Lost among three other worthy Ethiopian restaurants in the Lloyd District, Abol Café faces an uphill battle for recognition--it's easy to walk by without even noticing it. But the food here is subtle, with a building heat that is satisfying and exotic. There's no menu, so ask for suggestions. I was served bite-sized pieces of lamb in rich, dark red gravy that grew on me with each bite. I initially found it too tough, but this is people's food, not haute cuisine. Its virtues more than overcame its deficiencies. The vegetarian selection was pureed legumes, silky and rich with garlic; the flavor like nothing else I'd previously encountered. PAUL LESCHEN
Second Story Bistro
208 NW Couch, 827-5113
Second Story seems to know that the best omelets come from careful choice of ingredients, rather than dumping every vegetable known to man in a vat of eggs together. Case in point: the spinach, pancetta, and parmesan cheese combo is an elegant choice of a few strong, compatible flavors.
There are three kinds of Eggs Benedict, all of which are served on a toasted croissant, with potatoes. Of course, the standards are available--Canadian Bacon and Florentine--in addition to a heart-healthy filet mignon variety. The most important element to a good eggs benedict is the hollandaise, of course, and this hollandaise is top notch. It's thick, creamy, and consistent, with no diluting ingredients like sour cream or mayonnaise. Plus, they know how to poach. KATIA DUNN
601 SE Morrison St., 234-4102
Thai Corner's curries are quite good; their red curry almost rivals Thai Orchid's for taste and texture. Only, there is absolutely no chance you'll feel like a yuppie at Thai Corner. Rather than the block-arty, vibrant décor of the Orchid, the Corner feels like you're hanging out in somebody's grandma's living room.
For me, it's a huge turnoff when a restaurant adds ketchup to their Pad Thai. There may be a faint bit of ketchup in Thai Corner's Pad Thai. However, rather than making it taste like a bucket of soggy fries, it adds a subtle sweetness--something lacking in most Pad Thai dishes I've had around town; perhaps it's prepared with a bit of brown sugar. The Pad Thai is spicy and sticky and sweet, but without lime. It's mixed with fresh broccoli and tofu of a decent consistency, and then layered with shredded carrots and bean sprouts. Completely delicious and only $5.50 (lunch price). JULIANNE SHEPHERD