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Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge
Taps: 12 / Bottles: 50
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
2027 E Franklin Ave
phone: (612) 338-3000
(Place added by: tavernjef)
Ratings & Reviews
« first ‹ prev
| Reviews: 49
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $$
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: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
A bit off the beaten track, this is known as Al's place ("Felociounosmonk"), the Food & Beverage manager who made a stand of commitment to make a craft beer scene in the city. This is a relaxing bar, and a huge one. You can sit on sofas and relax, this is not a metal and glass place. Just missing a fireplace. And you can come for the bar alone, as several people did on a cold Monday night. Roy and Al know their beer, and the selection is good for quality, with the right glass served. The music allows for conversation, and is the world of Black music for around the world, soulful and relaxing. Note: Only open at 4 pm, and extra points for being one of the last places (because of extra kegs) wth Darkness.
11-19-2008 05:00:38 |
More by Sammy
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
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: 4.5 | 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 | 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 | 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: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
After years of going to the Blue Nile, I'm finally doing a review after attending last night's Battle of the Belg. I didn't try them all, but filled in my list with a few new beers. Last night's sampling included De Ranke XX Bitter and Harriet Brewing Dark Abbey. Both fine ales, but in different categories for the head to head format of the tasting. Tried both Epic Brainless on Cherries and Kasteel Rouge in the fruit category to finish the night--for me, Kasteel wins hands down, but I walked away with more respect for the Epic ale than I had when I tasted the bottle last fall.
Over the years, I've added 50 new drafts to my list with excellent beers ranging from St. Amand French Country Ale to Boulder's Killer Penguin, and many of those--like Monk's Flemish Ale--are difficult to find other places. Since I live over 20 miles from the Nile, I'm an irregular regular at best. But it's always a treat when I do. Bar manager Al McCarty--aka feloniousmonk--always does a fine job of not only bringing in great beer, but you know that the beer is always going to be well served in its proper glass. The beer you're drinking is the beer the brewery wanted you to drink. For me, there's no greater compliment.
Food is excellent as well. My favorite meal is from the bar menu, and is the falafel sandwich, made with simple, fresh ingredients makes it my usual. I've tried the range of vegetarian options of authentic Ethiopian food and have enjoyed them all. While the menu may be new to many, the descriptions of the food and the help from the servers makes ordering and indulging accessible for everyone.
In short, if you haven't tried the Blue Nile and stopped in to say hi to Al, you are missing out of one the most unique beer spots anywhere. When I belly up to the bar for a special event or walk in for a Saturday afternoon pint, I simply ask Al--what am I drinking today? And, I'm never disappointed.
10-16-2011 19:08:45 |
More by FightingEntropy
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: 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 | 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
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Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge in Minneapolis, MN
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