Sheba Piano Lounge : A User’s Guide
Ethiopian Cuisine | Live Music | Ethiopian-Inspired Cocktails | Imported Spices | Native Ethiopian Chef
In the lounge: meatballs topped in blue cheese
In the dining room: tibs wat—sauteed prime beef simmered in berbere sauce and Ethiopian butter
Cocktail: Red Sea—a bloody mary made with Ethiopian spices
Dessert: warm cheesecake brownie
The Vibe: The dividing wall inside Sheba Lounge looks like it came from a church, and for good reason—it’s a replica of the one in the Church of St. George, an Ethiopian Orthodox church carved out of rock in Lalibela. The rest of the space surrounds diners in warm, tropical tones.
Who’s Cooking: Owner and chef Netsanet Alemayehu started cooking in her native Harar, Ethiopia when she was just nine years old. Today, Ms. Alemayehu still relies on Ethiopian recipes and techniques. In fact, she has fresh spices, sauces, and other ingredients shipped in from relatives who still live in Harar.
When to Go: When the restaurant hosts live music, which begins at 8 p.m. Sunday–Thursday, and 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The setlists range from Afro-Cuban jazz to classical violin.
Don’t look for a fork. Most patrons eat with their hands, in the traditional Ethiopian style.
Press and Praise
In 2009, San Francisco Chronicle profiled Netsanet Alemayehu's career and background.
SF Weekly's Tamara Palmer said, "[w]e expected good food, but what we didn't expect was the design of the space, which we think is among the most interesting on all of Fillmore Street."
Injera: a flatbread made with fermented batter that's central to many Ethiopian dishes. Traditionally, diners break off small pieces and use it to scoop up mouthfuls of food.
Berbere: the signature spice mixture in Ethiopian food; it combines about a dozen spices including clove, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, and red chilies.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Browse imported Japanese incenses and essential oils at Kohshi (1737 Post St).
After: Order a hard-to-find beer at Speakeasy Ales & Lagers (1195 Evans Ave)
If You Can’t Make It, Try This
The Ethiopian cuisine at Assab Eritrean Restaurant (2845 Geary Blvd)