version—and it’s edible. What sounds trendy is, in fact, a millennium-old Ethiopian tradition in which different courses are laid out on the communal injera, a spongy bread “platter” that acts as serving plate, utensil, bread course and napkin. Tear off a corner and scoop up beautifully spiced meats, fresh string beans, mashed lentils and ground chickpeas zipped up with berbere sauce. It’s more fun than that drive-in bar in Addis Ababa. This is the fourth Meskerem (the chef hails from NYC, home of the original), and it’s the best of (would you believe) the five African restaurants in town. The perfect complement, exclusive to Meskerem, is tej (a.k.a. mead), the wine made strictly from honey, not grapes—it’s also the oldest beverage made by humankind. We suggest that you follow Ethiopian custom and feed a loved one a morsel of injera. And a little tej wouldn’t hurt, either.