We had been meaning to try Bati for some time. In fact, we actually went there one evening a month ago, but our growling stomachs couldn’t handle the hour long wait for a table. We were actually heartened by that experience, because we assumed that meant the place was good, plus we are happy to locally owned businesses do well. We went again last week, on the earlyish side to increase our chances of getting a table, and we were happy to see precisely one table for two ready and waiting for us.
The dining room is sparely, but tastefully, decorated. The space is warm and homey–all dark wood and candlelight. I couldn’t help but notice the great windows that are hinged so that they can be completely opened–this will be great when the weather turns nice.
We decided to order a combination plate, as this, as at most Ethiopian restaurants, is the best deal. For $15 you can sample four dishes that cost $11-12 as an entree on its own. When the waitress came around I ordered a combination plate for two. We deferred to the kitchen as to which of the dishes to give us. I thought it was strange she didn’t offer beverages, but then I realized that, as of now anyway, Bati is B.Y.O.B. So, water it was for us!
The large plate came out quickly, with Butischa (chick peas), Missir Wett (lentils), Gomen (collard greens), and Fasolia (a green bean-carrot dish), all atop a large disc of spongy/tangy injera (with another piece of injera folded on the side). Both the chick peas and lentils were mashed and flavored with berbere, but also with enough distinct spices so that they didn’t taste identical. The chick peas tasted a bit burnt, but I don’t know if that is just how the dish supposed to taste, or if the bottom of the pot actually scorched. That was my least favorite dish. Everything else was great. The lentils were richly spiced and a little bit spicy. The collard greens were perfectly cooked–not at all bitter. The carrots and green beans were also well cooked–not mushy as they often are in a dish like this. All were well seasoned, bright, and flavorful. I did take a photo of our plate, but it was so dark it didn’t turn out well. But, anyone who has eaten Ethiopian knows, delicious as it is, it just isn’t the most photogenic of foods (picture piles of mush on a purpley-tan flatbread. See?), so I hope you will forgive me.
My only complaint (besides the burnt-tasting chick peas) at the time was that it really didn’t seem like a lot of food. I kept remarking, that, gee, this really didn’t seem like much for two people. Of course, by the time we scarfed down all the filling injera we were sated well enough, but still, I thought there should have been more of the good stuff on top of it.
When we got the bill, the Hubs opened up the leatherette envelope, his eyes widened, and he chuckled. “What?” I asked. No words being necessary, he flipped the bill around. The total bill was $15!! It seemed like too little food because it was a serving for one! Casting my mind back to the ordering process, I realized my semantic error. I should have ordered “two combination plates” rather than “a combination plate for two!” Of course! The waitress was incredibly pleasant to us, considering how miserly she must have thought we were!! I imagine also that if I had ordered two combination plates, we would have recieved eight dishes, which would have been welcome.
I will definitely go back to Bati again, though I may script my order before hand to make sure I get it right!
747 Fulton Street
[photo via A Fork in the Road]