It was a trek between the two disparate locations, but wife Susan and I took in the matinee performance today of “Man of La Mancha” at A Noise Within in Glendale before struggling past five — count ’em: five — fender benders along the southbound 110 freeway between the 5 and the 10 to get to Messob Ethiopian Restaurant over on Fairfax Avenue.
Having been a theater reviewer for several years of a past life this wasn’t my first time before one of the best acting troupes in Southern California, but it was my first time seeing a production of the famed musical derived from Miguel de Cervantes “Don Quixote,” which is odd since the bright yellow soundtrack album featuring the cast of the 1965 Broadway hit is one I’ve been spinning and enjoying since first heard way back when I was in single digits and Richard Nixon was president. Not that I haven’t had opportunities with various touring productions that have passed through, but it took learning about it happening at A Noise Within to get me to finally put an official end to the drought. I could roust my dormant critic and have him go on at length about this marvelous production lovingly guided and beautifully realized by director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott as Cervantes/Don Quixote , but instead I’ll just say this is captivating theater and I can’t think of a better home for a show so near and dear to my heart than the esteemed A Noise Within’s stage.
This was also my first time doing more than driving or biking through the Little Ethiopia district and our inaugural Ethiopian dining experience was realized thanks to Messob being one of the few restaurants in that stretch of Fairfax to be open for business on Easter Sunday. In a nutshell what the place lacks in ambience and the impersonal, disinterested service we received is almost totally made up for by the phenomenal food. I’d suggest starting with a glass of their addictive honey wine and sambussa (a tasty triangular lentil-filled pastry) and if you can’t quite make up your mind about a main course, just go all in for the Super Messob Exclusive platter like we did ($22.99 for 1 person, $34.95 for two; photo of the monster dish after the jump). It arrives loaded up with a whole bunch of stuff with names like “Doro Wot,” “Siga Wot,” “Yebeg Siga Alitcha,” “Yater Alitcha, Kitffo,” “Tibs,” “Yatakilt Alitcha,” “Alitcha,” “Yemisir Wot” and more served up with a basket of unleavened bread called injera. But don’t fret about the lack of tableware because it’s all finger food and don’t fret about what anything specifically is because it’s aaaaaaaaall good. But here’s a tip; the plate for two can feed four people, easy!
A Noise Within: 234 S. Brand Boulevard, Glendale; “Man of La Mancha” plays in repertory to June 10.
Messob Ethiopian Restaurant: 1041 S. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles; open daily 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
What does two square feet of excellent Ethiopian food look like? Here, let me show you: