I came across Rasselas while looking for a music venue to go to on a Friday night. Everything I read said that the jazz offered in the lounge was great and the food in the attached restaurant was pretty good as well. We (my friend J. and I) were in the mood for something different so we decided to head there on a Friday night in September 2003.
We knew that the jazz didn't start until 9pm, so we got to the restaurant around 8:30pm. The very small room holds 4 or 5 small tables; it's simple but the low lighting makes it pleasant. Service, in charge of one waitress, was fine though not outstanding. We did get the extra injera we asked for, but couldn't get her to reserve us a table at the lounge.
The food in the brief menu was typical Ethiopian fare, a little bit on the expensive side at an average of $12-13 per plate. J. and I decided on the Sampler Delight for two people ($28) which included doro wat (a spicy chicken stew), yebeg alecha (a mild lamb stew) and vegetables. I thought the portions of chicken and lamb were pretty skimpy, but the injera and heavy ghee sauce don't allow you to eat much anyway. I liked the chicken quite a bit, and the lamb less so; it was a little bit bitter as if the spices had been burnt.
For dessert, J. had a slice of chocolate (or was it coffee?) mousse cake, which we both enjoyed, and I had a slice of tiramisu, which was fine, even though it was still frozen when served.
All in all, it was a good meal, though I still like the food at the Blue Nile in Berkeley better.
After dinner, we tried to go to listen to jazz, but the tiny lounge was packed and, of course, there were no tables available. The jazz was very good, though, so a better bet may be to go there early, forgo dinner and try to grab a table in the lounge.
1534 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, Ca.