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Oct 4, 2006 06:18 AM

Twin Cities: Looking for real good American food

I read in the Strib that A Rebours co-owner Doug Anderson is planning a new restaurant for which he promises an American classics menu "with no trace of irony," featuring roast chicken, chopped liver, potato pancakes, and more (but "no Ahi tuna").

After I stopped laughing, I started wondering... Where can I go right now for good, un-ironic American food, especially for lunch and dinner?

I don't want burger joints, pizza, or palaces of short-order, high-fat cooking. Or cookie-cutter restaurants with chain-like food. And I'm not looking for upscale gourmet (much as I love them, Alma's and 112 Eatery don't fit the bill for this quest).

Basically, I'm looking for something better than Key's and less fancy than Jax.



P.S. Here's a link to the aforementioned Strib article:

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  1. I was going to say Jax.....until I got to that point in your post.

    How about the town talk diner? I have not personally made it there yet.

    I'm still thinking......

    and thanks a lot - now you have me thinking of Alma.

    1 Reply
    1. re: St Paul Susie

      Isn't Alma wonderful? If I were independently weathly, I think I'd eat there every day. (My problem is that I always order three courses with wine, which adds up...)

      And yes, Jax is great, and completely un-ironic. I took a visiting friend there last week - a midwestern meat-and-potatoes guy - and he was delighted. Me, I had the pan-fried trout, which was truly amazing; fish lovers - check out Jax for trout!

      I haven't been to the Town Talk Diner yet; I worry that there's too much irony (aka upscale trendy food) on the menu. I mean, I ask you - booze in the malts?!?!?!? But really, it's just that I've heard that the place is too noisy for conversation. That's ironic.


    2. One resto that comes to mind is The Monte Carlo - dishes like pork chops, chopped liver, potato salad, and I don't recall ever seeing seared ahi on their menu (even Murray's has seared ahi... so sad).

      Nye's also has American as well as Polish on their menu. Again, no seared ahi.

      Speaking of which, when did people forget how to cook tuna? (but that's another rant for the general topics board)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Loren3

        I've never been to the Monte Carlo - I must check it out. Is it a "dress-up" place? (I have to plan ahead if I'm going to dress up.)

        Nye's? Hmmmm.... My in-laws had a birthday dinner there, years ago, and the food was terrible. The drinks were great, but not great enough to make up for the bad food. Is it better these days? Or is the booze and the retro atmosphere the main draw?

        Me, I love tuna - especially when it's cooked well. (I agree, that's increasingly hard to find.) A restaurant that reliably cooks fish is a treasure - but that's a separate post...


      2. How about The Craftsman?

        Or the Modern Cafe in NE Minneapolis?

        I do like Town Talk Diner quite a bit.

        The Chatterbox Pub is good as well.

        I've heard excellent things about The Corner Table, though I haven't been there yet.

        The Longfellow Grill (as well as the Edina Grill and Highland Grill, all the same owner) is pretty decent.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Mill City Modern

          Chatterbox Pub, while comfortable and kid-friendly is 0 for 3 for us on food. We always get something that sounds good but the execution is sorely lacking: inferno burger not spicy and not very tasty, french dip overly precious (ciabatta?!) and also not very good, breakfast mediocre at best. Plus we always feel weighted down afterwards.
          What about The Modern? Or is that ironic?

          1. re: AliceS

            Concur with your assessment of Chatterbox Pub. They don't know when to stop. Everything is just. too. much. Way overdone.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I've only been to the Chatterbox a couple of times, but I thought it was just fine. Then again, I do tend to order simpler fare, staying away from anything that requires a paragraph long description.

              1. re: Mill City Modern

                Well, that must limit you to the frickles at Chatterbox, then. :) I'm very intrigued by the frickles there. I'm not sure whether I like them or not. Mostly, I find them very curious. Who would think to deep fry pickles?


                1. re: Mill City Modern

                  I didn't think "french dip" was particularly complicated, nor was Paz's burger, but they were pretty mediocre to bad and again, made us feel like we had lead in our guts.

            2. re: Mill City Modern

              The OP was specifically looking for American standards. I, too was going to recommend Longfellow, but I checked their menu again. Yep. Seared ahi. And other nouvelle and fusion dishes. Yes, it a decent place, but not necessarily for American standards.

              1. re: Loren3

                Sure, but they also do yummy breakfast waffles, decent burgers, pork chops, etc...I don't know if it's still on the menu (I heard they changed it not too long ago) but they also used to make chicken and waffles. Yum.

              2. re: Mill City Modern

                Actually, the Longfelllow Grill is closer than Craftman to I'm looking for. Unfortunately, it's too heavy on the burgers, high-fat, and short-order cooking.

                Craftsman, in particular, is extremely trendy - not that this is a bad thing, but it's not what I'm in the mood for.

                I haven't been to the Modern Cafe for years (I got out of the habit back when they allowed smoking), but I remember it as being kinda upscale and pricy.

                But I should try the Modern again, now that I can breathe while I'm eating.


              3. Although I haven't been there in a few years, I have liked the pork chops at J.D. Hoyt's on Washington Avenue in the Warehouse District in Minneapolis. I haven't seen any mention of it on chowhound, so I don't know how the food is now. They seem to have a straight-ahead menu.

                2 Replies
                1. re: bob s

                  I live near both Hoyt's and the Monte. Me and all of my nabes go to Hoyt's once in a while, and the food is good, but we always end up back at the Monte.

                  Some nights, Hoyt's is very much a high-roller sports bar. Limos. Threads. Not so much for casual dining as a place to see and be seen, which is cool if you're into that scene.

                  1. re: Loren3

                    Sounds like Hoyt's is worth a try, but it seems to be up near the Jax level. Me, I'm pining for a casual, moderately-priced place with traditional - but good - American food.


                2. 2nd the hoyts. Excellent trad. chow.

                  Craftsman - a little average last time I won't be rushing back.