16 February 2011

Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant: Updated

I branched out from my regular lunch time cuisine and walked over to Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant last week. Now, I'm no connoisseur, and have yet to venture to their lovely country, but I have been to various joints around Nairobi since discovering the greatness that is Ethiopian food. I had seen the restaurant sandwiched in the middle of Roughton Plaza on my many trips up and down Argwings but had never made it by to check it out. It had received mixed reviews from those who had ventured there previously so it wasn't at the top of my list to check out, but now that it's located so conveniently near my office and the fact that I can only eat so much ndengu in a week, I figured it was worth a shot.

Location: Hurlingham, on Argwings Kodhek between Rose Avenue and Woodlands in Roughton Plaza, across from Jabavu House and above the recently reviewed, Mika Cafeteria
Price: 350 KSH (~$4.40) for shiro
Atmosphere: quiet besides the Nigerian soap operas playing on the tv near the door

I find it very interesting that Ethiopian restaurants here have a penchant to a) have a tv on for staff/patron entertainment and b) find the crappiest shows to watch. Blue Nile's front room is set up like a living room with couches lining the walls and small coffee tables and stools in front of each couch. There is a bar at the end of the room that had a few people sitting there, but I'm not sure if or how they are getting around the new alcohol laws preventing the sale of alcohol before 5 pm on weekdays. There was another room off the bar that looked more of a restaurant style set up but I didn't venture back there for a peek. Instead I camped out on a couch with my book trying to ignore the goings on of the Nigerians soap stars across the room.

Photo credit: ethiopianmillennium.com
I ordered shiro, which oddly I didn't find on the menu, but since it was just me and I wasn't interested in a huge amount of leftovers I thought that was my best bet. It was a slightly pricier (only 50-100 bob or so more) than other Ethiopian restaurants I've visited but sadly not as good. It's hard to explain what I didn't like about the dish, but it just didn't taste the way it should. Not that it stopped me from eating the majority of the bowl anyway. At this point I'm not impressed by them, but I won't not return if I get a mid-day hankering for some Ethiopian cuisine; I'll just try a new dish next time. Kitfo, anyone?

UPDATED 4/15/11: I ventured back to this joint with a friend earlier this week to give it another shot. Both my friend and I agreed that it wasn't worth it. For two dishes (shiro and some sort of pot of chicken) it was almost 1000 KSH. In comparison, we ate at Lalibela later that week and got 2 mixed dishes with multiple vegetable and meat samples for less money that was tastier. The food just wasn't that great and it took nearly 45 minutes for it to be served despite the fact that we were the only people in the restaurant. My friend commented that she would never return despite its convenient location. Sorry, Blue Nile, you just don't make the cut despite my attempt to give you the benefit of the doubt.

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