Thanks to Mississippi Valley Montessori School for their support. They’re scheduling tours for the 2023-24 school year! Email email@example.com for more information.
Betty’s Kitchen is the latest entry into West St. Paul’s growing list of locally owned restaurants serving global cuisine—which includes Cuban, Tibetan, Mexican, Lebanese, Mediterranean, and Asian. Betty’s Kitchen, serving authentic Ethiopian fare, is located at 1049 Dodd Road. This clean and cozy spot is worth checking out, even if you’ve never tried Ethiopian cuisine.
The dining room inside Betty’s Kitchen is well-lit and large, big enough to accommodate a fairly large group. The back wall is covered in astroturf with a cheerful neon sign announcing the name of the restaurant. It’s the kind of Instagrammable backdrop you might see in a trendier Minneapolis restaurant. In fact, that’s something that struck me throughout my dining experience at Betty’s Kitchen—if this place were in the cities versus the suburbs, it would likely be hopping. Instead, we were the only diners there at peak dinnertime (albeit on a weeknight).
One of the owners, Yidnekachew Berta, was cooking in the kitchen as well as taking our order.
He was very friendly and welcoming, and took the time to explain the menu to us relative newbies. My husband and I have had Ethiopian food a couple of times, but our kids had never tried it. We started with an order of samosas, which were well-spiced lentils stuffed in a crisp wrapper and deep fried. They came with a bright and very spicy dipping sauce made of fresh pureed jalapenos.
Ethiopian flavors are complex, featuring warm and earthy spices, so in order to sample a wide variety of those flavors, we opted for the meat and veggie combo. The combination included every meat dish on the menu and a sampling of six vegetarian dishes. Each meat dish can be ordered on its own in a larger portion, but the vegetarian dishes can only be ordered either as part of the meat combo or as a veggie combo.
All the dishes came with injera, a sourdough flatbread made from teff flour that’s thin, with a spongy texture. Injera has a slightly tangy flavor, with a porous surface that is perfect for absorbing the sauces from the stewed dishes. Our kids opted to use forks, which they were more than happy to provide for us. Typically, you are supposed to place the different dishes on top of the injera and then use a second piece of bread to grab from the communal plate. Again, because we were dining with our kids who weren’t quite keen on every dish, we kept ours in the small bowls and put them onto our own places before scooping them up with the injera.
The meat dishes included doro-wat, a spicy chicken stew smothered in a berbere sauce, with notes of garlic and ginger. Berbere traditionally consists of paprika, cumin, coriander, cardamom, and fenugreek. Doro wat is served Ethiopian style with a hard-boiled egg. The rest of the meat dishes were beef based. The tikul didn’t look as exciting compared to the other more colorful dishes, but the ground beef was tender, buttery, and had a delicious, mild spice profile. The alcha wot was a spicy yet bright stew, and the derek tibs were savory little bites of tender steak cooked with garlic and rosemary (this simple dish was a favorite of the kids). The key wot was a dark, red color and very rich. It was tomato based, and the menu says it’s simmered in Ethiopian red pepper sauce.
The vegetable dishes helped cut some of the spice and heaviness of the meat dishes. Our favorite was the cooked carrots and potatoes, followed by the lightly spiced and fragrant lentils, the ater kik (split peas). Cooked cabbage and beets round out the colorful assortment.
The only complaint about the experience was some minor confusion over the menus. The ones we were given had some conflicting information—some included different prices and one had the appetizers but the others did not. We chalked it up to the restaurant being new, and when we ordered dessert that was on one menu but not actually available, the lovely chef brought us some fresh baked bread topped with whipped cream as a makeshift dessert for free. It was a sweet gesture to top off a homey and cozy experience.
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