Although trying new restaurants around Minneapolis is one of my favorite activities, I rarely have a completely new eating experience. ‘New’ in the sense of a cuisine or eating style I’ve literally never tried before. Last weekend, however, I had a completely new eating experience at Blue Nile. Blue Nile is an Ethiopian restaurant and lounge located in the Seward neighborhood.
The exterior of the restaurant is beautifully painted with murals and geometric designs:
The interior is casual and comfortable with big comfy chairs, drapes, and large booths:
The restaurant area (pictured above) is separate from the bar area. Having never eaten Ethiopian cuisine before, the menu was a little overwhelming. The meats used in Ethiopian cooking are: chicken, lamb, and beef. There were also a wide array of vegetarian dishes featuring beans and lentils. I ordered a vegetarian combination platter which came with a variety of bean and lentil dishes – plus hot sauce and yogurt in the center:
Ethiopian food is traditionally served with biddeena (or injera) – a flat bread made with teff.
The best way to describe the biddeena is as a slightly thicker and spongier form of crepe. Ethiopian food is not eaten with a knife and fork but, rather, you use the biddeena to scoop up the food. It’s definitely a messy process! Hot towels are brought with the food so you can clean your hands and use it as a napkin throughout.
This was definitely a unique eating experience. After getting past the initial surprise at the eating style, it was pretty fun to scoop up food with my fingers. The food itself wasn’t my favorite. The vegetarian sampler plate got a little monotonous – although differently spiced, the bean and lentil dishes all sort of started to taste the same. If I came back to this or a similar restaurant, I would definitely want to order a meal with more variety in taste and texture.
Overall, I would say this could be a fun restaurant to try if you’re looking for something new, but I wouldn’t advise it for a first date or fancy occasion!