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Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge
Taps: 12 / Bottles: 50
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
2027 E Franklin Ave
phone: (612) 338-3000
(Place added by: tavernjef)
Ratings & Reviews
| Reviews: 49
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
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: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
I love the Blue Nile. Al manages to make this place a rock-solid beer bar despite not having a ton of tap lines. There is always something (usually several somethings) interesting on tap, they do a lot of events (release parties, big beer nights, and the like), and the bottle list is stellar, as well. Good prices, the right glassware, usually some good music playing, and a pretty festive (but not loud) atmosphere.
If you need a drink, you can
He'll get you some beer that will
Served with a smile and some cheeer!
(set to the tune of "Call Me," originally by Burt Bacharach)
03-31-2009 15:58:48 |
More by BearsSox
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.75 | $
I love Blue Nile, I really do. Virtually all of my "drinking out" dollars go there. That said, it has some drawbacks that visitors should keep in mind.
Atmosphere: (Note: I am not planning to review the restaurant or the non-beer beverage selection) This is a hermit-crab establishment through and through. A great beer bar nestled in the husk of an Ethiopian restaurant, itself occupying the shell of a Mexican restaurant. If you're confused, join the crowd. It's dark, and the bar stools are of dubious integrity. The roof leaks when it rains. Patrons are a mix of neighborhood residents and beer geeks. And more, depending on what's on stage.
Yeah, there's a stage and dance floor. If there's a Reggae or Death Metal band, there's a $10 cover charge and a crowd to match the music. You can avoid the cover by getting there before 9 PM or so, which dovetails nicely with the 8-10 happy hour (more on that later). If there is no stage act, the music is likely to be jazz, especially in the afternoon.
Quality/Selection: The bar manager is fellow BA feloniousmonk: ask for Al. Al maintains 12 tap lines, of which none are wasted. Typically, 6 are dedicated to pints (mostly local), and 6 to the more expensive beers. The latter typically include some hard-to-find Belgians and special releases from local breweries. As proud owner of Surly invoice #3 and Harriet invoice #1, Blue Nile has an unsurpassed relationship with those two breweries, and only takes their beers off-tap during special events.
The bottle list is not huge, but it has some gems, and you never get gouged on price. I drank more than my share of barrel-aged Gonzo at $6.25 a bottle last year.
Service: The staff love customers who love beer. They are as friendly as you are. Chat them up, and you'll get great service.
Food: There is a restaurant menu and a bar menu. I consider the Ethiopian fare acceptable, but below par for the city. The bar menu has two gems, however: the Shwarma sandwich and the wings. Big and meaty, these are not BW3 wings.
Value: Blue Nile has two happy hours every day: 4-6 PM and 8-10 PM. Buy any draft beer and get one of the pints for free. As in: Buy a Cuvée Des Jacobins Rouge for $7, get a free pint of Furious. That kind of thing.
All-in-all, it's a great place to drink and talk beer. Plus, it's quite close to a light rail station, in case you have one too many.
08-13-2013 05:17:57 |
More by DaveAnderson
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: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $$
Al is a great guy and Blue Nile is a place I intend to go again. It was our last stop on our tour de beer in the twin cities. Tons of Surly on tap, served in Darkness tulips, very classy. Tap list is updated on the website and was accurate, another plus. Its a bit of a downer that it doesn't open until 4 pm, but there was no one in there when we arrived, so I can see why they don't bother to. The owner/manager(?) is a BA and should be contacted before you go to see when he'll be there. Not the easiest place to find, but close to the freeway and worth the trip.
12-06-2009 17:57:14 |
More by mdwalsh
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$
AHHH....The Blue Nile...Great Beer, Excellent Ethiopian Food, Beer, Ethiopian Food, Beer, Ethiopian Food.
What an excellent, unique, and cool place. Every time I've been to the Blue Nile has been a treat and a bit of surprise. You can go to the restaurant and have a wonderful, upscale Ethiopian meal, or you can go to the bar for a completely different but no less excellent experience. the place is huge, and the owners have a done a great job keeping the restaurant and bar separate but still accessible to one another. There is even a stage area for live performances (I haven't caught one yet, but I've heard great things).
Since this is BeerAdvocate, I should probably write a bit about the beverages at the Blue Nile. The selection shifts pretty frequently, but it's always good, and the management does a nice job of having excellent local and regional offerings as well as great imports. this is really a must see spot.
02-17-2011 23:57:35 |
More by corcoranjc
vibe: 2 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$
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 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I went to the Blue Nile for the Surly Three release party. It was pretty crowded as I expected it would be. They have a great selection of beer, and the food was really good! I had the Gosa Gosa which was delicious! The atmosphere was great! There is a really big center bar and tables around the rest of the bar area. The only complaint I would have is that they needed more seating, but it was pretty busy so that is expected. They had an area for a band, I would love to go back when they have live music! The service was surprisingly good for how busy it was, I didn't have to wait very long to get a drink, and the food came out pretty quickly. I would definitely recommend this bar to anyone looking for a good beer bar, or a place to get some good Ethiopian food.
02-12-2009 21:10:59 |
More by natasharai
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.75 | $$$
The Blue Nile doesn't have a ton of beer options. Other places in town such as Stubs or the Happy Gnome have a lot more choice. With that said, the Nile has some great quality in their tap list and they are always moving through to new and more interesting options. The food is also fantastic if you are up for Ethiopian. Definitely a fun place to visit if you are from out of town.
01-24-2013 03:32:08 |
More by Hopsiam14
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
Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge in Minneapolis, MN
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