1129 Weaver Dairy Rd, Chapel Hill, NC | Directions 2751435.962579 -79.053742
My husband & I love Ethiopian food, and used to like Queen of Sheba when it was in the old Graham St location (right off Franklin St), going about 3-4 times a year when it was in its old location. Since it re-opened at Timberlyne, we really think the quality has dropped significantly. Our dinner there tonight was bland, dry, and generally unsatisfying. It is also really overpriced with small portions (but I guess since the food wasn't good, larger portion would have gone to waste anyway). The last time we were here (about 8 mths ago) we also left feeling things had gone downhill, but we decided to give it another shot, esp since we bought a Groupon deal ($10 for $20). This trip allowed us to finally close the case on QoS... we are never returning. What was the final nail on the coffin was that they sneakily automatically add 20% service charge to the whole bill (after the Groupon coupon is used) without telling you. They do notify us on the door -- but who sees these little signs -- we only notice after we left another 20% tip on top of what they had already taken themselves and left the restaurant. How sneaky-- you would think the server would at least tell you! Anyway, bottomline-- we are never going back!
Worst Local Experience – Horrible experience, lectured to and treated poorly by the owner, overpriced and food was good, but not great.
THE WORST SERVICE! SO OVER PRICED! – WAITED 15 MIN FOR RESERVED TABLE...WAITED 45 MIN. FOR WATER....OVER PRICED AND OVER RATED.
THREE TABLES NEXT US COMPLAINED AS WELL.
TOO BAD...WAS LOOKING FORWARD.
Be aware of $7 Sharing Charge – Please note that if 2 people sit at the table they BOTH must order an entree or pay $7 sharing charge. The cheapest entree is $10.99. Was a rip off as I only ordered an appetizer for $6.95 and and dinner partner ordered an entree.
Will not return
$7 share charge for nothing extra - rude owner – My husband and I were in the area for a residency interview at Duke Med. We drove half an hour, past many good restaurants that came highly recommended. When we arrived, we were greeted by a friendly server dressed in Ethiopian attire. We ordered two beers which arrived promptly. After noticing a "$7 share charge" on the menu we asked what does that charge cover, (assuming extra side dishes)? We were told it included nothing. In fact, for a second person to sit at the table and watch someone eat, it costs $7. Unbelievable. The server brought the chef/owner from the kitchen. We explained to her that we both had a light appetite and we were traveling and could not take leftovers, therefore ordering a second entree would just be wasteful. The chef explained that once she had a group of 10 people order 6 entrees and they kept asking for extra injera (bread), therefore she imposes the $7 charge for injera. I explained to her that we were willing to pay extra for injera should we need it, but no injera is worth $7, (maybe $1 - I have made it from scratch before).
She was unwilling to accommodate us so we paid for our drinks and left. We cannot tolerate such gluttony (in a town with a world-renowned obesity clinic), such greed, or such wastefulness.
A Meal Fit For Royalty – Upon entering the restaurant, you experience the overwhelming olfactory sensation of the pungent spices that permeate the room.
The restaurant has tightly quartered tables which were mostly empty when I visited on an off day at an off time (intentionally). I have passed this restaurant at times where there are no open tables. On the left wall of the restaurant, you will find several basket-like tables prepared for two diners. The remainder of the restaurant has regular tables. I opted for the basket like table which was lined with heavy plastic, with two seats facing each other and a small table to the side for drinks and bread.
Meals are served on a large platter which is covered with a large spongy porous bread that had a thin pancake-like consistency. The bread is called injera, made from an Ethiopian grain called Teff, which is rich in calcium and iron. The entrees and side dishes are served directly on top of the bread, which soaks in the juices from the various stew-like meals. An additional basket of injera is provided to serve as your utensils. The injera is broken into small pieces and used to pick up bite size morsels. These morsels can be shared with your dining partner in a tradition that is known as gursha, where friendships are demonstrated through the sharing of food.
There are several different basic cooking methods to choose from. These methods are applied to chicken, beef and lamb (or vegetarian...Ethiopian food boasts a wide variety of vegetarian dishes due to the strict adherence of Orthodox Christians to Lenten diets). Watt is a stew-like dish that can be fixed a variety of ways ranging from mild to spicy. Another dish called Fitfit (or Sifinfin) also has a stew-like consistency but contains broken pieces of injera cooked into the dish. Pan-fried meat is referred to as Tibbs.
Not knowing anything about Ethiopian food and having an aversion to lamb dishes, I advised my waitress regarding my particular tastes. I was inclined towards ordering the three meat dish so I could sample a variety of cooking styles. This option included a lamb dish, which I was allowed to substitute for a chicken dish (an excellent choice was recommended). My meal consisted of the following dishes:
Minchetabish - Finely chopped prime beef, first pan-fried with Sheba’s spices until golden, then simmered in the famous Ethiopian berbere sauce. This heavily spiced beef had a slightly sweet hot flavor that was very foreign to my taste buds.
Yedoro Watt - Tender chicken marinated in lemon, sautéed in seasoned butter and stewed in red pepper (hot and thick berbere sauce) and served Ethiopian style with hard-boiled eggs, which are knife-poked and simmered in the watt. (This dish can be served with home made Ethiopian yogurt, but I did not have it served that way). These dark chicken drumsticks came served on the bone.
Yedoro Tibbs - My dinner was supposed to be served with a lamb option. I do not care for lamb so I asked my waitress to suggest a dish that I might like. She recommended Yedoro Tibbs, which is boneless pieces of chicken marinated with ginger, garlic, and honey wine, then pan-fried with onions and purified butter.
Friesh made me feel like she cooked for me as a guest in her home rather than a customer in her restaurant. That is a special quality that few restaurants possess. I would highly recommend Queen of Sheba with five stars out of a possible five.
great food, horrible service – My wife and I have enjoyed takeout from QOS on several occasions, so we decided to try a sit-down meal on a wednesday evening. When we walked in, the place was about 2/3 full - there were at least 4 open tables. We stood in the doorway for about 10 minutes before we were acknowledged by a waitress. We sat down and then waited, waited, and waited - no water, no 'sorry I'm busy, I'll be with you as soon as I can" - nothing. We were fine just enjoying the atmosphere and talking, but after 15 minutes or so we started to get annoyed. After about 20 minutes a waitress walked right by the table, made eye contact, and didn't say a word - we were both too shocked to even say anything. We gave it 5 more minutes, then just left.
In short, this place has the worst service I've ever experienced in a restaurant. I think they are relying on the quality of the food to make up for it, but this is a poor strategy. Sadly they've lost two customers for life.
Wanted to give it a try, won't be going back – High carbs, very few low carb veggies, lots of bread, and tons of oil. The shrimp and veggies were tasty but the food is fairly expensive given the type of food they offer and the quantity.
Great dining experience! – My spouse and I dined at Queen of Sheba on 3/5 and absolutely loved it! We ordered the meat combination and seafood combination, which is a great way to try a variety of dishes. The sauces, spices, and overall flavors are amazing! Over time, I have learned to enjoy food that has a little spicy/hot kick to it, but the nice thing about the food at Queen of Sheba is that you can easily order things that are not spicy (yet still have a lot of flavor). The restaurant itself is in a really pretty (somewhat small but cozy) space, and parking was easy (always a bonus in Chapel Hill!). A larger group was there celebrating a birthday, and the servers and owner came out and danced and sang to an Ethiopian song - added a fun and festive twist to the evening! We took home plenty of leftovers, so the total cost spread out over a few meals was very reasonable. Highly recommend this restaurant!
Excellent Ethiopian food and wonderful service – I have just eaten at this intimate Ethiopian restaurant in Chapel Hill, and found the place delightful, and the food wonderful.
Having eaten at many Ethiopian and Somali restaurants in Minneapolis and St Paul over the last 15 years, I am somewhat experienced in this cuisine, and have had my share of disappointing meals. Thankfully, the meal I ate here was at the other end of the scale--the various dishes were each well prepared, and had their own distinct tastes. They were obliging with my requests for awaze (the hot sauce made from berbere spices), and prompt with hot tea refills (at no extra charge) and with injera.
I almost did not go to this restaurant based on a scathing review by someone identifying themselves as RTPtrianglefoodcritic, but when I looked into this person's profile, I realized that this person was not a foodie, in that they had only one review to their credit. Obviously, someone wanted to write a panning review, and was scared to use their regular ID.
Anyway, I am glad that I tried this place, and can heartily recommend it. For anyone who travels to the Twin Cities, and is looking for good Ethiopian food, try T's Place on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Like the Queen of Sheba, you will find excellent food and gracious service.
PS. For those of you who do not know about this cuisine, the food is served communal style for your group, and you eat with your fingers. Finger lickin' good!!
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