Peasant Basket has evolved,and could use some evolving still. But it has a fine Ethiopian cook in its kitchen. Ignore the Middle Eastern and Italian menu; you can find those foods better prepared elsewhere with no trouble. Ignore the long narrow room that looks like a half-timbered railroad car. Don't make too much of the red -- yes, red -- plastic plant in the entry. If you drop in any time you can taste tibbs -- the sauteed beef cubes peppery and flavored with onions and tomatoes, the best version of this dish we tasted. You can also order kitfo, the coarsely chopped raw beef even more peppery, but served with cucumbers in yogurt to cool your tongue. The injera is less glutenous, less tangy and more fragile than Mamma Desta's, but it does the job.
We called ahead for a party of six.
"We would like an Ethiopian dinner for tomorrow night. What will you serve."
"Tibbs and kitfo."
"But we wanted a special dinner. How can we get that?"
"You have to order that a day ahead."
"But that's what we are doing."
Yes, the Peasant Basket is still evolving. Our dinner cost $40 for six, though the management in a followup call said that most dinners cost $4 to $5 a person. Our long, narrow table made six an awkward number to reach the central tray. But we managed. The choice of wines consisted of the waitress bringing various bottles to our table for us to examine.
But we'd return at the drop of a hat. The injera tray was edged with salad greens, a nice textural contrast. The dishes were brought in assorted homey casserole and bowls. And the Doro Wat, chicken and hard-boiled eggs, was an elegant concoction of onions stewed in butter until soft and sweet, with garlic and ginger and allspice or the Ethiopian equivalents. The sauce was russet, thick, aromatic, and hotter as we dug towards the bottom of the bowl. None of the dishes was very hot, and the cooked greens with meat were totally unseasoned. We had tibbs -- less hot than our off-the-menu try -- and kitfo -- ditto -- and delicious lentils stewed with hot peppers. The servings were much larger than at any restaurant we encountered, but we left little uneaten, then went on to quite decent baklava, spiced tea and Turkish coffee.
With all the above, dinner came to slightly over $10 a person, not a penny of it (or a bit of it) regretted. But if you settle on a price ahead of time, establishing that you want to pay $4 a person, and resist dessert, the Peasant Basket falls in the same price range as the other Ethiopian restaurants.