Ruth and I love coupons, they allow us to save on some meals and try new places. Last February, we went for lunch on a weekday to Nil Bleu. We rarely go for lunch but the coupons were a tasted menu for two only available during lunch. I used to work full time on weekdays and only had an hour break. Let’s just say that I took an extra 45 minutes that day. The service was not the fastest but the food was worth the wait. The tasting menu gave us the option between a vegetarian or meat appetizers set and main meal set. We decided to try the vegetarian appetizers and the meat main meal.
Important note: There are no utensils, you will eat with your hands. All meals are served with the injera, a sourdough crepe. It is a national Ethiopian dish and a similar dish is found its neighbourhing countries. You use the injera to grab the food. Of course, you are provided with a bowl of warm water you use to wash your hands before the meals. A humid cloth is left at your side for the rest of the meal. I didn’t see it as a challenge as I have already eaten without utensils coming from a Sub-Saharan African country. An doughy ingredient is served to help grab the food or to which the food will stick.
We had three small vegetarian appetizers. The first was bouticha, a chickpea puree with lemon and garlic. The second was yetimatim, a tomato salad with onions, zucchini seasoned with lemon and olive oil dressing. The third was yebederjane watt, a roasted eggplant puree with lemon, garlic and olive oil dressing. The best appetizer was the bouticha that was like hummus. The yebederjane watt was really good too. The yetimatim tasted too vinegary. I finished it as Ruth is not a fan of tomatoes. The injera has a funny spongy texture and falls apart easily after dipping it too much. Tip: grab a bigger piece of injera to grab something big. It doesn’t taste sweet like breakfast crepes, it has a bland taste that lets you enjoy the other food you’re grabbing.
The main meal set came with seven different sections that were served on top of an injera that covered the large platter. A dozen of rolled up injeras surrounded the sections. A regular salad was in the middle of the sections. The Gommen is boiled spinach with pieces of tomatoes, onion and garlic. We can undoubtedly say that the salad/vegetables were our least favourite section. The Doro Watt is a slightly spicy chicken cooked with berbere sauce. This sauce contains a spice mixture of ginger and other ingredients. It’s a key ingredient in Ethiopian cuisine and its neighbouth Eritrea. Half a boiled egg was served on top of the section. The Yebeg Key Watt is moist lamb cooked with berbere sauce too. It was good but not as spicy as the chicken. The Yebeg Tibbs are strips of lamb cooked with a mix of green peppers and fresh ginger root. The Zilzil Tibbs are strips of filet mignon sautéed with ginger, onion and peppers. The Yebeg Alicha is lamb cooked in a mild sauce with potatoes and carrots. All these meals with different meats were good, my favourite ones were the chicken, the beek and the mild lamb. Ruth doesn’t like the taste of lamb much so I had more than her. I didn’t mind as I love the tenderness of lamb meat. Just remembering these meals makes me salivate.
We were offered a drink known as tejje, which is mead, a traditional digestive honey flavoured. It was a refreshing drink that tasted like honey. It’s good of them to offer a digestive as the tasting menu is extremely filling.
The waiter brought a tray with adorable little desserts. Unfortunately, they weren’t included with the tasting menu. They were so cute, we couldn’t resist. They were little squares of goodness with a small decoration on top. Ruth chose a chocolate one with a raspberry macaroon on top. I can’t remember what I chose exactly. I remember there was lemon meringue on top. It was either vanilla or fudge cream. I have only myself to blame for writing this review almost a year later. I do remember that it was delicious and sweet.
The decor is nice and fancy. I love the zebra decors on the pillows and chair. I love that they’ve incorporated the origins of eating Ethiopian food as it is in the country. Nil Bleu offers fine cuisine but you eat it like in the culture, a nice touch.
It gets a grade of 8.5/10. It would have gotten a higher grade if the service wasn’t so slow. The tasting menu costs 30 dollars per person. It would cost 45 dollars with taxes included per person. If you want to add a dessert, it would go to 50 dollars. I recommend it to anyone who is curious to discovering Ethiopian cuisine. I’m not sure I would suggest it for a first date unless both of you are open to the idea. If the idea of eating without utensils scares you, I don’t recommend eating here. It’s a shame as the restaurant is nice and the cuisine delicious.
Le Nil Bleu
3706 Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC
H2X 3L7 514-285-4628