Bushwick Cafe Transforms into Ethiopian Speakeasy and Eatery This Week

By Meredith Hoffman on June 18, 2013 8:03am | Updated on June 18, 2013 10:42am

BUSHWICK — A year after their vegan Ethiopian "secret dinner parties" started in Brooklyn apartments, Bunna Cafe is transforming a whole cafe into a full-fledged restaurant, speakeasy and performance space in its next step toward having a permanent home.

It's "Ethiopia in Bushwick."

During Bunna's three-day festival at Little Skips occurring at the same time as Bushwick Restaurant Week — you can cool off with a Bourbon-infused Ethiopian tea cocktail, nourish yourself with hot pumpkin cubes in spicy Berbere sauce, watch a traditional coffee ceremony, and jam out to an Americana folk band, Bunna's founder said.

"This is the first time we're opening as a legit restaurant rather than a pop-up," founder Sam Saverance said. "And we're intertwining the coffee ceremony and music, which go hand-in-hand with our idea of building an ambience that appeals to all the senses."

Each evening (starting Wednesday) diners both inside and outside can order off a flavorful menu that includes the Yesuf Fitfit (sunflower milk, tomato and peppers with crumbled Injera flatbread), Gomen (steamed kale with potatoes and carrots) and Keysir (a simmered beet dish).

At 9 p.m. each night a different musician will take the stage, and on Friday guests can watch a coffee brewing and serving ritual after indie-folk act Streets of Laredo takes the stage.

"We've also never had [an event] during the week," said Saverance of the burgeoning pop-up eatery, just voted New York's fourth best pop-up by the Village Voice.

And this week's multi-sensory festival by Bunna (which means "coffee" in Ethiopia) simply builds on the energizing performances Saverance said have already accompanied their dinners.

Top Ethiopian pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa, who visited one of Bunna's recent dinners, even played a surprise Chopin piece at the end of their meal, Saverance marveled.

"For the first time perhaps ever, an Ethiopian coffee ceremony was accompanied by music from Chopin, and performed by an Ethiopian. It was an amazing and intimate moment — something that was a product of very different cultures but which fit together perfectly," Saverance said. "The sound of the piano mixed with the sizzle and intense aroma of roasting coffee to create something very unique and uncannily Ethiopian."

And he said Yifrashewa's performance embodied the essence of Bunna's vibe.

"It was exactly what we have been trying to do for Bunna Cafe," Saverance said, "create unexpected but beautiful moments that reflect upon Ethiopian culture in a cosmopolitan way."

More details about Ethiopia in Bushwick can be found on Bunna Cafe's website.

 

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