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#61
Posted July 24th 2010, 12:28am
Davydd wrote:
Hells Kitchen has also relocated to more upscale digs. I used to frequently go to the original location on 10th also in a grungy old building since it was a half block from my work place. I haven't been to the new location and wonder if it too will have lost something for me.


I had brunch at the new location this morning, and enjoyed it greatly; the Ralph Steadman decor is a delightful signature and we enjoyed the service.

Potatoes laced with bacon, moist scrambled eggs smothered in cheese, Bottled Hell hot sauce, bison sausage, sausage bread, homemade ketchup, ginger-laced orange marmalade, ricotta lemon pancakes, crab cakes, Indian wild rice porridge, and the superb house-made peanut butter: what's not to like. The unusual items are regional, interesting, and really worthwhile, imparting a character I haven't found with any Chicago brunch services except Publican, Nightwood, and the late lamented Cuatro.

The find of the trip has been C and G's Smoking Barbecue- more on that soon, as close to Lem's as you're going to get in the Cities, which I've discovered have some serious restrictions on both indoor and outdoor smoking apparatuses.
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#62
Posted July 30th 2010, 11:01am
The end of the Mississippi in Prescott, WI wasn't too far from the Twin Cities so it was here where we would make a dinner stop before driving North to Duluth. We decided to check out a locals favorite bar-The Nook-and have my first Juicy Lucy experience in the Twin Cities.

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Considered St. Paul's best place for a Juicy Lucy and a popular burger stop

This was the first of a couple spots I hit up that have been featured on Diners, Drive In's and Dives and it was a cool little bar that had a big burger menu with a variety of types but we were there for Juicy Lucy's which they call Juicy Nookie's on the menu. Its one burger patty topped with a slab of cheese and then covered by another patty making the cheese inside rather than on top. They are very popular in Minny/St. Paul and The Nook is said to have one of the best.

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a Juicy Nookie aka a Juicy Lucy

The burger was fantastic as were the fresh cut fries that accompanied it. The kitchen space was tight and the place was packed with a wait around 6p and from my seat at the bar I could see the staff slaving away over burgers and putting potatoes thru the metal fry making machines seen at many Chicago hot dog stands. As good as this burger was (it was one of my friends on the trips favorite) it was only my fourth place finisher. However we ate alot of great burgers and this was definitely one of them. Even though I have only had one Juicy Lucy from the Twin Cities I'd be willing to bet its one of the better versions around because it was fantastic. The best part was the first bite and the cheese oozing out onto my fries turning them into cheese fries.

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The insides

Casper's and Runyon's Nook
492 Hamline Avenue South
St Paul, MN 55116-1613
(651) 698-4347
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#63
Posted August 14th 2010, 11:05am
Had a great meal at restaurant Alma, the food was incredible across the board.

Swiss Chard Souffle, pickled onion, smoked portabella, parmigiano

This dish really hit on all cylinders, the smokiness of the portabella was intents and nicely punctuated with the pickled onion.

Marinated Chickpeas & Squid, farro, rosemary soffrito, chili pepper

tender squid and surprising hit of heat.

Grilled Quail, fresh ricotta, roasted scallions, vin cotto

grilled meat and roasted scallions is a time tested winner with me.

Bucatini Pasta, fennel & garlic sauce, bottarga, breadcrumbs

I've never had bottarga like this, but it added a great dimension to the dish.

Gently Cooked Trout, king crab sauce, sauteed green tomatoes, summer beans

The trout was perfectly cooked and moist and the crab souce loaded with rich crab. As with everything else during the night the beans were fantastic and cooked just right.

Pan Roasted Beef Strip Loin, vegetable fricasse, thyme, black truffle dressing

Served to a perfect medium rarem the beef was great, but again the wonderful veggies and truffle dressing took it over the top, a great end to a great meal.

Minneapolis is a lucky to have this gen, i couldn't come back here without stopping back in.
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#64
Posted September 8th 2010, 10:59pm
A trip to drop off a brother at college led me back to Minnesota in late August. The timing is always impeccably lined up with none other than the Minnesota State Fair (not a coincidence—schools were traditionally required to start after the end of the fair. Lacking the in-your-face friedness of an Ohio, or an Iowa State Fair (really Minnesota? Deep-fried walleye was the best you could come up with?), there’s still quite a lot of value to visiting the fair.

The first thing that the fair impresses with is putting the state’s stamp on the fair. While the Ohio State Fair is very dear to my heart, I have to say that even though the fair sums up Ohio pretty well, there isn’t much to differentiate it from any other Midwest state fair, besides outrageous gimmicks like deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But around every corner is something typical Minnesota—lefse here, wild rice booth there, lingonberry everywhere. So it’s worth trying tastes of Minnesota native things—cheese curds, while more of a Wisconsin hallmark, won’t disappoint, as won’t the lefse (Norwegian crepe-like things, but a little heavier because they’re made of potato).

The agriculture building is a must stop, to chat with the apple experts and to try a variety or two (Minnesota was the birthplace of the genetic wonder that is the Honeycrisp apple). There is the blue ribbon vegetable room in the ag building, and other non money juicing activities to keep the family amused for at least a couple minutes.

There is one clear standout of the fair, from what I tasted, and that would be the lamb gyros, found at the Lamb Shoppe inside the Food Building. Seven bucks gets you a gyro made with fresh Minnesota state lamb (with the flavor a notch above you’re average gyro, complete with fresh cucumbers, lettuce, and tzatziki sauce. I guess if you’re looking to eat typical fair food it’s not your finest option, but in terms of best tasting dish as a standalone, this one would be heads above the rest.

Other hits at the fair included the fresh blackberry malt at the dairy building, the slightly dry but well-spiced tamales from the Midtown Global Market (a stand which showcased a different Minnesota restaurant every three days) , and all the milk you can drink (n.b, don’t follow with the big yellow slide). Harry Singh’s Caribbean served up a jerk chicken roti that didn’t quite work for me—something about the ratio of roti to chicken and the flavors weren’t where they should have been.

The hyped Sweet Martha’s cookies are good if you’re a fan of super soft and gooey chocolate chip cookies, but with sizes roughly coming in at small bucket (quart), medium bucket (2 quarts), and large bucket (3 quarts), a good plan is to find a nice group of old ladies who wanted to try them but can’t finish them because they come in such huge buckets. From my experience, the smooth, slick talk of a Chicagoan leaves no match for the never-ending effervescent “Minnesota Nice” that people seem to exude at the State Fair, and in no time, cookies will be yours.

So, the State Fair is easily worth a trip if you find yourself in the Twin Cities in late August-early September. If you do the free Park ‘n Ride, the fair will only cost you $9-11, depending on what the discount is that day. But it’s a really great example of how you can showcase fresh and local in the right way, and it will please both the more typical fair food loving and those more health conscious.
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#65
Posted September 9th 2010, 6:53am
The Honeycrisp apple was developed by the University of Minnesota's Landscape Arboretum in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. They have since launched two more varieties in the Zestar and Sweet Tango that you may be seeing more and more as trees mature. They all descend from an apple developed by Peter Gideon called the Wealthy. The Wealthy was developed on the land where my house sits. Peter Gideon owned it and it later became the Minnesota State Fruit Farm which later evolved into the Landscape Arboretum on land directly south of us. The significance of the Wealthy was it was the first apple tree that could survive the cold northern climates. When I first bought my property 35 years ago there was an ancient rather large and tangled Wealthy apple tree in our woods still producing apples. It since died.
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#66
Posted September 9th 2010, 9:25pm
The Minnesota State Fair is always an event. Even now decades after having left I still like to find an excuse to go visit the week or so before Labor Day. Last time we watched a cow judging contest: who knew the importance of the straightness of the back and "teat placement"?
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trpt2345
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#67
Posted September 13th 2010, 8:39pm
trpt2345 wrote:The Minnesota State Fair is always an event. Even now decades after having left I still like to find an excuse to go visit the week or so before Labor Day. Last time we watched a cow judging contest: who knew the importance of the straightness of the back and "teat placement"?


ANYONE WHO HAS HAD TO HOOK UP THE MILKERS TO THE UDDERS.
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#68
Posted September 15th 2010, 9:05am
Recently transplanted to Minneapolis from Chicago and yes, I've been to the fair. In MN, it's called the "great get-together" and they are not joking. It's a large fair with some pretty impressive food stuffs. Pronto Pups - freshly battered and fried corn dogs are always a hit but this year I had a great dessert - peach and coconut infused frozen yogurt parfait - from the Salty Tart booth (quick edit - I have to mention their cupcakes. I'm not he biggest fan of cupcakes but these were the best, hands-down, that I've ever had. They make a Surly Chocolate cup cake that looks like a hostess cup cake. Phenomenal. You can find them at the midtown market). Really good. I also had a really bad "Chicago style" hot dog made with a 1/4 lb all beef hot dog and dressed with brown mustard. I took two bites and threw it away (I just needed a little jolt of sport pepper and celery salt).

I've been here for about 6 weeks and been seeking out the food scene here. I can relay a few things that stand out.

First, farmer's markets. For a city this size, they have an impressive farmer's market scene. There is a nice mix of the heirloom growers (love the Cherokee Purple tomatoes) and more mainstream growers that keep the prices low. What will strike you first is the large number of Hmong farmers here. Some have signs stating they use no sprays or commercial pesticides (but doesn't say organic - which is fine by me). I suspect that many of their varieties are hardier hybrids that do well here. This may keep the prices down, which is always a good thing. Also, since the Twin Cities are pretty small and you can zip from one end of town to the other in about 15 minutes, I have the option to hit multiple markets on either weekend day (and some week days as well) - which I haven't had to do.

Second, food trucks. Minneapolis had laws much like Chicago as little as five years ago that prohibited anything but pre-packaged, pre-made, pre-dipped ice cream to be sold out of a mobile cart. Five years ago they changed the laws and there are a good 5-10 mobile food trucks, most run by restaurants or people associated with restaurants. The options?: lobster rolls, shredded turkey sandwiches (and turkey legs), ice cream, sandwiches, Ethiopian cuisine, BBQ, or Chef Shack's three food trucks selling their "list of grass-fed beef hot dogs and pulled pork sandwiches to biscuits and gravy and house-made charcuterie. Their fresh, handmade fare uses first-rate, natural ingredients, whether it's a spicy, bone-flecked goat meat stew or tacos stuffed with black beans, pickled cabbage, and pureed sweet potato."

Third, craft beer. There are only a few small breweries here now but that is changing. Surly is here and is everywhere and it's a good thing. Fulton Brewing has my new favorite beer - Sweet Child of Vine an IPA, and 612 Brewery has just opened shop in the warehouse district downtown. It's nice to find some good local brews to go with some of this good food.

Lake St - there's a growing Mexican population in Minneapolis and they are bringing the food. Nothing as rich as Chicago but there are a handful of decent taquerias on Lake St. that may be worth a stop.

Very (I mean, very) accessible restaurants. I would say that the fine dining or the newer trend of casual fine dining isn't as strong as a Chicago but it's really not a fair comparison. I've hit a couple of restaurants that I've liked and will report back as I hit more. The two that are worth seeking out are Haute Dish (maybe just for their pork and beans - made with rancho gordo beans and pork belly) and Piccolo, a small plate restaurant that focuses on high quality ingredients and a "fine dining" touch. Both are pretty good and reservations never seem like a problem.

What can't I find? A good Italian deli. BBQ that isn't slathered in sweet sauce. Still looking for a decent Chinese take-out, Thai take-out, or any decent take-out for that matter. Pizza is not great but there are some decent places that gives me my "fix."

I'll try to post more about what I find but if you have any questions, feel free to PM me. Cheers.
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"It's not that I'm on commission, it's just I've sifted through a lot of stuff and it's not worth filling up on the bland when the extraordinary is within equidistant tasting distance." - David Lebovitz
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#69
Posted September 15th 2010, 11:27am
What can't I find? A good Italian deli. BBQ that isn't slathered in sweet sauce. Still looking for a decent Chinese take-out, Thai take-out, or any decent take-out for that matter. Pizza is not great but there are some decent places that gives me my "fix."


Although I haven't been, I have heard several friends recommend Marino's Deli http://www.marinos-deli.com/
We have good takeout from Chiang Mai Thai http://www.chiangmaithai.com/
Pizza Luce has great thin crust pizza and now has several locations http://www.pizzaluce.com/.

Can't really recommend any good Chinese or BBQ.
If you are ever in Prior Lake, do check out the Edelweiss Bakery right on Main St in downtown PL. Some of the best desserts I have every had, great coconut macaroons, a delicious layer cake, I think it was called Opera cake, excellent cannoli. Their baguettes are supposed to be good as well, but they were sold out at the time we were there.

LO
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#70
Posted September 15th 2010, 12:27pm
LO wrote:
What can't I find? A good Italian deli. BBQ that isn't slathered in sweet sauce. Still looking for a decent Chinese take-out, Thai take-out, or any decent take-out for that matter. Pizza is not great but there are some decent places that gives me my "fix."


Although I haven't been, I have heard several friends recommend Marino's Deli http://www.marinos-deli.com/
We have good takeout from Chiang Mai Thai http://www.chiangmaithai.com/
Pizza Luce has great thin crust pizza and now has several locations http://www.pizzaluce.com/.

LO


Thanks for the recs, I'll check them out. I've had Pizza Luce but still looking for that perfect pizza, if you know what I mean. We like Lake Harriet Pizza, which reminds us a little of a typical Chicago thin crust - as long as we order "easy on the cheese." It's all about trial and error but I'll take a look at Marino's and Chiang Mai Thai. Thanks again.
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"It's not that I'm on commission, it's just I've sifted through a lot of stuff and it's not worth filling up on the bland when the extraordinary is within equidistant tasting distance." - David Lebovitz
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#71
Posted October 24th 2010, 12:34pm
Santander wrote:Ngon is a Vietnamese restaurant concept I'd covet for Chicago, a spacious, lofty rehab with great art, family chefs, and locally-sourced meats and produce, including some succulent Fischer Farms pork. Appetizers and soups/noodles are traditional; "big plates" are French (and Minnesota) influenced, including steak frites, elk medallions, and duck cassoulet. The shrimp-yam croquettes with fresh herbs and sauces were stellar, and I don't think I've had better lettuce wraps thanks to that grill-charred pork. The pho was irresistible on a 4 degree night, and tasted just as slowly and lovingly cooked as the menu promised, with ideal garniture, whole spices, and rare carpaccio-quality beef. This place was a steal, with most substantially-portioned dishes well under $10, and a full list of $5 brews from Surly, Summit, and Brau Brothers (the single batch Ring Neck Braun was a revelation, I thought about airmailing a sample to nr706 for analysis since we're not likely to get it here for a while).

http://www.ngonbistro.com/

(Cross-posted from Grub en route to Minnesota? thread):
We enjoyed Ngon Bistro. The restaurant is on a corner in an old building with apartments on top and a back patio that must be great in warmer weather. In a way it reminded us of Tre Kronor, although Ngon is much bigger inside, with high ceilings and crown molding. The place was, sadly, awfully empty on a Thursday evening and also awfully dark. It was actually hard to see what we were eating, and reading the menu with our middle-aged eyes required using the battery-operated “candles” on the tables as little inadequate flashlights. But the food was good! The charcuterie plate, with elk sausage and duck confit, diced pickled beets, and pickled daikon, was very good, as was the rabbit crispy dumpling in curry sauce, a large puff pastry roll filled with tasty rabbit and veggies. For mains, we each had soup. My pho with oxtail had nice pieces of oxtail and was good but not great; I found the taste just a bit flat. Cabbagehead’s Hu Tieu (pork broth soup) was excellent, and he was a happy man. A pleasant Vietnamese coffee completed our meal.

We loved Casper’s and Runyon’s Nook, recommended by Tyrus in this thread and elsewhere, for our first Juicy Lucys. We loved this place and the burgers. The Nook is a small bar that was packing them in on a Friday night—college kids, families of three generations, and everyone in between. Nice beer selection on tap and the burgers are really outstanding. Husband and son each had a Juicy Lucy, and I had a blue cheese and mushroom burger; Cabbagehead had the Winter Ale from local brewery Summit, dark, caramel-brown and tasty, I had a Leinie Honeyweiss with lemon, and No.1 Son had 1900 Root Beer, all on tap. The fries were outstanding, thin and crisp with a bit of skin, and the onion rings and sweet potato fries were also very good. The “Leprechaun Legs” appetizer, deep-fried fresh green beans, was surprisingly good and provided something green in our dinner. Very reasonable prices, nice people, and excellent food. Great recommendation, thanks!
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#72
Posted November 8th 2010, 12:34pm
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"The life of a repo man is always intense."
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#73
Posted December 1st 2010, 4:22pm
Rene G wrote:
chezbrad wrote:(VI, The name of the Somali place is "Safari", though I think you went to "Safari Express.")

I don't think VI went to Safari Express (or Safari) but I did. If you look at his post in another thread you'll see that the restaurant he went to is (was?) across the street from Midtown Global Market. Safari Express is in the Market.

The restaurant in question is Hamdi, on Lake between Chicago & Elliot.

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That's Midtown Global Market at the right (to the east, across Elliot Av). From a recent stroll down Lake Street, it looks like Ibrahim is the Somali restaurant that's really packing 'em in.

For what it's worth, the special at Safari Express a few weeks ago was camel burgers (with fries, $7.99). Camel meat doesn't seem too hard to find in Minneapolis.

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Hamdi Restaurant
818 E Lake St
Minneapolis MN
612-823-9660

Ibrahim Restaurant
1202 E Lake St
Minneapolis MN
612-721-4450

Safari Express
Midtown Global Market #134
920 E Lake St
Minneapolis MN
612-874-0756
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#74
Posted December 18th 2010, 9:11pm
Tyrus,

I've been here for 2 years after being in uptown(chicago) for 7. It's a bit of a re-adjustment, but there is hope. RE: LO's reco's, chiang mai is abysmal ameri-thai. Thai is rough up here, just not the authentic stuff like at spoon and tac quick. Bangkok Thai Deli will get as close as you can, on university ave in st. paul.

Pizza Luce sucks. If hard pressed for thin crust, I go Red's Savoy. They have a couple locations, but the downtown st paul is the original and best. There is some decent neapolitan style, being Pizzaria Nea, Black Sheep(coal fired) and Punch(wood fired) There is a great newcomer in southwest minneapolis called Pizzeria Lola, with a beautiful Le Panyol woodfired oven. Broders is the closest NY style I have found.

The Nook just had a devastating fire, so they will be gone for a few months, but Blue Door Pub, and Matt's bar on cedar are adequate replacements.

Chinese, there is some decent sichuan in mpls and st. paul. The Tea House restaurants are pretty authentic, but don't expect the depth of lao szechuan or the price. Little Szechuan in st. paul and Szecuan Spice in uptown are both miles ahead of the rest of the roster of neighborhood chinese.

I really like the vietnamese options for shopping and pho, both university ave in st paul and nicollet(eat street) in minneapolis.

the farm to table movement here is more developed than in chicago, with more producers in proximity than we had there. Alma, Heartland, are front runners in that category. Travail amusements and eatery in robbinsdale is definetly a good spot. Young chefs letting it hang out. Closest I've found to Mike Carlson at Schwa in mn. HIgh end is lacking, but I would be hard pressed to open high end here. Bar la grassa will fix your pasta itch...
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He was night putting, Danny. Just putting at night
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#75
Posted December 24th 2010, 10:32am
Shamrocks on 7th Street in St. Paul is the same ownership and menu as the Nook.
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#76
Posted December 29th 2010, 1:14pm
Mitch Cumstein wrote:Tyrus,

I've been here for 2 years after being in uptown(chicago) for 7. It's a bit of a re-adjustment, but there is hope. RE: LO's reco's, chiang mai is abysmal ameri-thai. Thai is rough up here, just not the authentic stuff like at spoon and tac quick. Bangkok Thai Deli will get as close as you can, on university ave in st. paul.

Pizza Luce sucks. If hard pressed for thin crust, I go Red's Savoy. They have a couple locations, but the downtown st paul is the original and best. There is some decent neapolitan style, being Pizzaria Nea, Black Sheep(coal fired) and Punch(wood fired) There is a great newcomer in southwest minneapolis called Pizzeria Lola, with a beautiful Le Panyol woodfired oven. Broders is the closest NY style I have found.

The Nook just had a devastating fire, so they will be gone for a few months, but Blue Door Pub, and Matt's bar on cedar are adequate replacements.

Chinese, there is some decent sichuan in mpls and st. paul. The Tea House restaurants are pretty authentic, but don't expect the depth of lao szechuan or the price. Little Szechuan in st. paul and Szecuan Spice in uptown are both miles ahead of the rest of the roster of neighborhood chinese.

I really like the vietnamese options for shopping and pho, both university ave in st paul and nicollet(eat street) in minneapolis.

the farm to table movement here is more developed than in chicago, with more producers in proximity than we had there. Alma, Heartland, are front runners in that category. Travail amusements and eatery in robbinsdale is definetly a good spot. Young chefs letting it hang out. Closest I've found to Mike Carlson at Schwa in mn. HIgh end is lacking, but I would be hard pressed to open high end here. Bar la grassa will fix your pasta itch...


Thanks for the recs - sorry this is a bit late. It's been a while since I've posted my experiences in the Twin Cities but over the past few months, I've been able to try a few more places. I've been to Heartland and was pretty underwhelmed. I thought the food as pretty good but the prices were high for what we got. In comparison, a Chicago place like the Bristol or the "old" Mado blow this place out of the water, food wise. It's a very nice space though. I also hit Cosmos and although liked the food, the service was terrible. The waitstaff, although nice enough, didn't know a thing about the dishes and the whole night seemed a little "off." I had a nice meal at 112 Eatery as well. I have Bar LaGrassa on my radar (seems to be a tough reservation for some reason), as well as the new Heidi's, Blackbird, and Alma.

For Thai, I've been hitting Joy Pataya's in South Minneapolis (71st? and Lyndale). It's decent but not great. Szcehuan Spice is pretty good and relatively close to home so takeout is fine. I haven't been to Pizzeria Lola yet but I'm looking forward to that. Don't get me started on Broder's. They're easily 40-50% more expensive than they should be.

Thanks again for the other recs. I'll be checking them out as I settle in here. Overall, it seems that LTH has done as good or better job on recs than most of the Twin Cities publications. Cheers.

-Russ
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"It's not that I'm on commission, it's just I've sifted through a lot of stuff and it's not worth filling up on the bland when the extraordinary is within equidistant tasting distance." - David Lebovitz
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#77
Posted January 5th 2011, 12:48pm
We had a few hits and one miss visiting family in MN over winter break.
Hits - Gyros at Yafa Grill, in Columbia Heights 42nd and Central. 4.99 gets you a tasty gyro- garlicky juicy meat, with onions, tomato and crispy lettuce and a wonderful tangy yogurt sauce. Included is a can of pop and ok fries. Not necessarily a destination place but if you are in the area its a great deal and I think it's much better than Holy Land Bakery on Central.
We really enjoyed the Red Stag Supper Club, redstagsupperclub.com 509 1st ave, NE, not far from Surdyk's and Kramerczyk's. Atmosphere is cozy, lots of wood, beer can collection behind the bar. We started with the cheese curds, which were light on the outside, not greasy, nice and gooey. I had the flatiron steak with buttermilk mashed potatoes and sauteed kale. It was cooked perfectly medium rare, juicy and beefy. Mashed potatoes were also wonderful, not too creamy but pleasantly rich. Kale was terrific as well. Our friends raved about the lamb, and the stewed leeks. They support local and organic providers, I believe the steak was local and grassfed. I definitely would go back. They had a decent wine and beer selection as well.
Biggest hit was Surly Furious, I just love that beer. It's available on tap in a few places in Chicago, Poor Phil's in Oak Park has it sometimes. We drank several of the 4 pack tall boys over the week.
Miss - Red Sea Ethiopian. 320 Cedar, U of MN west bank. Matt's was closed Christmas eve so we went to Red Sea. Not good at all. Ordered the lentil sambusas, received the beef, no big deal kids still ate them. We ordered the veggie combo, which on the menu sounded like you get 8 of the veggie dishes. We received 5 of them, 2 were the same red lentil dish. The potato/carrot/Dinish Alicha dish was slimy, almost inedible. The Yatkilt Watt, string bean dish tasted like canned beans. The Quosta, spinach dish was bland. The split peas were ok, they had some garlic and ginger taste. The injera at least was pretty good but overall I would not go back here. We have had better meals at Blue Nile 2027 Franklin.
LO
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#78
Posted January 8th 2011, 10:43pm
I'm going to be working up in the Minneapolis area for a client out in the Edina/Hopkins area starting Monday. I'll be there Monday-Thursday for the forseeable future, but won't have my own car (I'll be sharing with one other).

Any 'must-go-to' places, especially with an eye to convincing other non-LTH'ers that they should go as well?
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#79
Posted January 10th 2011, 10:39am
bjackson wrote:I'm going to be working up in the Minneapolis area for a client out in the Edina/Hopkins area starting Monday. I'll be there Monday-Thursday for the forseeable future, but won't have my own car (I'll be sharing with one other).

Any 'must-go-to' places, especially with an eye to convincing other non-LTH'ers that they should go as well?


I think that you'll need that car if you'll be "living" in Edina/Hopkins all week. Those are two near suburbs and like most suburbs, you'll see mostly chains.

If you're looking for a real solid burger (grilled onions are great), shake, and fresh-cut fries, I would check out the Convention Grill in Edina. It's on the east side of Edina, so you'll need that car. One thing you'll notice is that it only takes about 15 minutes to get across town (especially with no traffic). A place that I feel is worth a visit for dinner is Piccolo in South Minneapolis, on Bryant. So far, its been the best meal since I've moved here about 5 months ago. Small plates, decent wine list, casual enough. Small place, so grab a reservation.

I think "mitch cumstein" had a few great references in his post a few weeks ago. I'm anxious to try Pizzeria Lola and that's not too far from Edina either - but you'll still need that car.

Anyway, let us know if you have any other questions. If I think of some more spots in Edina/Hopkins, I'll list them here.
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"It's not that I'm on commission, it's just I've sifted through a lot of stuff and it's not worth filling up on the bland when the extraordinary is within equidistant tasting distance." - David Lebovitz
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#80
Posted January 17th 2011, 4:38pm
Generations of Minneapolitans have admired the Grain Belt sign as they crossed the Hennepin Avenue Bridge from downtown to the Northeast (or Nordeast, depending on one's accent).

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And generations have quenched their thirst with a Belt or two. Grain Belt was brewed in Minneapolis, about a mile upriver of the famous sign, from the 1890s until the mid-1970s when Heileman bought the brand and closed the landmark brewery. These days Grain Belt is brewed by August Schell in New Ulm. The old brewery still stands and most of the buildings have been renovated, housing a public library, a large architectural firm, artists' studios and miscellaneous small businesses. Some of the restoration is quite spectacular and one can spend a pleasant hour or two wandering around the site (but most interiors are off limits to the casual visitor).

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I tried my first Grain Belt at Dusty's, an old tavern across the street from the brewery.

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Some of the brewery's buildings can be seen reflected in Dusty's windows. Grain Belt Premium is a middling example of an American adjunct lager, with a disturbing sweetness and very little hops presence. It may be a "friendly beer" but it's not a very good one. The new Grain Belt Nordeast, introduced in 2010, is slightly more palatable, its sweetness fitting somewhat better with the darker malt profile. I had no high expectations of Grain Belt but needed to try it out a sense of duty. I didn't leave Minneapolis without drinking some good brews however.

tyrus wrote:There are only a few small breweries here now but that is changing. Surly is here and is everywhere and it's a good thing. Fulton Brewing has my new favorite beer - Sweet Child of Vine an IPA, and 612 Brewery has just opened shop in the warehouse district downtown.

Surly is surely one of the bright spots in the local brewing scene. I especially enjoyed a glass of Surly Wet at Nomad World Pub. I've been trying a bunch of wet-hopped beers recently and this was perhaps the best. Surly's tendency toward overhopping is entirely appropriate for this style. I also enjoyed a Sweet Child of Vine at the downtown Pizza Luce. I never was able to find 612Brew or whatever the name is. Anyone know where it's located?

The most interesting brewery in Minneapolis doesn't make beer. Uptown's moto-i claims to be the only sake brewery/restaurant outside Japan.

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Brewing is done on the premises in an unbelievably tiny room glassed off from a lounge area. They offer up to eight sakes on tap but only three were available during my visits. I especially enjoyed their junmai gingo yamahai nama. If bananas grew underground they might taste like this.

A few blocks south of moto-i is a beautifully preserved White Castle from 1936. It now houses a combination jewelry store and accordion shop.

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While in the Twin Cities I had a few burgers but no sliders. My first stop was Matt's, an old tavern often credited with popularizing the Jucy Lucy, a burger with cheese encased in the center. These creations have been getting an awful lot of publicity recently, probably more than they ought to.

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Matt's seems to evoke strong opinions, mostly positive but many negative. I liked Matt's a lot, both food and atmosphere. It wasn't very crowded when I was there—mid afternoon on a weekday—so that probably helped a good deal. The place probably looses much of its charm when packed to the gills. I had a prime ringside seat so was able to watch many Jucy Lucys being made. It's obvious there's an art to cooking these things. As the cheese-stuffed patties sizzle on the well-seasoned griddle they shrink in diameter but increase in thickness. After flipping they swell even more so the cook jabs them with a knife to prevent rupture.

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During the all-important cool down period I hungrily stared at my burger. I sat mesmerized as the Jucy Lucy oozed molten cheese through its blowhole. After an excruciating wait it was time to eat. The burger pretty much lived up to the hype and certainly exceeded my expectations. It's a beautiful variation on the classic griddled tavern burger theme: well-seared outside, juicy interior, great griddled onions. I was fearing a gloppy monstrosity but got a well balanced burger.

Next I tried The Nook in St Paul. Their Juicy Nookie is more what I expected from a Juicy Lucy.

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I didn't particularly enjoy the massive quantity of molten cheese but I guess I understand its appeal. I have a feeling I'd enjoy one of their regular burgers a lot more. Sadly, The Nook suffered a serious fire in December and hasn't reopened yet.

Finally I hit Blue Door Pub for their signature burger—the Juicy Blucy.

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This is another well-made burger but I simply didn't care for the combination of blue cheese and too much minced garlic (from a jar it seemed). Again, I have a feeling I'd much prefer a simple hamburger from this place. Things are really getting out of hand in the Juicy Lucy world. Have a look at this highly questionable offering at the Blue Door. Has anyone noticed that the Twin Cities seem inordinately fond of pepper jack cheese?

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By many accounts, these are the top three JLs in the Twins. I was surprised how different they are and surprised how much I enjoyed Matt's version.

The Ju(i)cy Lucy isn't the only distinctive local sandwich. Dusty's is but one of many taverns and restaurants serving the unfortunately named Italian sausage specialty.

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It's actually a very good sandwich—at least Dusty's version is—not unlike the Freddy of Chicago's southwest side. Dusty's makes their own Italian sausage patties and the roasted red peppers are terrific. Their homemade soup and potato salad are top notch too. Dusty's is a great old blue collar tavern with excellent food.

Minneapolis has several Somali malls serving the Twin Cities' large East African population. I visited three and found Suuqa Karmel to be the most interesting.

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It occupies several sizable buildings (don't miss the big one north of the parking lot), each one mostly divided into small stalls. Every business seems to be Somali owned—tailors, clothing and fabric shops, barbers, money wire services, record shops and of course food vendors. Like the Hmong malls, it's like slipping into another culture.

From several restaurants, I chose the one in the south building (I'm not sure if it has a formal name). At the suggestion of one of the security guards I chose a plate of goat and a side of spaghetti. It was served with a salad with Kraft French dressing, a pitcher of mango juice and the obligatory banana. A classic Somali-Minnesotan meal.

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The goat was plain but tasty and a squirt of the green hot sauce really livened it up. I was pleasantly surprised by the pasta—properly cooked and not oversauced. An absurd amount of food for, I think, eight dollars.

In addition to the restaurants Suuqa Karmel has several snack shops scattered around. Calami Coffee is typical.

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A pair of bajiya (black-eyed pea fritters), nafaqo (potato and egg fritter) and a double espresso made an awfully nice breakfast for $3.

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I also picked up some snacks for the ride home, including sort of a Somali egg roll stuffed with delicious curry-flavored chicken.

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Also a pair of sambusas, one meat, one fish. Flaked dried fish mixed with onions and red chili makes an outstanding filling.

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As I mentioned there are other similar Somali malls. Another big one is Somali Community Mall, about a mile north of Suuqa Karmel. I wanted to visit but didn't have time. I did stop in a couple smaller ones in the West Bank neighborhood—Kaambo Market (also known as African International Mall; right at the Cedar-Riverside light rail stop) and Al-Karama Somali Mall
(across from The Wienery). Both these are interesting but more limited. I'd really recommend one of the big ones for the full-immersion experience and wider food choices. There's nothing like these Somali (not to mention Hmong) malls in Chicago.

Grain Belt Brewery
Marshall St NE & 13th Av NE
Minneapolis MN

Dusty's Bar
1319 Marshall St NE
Minneapolis MN
612-378-2118

Nomad World Pub
501 Cedar Av S
Minneapolis MN
612-338-6424

Pizza Luce
119 N 4th St
Minneapolis MN
612-333-7359

moto-i
2940 Lyndale Av S
Minneapolis MN
612-821-6262

Castle Accordion
3252 Lyndale Av S
Minneapolis MN
612-821-8766

Matt's Bar
3500 Cedar Av S
Minneapolis MN
612-722-7072

The Nook (closed due to fire)
492 Hamline Ave S
St Paul MN
651-698-4347

Blue Door
1811 Selby Ave
St Paul MN
651-493-1865

Suuqa Karmel
2944 Pillsbury Av S
Minneapolis MN

Somali Community Mall
912 E 24th St
Minneapolis MN

Kaambo Market (African International Mall)
620 16th Av S
Minneapolis MN

Al-Karama Somali Mall
420 Cedar Av S
Minneapolis MN
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#81
Posted January 28th 2011, 12:17am
I had a remarkable halal pizza in the Twin Cities over the holidays:

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Crescent Moon Bakery has been around since 2000 serving delicious Afghani food and baking naan that goes to many other restaurants and markets around town. Their signature "football" pizza (a traditional shape, but with considerable resonance in Viking Country and certainly pitched as such) features chunks of tender cilantro-laced beef, a sweet tomato sauce, mozzarella, and sauteed peppers and onions, on an excellent elastic, bubbly crust. It is cut into thin strips for dipping into the provided green chutney, which is quite hot and fragrant. We also shared an Afghani sampler with kebabs, rices, halal gyros, and vegetables that was simple yet right on. This main location is expansive and comfortable, with coolers full of inexpensive frozen pizzas, breads, and vegetable pies in the walk-in area and then a warmly-lit dining room with comfy booths to one side (there is also a large banquet room upstairs).

Crescent Moon
2339 Central Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
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#82
Posted April 13th 2011, 8:31pm
We went up to the Twin Cities with another couple for the Frozen Four this past weekend. We have never been, and we were pleasantly surprised by all the interesting food options that we found in our research preparing for the trip. On Thursday night after the games, we went to Blue Door Pub. It was packed for a weeknight! After ordering drinks while waiting for a table, it became even more crowded and obnoxious, which made us anxious to place our order to go. As we waited for our food, a table opened up and our food was immediately delivered. My husband and friend had the Blucy Lucy (bleu cheese and garlic), while I ordered the Cajun Lucy (pepperjack cheese and diced jalapenos). I loved the kick on mine, but had wished that there were jalapenos and cheese in every bite. My burger was cooked a bit past medium and did not require any additional condiments. We also opted for an order of Spam Bites, which were touted as a Minnesota Must. The Spam Bites were cream cheese balls with a few pieces of diced spam and pickles served with a chili sweet & sour type sauce. The basket came with 6 for the three of us, but it would've been better if we could have only had one per person. The cream cheese ratio to the other ingredients was overwhelming. I couldn't even detect the spam! The bites were perfectly fried rounded balls and nicely breaded.
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On Friday, we had a late start and opted for an early lunch at Brasa. My husband and I split the pork sandwich and the beef sandwich. The pork sandwich was delicious! The pickled red onions and thinly sliced cucumbers were the perfect condiment for the juicy, slow roasted pork. The braised beef sandwich was topped with fried onions, cheddar and barbeque sauce. Thankfully, they are light handed on the sauce, but the pork sandwich was the better of the two. The ciabatta bread was a highlight and complemented the sandwiches perfectly. The creamed spinach on the side was tasty and not overly creamy.
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In the afternoon, we stopped by Midtown Global Market before our late dinner reservations. We split the mahi mahi tacos at La Sirena Gorda, the oaxacan tamale at La Loma and a Surly Cupcake at Salty Tart. The grilled mahi mahi is marinated in adobo and served with pineapple chunks. The marinade and pineapple overpowered the delicate fish. The tamale was huge and quite spicy with and without the additional hot sauce. The Surly Cupcake was a huge disappointment. When I ordered the cupcake, we were asked if it was to go or for here. I said for here, and she proceeded to plate it for me. After paying, she tells me that b/c the cupcake has been in the refrigerator, it is best if we let it come to room temperature b/c the frosting is hard. WTH? 1) You couldn't have advised me when asking me if I wanted it for here or to go? 2) Why don't you just put some cupcakes outside of the case for those that want to eat it right away? Being eco-conscious, I didn't want to waste both a plate and a plastic bakery shell so we ate the cupcake. How cold, hard or bad could be? (I've eaten cold leftover cake that I have baked plenty of times. My cake always retained its moistness, and the frosting was always still delicious.) Wow, I was so wrong. The Surly cupcake's frosting was harder than a candy bar, and the cake was hard and dry. This was easily the worst cupcake I have ever eaten. After visiting Lexington Market, St Lawrence Market, and Queen Victoria Market, and being spoiled with Mexican food in Chicago, I was disappointed with Midtown.
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For dinner that evening, we had reservations at 112 Eatery. While browsing the menu, we enjoyed olives and roasted almonds in addition to bread service. The almonds were very addictive - buttery, smoky and peppery. I ordered the sweet and sour crab salad, which is probably best described as being similar to what you might find in a Vietnamese spring roll. The ingredients were fresh, and the crabmeat was plentiful. I then had the pan seared gnocchi, which was a new preparation for me. I really enjoyed the contrasting crispiness to the pillowy texture. My husband ordered the halibut, which was seared to perfection and served with fingerling potatos and garnished with chorizo. I also sampled a bit of my friend's stringozzi with lamb sugo, which was packed with flavor. As we neared the end of dinner service, John Legend and Christy Teigen came in for a late dinner. This was my second sighting of the celebrity couple in 16 months! According to her twitter profile, Christy is a foodie.

After dinner, we went onto Nye's Polonaise. The boys enjoyed some local and Polish beers. They also ordered the cappucino chocolate cheesecake and vanilla cheesecake. I do not recommend them at all. They were horribly dry and tastelss. Hmm....0 for 2 on the dessert department so far!

On Saturday morning, we had reservations for brunch at Hell's Kitchen. We started off with the toasted sausage bread, but I did not detect any sizeable pieces of sausage. There was a subtle hint of sausage, but the dried fruit and nuts dominated the texture. I opted for a cup of the Mahnomin porridge, which exceeded my expectations. I was expecting something cloyingly sweet and rich, instead, it was quite the opposite! The craisins, fresh blueberries and hazelnuts complimented each other well. The cream was more like warm 2% milk, and the maple syrup as a sweetener was subtle.

Prior to the game, we hit up Tavern on Grand for their walleye sandwiches. The blackened walleye was nicely seasoned and fresh tasting, and the roll had the perfect crust. The Summit Maibock was one of my husband's favorite local beers of the weekend.

After the final game, we returned to the Warehouse district for pizza from Black Sheep Coal Fired pizza. We ordered a house salad and a large pizza topped with hot salami & dried chili peppers. The crust had a nice char and the right amount of chew to it. The salami was spiced nicely and tasted very porky. I think the pizza could've used a little more sauce.

To end the trip, my friend made brunch reservations at Lucia's. I would've preferred to go our separate ways so we could try Blackbird, but I decided to be a good sport and go along w/the group. The menu was very limited, and being that this would be my only meal of the day until we returned home, I opted for the chicken and pepper burger while my husband ordered the cumin spiced pork shoulder with black beans and eggs. The chicken burger and bun were very thick, but it had a nice red pepper mayonnaise as a condiment. My husband's meal was nothing to write home about. I ordered a popover, and it was more cylindrical in shape than a true popover shape. It was fine.

I regret not getting to Crescent Moon Pizza, Blackbird Cafe and the Hmong marketplace. Definitely on the list for future visits to Minneapolis.
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#83
Posted May 5th 2011, 4:52pm
Great new BBQ place in Bayport, MN. Opened fall 2010.

http://www.bayportbbq.com/

Bayport is about 6 miles north of 94, east of the metro area. If you are looking for good Q and a brew this is he place for you.
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#84
Posted May 5th 2011, 8:28pm
Rene G wrote:Sadly, The Nook suffered a serious fire in December and hasn't reopened yet.

Nearly six months after the fire, Casper and Runyon's Nook in St Paul reopened today. See article in the StarTribune: Old Nook has New Look.
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#85
Posted May 8th 2011, 10:31am
Nice piece in the NYT travel section on bakeries in the Twin Cities:

http://tinyurl.com/42pjao6
_______________________________________

"Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." Leo Durocher
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#86
Posted May 9th 2011, 4:53pm
Ursiform wrote:Nice piece in the NYT travel section on bakeries in the Twin Cities:

http://tinyurl.com/42pjao6


Thanks for posting this. I stopped into the Midtown Market a few weeks ago and picked up a Surly Cupcake from the Salty Tart...very very good!
_______________________________________

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#87
Posted August 31st 2011, 8:27pm
Going there for a weekend coming up.
Any general suggestions on places to eat in addition to those in thread would be appreciated (ie new places that may have popped up within the last year.
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#88
Posted August 31st 2011, 10:33pm
Schad wrote:Going there for a weekend coming up.
Any general suggestions on places to eat in addition to those in thread would be appreciated (ie new places that may have popped up within the last year.


I recently visited and can highly recommend:

Black Sheep Pizza - http://blacksheeppizza.com/

Pizzeria Nea - http://www.pizzanea.com/

Masu Sushi and Robata - http://www.masusushiandrobata.com/

Brasa Rotisserie - http://www.brasa.us/ (some discussion upthread)

Full reviews and pictures coming soon.
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#89
Posted September 1st 2011, 8:41am
I'm in Minneapolis this week (first visit in over 10 years, but will be back many times over the next few months)...

I had an excellent meal at a relatively new place called The Bachelor Farmer. It has a similar vibe as The Bristol, but the food has a Scandinavian twist. A few highlights from our meal: meatballs with lingonberries, grilled lamb sausage with lefse, poached eggs with Sauce Choron, the warm Camembert app (forgetting the embellishments, peas and garlic maybe?, but it was great) and the blackberry tart with almond cream.

There's a very attractive bar below the restaurant called Marvel Bar (exit the restaurant, walk down the sidewalk and around the corner, enter an unmarked door and walk through a stark corridor looking very much like a restaurant basement before finding the rather opulent room). They seem to be trying to implement a lot of Japanese influenced techniques and ingredients. It feels like it has a ton of potential, but my experience was jaded by 1) being charged $12 for a 3/4 oz pour of Fernet and 2) the specialty drink I'd ordered previously tasting essentially like tequila and lime juice (according to the menu, there was supposed to be Green Chartreuse as well as coconut and horseradish flavors). When questioned on the accuracy of the tab, the bartender apologized for the hefty charge on the Fernet (but not the minuscule pour), and said that management prohibits any adjustments.

The Bachelor Farmer & Marvel Bar
50 North 2nd Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Much better drinks (and service) were found at Bradstreet Crafthouse (as I would expect from an Alchemy Consulting project, the folks behind the Violet Hour, etc.). I enjoyed several drinks, the bartenders solicited feedback and happily accepted special requests. They were also ready to adjust/replace drinks that weren't well received (thankfully, everything I tried was well crafted and on point).

Bradstreet Crafthouse
601 North 1st Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(in the Graves Hotel)

I had heard a lot about the Vietnamese food here and look forward to trying as many options as I can. Quang was the only place I made it to this week (though Trang Nam is high on my list of places for lunch in the future). I ordered the Nem Nuong Cuon (Spring rolls made with grilled sausage), but I received Bi Cuon (Spring rolls with shredded pork and pork skin). They appeared to have been pre-made and sitting around for awhile. The rice paper skins were thick and chewy, the vegetable contents sad. The accompanying sauce was like nothing I'd ever seen in a Vietnamese restaurant. It had a milky appearance & consistency and a distinct lack of flavor. I made up a paste of Sriracha and fish sauce from the condiments on the table, which was serviceable. I was also disappointed by my Vietnamese iced coffee. It was also apparently pre-made, served in a plastic cup with a peel-off plastic seal on top. They do a swift take-out business and must need to have a lot of these in supply, but the quality was definitely lacking here as a result.

However, things really turned around when I saw their Pho Thap Cam (Beef noodle soup with sliced beef, tendon, brisket, tripe & meatballs). The broth was crystal clear, both noodles and various beef cuts were present in great quantity and while the garnish tray was perhaps not as ample/diverse as someplace like Tank, everything I needed was there. The broth had a very clean, beefy flavor, every bit the equal of the best pho I've had in Chicago. The beef, the tripe and tendon in particular, was just about perfect. I don't really remember anything in particular about the noodles, which I would assume means they were good but not great. I'll be back for the pho, but remain skeptical about the app/bev choices.

Quang Restaurant
2719 South Nicollet Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55408
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#90
Posted September 1st 2011, 10:11am
I've been working in Minneapolis since January, so I can echo a lot of what has been said on here. This month I'm working out of Kansas, but will be back in October.

Bradstreet Crafthouse turns out some really great cocktails. It's not quite at the level of the Violet Hour, especially when I've asked for a riff/etc, but still really nice. Also, I've found, if I strike up a good conversation with the bartender I can walk out of there without being charged very much at all. My first time I was charged 14 dollars for 2 drinks, 3 rum samples, and a sample cocktail. I ended up tipping well over what I was charged.

Quangs is very good Vietnamese, but for pho, my pick goes to a place down the street Pho Tau Bay. I love their spring rolls and the pho with tripe, meatball and flank.

Hell's Kitchen is a great way to spend a night. Where else can you listen to live music, eat great breakfast food and have a beer at 6pm? Had a great one two punch starting there and ending at the Bradstreet one night.

Lucia's Winebar in Uptown turns out some really nice upscale food. I wasn't impressed by my dessert, but my gnocchi and soup were great, as was the wine.

Midtown Global Market is a really fun place to go. I stayed at the Sheraton Midtown a few nights which is right next door to it. Really really great Mexican food, and sweets.

Some of the upper end dining, Brasa, and 112 Eatery... I'd rather just eat expensively in Chicago, but for what they are (and especially if you are on an expense account) are very good for Minneapolis, IMO.

I realize these are very broad characterizations of each place. I haven't visited them very often except Pho Tau Bay and Bradstreet. To be honest, I eat at the chipotle/potbellys/noodles and co/panera more than any of them. It's a very sad situation, but they are very convenient and palatable.
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