Hot dogs, ribs, potato salad—I ate more than my fill of these good old American favorites on the 4th of July. But then I spent the rest of the weekend embracing America’s multicultural spirit, trying out a few new ethnic restaurants in the neighborhood.
Ghenet: Because I had been to this Ethiopian restaurant’s Manhattan location before, I was more than excited to hear of its new Park Slope outpost. The rest of the neighborhood must have felt the same way, as Ghenet’s intimate dining room was packed on Saturday night. After taking our seats next to the intricate metal screen surrounding the room, Jim and I started with the tasty sambusa, two small packets of crispy pastry dough stuffed with ground chicken and served with a spicy dipping sauce ($6). Next came our combination platter of five dishes served on a sheet of Ethiopia’s staple bread called injera ($31.95). We received another plate of this spongy bread on the side, and used it to scoop up our sega wett, tender bits of beef in a thick sauce of exotic berbere spices. The dish was a comforting yet light stew, perfect for a summer evening, and although the seasoning included red chili peppers the heat was not overwhelming. Instead, the heat factor was taken care of by the spicy mushrooms, one of our four vegetarian dishes. I preferred the creamy and buttery yellow split peas, dipping my injera into them again and again. Vinegar-tinged collard greens and pureed beans rounded out our meal. In Ethiopia it is customary to eat only with the right hand, but at Ghenet it’s difficult to keep yourself from diving in with both. 348 Douglass Street at 4th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn T: 718-230-4475
Eton: On Sunday afternoon during the Wimbledon rain delay I strolled over to Eton, a tiny new dumpling house in Carroll Gardens. I didn’t want to miss the match, so I took two sets to go: one group of pork and beef dumplings, and another of lentils, mushrooms, and tofu ($3.50 for each set of five dumplings). While I waited for my order in the cheerful yet spare dining space, I chatted with chef Eton Chan about how the dumplings are first pan-seared in cooking spray and then steamed. They are trans-fat free and actually pretty healthy. Back at my kitchen table, I quickly realized these were not your typical take-out dumplings. The dough was delicate yet sturdy, sheltering the compact, well-balanced centers of meat and sweet vegetables. The flavors can be enhanced by condiments such as the house soy and ginger black vinegar. I have to return and try the third dumpling option of chicken with mushrooms, as well as the extensive shaved ice menu; I’ve got my eye on the lychee and green tea flavors. And when the weather gets colder Eton will start offering hand-pulled noodle soups. For once I can’t wait for winter weather. 205 Sackett Street at Henry Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn