Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge
Taps: 12 / Bottles: 50
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 53 | Reviews: 49 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by DaPeculierDane:
3.6/5 rDev -16.9%
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
More User Reviews:
4.71/5 rDev +8.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5 | $
Great food, awesome ever-changing beer selection, cool atmosphere, 2-4-1 happy hour taps, eclectic world music and good jazz playing overhead, good service. What else needs to be said about The Blue Nile? The selection although not massive (a dozen taps) is full of unique rotating options. They get a lot of rare beers from both local breweries, and breweries as far away as Belgium and Sri Lanka. They also put on great special events, and release parties.
09-15-2013 15:46:06 | More by KarlHungus
4.1/5 rDev -5.3%
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
4.31/5 rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.75 | $$$
The Blue Nile doesn't have a ton of beer options. Other places in town such as Stubs or the Happy Gnome have a lot more choice. With that said, the Nile has some great quality in their tap list and they are always moving through to new and more interesting options. The food is also fantastic if you are up for Ethiopian. Definitely a fun place to visit if you are from out of town.
01-24-2013 03:32:08 | More by Hopsiam14
4.33/5 rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$
Had an excellent couple of brews here couple with the same quality service, food, and music. Lights were a bit bright, but other wise great setting. Waitress had a great attitude, fast, and helpful with food. Didn’t speak much of beer. Food was exemplarary though a touch pricey. Beers were good and of good value; although, the draft selection was weighted towards Belgians and IPAs. Bottle selections are similar; however, there are some pale lagers, wheat brews, and some dark, rich choices. I’ll return someday. Was a perfect celebration for the renewal of my passport!
08-02-2012 22:54:23 | More by drpimento
4/5 rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
Solid, fun place to get a few beers or have some good food.
The atmosphere is that of an Ethiopian restaurant, so it is fairly standard for what I imagine an Ethiopian restaurant to be. That said, it is pretty damn cool overall.
The quality and selection is great, always interesting things on tap. Not a huge selection but always the specialty Surly beers and a nice rotation of Belgians. One thing I really like is that they do alot of theme nights with their taps (like a stout and porter fest which was awesome, among others like Belgian fest and a IPA/hops fest). Unusual stuff pops up all the time their too.
Service is average usually I have had a few nights where it has taken a long time to get a beer. That said, I do tend to go when it is busy. Service on release nights tends to be gruff and poor, though.
Food is good from what I remember. I only had it once but it was solid.
I like that they host parties for local brewery releases and they have all sorts of music and entertainment most nights of the week.
01-30-2012 08:24:23 | More by sacrelicio
Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge in Minneapolis, MN
95 out of 100 based on 53 ratings.