Abyssinia Restaurant on Wickenden

Ethiopian food, that beloved staple of artsy college towns everywhere, has finally come to Providence. Abyssinia Restaurant opened this month on Wickenden Street, and it can hold its head high – the food is delicious.
I’ve been dying to get there since the banners first went up on the outside of the building at the beginning of the year. I had a couple of false starts last week: it had a prohibitively long wait its first Saturday night, and had run out of food by its first Sunday night – both totally understandable on opening week. 
But I was all the more happy to make it there on Friday. Business remains brisk, and there was a wait again, but the host sweetened the deal by taking our cell number and offering to call us when our table came up. It was perfect – we’d forgotten to bring our beer with us, so we simply slid across the road and into the Wickenden Pub for a quick pre-prandial. In fact, with all the choices right there – the Pub, Duck & Bunny, and Abe’s – Abyssinia really can’t lose. It may be a BYOB, but it has three de facto waiting lounges on tap.  
Ethiopian food is not unlike Indian. There are meat stews that can be fairly spicy and fragrant with spices. And there are lots of vegetarian options, with delicious veggies and pulses like lentils and split peas made into flavorful vegan-friendly curries. Salads are crisp and simple.
We went for a combination entree that gave us a taste of everything. The food comes on injera, a big soft flat bread that is both plate and utensil – you get extra to break into pieces and scoop up the food with. Our plate, which the two of us shared, had two meat choices – we went for chicken Doro Wat and beef Key Wot – and five veggie dishes, as well as salad and fresh cottage cheese. We were both starving and somehow managed to almost finish, but it’s safe to say that for the $26 the dish for two costs, this is a lot of very tasty food. The standout for us both, being spice lovers, was the deeply flavored and quite intensely hot Key Wot, but there wasn’t a bad note.
Hot towels allow you to make sure you’re in good, clean form for this exercise in atavistic finger filling, and servers brought wine keys and glasses to nearby tables, although I’d say that beer is a better bet for this kind of food. There’s no corkage fee, and service was friendly and competent. Highly recommended, and I’ll be back. It’s open lunch, too, a fun alternative to the usual cold-cut-and-bread offerings.