Whether through art, music or food, learning something new about someone else’s heritage and lifestyle really inspires me. Eating at Ezo, an African restaurant on Oak Street, was an opportunity to experience that something new.

Upbeat drumming filled the room as I walked to one of the booths lining the wall of the small, quaint dining area. The table was lined in fleece tiger-striped material and the menus were at my fingertips.

Opening the menu was like opening a storybook.

“Welcome to Ezo, the village from where our father came . ,” it began. The story went on to describe a culture that believes food unites and binds people as sisters and brothers. The owners invited their customers to join their family at the table and break bread and hope for peace across the world. It also encouraged diners to follow the tradition of eating from a joint platter with your hands or by using breads to pick up food. When I was done reading the story on the menu I knew a little more about African culture and after I was done eating, which I did without utensils, I felt I had experienced a little bit of it too.

Ezo offers five meal options. They are all similar, featuring a vegetable medley of potatoes, carrots, corn, peas and peppers, along with lentils, choice of meat and a choice of flat breads – chapati or kisra. Chapati is a flat bread similar to pita bread, and kisra is a crepe-like flat bread. You can use either one to dip and scoop your meat and vegetables. Other options include a vegetarian plate and a “unity platter” that combines all the plates into one and easily serves four. All plates are $5.95 for lunch and $6.95 for dinner except for the unity, which is $23.

I chose sawarama, a dish served with spiced chicken. The vegetables were bright and crisp and the chicken was well spiced. I really enjoyed mixing these, along with a lentil and bean dip and scooping it all onto my chapati, which was served warm. The lentils reminded me of a stew and tasted something like it as well. At first I felt a little weird eating with my hands but after a few bites I got into it. Fortunately, a wet napkin accompanied the meal so clean up was easy.

After eating I began to soak up the atmosphere. The walls were covered in African artifacts, including bright colored paintings, tapestry’s and wood carvings. The entire restaurant gave off pleasant, peaceful vibes. Good food and a new experience made the visit well worthwhile.

Staff Writer Katie Gallagher can be contacted at [email protected]

Ezo

51 Oak St.

Hours: Mon.-Sat.: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-9 p.m.

***1/2

Food: interesting

Atmosphere: peaceful

Service: pleasant

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