Andrea’s View: I absolutely adore Ethiopian food. So when I discovered, quite by accident, that the Fishers area had a new Ethiopian restaurant, I was all but willing to check it out. There is no place on our side of town to really satisfy a lamb, veggie, and spicy craving (while eating with your hands) all at the same time. So Dave and I Google mapped St. Yared and off we went.
This space really is an odd assortment of a mixed use space. Those 21 and over can use one door, that opens into a fully stocked, “night-club-ish” type of back-lit bar that then turns into a family friendly dining room that turns into a Starbucks-like coffee shop. I know, it’s a lot going on in one space. I’m sure you are familiar with the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” The same applies here. I’m not saying that food isn’t good. It’s good. But there is far better Ethiopian food in the city than this. Customer service, “eh”, it’s good, but not the best among the now three Ethiopian restaurants in the city. Yes, the owner did come to our table to shake our hands, but a handshake is not customer service. Customer service is not a first-day on the job server, who we were told was going to be shadowed by the owner’s wife. The owner’s wife totally abandoned the first-day server to the abyss of the back room. We never saw her again. The first-day server had no knowledge of the menu or apparently the authority to serve beer and wine. Our first-day server did the best she could, but I could tell she was drowning. Drowning fast.
Dave and I ordered a lamb and a beef entrée, which came with four vegetable sides. In short, the veggies where lentils, collard greens, potatoes, carrots, and green beans. This was served with the customary injera bread (in which there was not enough of and extra injera bread would be served with a surcharge) to use as a utensil. The lamb was fabulous, the beef was a tad tough. The potato and carrot chunks were too large to be eaten with one’s hands comfortably. The lentils were decent, the green beans were very good, and the collard greens were superb. But how can one screw up collard greens? All in all, the food was good, but not great. I’m sure that they will do well in a neighborhood that does not know much about Ethiopian food, or with those who do not travel outside Hamilton county. By far, the best Ethiopian food in the city is Major Restaurant on the west side. But then again, most Geist residents wouldn’t be caught dead on the West side of Indy, let alone, eat with their hands.
Dave’s View: When Andrea asked me to go a an Ethiopian restaurant in Geist, I said, “Really? There’s an Ethiopian restaurant in Geist?” Yes, St. Yared Ethiopian Cuisine. Actually it’s in Fishers, but on the outskirts of Fishers, so you might as well call it Geist. It’s on Fall Creek Road next to a divided right lane roundabout, next to a stoplight that doesn’t work. After arguing with Andrea on which strip mall it was located in, with a huge black pick up truck tailgating me, we finally found it in the second strip mall down the road.
When you first enter the place, you’re met with the bar on the left side and the restaurant on the right side. Kind of an odd set up, but who am I to criticize? We walk in and a man exclaims, ” We have customers!” A woman comes out and gives us a table and tells us that she will be “shadowing” our server to make sure everything is done properly. (She never comes back.) The man who we first saw, comes back, shakes my hand, and tells me he’s the owner and that the woman we just talked to was his wife. The owner asked us if we ever had Ethiopian food, which is a good question to ask. A lot of people in central Indiana don’t know how to eat Ethiopian food. Just so you know, you eat with your hands from a communal plate. Imagine your favorite fast food joint taking French fries and piling them on a big plate. You’re not going to grab a fork to eat French fries, you’re going to use your fingers to eat the fries. Same thing here at an Ethiopian restaurant, the only thing is that you use a spongy bread, called injera to pick up the food and place it into your mouth.
Now our server came out (no shadowing from the wife), asked us for drinks. She came back with a beer menu and I ordered a Meta beer from Ethiopia. The owner comes back two minutes later to tell me the list of beers they had and I said, “I already ordered the Meta beer.” His reply, I think was, ” We didn’t go to the grocery store to get the beer. We don’t have it.” I said that’s fine, I’ll take a Heineken beer. He walks away and I asked Andrea, ” Did he just say he didn’t go to the grocery store?” Andrea says, “Yeah, he kind of said that.” Okay, not a big deal. I wanted a Ethiopian beer because I’ve never had one, but who cares, I came for the food.
So Andrea and I are looking at the menu. The prices are high for Ethiopian food, but since you’re near Geist in a strip mall, the rent has to be crazy high, so I understand. We first ordered one meat and two vegetarian plates, only to have our server to come back minutes later to explain that if you order a meat option, you get two vegetarian sides with it. Great to know, so we order two meat options, Ye-beg Alicha and Ye-siga Wot with sides of Ye-misir wot, Gomen, Atkilt Wot, and Ye-dnichena Carrot Alicha. The whole platter was done well, with the exception of the Ye-beg Wot, a spicy BBQ beef, was over cooked and tough. The Ye-dnichena Carrot Alicha was way to big. If I was dining with Bugs Bunny, he would have liked it. It’s difficult to eat huge sticks of carrots and potatoes with injera bread. The portions need to be chopped down and tenderized a little bit more. The Gomen(collard greens), Ye-misir Wot (spicy lentils), and Ye-beg Alicha (lamb) were all fabulous. The Atkilt Wot was on the plate, but I don’t know where??? Overall, a decent food adventure. Not as good as Major Restaurant in Indianapolis, but a close second. So depending on where you are located, if you’re from the West side, go to Major restaurant. If on the Northeast side of town, visit here. In between, sorry, Major Restaurant, even though, not in the greatest of neighborhood, has better food.
On the flip side, Major Restaurant can’t compare to the inside of St. Yared. The pictures, tablecloths, and the overall theme of Africa permeates this restaurant. The owner has great pride in the ambiance of his restaurant, I just wish the food emulated it.
Service: 6.5 Food: 7.5 Ambiance: 9 Total: 23 out of 30
$50-$65 with adult beverages