Blue Nile vs. Fasika: Sampler platter showdown

Categories: Food Fight

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Danielle Lenz
Forks = totally overrated.
There's something about eating with your hands that's incredibly satisfying. Sure, it can be messy, but that's all part of the fun, especially when it comes to Ethiopian food. We rolled up our sleeves and dug into the sampler platters at Minneapolis's Blue Nile and St. Paul's Fasika to see who serves it best.

Blue Nile
The Blue Nile's Gosa Gosa C ($23.25) allegedly feeds two people, but what arrives could easily serve three reasonably hungry adults. Served on a platter nearly the size of a two-top table, the sampler includes four vegetarian selections, six meat selections, and two sauces (one a spicy mix tasting of cardamom and cayenne, the other a tangy yogurt dip). Also included are individual baskets of injera, the spongy, sour Ethiopian flat bread used to scoop up the meat and vegetables.

While the meat selections, including chicken, beef, and lamb, were all flavorful and richly doused with spicy berbere sauce, we found the vegetarian dishes to be more misses than hits. We liked the savory, moderately spiced, and perfectly cooked cabbage dish best, but found both lentil dishes bland and undercooked, giving little hint of spice or seasoning while almost crunching between our teeth. Meanwhile, the split pea dish was both bland and chalky, leaving a dusty, unpleasant taste. All in all, the platter was filling, but not entirely noteworthy.

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Danielle Lenz
Dig in at the Blue Nile

Fasika
Order Fasika's Ultimate Combination ($36.50) with plenty of friends, because the thing is fucking huge. Though the menu says it feeds two to three people, this monster could easily serve four or five. The 15 dishes include beef, lamb, chicken, and vegetarian selections--enough food so that you'll need to request extra injera, though you'll probably still find yourself polishing off the sauce-soaked piece on the platter. We loved the deliciously savory beef with onions, the stewed collard greens, and the soft and tangy white cheese. There's also a simple green salad, for when you need a break from the meaty, spicy richness.

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Danielle Lenz
It's gonna be messy, but you're gonna love it.

The winner: We heartily recommend Fasika's gigantic, delicious sampler platter. Although the Blue Nile's smaller platter was notably less expensive, the bland split peas and undercooked lentils were unappetizing enough for us to forgo finishing them. Head to Fasika for the Ultimate Combination the next time you and a group are craving Ethiopian food. You'll leave with berbere sauce under your fingernails and a smile on your face.

BLUE NILE
2027 Franklin Ave. E., Minneapolis
612.338.3000; website

FASIKA
510 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul
651.646.4747; website

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8 comments
Erin
Erin

I think it's quite funny that the most controversial thing about this post was the use of an expletive. Really, guys? I mean, I can out-Minnesota the best of them, but I thought the use of the word was not outrageous here. It was used to describe a serving of food that was much, much larger than the number of people it was advertised to feed.

@beachscrat, while the Nile's tap list is certainly its most notable feature - the Belgian beer specials they've been having are especially great, and they always have some excellent craft brews on tap - that may be the Blue Nile's only redeeming feature. Maybe I've been ordering the wrong things, but I've found the Blue Nile's food to be just awful - overcooked, oily and with crunchy lentils. Fasika's food is drool-worthy. Frankly, I'd love to eat at the Blue Nile more often because of the impressive beer list but don't because the food is so bad; I go strictly for drinks.

Lothar
Lothar

Sorry, got a pair and I have to agree that using a common vulgarity in a food review is just kind of ... I don't know ... gross? Tacky? Immature? Weird? Not something to include in your portfolio when you're applying for a real writing job down the road? (Yeah, that last one.)

beachscrat
beachscrat

Wow, and she didn't even mention the Blue Nile tap list, well known to be one of the best in the twin cities. Obviously this writer doesn't know what she is talking about, and tries to make up for it by using edgy expletives. She's so tough, tough as nails!

East Coast Doug
East Coast Doug

To quote the review "because the thing is fucking huge"

There is no excuse for this kind of language from the staff / representative. Vulgar, just vulgar.

Oh
Oh

And if you're lucky, you'll see one of the most beautiful women in the city serving you at Fasika

Pz
Pz

Grow a pair Doug

Christianschutz
Christianschutz

EASILY one of the most beautiful in the Twin Cities. Gorgeous smile that lights up the whole restaurant.

East Coast Doug
East Coast Doug

You know, I know, everybody knows "those" words. They aren't shocking anymore. In the right context they may be useful. But in the context of a resturant review, they are a sad statement about the reviewer, the editor, and the publication.

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