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Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge
Taps: 12 / Bottles: 50
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
2027 E Franklin Ave
phone: (612) 338-3000
(Place added by: tavernjef)
Ratings & Reviews
| Reviews: 49
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Stop 5 on the Minneapolis Beer Sprint (10:15pm)
Bar area to the right as you walk into the restaurant. I had been warned to get here by 10:30 or earlier, so I was a bit rushed as I walked in. Fortunately, there were 6-8 folks seated around the bar (looked like it would hold about 30), so I was pretty sure I had time for a pint or two. Looking around, you see tile and stucco, gives it a bit of a Mediterranean feel. 1 small TV, with the sound turned down showed some news. Lots of beer paraphenalia floating around.
Quality of the beer I enjoyed was fine. Proper temperature and glassware were used.
Service was prompt and friendly. I was suffering from lock-up between a couple of choices, and they cheerfully put up with a bit of "I'll take...no, wait, make that a...." from me.
Selection was very good. 10 or so drafts, and about 50 bottles. Good combination of local stuff, Belgian options, then a bit of everything else. Beer menu was broken into lagers, ales, stouts, and wheat/fruit beers. Stout selection was especially impressive.
I enjoyed a Koningshoeven quad. and a Mojo Risin.
The menu looked very good, but I was still pretty full and decided to concentrate on the beer.
Overall, an exceptionally nice bar by itself. Not what you would normally expect to find in a restaurant.
05-18-2007 18:05:56 |
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $$
The entrance was on South 21st Avenue, off of East Franklin Street and as I entered through the ornate wood door, the m.d.s. was straight ahead with the lounge down a passageway to the right. Remaining in the central passageway, the washrooms were on the left, just opposite of the bar/lounge area. Past the washrooms and still on the left was a staircase leading down to an extensive dance floor with its own DJ booth and a separate bar, well off to the left. At the extreme end of the central passageway was the restaurant area with its attendant tables and chairs. The opulence of the restaurant area made me want to fulfill F.M.s wish to have a meal there, but I ran out of time before I could do so. The kitchen was all of the way aft, past the bar area.
The lounge was a wide space with a stage in the front, a large seating area with sofas and chairs off to the right, and an extensive bar just left of center. This was where FeloniousMonk, held court. I know from personal experience that F.M. takes great pride in the running of the bar. Physically, it is a raised black bakelite affair with stainless steel as its rail. They featured nine taps and each one was given great consideration as to which beer to have on. During my visit, it was two Bells; all three Surlys; Lake Superior Mesabi Red; a Summit; Grotten Brown; and PBR.
01-02-2007 09:02:51 |
More by woodychandler
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 5 | $
In the location formerly known as Montanita's, this pan-African cultural mecca cum better beer bar might seem at sorts with its surroundings from time to time. But don't let neo-Spanish colonial wrought iron stylings fool you: when The Blue Nile relocated from its original Lake and Lyndale home it brought with it the know-how and recipes that had made it a standout even in the trendy, worldly Lyn-Lake area. The second (and presumably permanent) location is a far cry from the veritable hole-in-the-wall on Lyndale that spawned them. A very spacious building, with four separate rooms whose functional roles range from the main dining and performance area (which adjoins the bar) to a basement special events and performance space. There's also a small lounge area which is literally stage left, with a couch and easy chairs - I often see this occupied by the neighborhood's numerous college kids during happy hour. Live music is a staple at The Blue Nile, and chances are you'll be able to enjoy it on your visit (cover charges apply, so be aware of that.) I would like to encourage those who come for the beer to stay for the food, the entertainment, and the atmosphere. The food is Ethiopian cuisine, which due to its own service style and portioning is a very unique experience in a town filled with Asian buffets, sports bars, and a growing numbers of taquerias. If you can somehow manage to ignore the aromas of fried food and spices that permeate this place you are a lot more focused than I, for everytime I visit The Blue Nile I get hunger pangs for their exotic-yet-comforting offerings. Of particular interest is the wide variety of vegetarian menu items available, from appetizers to multiple-dish samplers. Their meat entrees are far more adventureous than the burgers/steaks/chops which make up the bulk of American casual dining. The live music is pan-African, which includes everything from Caribbean to African continental stylings, and yes . . . Reggaeton (I'm still not sure I buy that as a separate style though : ) Longtime local Reggae standard bearers Les Exodus have played at this venue for years, and I have enjoyed many a brew while listening to them. Hip-Hop and spoken word have also found a home here, and even college rockers and deejays have enjoyed their respective nights in the past. All of this speaks volumes about the atmosphere of the place itself. The Blue Nile is the most integrated restaurant and bar in the surrounding area, which is home to the largest community of Somalian and East African immigrants in the Twin Cities metro area. And when I say "integrated" I'm not trying to conjure up images of America's fractious political past, but am instead trying to describe the very real nature of our celebrated 'melting pot' culture: there are almost none of the difficulties in cultural adjustment to be found here where elsewhere they are notable. Instead, I've had wonderful conversations with Americans of African birth, and these have served to strengthen my appreciation of our own rich cultural fabric.
And before I forget - the beer.
Bartender Al "Felonius Monk" McCarty has taken great pains over the years to serve beer in the proper glassware, to rotate a number of better-than-average offerings, and to mind his draught lines regularly. This focus alone would make The Blue Nile worthy of a visit while in town, but it shouldn't be the only reason. Al is often on hand to offer both suggestions and pairings, and when he's not around there are several other staff members that follow his lead: customer service and server attitude, whether ordering at the bar or from a table, is friendly, knowledgable, and above average. I would like to note the value of the entrees in relation to price: on my most recent visit I shared a two-part vegetarian sampler plate (listed on the menu as an entree serving "One Person") with my roommate, and along with a couple of beers we were quite full by the time we left! By comparison to a lot of bars and restaurants I could mention by name, The Blue Nile is a genuine bargain. Granted that Happy Hour prices were in effect when we first arrived, but overall this place offers you plenty of bang for the buck.
12-19-2006 22:17:53 |
More by Chaz
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
I first visited the Blue Nile a couple years ago to see some of my friends' band play. I was still getting into craft beer at the time, and I was impressed that they had a couple of Bell's selections I really liked, not really noticing much else.
Now that I am a bit more beer savvy, I wonder what I missed. This place has exceptional quality beer. There are about 10 taps, and a decent bottle list, so the selection isn't the greatest, but since they will have something new and dank every couple weeks it seems, it's been worth stopping in there a bit more now than I used to. Things like Victory's St. Victorious Doppelbock, He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A., and usually a good Belgian or two are what keep me coming back, they are not common, even at some of the other good beer bars around the cities. And if you arent feeling adventurous, they have all of your local favorites as well (*cough* all three Surlys at the time of this review *cough* and Two Hearted Ale and Oberon *cough cough*).
The atmosphere here varies quite a bit. There are times you can walk in at 10pm and be one of two people at the bar. Then again it can be busy as hell on a random week night. They get a very diverse crowd in there too, they have shows that vary from pop-punk, indie music, hip hop nights, to poetry nights, to reggae nights. And with the good beer they serve there it's really easy to run into fellow beer lovers and talk beer.
I havn't tried every dish, and I am no expert on African food, but I have really liked all of the food I have tried there, it seems very authentic, not a cheap rip-off. They have a bar appitizer menu too if ethnic food isn't your thing.
The service there is nice, astute, and fairly knowledgeable, a bit above average all in all, unless the bar manager Al (a.k.a. feloniousmonk on BA.com) is helping you. Then it is outstanding. He knows a ton about beer, and he keeps an optimistic and explorative approach about it. Always want's to make sure you are having a good time, and your beer stays full. He doesn't try to dazzle you with knowledge either, he just wants you to enjoy it. The first time I met him he was giving away glasses of a dry hopped batch of Furious at a Surly promo at the Nile. What a guy!
07-17-2006 18:07:20 |
More by dfried
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$
I came here for stage one of the 2006 summer MN BA bar crawl. I showed up early with my girlfriend, BA SMF and his wife, and my buddy, Steve who has yet to join BA because hes currently suffering from a World of War Craft addiction.
The outside of the building has a really groovy mural on it, and the door is located in the lower left-hand corner of said mural. Once inside, the place seems to be split up with the bar/lounge area on the right, and the dining room in the far back left. Since we ate first, Ill start with the dining area. The first thing I noticed about this place was how much the tables were spread out. It was really compartmentalized here too, so each table had its own little area to it. This was a greatly appreciated effect that made the dining experience all the more enjoyable. The walls were a pale stucco and there was ample wrought iron metal work to lend a very stylish look to the place. Im guessing that this was from a earlier theme from the buildings career, but it went well with the African decorations that were up now. Moving onto the bar side, it is a long rectangle with plenty of seating and small tables along the far wall. Towards the front of the building were some couches and stuffed chairs for a more intimate and cozy setting. This side of the building was disproportionately dark, but it worked all right.
For dinner we tried one of the sampler trays. It came out on a large flat dish. On the bottom was a large pancake-like piece of bread and on top were several different mounds of creamy stuff of different colors and textures. Our server pointed out which was which but I forgot instantly. The one rule I remembered was that the more red ones were spicier. To eat these little piles, we were each given an additional giant pancakes which we would tear little pieces off of to scoop up the goo. It was both tasty and a lot of fun to eat. I must say, the lady friend and me had been up since 0400 from out plane ride from Philly, we were eating some powerfully spicy foods and we were trying to sample all of the Surly offerings, so we were sleep deprived, eating really spicy foods and buzzing. This made for a very odd but enjoyable altered state of consciousness.
The service was all right. Our server was quick to fill up our waters and no one was without a beer for long at all. The service at the bar was nothing short of legendary thanks to Al (BA feloniousmonk) who served up drinks for our gathering. Too bad he couldnt join us for the rest of the crawl as he was stuck behind the bar for the night. On tap was the triad of Surly and a new one from the Hebrew people. I got a sample in a snifter so I didnt take any notes, but it was hot! Thats a boozy one for sure. The rest of the taps were remarkable as well. Theyre definitely going for quality over quantity here.
The food heres awesome and the taps are very thoughtful. I strongly recommend checking this place out for both the African dining experience and the taps.
07-17-2006 17:55:38 |
More by DarkerTheBetter
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Visited on 06/28.
First thing that sucked was having to pay a cover for a crappy two person band that sounded like they were still in high school. Hoping that felonious would be working, but of course not. The bartender that was there was not very personable and just your average bartender. No food available when I got there at 9:15, which sucked. On the bright side, they did have a pretty good beer list, albeit small. 10 taps, all good stuff with the exception of PBR, and a small, but solid bottle list. Had two beers and left this place that seemed like a kiddy hangout on this night.
I wanted to add that felonious was good enough to read my review and call the bartender that was working that night and figure out what happened. That kind of service is something you just don't see anymore. Thanks a lot Al. You are quite the asset to the Blue Nile.
I had to adjust my ratings after some more visits to the Nile. Totally different experience when Al is working. Go here, you won't be disappointed.
06-30-2006 22:58:44 |
More by JeffKrenner
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
I'm sorry, but I simply do not understand the popularity of this place. It's not a bad place, but I have to admit that given the reviews, I was really expecting something a bit more impressive. (the manager there is very passionate about beer, which may partially explain this places popularity)
I went with a friend, who confirmed what seemed pretty obvious. This place was once a Mexican restaurant that still has the look and feel of a Mexican restaurant. Not a bad thing, but I confess it just seemed a bit odd.
It's my understanding that the food here is described as AfricanEthiopian, and frankly I thought it was pretty good. I'm not sure how well it went with the Belgiums they have on tap, but I enjoyed it. We split one of the sampler plates, which was an experience and a treat.
The restaurant is good size and it's easy to get a bit lost wandering around inside. We were there on a Friday night, and I confess I was a bit surprised it wasn't more crowded (the bar tender/manager indicated the place tends to get a bit more crowded later in the evening). The bar area is separated completely from the restaurant area, and on tap there were 7 or 8 Belgium and Belgium style beers available. I thought the selection was well thought out, but still.... there was not exactly a huge selection to choose from on draft. We ended up ordering a glass of the St. Fieullien and Delirium Tremens, and here's where things got down right strange. The beers arrived a few minutes later, and I remember thinking "that's strange, I don't remember the St. Fieullien being so dark." As it turned out, the Delirium Tremens was the dark beer (the waiter set it down and even said, "and here's the Delirium Tremens). I'm sure you can tell where I'm going with this. I tasted it and very clearly it was not the DT. In fact, I was pretty much dead certain it was the Delirium Nocturem. I checked with the bar tender and he confirmed my suspician. He admitted he'd poured me the DN, noting he'd decided to rotate it in for a change as he was tired of always serving the DT.
Initially, I have to admit I thought the bartender switched our beer order, either figuring I wouldn't notice or wouldn't care. However, after talking to him further about the matter (many beer mails later), I'm now convinced the waiter just wasn't very attentive, and this was an honest mistake. The manager indicated he was under the impression the waiter had already gotten my OK to switch my order (he hadn't), and that I knew I was getting the DN rather then the DT. So all things considered I'd have to say I consider the Blue Nile to be an OK place, one that I will give a second chance to next time. With luck I'll be there when a different waiter is working. :-)
06-15-2006 00:28:59 |
More by johnmichaelsen
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Finding your way into the Blue Nile can be a bit tricky with the parking in the back of the building and no windows on the building. When I found the door it says they don't open until 4:00 so I walked down the street to Zipps to shop and kill time.
Once inside it is very dark with lots of texture on the walls, floors and tables. It was a sunny warm day outside but it feel like 2:00am inside. The sounds of someone taping on the Atamo and singing made me feel like I was miles away from Minnesota. I sat close to the bar and they had lots of nice taps, 10 I think, and a full menu of bottles from around the world. A good number of the beers from different countries: while some were lagers they did have a nice selection of ales and an entire section of stouts. I didn't have a problem finding plenty to drink and even the taps had lots of diversity from Bells to St. Feuillien. They had both Surly brews on tap with the new Surly brew, CynicAle, waiting in the basement to tap.
The food was good and the combo plate was the way to go with some red-hot spicy chicken dishes and some mild yet flavorful dark lentil dishes. I would have been nice to see a few more local beers but the Surlys were very nice. If I was a local I would have appreciated the diversity they have in the beer list much more especially with all the different flavors in Ethiopian food. Even if I werent hungry for Ethiopian, I would go for the beers along with some tasty appetizers on the side. The St. Feuillien was a nice finish to a good meal and it could only be improved on if they had some Tej, Ethiopian mead, hiding in the back.
06-08-2006 16:21:44 |
More by rhoadsrage
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Aside from slow service on a monday night, this place was great. Some very interesting taps and a short, but stand-up bottle list. I had the St. Feuillien Tripel and Victory's St. Victorious with my dinner. Both were served in proper glassware and at cellar temperature. I really didn't know what was going on with the food as I'm not terribly familiar with Ethiopian food, but it was very tasty and a nice change of pace. Great atmosphere, although it kind of looks more like a former mexican restaurant.
If you're in the Minneapolis and want some way different food with great beer, check this place out.
05-24-2006 20:17:15 |
More by tempest
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
The Nile is a place every BA should try. It's a BA's bar in many senses, probably owing to the BA behind the bar, Feloniousmonk.
The Atmosphere in this place is amazing... like no place in the Twin Cities, African with a jazzy side, dark but not foreboding. Feels hip but comfortable. With the lounge area, this place is where I would prefer to be sipping pints.
Felonious makes sure there are good beers on tap at all times, always two belgians, some bell's, a nice seasonal, and something for the hopheads.
The service is excellent, the bartenders know their beer, and Felonious is a terrific host.
The food is so far removed from pub grub, that it requires it's own posting almost. Ethiopian/north African is the style, and it's just amazing. This is a perfect change of pace from fries, burgers, and pizza.
Prices here are very resonable for the area and quality. Parking is plentiful, and Zipp's is just down the road for any off-sale needs.
02-03-2006 22:04:07 |
More by CultureJamMN
Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge in Minneapolis, MN
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