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The Blue Nile

  • 7th Apr, 2005 at 2:54 PM

Ever since Jeff introduced me to Ethiopian House in Toronto, I've loved eating Ethiopian food. Whenever we go there, we always eat a plentiful meal and leave fulfilled. The place is authentic and the people are authentic. And the food seems honest, which is a big plus in my book.

When we failed to dine at Mex-I because it is not open on Sundays, we wondered if that Ethiopian place we passed on St-Denis was any good. So we backtracked to Le Nil Bleu. I have heard of it before and it keeps on getting mentioned on the Internet as a good place to eat, especially if one is vegan. So we decided to try it out.

The first thing I noticed when I entered was that the place was fairly classy, in the French/Italian tradition. Now I know Italy did invade Ethiopia, but not for long enough to affect their cuisine. Nevertheless, we sat at a table and were served water in water glasses. The menu seemed normal enough, so Jeff and I decided to share a vegetarian platter for two. I looked around and the restaurant seemed fairly full. It looked like they'd have one round of service.

The injera came on a big, chipped enamel plate, which was about the only authentic Ethiopian thing we'd see the entire night. The waitress came by and started spooning portions of wat on the plate, but it seemed a little on the watery side. Then she returned with a small plate of injera for utensils. This was really odd, since the bread had been cut into thin strips and rolled up, like a bandage. They made their injera very thin, more like crepes than spongy sourdough bread. There wasn't very much and we had to ask for more, which they provided stingily. I noted that this was strange and Jeff noted that they were very cheap.

Although the food was fine, it wasn't very plentiful nor very astounding; certainly not impressive for a vegetarian platter at $27. And our thin glasses of fruit juice were ludicrously expensive ($3.50 each). I'm sure this is to pay for their overhead, but that's a little much. Jeff noticed that the spicing seemed to be slightly inauthentic, there were some Indian notes in there. But we are spoiled: Ethiopian House imports its rare spices from Ethiopia.

The restaurant review section is over, but I do want to rant about the table of four that sat next to us that night. For the entire meal, they had a very loud conversation. Now this isn't regularly a problem for me, it's just that they had a very loud conversation about things inappropriate to say in a public restaurant.

This group of white, Anglo, thirty-somethings were having, how shall we say it, a familiar chat. The kind of chat you'd have around your own dining table. You know, where you tell each other how easy your kids were to raise. How many times it took you to conceive Emma. How your wife found out she was pregnant as you guys were on a week-long camping trip. That sort of thing. Even more infuriating was their inability to use proper table manners throughout the entire meal. All four of them were tilting their heads back and dropping food into their mouths. Honestly! You're only allowed to do that with unsauced spaghetti. And more infuriating was their ignorance: "There's only a one in four chance that a healthy woman and a healthy man will get pregnant each time."

So… what kind of irritating dining experiences have you had recently?


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
7th Apr, 2005 19:40 (UTC)
you need to go to Le Messob d'Or.

Smallish place and all, but yummy true ethiopian food with big portions and a small bill. And coffee. Damn is their coffee good!

Used to go there more or less regularly with sps and swestrup but haven't gone in a long time.

DO call before going if you decide though, there is only 4 or 5 tables so reservations are a must.
7th Apr, 2005 19:45 (UTC)
Oh. I know where that is.

It's right by my house.
7th Apr, 2005 19:48 (UTC)
beats Le Nil Bleu every time if you ask me.

7th Apr, 2005 21:31 (UTC)
Yeah, I was just gonna comment on how I prefer Messob d'Or, and we really should eat there again some time.
7th Apr, 2005 21:41 (UTC)
Yes, let's organise something.
7th Apr, 2005 21:46 (UTC)

7th Apr, 2005 19:49 (UTC)
I am fairly consistent with my lack-lustre dining/culinary experiences. If it isn't the service... it's something else. I blame the abundance of midgets in the city of Montreal. Elsewhere, i.e. SW Ontario... I received wonderful service... and never once got food poisoning.
7th Apr, 2005 19:56 (UTC)
You have never dined in Waterloo; where if I say that a restaurant has never poisoned me, it's a complement.
(Deleted comment)
7th Apr, 2005 20:05 (UTC)
Public health inspection records lend credence to my story. I have been poisoned in far too many places in Waterloo for me to feel confident trying a new restaurant out of the blue.

I'd really like to see Toronto-style coloured health-inspection signs on the windows of restaurants everywhere. I noted that when this came into effect, many restaurants had yellow "Conditional pass" signs.

This is not the case anymore. And I have yet to be poisoned in Toronto since then.
7th Apr, 2005 19:57 (UTC)
I've only tried Ethiopian Food at three places, Ethiopian House, AM Africa and a restaurant in London whose name I forget. Ethiopian House and the restaurant in London were on par. I wasn't very impressed by AM Africa.
When I make injera at home, I use mostly teff (I cheat and add a couple tablespoons of wheat flour for strength). This produces injera that tastes quite different from the injera at Ethiopian House, which doesn't appear to have much/any teff in it. They do turn out more like crepes than sourdough bread because teff doesn't contain any gluten.
7th Apr, 2005 20:11 (UTC)
Hmm... Maybe it is the teff that's showing.

The injera was quite tasty. There just wasn't enough of it.
7th Apr, 2005 20:19 (UTC)
Teff costs $9 per kilo, so if they're making their injera from teff, maybe that's why the scrounging. Of course, I'd rather they offer to let me pay extra for the amount I want.
8th Apr, 2005 12:35 (UTC)
Irritating Dining Experiences...
Hmmm.. The most recent one I can think of was this Ethiopian place on my last visit to Montréal...
4th Jun, 2007 16:03 (UTC)
I just wanted to let you know that Ethiopia was never colonized.
Ethiopia and Liberia are the only two country that were never colonized in Africa. The Italian tried to,but we fought and we won the war.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )