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Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge
Taps: 12 / Bottles: 50
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
2027 E Franklin Ave
phone: (612) 338-3000
(Place added by: tavernjef)
Ratings & Reviews
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| Reviews: 49
vibe: 2 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$
This review is long overdue. I first discovered Blue Nile in October thanks to some positive BeerFly reviews. I used to frequent this joint as a college student in the early 80s when it was a Mexican cantina and I was a broke kid looking for cheap beer and even cheaper food. It's taken 20 years for me to return to this spot and boy am I happy I did!
[In case you don't already know, the prima bartender is BA's own Feloniousmonk--and Al (Mr. Monk) is the kind of person you would hope that all BA regulars are like--friendly, open, willing to answer dumb questions, and so encyclopedic in his knowledge about beer that it makes your head spin (more so even than the Hop Wallop he serves on tap).]
The aesthetics at Blue Nile haven't changed dramatically since the cantina days. As somebody who doesn't mind being reminded of his past, I consider this a good thing. But if you're looking for a cozy bar with pretentions of grandeur, this is not going to scratch your itch. The bar side of Blue Nile is actually pretty expansive, but it feels dark and small, and Al works within a space that I suspect is a little cramped for him (especially on busy nights). He mentioned that the owners are considering a remodeling, and I certainly hope that he gets the additional space he so richly deserves.
Anyhow, the Blue Nile serves some stunningly good Ethiopian food, and even without Al and his incredible beer selection, this is an essential stop on your Twin Cities tour. The sampler platters are revelatory, and if you have no experience with Ethiopian food, you will be gobsmacked by the huge flavors and textures of that nation's cuisine. I brought some friends here in late December and the meal nearly brought tears to their eyes--it was that good.
But what about the beer? Ah, yes, the beer. Al is like a DJ who has about 10 records in his box, but they are the 10 best records in the city and he spins them with a level of expertise that makes your jaw drop. His 10 or so taps are perfectly selected, and I'd wager that most BAs would be very happy to work their way down the line. He also has a ton of interesting beers by the bottle, but I'm sorry to say I've pretty much ignored the bottles thanks to the great stuff on tap.
And speaking of taps, in just four visits to Blue Nile, I've enjoyed Urthel Hop-It (which my wife says completely changed her outlook on beer), Jewbilation, Bell's Two Hearted Ale, SN Celebration Ale, Victory Hop Wallop, Delirium Tremens, and Pauwel Kwak. Al obviously takes a lot of pride in serving beers correctly, and the glassware is perfectly matched to the brew. There's a definite value in that (and a certain feel-good karma in his approach to the beerman's art that makes me want to return frequently).
Do yourself a favor and give Al and Blue Nile a try next time you head out in search of great beer and great food in the Twin Cities. I promise you it will be worth the trip.
01-08-2006 06:18:40 |
More by spoots
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Been by the Nile a couple of times. Impressed everyone of them. Building looks like maybe it used to be a Mexican place being that it is all Stucco or southwest looking. Cool murals have been painted on the exterior now. Ample parking. This is an Ethiopian place so the furnishings etc. are different than what you see almost everywhere else. Immediatley inside the front door there is like a living room area. Large couches etc. for gatherings. THis is kinda cool. Dim lighting throughout lends to a comfortable relaxing atmosphere. The bar has a varied selection. A couple of nice beers, Hop it Urthel and a Grand Cru were what I had. Both very nice. They also had a couple of Bell products on tap and a few others I don't remember. I don't see how you couldn't find a beer or two you wanted to have while visiting here. Service was very prompt, corteous and professional. Wait staff and Al (the awesome barkeep and fellow BA) were all very knowledgeable about the food offerings and very patient and willing to explain the menu choices. I think I have had the Schwarma and a Lamb dish the two times I have eaten here. Both were very tasty. This place is definitley worth a try, and in my opinion worth visiting whenever you are in the area and have the opportunity.
10-27-2005 14:15:46 |
More by corporatejim
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $$
I had been meaning to come her for months, if not longer. I was actually looking for Zipp's, because I heard they had gotten in Hair of the Dog (which they had). Anyways, I went the wrong way for a couple block, and when I made a u-turn there was a very small sign on the street corner for Blue Nile. It wasn't that hard of a decision of whether to go there or not, I had heard that a keg of Abbaye des Rocs Triple Imperiale was recently tapped there.
The bar was very unique and obviously miles away from a chain restaurant (from the decor to the freedom the bar manager had in chosing his featured beers). The service was extremely fast, the beer was high quality. The taps were the afformentioned Abbaye des Rocs Triple Imperiale, Victory Golden Monkey, a couple Bells, a Rush River, with many more in bottles. The only bottles that I did see were the ones Al was loading into coolers or serving. Duvel, Taj Mahal, Chapeau, and Lion Stout (I am sure there were many more. Great bar, with very rare taps. A definite stop in the Twin Cities.
07-23-2005 02:37:37 |
More by TastyTaste
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
A solid, solid establishment in the twin cities. Very inviting from the outside with a nicely painted motif in various interesting colours. Inside the theme is definately African with lovely colurs and dim lighting setting the mood for good food. The quality of the beer here is great and the service was awesome. First, I had the pleasure of chatting it up with my wonderful bartender for a while. He was from trinidad, and I learned a lot about trinidad talking to him. Than Al spotted me, and we chatted for a while, whilst I waited for my food. The brews were very good, and I helped Al with kicking his keg of bells cherry ale, that was not a fan favorite apparantly (I loved it though). Service was fast and friendly, as expected, and the selection here is nice as well with many micros and imports (some obscure ones as well). The food was great. Ethiopean obviously and good. Gosa Gosa A the Veggie one is great, and I can't get enough of that living sponge bread. A quality restaurant worth it for the beer or the food or both.
07-07-2005 23:09:13 |
More by francisweizen
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$
Boy, did I have a good time at the Blue Nile. Met up with a bunch of BAs for bowling, beer at Town Hall, and music at the Blue Nile. I snuck away from Town Hall so I could have dinner at the Blue Nile...my first go at Ethiopian food. First of all, felioniousmonk (the head bartender) keeps a nice assortment of interesting beers available. Second of all, he was able to help me pick a nice choice from a menu that offered many different selections prepared many different ways. Third, the food was great and my whole dining experience was memorable. I'm very happy I trusted Al and went on this adventure.
The restuarant is conveniently located at a main intersection and ample parking is available. Upon entering, the bar is through an archway to the right, hosted seating is straight ahead, and restrooms are to the left. The establishment was clean and the staff was very attentive. I sat in the bar and found the lighting to be apporiate for the enivronment. Televisions are available for those interested in watching sports while quaffing a beer (or two) at the bar.
I enjoyed a combination plater that allowed me to explore several different food offerings while sipping on a Bell's Cherry Ale. Nice selection of other beers on tap, representing pretty much any style you would be interested in. Food is eaten by scooping up bites with pancake-like pieces of bread, rather than utensils. Some food offerings were spicy enough to a nice challenge for my soft palette...with additional hot sauces available for those looking to burn both ends. My bountiful plate was too much and I couldn't put it all away.
Later in the evening, a reggae band was playing in the dining area just off the main bar. The music added to the atmosphere, which was rich, as many other BAs had stopped in for the evening. By the end of the night I was filled with good cheer (and good beer). What a great time. Definitely worth the 5 hour beer-run to Minneapolis.
06-14-2005 06:03:29 |
More by mentor
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5
I wanted to visit Blue Nile because Al (aka feloniousmonk) is the bar manager. I dont think this place would have even been a blip on my radar otherwise. I dont think there is an establishment like this in Omaha; I went in knowing nothing about the food. The menu at the Blue Nile is all Ethiopian/African fare. Honestly EVERYTHING sounded good! I seriously could have threw a dart at the menu and been happy with whatever it landed on. I dont remember the name of the entrée I selected, it was a chicken and veggie dish with African spices and a side of rice. All I know the food was great. My girlfriend enjoyed here dinner too, it was a dish to be consumed with ones hands. Al did a great job walking us through the menu and what to expect with each dish.
We visited on a Thursday evening, around 5:30 and there was only a few people in the bar area. The bar is fairly large with many seats; the lighting is dim with a cool vibe. The paint, architecture, and decorations are largely African; in the bar area there are a few beer signs too. African music played in the background; there were two TVs with the sound turned down. There is a stage in the back with a dance floor. I believe bands play here on a regular basis.
On to the beer, on my visit beers on tap were Mojo IPA, Stella Artois, Two Hearted, Oberon, Saison Dupont, Sam Adams BL, Newcastle Brown, and Summit Extra Pale Ale. In bottles there was some highlights like Tusker and Lion Stout, a few Unibroune, Wittekerke, Duvel, Delirium Tremens, Westemelle, Old Nick, Aventinus, Bells 6000, Expedition Stout, and Java Stout with a couple others for the masses. The beer was served in the proper glassware!
I really enjoyed my visit; Al was a great host/bartender who treated two small-town yokels way too nice! Thanks, Al! The beer, food, atmosphere and help were all top-notch. I would visit Blue Nile again in a heartbeat. If you live in the area and you have not visited this place and ate the food, you are a fool.
-Parking onsite, seems like enough spaces
-Bathrooms are big enough for a crowd
06-28-2004 20:42:54 |
More by bditty187
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5
This is someplace different. Live, interesting bands, a separate Ethiopian restaurant with good ambiance and great eat-with-your-hands fare from who knows where. Really tasty, great aromas and none of it familiar to me, not having had African food before. About $50 for two with a couple beers each.
The beer selection is impressive and unusual, with good choices from India, Africa, Belgium, and the US. I'd consider it a must stop when in the area for beer geeks who have seen their share of brewpubs and are looking for something different.
05-09-2004 17:07:57 |
More by Nay
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5
Biases aside. This place should be included in your Twin Cities itinerary. Sure, feloniousmonk set me up proper during my visit here. But that matters naught (though it was utmostly appreciated). Well, on second thought, I guess it does matter, just not in terms of the rankings I will give this place.
I arrived with Huge and Shit, and tavenjef and steorn are platooned at the bar. jeffboo showed up later. Cool. The place is vibey and fairly dark. Jazzy, to be hackneyed. Even if I knew noone, I'd enjoy hanging out here.
Especially for the beer.
Abbaye des Rocs Grand Cru on tap. On fucking tap. No typos. On tap. Think about it. Hard.
It's gone now, I guess. Sucks to be you.
About 10 taps total. Some Bell's Porter, 2Hearted....getting hazy here...but perhaps some Rockies Hazed and Infused, Maredsous 8 (or was that on deck?), Anchor Steam and some other choices. Did I mention Abbaye des Rocs Grand Cru. I didn't explore the bottle collection, but Lion Stout was available and I saw some Unibroue (Trois Pistoles?). There was more too. I can think of another BA that could give you a more accurate listing. ALl selections are well-chosen.
We were also treated to an inpromptu session of Bighuge's homebrews...but I think you'd have to set this up ahead of time.
The food was glorious and unique. Maybe just because this sort of fare is rare in Madison, but I enjoyed every bite. African (Ethiopian, specifically) in origin. I don't recall it by name, but I remember it by taste.
Stop here if you are in the Cities, or anywhere close. I'd love to have a joint like this locally.
04-26-2004 01:48:18 |
More by cokes
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4
Well, here goes nothin? First off AL insisted he wasn't the BA to add this and I felt that he should cuz if it weren't for him the bar scene that this place has wouldn't exist. When AL is behind his second home(the bar), service is top notch, not only does he find time to BS with regulars but happens to encourage costumers who aren't familiar with the beers and the food to dive in. He'll take the time to help you make decisions and they always turn out to be a good one. The atmosphere in this place changes nightly, depending on what the stage is offering and the separate levels, which I actually have yet to see. But there's open mic night with poetry, beat rap, and music of all kinds. Plus standard scheduled bands of mixed backgrounds. The overall theme of both the atmosphere, music, and food menu is all Ethiopean/African which I didn't know much about the food and can be quite interesting, not something I'd eat all the time, but a great change of pace from the usual pub grub burgers, sandwiches, fries, and stuff like that. But for a place that has 10 taps, the hand selected selection is quite extraordinary. Bell's of seasonals always, Oberon, Best Brown, Two-Hearted, and others along with one or two Belgians and good micros, Goose Island, Rogue, Anchor. The choices from the bottle are right up there too. I'm not sure what else to say; its a place worth stopping in for, for many reasons, whether it be the beer choices, the food, the music, or to visit the man behind the bar, you're sure to find yourself havin' a good Ol' time. I know I always do.
11-18-2003 23:18:16 |
More by tavernjef
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Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge in Minneapolis, MN
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