This past Sunday was the first time that I got a chance to try Lucy East African Cuisine (primarily Ethiopian food) since they moved to Riverside from Black Rock. I wasn’t sure what to expect, because now that Buffalo has a few different Ethiopian offerings, I actually feel a bit spoiled.
Lucy was the first Ethiopian restaurant to open in Buffalo. A number of others followed shortly thereafter, which, to me, is heavenly. You see, my wife and I are huge fans of this type of cuisine. First of all, it’s completely different than anything else out there, primarily due to the gluten-free injera bread (like a pancake) that is high in minerals and protein. If you think that’s unique, then you’re going to go crazy for the medley of offerings that come with the veggie combo platter. I find it funny that Ethiopian food is generally considered “meat-heavy”, because we tend to avoid the meat options whenever we eat the cuisine. That’s because the vegetable offerings are so delicious, and don’t weigh us down. Incredibly, even after devouring a veggie combo platter between two people, we don’t feel overly full. That’s because the ingredients are all so healthy.
It’s not often that eating healthy can taste so good. A trip to Lucy is certainly a pleasurable experience. That’s because there’s so much to try. Our lunch, or dinner, always starts off with a small bowl of ‘foul’, which is kind of like a thick bean stew, seasoned with onions, garlic, and jalapeño. The foul is served with a roll of injera, that is used to mop up all the goodness. Be sure to request some additional napkins with this one, because there are no utensils.
Next comes the veggie combo platter, which as always prepared in a picture perfect manner – it’s so colorful!
Here’s a breakdown of the veggie offerings that come on the combo platter:
- KIK ALICHA – Yellow split peas cooked with turmeric, onion, jalapeño peppers and garlic.
- DINICH ALICHA – A mild potato, carrot and onion dish, delicately seasoned.
- SHIRO STEW – Powdered chickpeas cooked with onions, garlic, peppers and berbere (a spicy mixture).
- KEYSIR – Beets and onion sautéed with tangy spices.
- GOMEN – Collard greens coupled with caramelized onions and a mix of spices.
- ALICHA WOT – Green split curried peas cooked with onions, ginger and garlic.
- MISIR WOT – Red lentils cooked with red peppers and onions, flavored with a special spice blend.
- TIKEL GOMEN – Chopped cabbage sautéed with carrots, onion, turmeric and a blend of spices.
- DINICH – A potato and onion dish seasoned with berbere (a spicy mixture).
Ordering a veggie combo platter gives diners the ability to try so many different ingredients and flavors. All of the veggie offerings are eaten by hand, by ripping off a piece of injera (like a crepe – tastes like sourdough bread) and scooping up the morsels. Once again, don’t expect to find any utensils at Lucy. But don’t worry, they do provide you with a glass for your water. It might seem a bit strange to eat with your hands, especially something that is not a chicken wing. At the same time, it’s so natural – there’s an enhanced connection with the food that you just don’t get when you use a utensil such as a fork.
The owners of Lucy purchased the building in Riverside, which was one of the reasons for the move. The building is located right along Riverside Park, which means that there are sweeping views onto the park land. There is plenty of parking, and plenty of seating – two things that were lacking on Amherst Street, according to the owners.
The new restaurant also features a pretty neat thatched reed coffee house, which is used for special Ethiopian coffee ceremonies. Even though I have not attended a coffee ceremony at this location, I am temped to do so, just so I can sit in the ceremonial room.
If you’re looking to spice up your food, Lucy does offer a special spicy sauce that can be added to your menu selections. My wife was very happy about that.
The food comes out pretty quick, and the prices are decent, making for an elevated dining experience. I’m so happy that we have finally rediscovered Lucy in Riverside. It’s such a great dining experience which everyone should try, regardless of their take on eating meals with their hands. If you’ve tried ethnic fares such as Japanese, Vietnamese, German, etc., and now you’re looking for something new, Ethiopian is the way to go (especially in the middle of winter).
If you can’t make it to the restaurant, you might want to consider ordering from Grubhub. I hear that they lay the injera into a pizza box, and then add the ingredients on top, before sending it out. You might want to ask for some extra injera, because the “pancake” under the ingredients in the box might get a little soggier than normal. But other than that, I can’t wait to try some Ethiopian take-out, which is something that would be completely new to me. After all, it’s one of the greatest comfort foods of all time, which is perfect when sitting in the comfort of your own home.