MSP: The Blue Nile
My search for posts on the Blue Nile mostly turned up references to it, but no specific threads about it. Hearing mostly good things, Mrs Gut Grease and I went there last night for dinner. Here is my report:
We don't know anything about Ethiopian food, but wanted to be adventurous. At 6:30pm on a Friday night there was only one other table of patrons besides us. More trickled in throughout the evening, but it was nice not to scream over a crowd. The decorating was unique, but might have been partially left over from a previous Mexican restuarant. Our server had no clue where any of it came from.
Not being picky, we asked for a wine suggestion. Hearding Cats, a South Aftrican made wine, was brought to our table. After the ceremonial un-twisting of the cap, we enjoyed a nice wine. For $22 it was enjoyable.
The waitress suggested the Gosa Gosa, which is a sampler of their appetizers. The Sambusa Fooni and Sambusa Missiraa were both very good and were flavorful. The Baajiya was decent and the Shafut was different. Shafut is Ethiopian bread, essentially soaked in buttermilk and sauce. It was good but kind of runny. That's probably how it's supposed to be though.
Mrs. Gut Grease truly enjoyed the Maraka Sangaa Hurdii, which is chunks of beef and potato cubes simmered in a mild curry sauce. Our entrees were both served on top of Biddeena (flat bread). I really enjoyed my Hoolaa Akaawii, which is lamb pieces marinated in a blend of spices, and sautéed with onions, tomatoes and cilantro. I ordered it hot and was not disappointed. I was sweating while I enjoyed this meal. My side dish was Foule, which was fava beans sautéed with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, and spices. Everything on my plate was literally licked clean.
With no room left for dessert, we paid our bill and went home. I definitely would recommend trying out some Ethiopian food at the Blue Nile. We weren't disappointed.
Thanks for the review. Prior to hearing about Fasika, I wanted to eat at Blue Nile. I haven't yet tried Ethiopian in MSP (actually, when I wanted to go to Blue Nile, I hadn't tried Ethiopian at all). The only time I had it was in New York and that was excellent.
One thing I noticed about Blue Nile compared to other Ethiopian restaurants: the names of the dishes on the menu. Most places (like Fasika and Ghenet, where I went) seem to serve dishes with names ending in "wot" and "tibs", which I believe mean a kind of curry or stew and meat respectively, which of course is served on "injera" (spongy Ethiopian flatbread). However, "wot" or "tibs", or even "injera" are nowhere to be found on Blue Nile's menu. Rather the names sound almost Somali.
EDIT: According to their website, they use Oromo rather than Amharic names on their menu. So there.
Apparently they also have entertainment there.
We talked to an Ethiopian friend about this. It isn't just that they are Oromo, but that they don't want to use the Amharic names due to their political beliefs and possibly their religious beliefs (our friend thinks they are Rastafarian).
Also, they have a huge night club following. The place is often packed after 9:00 on weekends.
We like the Blue Nile, though we find the food at Fasika (in St. Paul) to be a bit better. A side note, though: Blue Nile has one of the most extensive beer selections in the metro area. If you like beer at all, I'd skip the wine and peruse the beer list! There are many beer lovers in the area who don't even realize Blue Nile serves food....
Historical note: The decor at the Blue Nile *is* left over from a Mexican restaurant. Many years ago, the building was Montanita's Mexican Restaurante.
Oh, how I *LOVED* Montanita's. Their food was far from authentic, but it was delicious. I still miss the place. Oh, those cheezy enchiladas....
Thanks for the review of The Blue Nile's Ethiopian food, GutGrease! I'd love to hear what you think of Fasika in St. Paul (University & Snelling), should you ever get there.
Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant
510 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104
Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
2027 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
agree with the others who put the food at fasika well above the blue nile's. the blue nile has imo always been more of a reggae/world music scene hangout/concert venue, and i don't think the food is of paramount importance to the management. so as a restaurant, the place is so-so, but as a bar that happens to have some decent grub, plus live music, plus great beer list, the place is great. good to hear a nice review on the food blue nile, since this old fuddy-duddy hasn't been there for a show in-- wow. well over 5 years or so. . . ;)
I go to Ann Arbor every weekend, and live in Toronto (right near our Ethiopian area of the city). I usualy go out for Ethiopian weekly. I was very disapointed in the Blue Nile...I had such hope for it..to get my weekly fix when in A2. I was shocked to see that they do not use teff in their injera. It is not anywhere near the spicy level that we get here in Canada. The thought of "all you can eat" Ethiopian just somehow seems wrong on so many levels. It was also over double the price than what we are use to here (there around $25 US for mixed plate..and $11 CDN here). We asked the owner (chef) about the lack of teff/spice and he told us he makes it to a more American taste...I don't know...but I guess if you are one that never had Ethiopian...come on up to Toronto and taste it in it's original form.
Glad you liked it. I prefer Blue Nile to Fasika. Some of that may be due to Blue Nile being around longer. Going there for a gosa gosa meal a couple of times a year is a tradition with my family. I really like the combination of foods they serve and Fasika doesn't have anything comparable enough to satisfy that craving for me. I can enjoy the food at Fasika, but it doesn't take the place of needing to eat at Blue Nile periodically!
PS: On Blue Nile's website (the Mpls one, suzspot), they state that they do use tef in their Biddeena.