This report begins at the Sheraton Crystal City, where I occasionally try to find a cheap room the night before a very early flight (moderately early ones get a different, nicer, often cheaper hotel, probably the Hilton Mark Center). I checked in around 4 with the pleasant desk staff, one of whom at least pretended to remember me. I slung my bag into the 14th-floor room and headed to the club lounge, which was accessible and had two staffers but was devoid of snacks and drinks except for a couple Coke products, so I went back to the room to surf a bit and returned around 6 to find chicken wings, soggy but flavorsome, and eggrolls, soggy and of below-average tastiness, followed by a quite respectable chocolate whipped-topping cake. Beck's was listed at $4 but appeared on my bill next day with 9% tax added. My friend Susie was as usual working late and joined me at 8 at Harar Mesob on "Restaurant Row" - a block-long section of 23rd St. She is close to vegetarianism, and I am into raw meat, so Ethiopian sounded good. It's a smallish room with a combination of western and Ethiopian-style seating and a bar area (important for the survival of restaurants around here) at the far end. I'd guess that it seated 50 or so. I think there were nativish decorations, but it was kind of dark, so I couldn't really see them. Piped-in music ranged from presumably African to international pop to Beethoven, in a loop that became familiar as the evening went on. The service was pleasant but way too leisurely. Ethiopian food seems to consist of raw lamb or beef, pulses of various kinds, and cruciferous greens, all in red-tinged spicy preparations of various kinds, served on a tablecloth of spongy steamed leavened bread called injera, which here is said to be made out of half teff (the authentic grain) and half millet (a related grain, said to hold the water better); it had that typical pleasantly sour but to me less pleasantly brown cereally taste. What is most notable, though, is that it was served cold. In fact the whole restaurant was kind of cold, come to think of it, and the dishes, of varying temperatures when they arrived, but never hot, got cold quickly. I like kitfo and gored gored, buttered spiced raw beef, the former minced, the latter cubed. As the menu promised tender prime beef, I went with gored gored, which turned out to be almost unchewable probably not very prime round in a sauce that had a spicing scheme, involving citrus, that I was unfamiliar with and didn't really care for. It was sadly a huge serving, over 12 oz, or enough to feed an Ethiopian village, and I left much of it. Susie got the vegetarian combination, which was served with mine on the same injera plate; good thing she doesn't object to carnivores, or, for that matter, animal protein. A red lentil dish was nicely spiced, rather like a veggie chili; its yellow lentil counterpart was pleasant but a bit bland, sort of like split pea soup of course minus the ham. Stewed cabbage and sauteed collards were ordinary preparations. A tomato salad had diced jalapenos and onions; I'd have liked more of this and would have asked for some but for the fact there was too much food for two Americans or half a dozen people elsewhere. There was a ladleful of some red substance that might have been any legume cooked down to a puree with tomatoes; this had a musty taste that took some getting used to but ended up becoming really good. A kind of crumbly white cheese rounded out the meal. Given I'd had a beer or two, I was too full and logy for dessert or anything else. I saw Susie off to the last train, returned to the hotel, and collapsed into bed. A strong menthol-eucalyptus scent next to me wakened me around 3. As I'd not entertained a guest of any kind, and as I haven't used Vick's in a year, this was a bit of a suspicious circumstance. I sniffed around, and parts of 3 of the 4 pillows had the odor, as well as the lower half of the sheets. This was an unpleasant development. I leapt out of bed and immediately took a long hot shower, scraping and scrubbing every square inch of me; then around 3:30 went down and checked out. Ah, I was only going to get a couple more hours of sleep anyhow. The desk clerks were polite and seemed to make an effort to make me feel better. My complaint netted me enough points for 1/2 a night stay in the future; I figure I'll use them for a full night's stay at an honest category 2 sometime.