Etete Restaurant hopes that history repeats itself starting Monday, when the rejuvenated Shaw restaurant officially reopens to the public.

By Tim Carman (The Washington Post) |

When it first opened in 2004, Etete Restaurant was considered a pioneer among Washington’s Ethiopian restaurants, offering a colorful, bistro-style atmosphere for the East African finger food that historically had been served in more utilitarian spaces.

Etete Restaurant hopes that history repeats itself starting Monday, when the rejuvenated Shaw restaurant officially reopens to the public.

After a six-month renovation, the restaurant has not only updated its interior but also hired an executive chef to work with Tiwaltengus “Etete” Shenegelgn, the namesake and creative force behind the original menu. Etete’s new face in the kitchen, Christopher Roberson, previously worked at Central, Vidalia and Farrah Olivia, the long-gone experimental restaurant in Alexandria, where chef and Ivory Coast native Morou Ouattara embraced everything from African spices to modernist techniques.

If all goes according to plan, Roberson could one day be credited as an innovator in modern Ethiopian cooking. Along with Marcus Samuelsson, the chef behind Red Rooster in Harlem and Marcus at the MGM National Harbor, Roberson is among a small group of pioneers trying to free Ethiopian cooking from its flatbread injera base and elevate the country’s dishes into the realm of refined, if not fine, dining, a level previously attained in America by Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Thai and other cuisines.

“We’re trying to make it the Rasika of Ethiopian restaurants,” says co-owner Yared Tesfaye, invoking the four-star restaurant that elevated the ambiance and presentation of traditional Indian cooking in Washington.

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