Eating locally and drinking globally at one of Portland’s hottest new Ethiopian digs.
Beer is not the only wonderful thing about living in Beervana, it is also the wide variety of restaurants. Portland is a mecca for food connoisseurs. This, mixed with our love of beer means that when you are dining out there is a good chance that you can expect to have a unique brew to enjoy as well.
On a recent visit to Bete-Lukas, a relatively new Ethiopian restaurant located at 2504 SE 50th Ave (just south of SE Division, on the 2nd floor) led Brewpublic to try an Ethiopian beer. Now, when I think of Ethiopia, beer is not the first thing that comes to mind. I was expecting an adjunct ingredient rice-bomb, especially when our server (I think also the owner), a very quirky man, told us it was one of the most underrated lagers with a sweet bite. We figured he was just trying to “sell us” when he said it was one of the best beers in the world but as beer nuts, we figured we try any beer at least twice. Upon also telling us that you don’t want to drink a lot a water when eating Ethiopian food, due to the Injera (Ethiopian flat bread) expanding and further fermenting in your stomach we decided to order the Ethiopian beer. (Okay, twist my arm, I’ll have a beer with dinner.)
The only Ethiopian beer on the menu was an Export Lager called Meta from the Meta Abo Brewery in Ethiopian. Well maybe not the best beer in the world, it was a very delightful beer to enjoy with the flavors of our veggie combo platter featuring Misser Wot (lentil cooked in onion and berbere sauce), Kik Alicha Wot (powdered yellow split peas cooked in ginger, garlic, and onion sauce), Gomen (slow-cooked kale, jalapeno, ginger, garlic and onions), and Tikel Gomen (cabbage, potato, and carrot sautéed in a curry sauce) with a side of house salad. The food was spectacular and the crisp, light lager served in a chilled glass complemented the spices quite adequately. While Meta was on the sweet side, it was not due to adjunct ingredients. This beer actually follows the German Rheinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516. This definitely was not something I was aware was being produced in Ethiopia.
As for the overall experience of Bete-Lukas, I was very satisfied. The portions were flavorful and extremely filling, the service was good, and our server was very personable. If light lagers aren’t for you, they offer the standard micros in bottles such as Mirror Pond. But, like Don Younger says, “It’s not about the beer, it’s about the beer.” …and the injera. I am definitely going back again soon!