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Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge
Taps: 12 / Bottles: 50
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
2027 E Franklin Ave
phone: (612) 338-3000
(Place added by: tavernjef)
Ratings & Reviews
| Reviews: 49
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
A bit off the beaten track, this is known as Al's place ("Felociounosmonk"), the Food & Beverage manager who made a stand of commitment to make a craft beer scene in the city. This is a relaxing bar, and a huge one. You can sit on sofas and relax, this is not a metal and glass place. Just missing a fireplace. And you can come for the bar alone, as several people did on a cold Monday night. Roy and Al know their beer, and the selection is good for quality, with the right glass served. The music allows for conversation, and is the world of Black music for around the world, soulful and relaxing. Note: Only open at 4 pm, and extra points for being one of the last places (because of extra kegs) wth Darkness.
11-19-2008 05:00:38 |
More by Sammy
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
As others have noted, the Blue Nile is really an Ethiopian restaurant (and an average one at that) with an impressive tap selection.
The interior of the restaurant is spacious, dark, even maze-like, and there's a nice outdoor patio to boot. When I visited, the taps were less diverse than what some other reviewers have noted: there were three Surly taps (Cynic, Bender, Furious), Bell's Oberon, Lion Stout, Grain Belt Premium, Southern Tier Heavy Weizen, and Goose Island Matilda. The prices on all the pints were reasonable, though I arrived a little too late for the two-for-one happy hour special.
The food was fair; even though I hadn't had Ethiopian cuisine in a while, I recognized that this didn't live up to some of the food carts that I used to eat from in New Haven--more spice next time, please! The combination plates, however, are well priced and give you the perfect amount of food, somethig that can't be said of many restaurants. Here's kudos for cutting down on waste!
I love the combination of non-traditional cuisines and beer, and Ethiopian food does seem to pair well with beer (or CynicAle at least). The Blue Nile is not the end-all-be-all of ethnic beerstraunts, but it is a good place to start. It's also only a mile or so from the Town Hall Brewery.
08-19-2008 02:32:57 |
More by benito
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 1 | $
Visited for Al's 40th. Great taps and great people were the highlights.
Atmosphere: Let's start with the neighborhood. On the way there my Somali driver was nice enough to point out a drug deal going on in broad daylight. I didn't get a chance to ask the driver if he thought it was for Qat or Crack because a few moments after passing the hoppers we arrived at our destination. A large patio grabbed my attention since it was a beautiful evening to watch the sun set behind illicit drug sales but alas, I knew that the action would be at the bar.
Inside I was surprised to find a sprawling space with many rooms for eating and drinking along with a small stage for bands. There appeared to be a large dancehall club in the basement. The bar area was kept dark and gave off a blue tone (very nice) while the restaurant was bright, colorful, and well lit.
Beer: Obviously, Al's birthday was a special occasion but I'm sure that the selection here is always great. That night I drank Two, Cask Oaked Cynic, Cynic, Russ River IPA, Scurvy, Cask Two Hearted, and a few others. Prices were a steal.
Service: In the bar service was good, friendly, and obviously they know their trade. In the restaurant, service was non-existent. After being seated, our table of seven waited 15 minutes but was not approached. We grabbed the attention of a server and she promised to send someone over. Ten minutes later we still hadn't been approached so we grabbed the same young server again and she agreed to take our order (I think after cursing her co-workers under her breath). An eternity our food arrived, and even though by now the restaurant was almost empty, service was still terrible. Getting a drink order in took far too long.
Food: Without any doubt in my mind, Blue Nile served the very worst Ethiopian food I have ever had in my life (and I've had some pretty bad Ethiopian food). We ordered two large meat combos (all wat dishes) and two veggie combos. The veggie dishes were anything but. We received 3 lentil dishes and although they were different colors, they largely tasted the same (and not very good), and one pink bean dish that I actually enjoyed quite a bit. Still, no Alecha, no greens? The meat dishes were also disappointing. Their version of Dorowat for example was spiced almost entirely with cheap, generic paprika and tasted terrible. The chicken itself was cooked so much as to be nearly inedible. None of the dishes used Berbere as I know and love it and Tibs and Kitfo dishes weren't even an option in such combos, nor do I think they would have been good if they were served. Avoid eating here. In fact, just avoid the restaurant all together and stay in the bar.
Not wanting to end on a down note, I will reiterate that the Blue Nile has a great selection, and interesting atmosphere, and top notch bar staff. I won't be eating there again but I will certainly be drinking.
07-15-2008 15:30:34 |
More by DaPeculierDane
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
Visited for Al's birthday and prior to that, the Darkness release last October 30.
This is a cool place that offers loads of surprises. The bar is set toward the front of the restaurant and offers an exotic feel due to the finish and appearance of their decorating.
Make no mistake... this is Al's house and as such, he is committed to offering a number of fine imports and high-end domestics on tap and FRESH! Service is friendly and fast and on top of that, there always seems to be at least one or two fellow BA's to share some great conversation with.
A great place to visit with a commitment to be a leader in the local bar scene. Great job Al!
07-04-2008 13:33:05 |
More by Beerking721
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $
Stopped into the Blue Nile after having dinner at Town Hall.
My main reason for visiting here was to catch Surly on tap. And low and behold, I walked into find three Surly beers on tap. With the exception of a young lady, I was the only person at the bar. Which is always nice when you just want to relax and drink some great beer. The bartender was very friendly and beer-savvy.
I had come on happy hour, which meant 2-for-1 beers. They had Surly's Bitter Brewer on tap, which was awesome, as previously in the day I learned that it hadn't been canned yet. I had a pint of that, plus a pint each of the Furious and Bender before I left. And I loved that they were served into Surly nonic glasses. Just a great touch that made the beer that much more enjoyable.
I really enjoyed humming the scenery of the Blue Nile, and can't wait to go back. Awesome beer, great staff, and a very unique atmosphere.
06-24-2008 16:36:12 |
More by leftmindedrighty
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
This is a great place and Al is always changing up his taps. Atmosphere is good, but maybe a little stuffy, and old school. but the quality is spot on, well cared for beers some of which Al ages on his own. Service is always good, although I have only been in the bar, but even if Al isn't there the bartender always seems pretty knowledgeable about what is going on. Selection is nice for the few taps they have, they always keep a decent mix going. And the food is always very good.
Will be back, and the two for one happy hour is always a must stop when in the area.
04-16-2008 21:19:15 |
More by mnstorm99
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I learned about Blue Nile through beeradvocate.com, where feloniousmonk (a.k.a. Al), the bar manager, is a frequent poster. I made two vists during our trip...one on the first day and one on my last...before I head off to the airport. I had promised Al I would be back and I did not want to disappoint!
One might not think to go there - an Ethiopian and Middle Eastern restaurant by design - for microbrew selections, but it is most definitely a destination for beer travelers. And since we arrived during Happy Hour (4-6 PM) we enjoyed 2 for 1 beers along with the company of Al.
On tap right now are three Surly beers (Two, Furious and Bender), Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence, Brau Brothers Scotch Ale, Summit Grain Belt, Lion Stout, Bell's Consecrator Dopplebock and a few others that I just don't remember. There is also a very nice selection of bottled beers if one is so inclined.
Al told us a lot about what he's lining up, the interesting music visitors can enjoy (including hip-hop, jazz, reggae, and African bands), and the background of the owners and how their Oromo heritage influences the menu. We ordered appetizers. I did not note the names, but one was like a samosa but made with lentils and served with a really interesting hot sauce and the other was a really tasty Baba Ghanoush served with warm pita triangles.
Both times I/we were in the lounge area....but from what I saw the dining area looks very interesting.
I was most impressed with what Al is trying to and seems to be succeeding at doing here. I hope more people come out, have a few good beers and try some great ethnic food!
03-30-2008 13:35:41 |
More by Deuane
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $
Strictly speaking, I guess this isn't really a beer bar, since it's technically a lounge within an Ethiopian restaurant, but man am I glad this is listed! I got a chance to come in on a fairly slow Wednesday and talk to FeloniousMonk as he was working the bar.
This is a nice little place on a street corner in a quasi-residential neighborhood. At least I parked in front of houses to get to it, so that seems quasi-residential to me. The bright colors on the outside of the building make it hard to miss. Once parked, as you enter the place the bar is off to your right, as others have said. Again, pretty impossible to miss. A pretty good sized lounge area, with seating at the bar in the round, tables to the side, and even couches off in the corner for those who want to drink in comfort.
The taps were all great. There are ten at the moment, with three (3) from Surly, a Summit, a Bell's seasonal rotational, a peated Scotch ale from elsewhere in Minnesota, etc. They've done a remarkable job finding and promoting local Minnesota and regional beers here. I enjoyed the lineup, and that was made better by the fact they have a 2 for 1 happy hour. Being from Kansas, any happy hour that is allowed to actually involve alcohol pricing (as opposed to "Get 35 chips with your nachos instead of the usual 33 for the same price!!!") is welcome news to me!
The place is decorated like the rest of the restaurant, in vaguely African (specifically Ethiipian, obviously) themes. That doesn't distract at all from the beer. The smells from the restaurant can, if you let them. Spicy Ethiopian dishes with strong odors can waft into the bar from time to time, making a good inhale of your brew difficult, but certainly not impossible. It would be different if the food smelled bad, but it was appetizing as hell. I ordered nothing, having eaten at Town Hall earlier, but the prices looked pretty inexpensive for what you get.
Service wasn't an issue for me, since I was chatting up the bar god. If one can't get good service that way, there's no hope for the place. As it was, I was taken care of remarkably well, and enjoyed every minute of it. I imbibed upon the the Surly Furious (reviewed), Surly Bender (reviewed), a Brau Brothers Scotch Ale (not reviewed because I couldn't get my brain around what they were going for... peated malt? Seriously?), a Surly Two, and another Surly Two (not reviewed, because I was getting pretty damned drunk at that point). Better yet was the conversation.
This is a very nice place with a very good selection well worth seeking out. They work hard to bring the best beer to the area and deserve to be reqarded with business. If you're going to be in Minneapolis, it's well worth the visit to get over here. Great service, great beer, great atmosphere. Hard to go wrong. Look 'em up. You'll be glad you did.
03-20-2008 04:40:12 |
More by jokelahoma
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3 | $$
I finally made it out to the Blue Nile for a Surlys release of Two. I instantly enjoyed the coziness of the bar and size. The bar has a great offering of beers on tap and bottled. I was suprised to see the beer being served in the proper glassware. You dont get that everywhere you go. The service was slow but the bar was packed with loyal Surly fans awaiting Surlys next masterpiece. Our waiter did his honest best to serve us as quickly as possible. Considering the size of the crowd, I think the entire bar staff did a great job. The food was interesting to say the least. I found most offerings did not pair well with most beers on tap. But the tray we ordered was good and very spicy. I would go back for a few drinks anytime.
02-17-2008 19:52:44 |
More by ryantupy
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $
Very interesting place. Nice bar close to the entrance, and in the back tables and the stage with good music from a Togo band.
The bar has a very good beer selection. Although I only partook from the on-tap, very fresh brews, there is also an extesnive bottle list.
On tap four different Surlys (including Bitter Brewer and Cynic), Rodenbach plus additional "local" stuff, Russian River and Flat Earth among them.
Food looked very good with some unusual items that are probably worth trying, but I concentrated on the beer.
Service is just exceptional; everybody is friendly and knowledgeable. And then the Monk, which is in my humble opinion enough reason to visit the place. Very knowledgeable and pleasant, a great company, a craftbeer encyclopedia.
All in all a very plesant place, one that I will definitely go back whenever I have a chance.
06-22-2007 14:09:28 |
More by brdc
Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge in Minneapolis, MN
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