Info at : http://www.yelp.com/biz/buraka-madison

Finally made it to Buraka today after a couple of abortive attempts. This is the only Ethiopian restaurant in town. They have a very short menu, which is not a bad thing, consisting of stewed? Curried? –wotted? meats and vegetable dishes in various sauces. All of these entrees are also sold at their lunch cart, which is a block away with all the other lunch carts on the UW Madison campus.

We ordered beef samosas, chicken peanut stew, and begwot (lamb and carrot stew in tomato sauce).

Our meal started with a nondescript complimentary green salad well dressed in a light vinaigrette.

The samosas were excellent, the wrapper was crisp and much thinner than those employed by some Indian restaurants which are overly thick and hard. They came with a creamy, tangy sauce reminiscent of aioli, with a pleasant subtle heat. The filling was well seasoned, the whole dish was very tasty.

The chicken peanut stew came with injera. The injera looked, felt and tasted like a boiled rag. A sour boiled rag due to the fermentation. It was cold, and when dipped in the delicately flavored (read: bland) stew easily overpowered the stew, so that the result was a tangy bite of cold wet sponge with a warm viscous coating. The stew did not taste bad per se, it looks exactly the same as a Thai Masaman curry, it just doesn’t have any apparent flavor.

The begwot (this is how they spell it on their menu, online sources seem to spell it <insert ingredient here> Wot) was served on rice, which would have been a better choice in either case, with a dollop of sour cream. It was a good contrast to the peanut stew, well seasoned and enjoyable, but not memorable. I did not get to try their best known dish, dorowot, however Schmoops has had some from their food cart and assures me that it is better than either of the entrees we had tonight.

One issue with coming here for dinner are the prices. Each entree is about $10 if the main ingredient is a vegetable or chicken, and $12 if it contains lamb. The portion size is good for one person to consume and leave full, if you are not a heavy eater. However the amount of food you get is about as much as the large size sold on their food cart for about $7 – $8, and most of the entrees are available at the cart. Service was good, the restaurant was a little dim but that seems to be an annoying trend these days.

I didn’t take any pictures because if you’re anything like me, the look of Ethiopian food would stop you from trying any for years. If you don’t know what it typically looks like, don’t Google it before you try it, it’ll leave you more open minded.

 

Verdict: With exception of samosas, better stuff available elsewhere.