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MSP - End of the month Update for your fellow chowhounds!


Where have you been since mid month?

Or the beginning of the month if you didn't post in the prior thread.

Give updates, ancedotes, recomendations, cheers, jeers, etc.

Happy groundhog day everyone!

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  1. I'm thinking I should start to note on my calendar where we ate every night so I can remember.

    We haven't been very creative this month but have had some wonderful meals. Here are the places I remember:

    Alma - went last night and it was fantastic, such consistently good food and friendly and helpful waitstaff. I have to get there more often.

    Oceanaire - we had a gift certificate so we went earlier this week. Everything was very good - I had oysters to start and walleye stuffed with crab, shrimp and brie as my entree. Besides the fact that it's a hotel restaurant, I really like this place. I just wish it wasn't essentially a chain.

    Bryant Lake Bowl - husband's office party was there this week. Great beer selection and delicious and plentiful shrimp cocktail party platter. The group also ordered pizzas - I thought the crust was so bland and unexciting it really made the whole pizza boring.

    Little Szechaun - we went there with a group in order to be able to taste a lot of things. I posted our night elsewhere, food A, service D.

    Holy Land - we got takeout from Holy Land one night when husband's cousin and her husband were over. Everything was excellent and the veggie platter for 2 and rotissere chicken dinner more than fed the 4 of us for under $30.

    Lucia's - we went to Lucia's after trying to squeeze one last Auriga trip in. I had a small salad to start and mushroom risotto with truffle oil. Both delicious and the service was friendly and quick.

    I also got takeout sandwiches from Lucia's bakery one day. One was smoked salmon and cream cheese and the other brie and proscuitto. Both very good, and some of the best takeout you'll get, but would have been slightly better made fresh.

    Pho Tau Bay - we went there on a Sunday night after husband got back from a week of camping. It was tasty as always but something wasn't completely satisfying. I think because we both got pho we left with a need for more solid and less liquid in our bellies :)

    I also think since the last roundup we've been to Midori's and got takeout from Peninsula. While the takeout was okay, it didn't differ too much from good Chinese takeout . I think eating in the restaurant you're able to get a much better feel for the uniqueness of Malaysian food. Midori's was same as usual, we really like it there. It's not flashy but consistently good.

    My god, we've eaten out a lot!!

    1. I also wanted to add that we had a delicious banana beer at Town Hall Brewery last week. Was similar to a heffeweissen in its lightness and had the slightest hint of banana, and not that fake banana flavor. We got a growler and it was gone in 2 days. I hope they still have it this weekend!

      2 Replies
      1. re: katebauer

        Kate-Amen on that one.When I heard the name,I was skeptical and knew I had to try it.Its good-no artificial nanner taste.And-if you like dark coffee like beers,their Retreating Darkness is REALLY delicious!

        1. re: Gastron

          My husband got a growler of the Retreating Darkness and enjoyed it a lot. I'm trying to cut back on alcohol (for the extra calories mostly) but it's hard when such good beers are only available in limited quantities!

      2. We *finally* tried Town Talk Diner for the first time. Great place, lots of life. I need to go back to form a better opinion about the food, but I liked the variety of price ranges and the atmosphere. We were expecting it to be too loud to hear each other (based on previous comments here), but found the noise level to actually be mostly reasonable.

        Also tried Barley John's for the first time. Awesome brew-pub experience, really one for the books. While we were waiting for a table (~1 hour) we sat at the bar and met an out-of-towner who was here for a conference -- who was carrying around four books on beer(!) and apparently was sampling all of the brewpubs in the Twin Cities on his nights free. He was also planning to hit Town Hall -- we recommended the Gnome (yeah, I know, not a brewpub, but still), and he wound up buying us a Barley John's sampler. What a friendly guy! The bartender was great, too. We tried everything... really, really nice.

        1. Wow, you waited an HOUR for a table at Barley John's?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Mill City Modern

            Heh, yeah, but I didn't realize how much time had passed until we sat down. I guess we must have hit it at the wrong time.

            It must have been filled with all the chowhounds reading these threads!

          2. Check your debit card or credit card statements as a reminder!

            Ristorante Luci - Had an excellent tasting menu. Made our own selections & was very pleased with the portions and the items. Great service and reasonable. Had forgotten about this gem!

            Town Talk last night - we were a little loud & that is a good place to go. Food excellent - hubby had the fried egg sandwich and it was amazing. Service with a smile. No one indulged in the adult malts which is a shame. Dang New Year's Resolutions!

            Nami - Hadn't been in years - had a great meal, very fresh, good service. I was freezing in there!

            Chambers Kitchen - Had a great table downstairs, Food was excellent, wine great, service was good to great. It was recommended that we put our main course order in with our appy order since the kitchen is so slow. Huh? Had drinks in the 5th floor lounge after and found that overrated. And we were not presented with the tasting menu? Perhaps the kitchen was not able to accomodate it that night for the same reason(s) that caused the slowness?

            Italian Pie Shoppe - quick early dinner with the kiddos. It was pretty good. That place is tiny.

            2 Replies
            1. re: St Paul Susie

              my first time at Chambers was back in November. we also were not given the tasting menu, but our server said: "let me check with the kitchen to see if they can handle it." and he came back with the tasting menu. pretty weird all in all.

              1. re: Pip

                Hmm... we didn't ask - we were going to have a late night w/out the tasting menu so I didn't bother asking.

                Plus we had a table for 6 - and I don't like to do a tasting menu like that unless everyone does it.

            2. Krua Thai- went there for the first time. ordered spring rolls, pad thai with chicken, and peanut curry sauce with tofu. the spring rolls were awful, the lettuce in it wasn't that fresh, and there wasn't much in the spring roll besides shrimp and noodles. i enjoyed the pad thai, different from the other thai places in the cities, but it was good. i loved the flavor of the peanut curry sauce, and the fried tofu was nice and crispy, you could really taste the sauce with the tofu. the service is a bit slow, but i'd go again to try some of their other dishes (have heard the papaya salad and one of the fish dishes are fantastic)

              Midtown Global Market - ate at Taqueria Los Ocampo, had the sope w/chicken there which was wonderful. and got the huarache for take-out, one night, i didn't like it as much as the sope, but maybe because it was take-out.

              Jasmine Deli - got the Chicken Noodle Soup and the cold cut Banh Mi sandwich for take out. love the chicken noodle soup, the broth was great. i prefer Saigon's banh mi sandwich to Jasmine's for cold cuts, but I love Jasmine's chicken banh mi normally.

              Shish - ate there and got the moussaka special, it came with a side salad that was delicious, the moussaka was a bit different from others i had but i really liked it. for dessert, had the caramel apple pie which is fabulous, and got some baklava to go. the baklava is some of the best i've had in the twin cities. went there again last night, and got the falafel sandwich which was tasty, the spinach pies are excellent too. my friends got the gyros and they prefered the ones at Black Sea more. We got the apple pie again, and more baklava to go.

              1. forgot 2 restaurants

                India Palace - went to the one in Roseville for the lunch buffet last Sunday. very good as usual. i always leave the place completely stuffed!

                Sushi Tango in Woodbury - this newly opened, and the menu is virtually identical to the one in Uptown. i found the staff to be a lot friendlier than the one in Uptown. the sushi rolls (crunchy roll, dynamite, spicy tuna, negihama -hamachi and scallions) were really good and i love their tempura ice cream. the price was quite reasonable as we happened to be their during their 'happy hour'

                1. I was celebrating finally moving my stuff out of the apt I don't live in anymore. So ate out
                  Sat and Sun , both great meals. Sat. eve went to Ecopolitan, had my usual fave raw pasta
                  alfredo, my friend had their 'casserole', we shared a great app of guac. and salsa with
                  excellent spicy 'chips' to dip in it, made in a dehydrator with sesame,flax, tomato, garlic
                  etc. Someone nearby got the last piece of apple pie and I was going to cry but the server
                  convinced me to try an 'apple pie' smoothie, and it was great! made with freshly pressed
                  apple juice, bananas, and other good stuff. And we had an oatmeal 'cookie' also made in
                  the dehydrator, came on a plate with some lovely mango puree and some raspberry sauce
                  as well. And they were really busy and it was 90 below!
                  sun. went to Christos, had delicious leg of lamb special, great pilaf made with cinnamon
                  and other spices, a delicious side of mashed cauliflower and garlic (the new low-carb
                  mashed potatoes, no butter in it either) and it was great...my friend loved her veggie
                  moussaka. The wall is covered with awards for Best Greek Food from Mpls St Paul
                  Mag, and understandably so. Also great dips there and you can get them as sides for
                  only $1.60 so we had skordalia(garlicky potato spread) and melintzanosalata, the smoky
                  eggplant spread, both were heavenly. And had excellent apple/ricotta dessert and the
                  nice server let us have the very sweet syrup on the side(I had asked for something not
                  super sweet)- that was a great idea since the dessert was already sweetened. Yum!
                  PS Thanks to the originator of this thread and other similar ones inviting people to share
                  where they've gone lately, a great idea!
                  Also remembered I had a great meal at the Sinbad's buffet, it's a new owner now and I
                  think the food is excellent. One sad note is that I went to Cub looking for the great La
                  Loma tamales and read the ingredients on the label and I was very disappointed to see
                  the list of additives in them. Called the restaurant hoping maybe the frozen ones were
                  more processed but was told they are all the same stuff. So now my health food self
                  isn't going to let me get those tamales as often.

                  1. Very impressed with all the restaurants I went to last month!

                    Rice Paper - had the chinese pancake wraps and loved them - very healthy and light.

                    jp's american bistro - had duck breast with pickled bok choy and ginger and red wine jus (I think...it was a special) - the duck was fantastic.

                    Temple - first time here and I really loved it. Had the grilled chilean sea bass with haricot vert, siew mai and uni butter sauce. Delicious!!! The steaks looked really great, too.

                    Quang - Great service, great food, low prices. Perfect. And my cheap chowhound boyfriend loved it even more!

                    El Gaucho Argentinean Grill - I went here to try to cure my homesickness for S. American cuisine. Loved the complementary bread with olive tapenade (really good). The T-bone steak I had tasted a bit off and the salad was just a salad. But the french fries served with it and the chimichurri - yum. The service was great and it is a really nice neighborhood bistro. I'd like to go back and try the chicken instead of the steak. I'll wait until Fogo de Chao opens for S.A. steak again.

                    Town Talk - had Johnny Col Trane malt (yummmmm!), cheese curds (delish!), onion rings (not my fav) and half of the kitchen sink burger. I'd love to go back to try some of the salads and the grilled cheese.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: martaru

                      Is there a Fogo de Chao opening here??? I'd hate to support a chain over a local place but that place is mindblowing. I still remember this garlic marinated beef I had there 4 years ago. My in laws live in Atlanta so I could suggest we go but I think they might be horrified by the quantity of food and the price.

                      NEVERMIND: just looked at their site and they're coming into 6th and Hennepin. I hope it's as good as I remember.

                    2. I don't get out much these days, but...

                      112 Eatery -- we FINALLY made it over to this place. I was intimidated by the multi-week wait for reservations, but we walked in at 6 on a Tuesday night and were seated right away. Service was terrific -- attentive, friendly, knowledgeable, and not intrusive. We had the cauliflower fritters (excellent), the sweet & sour crab salad (tasty but could have used more crab), mahi mahi with avocado, and braised short ribs with faro risotto. The short ribs were terrific. I also greatly enjoyed the tres leches cake. This was a memorably pleasant meal.

                      Fugaise -- Had the veal roulade appetizer ... mini-rolls of veal stuffed with something tasty (can't recall what), with fennel puree and anchovy bagna cauda. My, that was tasty. Also, a perfectly medium rare duck breast. Really good. I wonder why this place never seems to draw much business, though it was actually fairly well-attended on a Thursday night.

                      Matty B's Urban Bar -- A new place, just down the block from my office. Bar food with a creative upscale twist. They make an excellent burger and a good Cuban sandwich. Where they really shine is with "small plates" or appetizers -- baked brie with three jellies (including neon-green jalapeno), addictive mini-burgers, a great garlicky olive spread served with garlic toasts and fresh veggie sticks, crab and walleye cakes. A fun menu.

                      David Fong's -- Old-style, Cantonese-American food, completely un-ironic. Good quality ingredients, great egg rolls, yummy pork fried rice and chicken almond ding. Great carry-out when you just want plain old Chinese food made with quality.

                      Jakeeno's Pizza -- Decent, neighborhood pizza in a friendly neighborhood joint. They also have nightly pasta specials that are dirt cheap. I haven't tried the pasta yet, but the Monday special of spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread for something like 4 bucks a head looks awfully tempting. Especially with my toddler.

                      Ba Gu Sushi -- Takeout again. I still haven't had the chance to dine in. The sushi seems to be improving. I wasn't blown away the first few times we tried it, but it was pretty darn good this last time. My favorite has to be a roll that combines tuna, salmon, and yellowtail with tempura flakes.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Jordan

                        My issue with Ba Gu has been the rice. I find their Nigiri unpalatable because the rice is to strongly flavoured and throws off the balance of the Nice fish.

                        1. re: doogette

                          I hadn't noticed ... but then I dunk the nigiri rice in soy sauce, so that becomes the dominant flavor! What's bothering you about the rice -- too much vinegar? Wasabi?

                          1. re: Jordan

                            I would tend toward over vinegared...and it was the first time I had really thought about rice in nigiri

                      2. Al Vento- Special event Wine and 4 course menu. The roasted tomato sauce and gnocchi were positively sinful. Wine from Graziano very tasty.

                        Bagu Sushi - Shrimp tempura app and a roll. The roll was good the tempura was good. Avoided the nigiri.

                        Original Pancake House- Lunch. Big fluffy 4 egg omelets are sometimes what a girl really craves.

                        Pizza Luce.- When I was out of state I pined for their Baked Potato Pizzas. I pine no more.

                        Azia- First time. I had the diver scallops and crispy noodles. He had the cranberry shrimp curry. The scallops were cooked beautifully and the flavor was good. His Cranberry curry was good. Overall not a bad experience. I'm just not sure I'm interested in making it a frequent stop.

                        1. I haven't been eating out much this month, but we have ventured out to a few places.

                          Great India (Brooklyn Park) - All our food was great. I loved the chickpea-yogurt appetizer (alu chop, I think) - I could make a meal of this, the wheat paratha, and a salted lassi. I wish I had gotten a goat curry, but Mr. Tastebud was feeling picky, so we had chicken jalpiaza (nice) and a vegetable dish with mushrooms and peas (which was wonderful).

                          Khyber Pass (St.Paul) - Yummy, as always. I like that you can now add a vegetable to one of the meat dishes, because I can never decide between the daal and the chicken kabob. So I had both.

                          Marla's (Uptown, Mpls) - Take-out Indian food for some new parents. I prefer a spice level of medium, but got it mild so it wasn't spicy enough for me. But it was still very tasty. Loved the Chicken Jalfrezi. [Edited to correct: We had the Chicken Palak (with a spinach-based sauce) this time. Yum.]

                          U Garden (Mpls) - I was there for a birthday party, and had hopes of a banquet with a whole fish, but everyone wanted the buffet, so that's what I had. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection and quality (tho I eat at U Garden at least once a week, so I know I like their cooking). I feasted on five-spice whole shrimp and sole filets with ginger and onion. They have a nice green bean dish, too. But I ate too much.

                          Carol's Restaurant (Blaine) - I finally got to this place because I was in the area. I had a hot turkey sandwich, and it was great. Everything tasted like from-scratch, no-shortcuts, real food. The stuffing was especially fabulous. This place is so good that I'm considering moving to Anoka.


                          1. Al's Breakfast - Still turning out the best blueberry pancakes and hashbrowns anywhere. The Jose was steller - two poached eggs with homemade salsa over hashbrowns and cheddar cheese melted on top.

                            Dim Sum at Mai Village - Everything was quite good. Went with a group of 9 that had never been to dim sum and they loved it - all but one tried the chicken feet. The atmosphere is lovely, the value tremendous - we were well fed for 10 bucks each, but the service was extremely slow.

                            1. I've been cooking a great deal but have had the opportunity to leave the house a few times!

                              Shuang Cheng - we had planned to go to Little Sczechuan but it was closed so we chose this great Chinese standby over on Fourth St. in Dinkytown. Started off with oversized, delicately filled cream cheese wantons. I then enjoyed the seafood and greens with chow fun noodles (pan fried fat noodles). The shrimp and scallops were big and fresh. My dining companion had mock duck in black bean saauce with chow fun noodles. They were rich and flavorful. The portions were very large and we both took home a container.

                              Al's Diner for breakfast- Dinkytown. Following advice from fellow Chowhounds, I finally had my first experience at this tiny diner near the U of M. It was a tight squeeze and we were belly up to the people at the counter eating but when it came to our breakfast, it was good. I had hash and poached eggs - they were completely different than what I expected. Good but not what I'd order again. My dining companion had pankcakes and eggs. Now those were delicous! Light, fluffy, tasty and worth the experience. Al's is small, crowded, and worth trying for the experience.

                              Monte Carlo - cocktails and bar food. It was below zero the other evening and I ordered a hot buttered rum. The handsome bartender had no idea how to make one but was eager to pull out his bartender book and make one up. He neglected the butter because he said it sounded awful....it was a hot BUTTERED rum. Anyway, I was so dam# cold, I drank it - and it was tasty. My friend and I sat at the bar and ordered calamari and the pizza. The calamari was awful - small crunchy bites that could have been popcorn, nuts - anything at all. Yuck. The flatbread pizza was outstanding...pesto, chicken, ......delicious.

                              Jasmine Deli - lunch. Springrolls that are always tight, light, fresh and tasty. They are my favorite in town. I haven't found better. My soup is always the Jasmine house soup - with seafood, chicken......comes with fresh jalapeno slices. It has a chicken stock and noodles.

                              Wasabi - lunch. My friend had the Habachi scallops with noodles. He says the scallops were tough and thought I had ordered better than he had. I agree. I tried the three roll sushi special - spicy tuna, salmon and hamachi - good, tasty, filled me up. The miso soup was excellent. Certainly not the best sushi I had but for lunch, it was good and the price was right too.

                              Bryant Lake Bowl - breakfast. We started with a bowl each of hot oatmeal with brown sugar and bananas. In this weather, it hit the spot. My dining companion and I split an order of hash and potates. Not typical hash but tasty - though I'd not order it again. The meat came with crunchy potato slices that I could have lived without. The coffee hit the spot.

                              I need to get out more for dinner!!! YIKES

                              1. This past month or so, Keys downtown, Peter's Grill, Cosi, Potbelly, Subway, Mama's Pizza downtown, Culver's, Palomino, McCormick & Schmick's, Grumpy's Bar Downtown, The Loon Cafe, St. Alban's Boathouse, Jake O'Connors in Excelsior, Lyons on Sixth, McGarry's Irish Pub in Maple Plain,Joey Nova's in Tonka Bay...I probably forgot a few. I need not mention out of the Twin Cities.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Davydd

                                  So, how was Peter's Grill? I remember their hot turkey sandwich with great fondness.


                                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                                    It was closed for half a year and the menu is still the same as before. I had the Clubhouse sandwich.

                                2. I can't believe nobody has mentioned WA Frost in St. Paul. It used to be a beautiful place with very mediocre food, but under Chef Russell Klein, it rivals the best in ANY city. the food is delicious and very creative. I make it a definite every time I am in town.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: gblcsw

                                    Did you eat there in the last half of January?

                                  2. I LOVE WA Frost and Russell is a good guy and great chef! I don't venture "over the river" much for dinner - isn't that nearly a sin?

                                    1. Today I had lunch at the Evergreen Chinese Restaurant. I love the location. You feel as though you've stepped into a portal as you head down the stairs and sit in a small basement restaurant that could easily be on the other side of the world. I didn't get a chance to try to bun dim sum but i did have the sticky rice cake filled with shredded pork, turnips, and some strange crunchy (i can only guess it was tempura batter) dough. de-lish-ious

                                      last week we ventured to LBV but only in the lounge. It turns out you can order anything from the menu in the lounge. i have to say i wasn't extremely impressed with the food. But everything was done well. I would say fugaise had a more interesting approach. great cocktails, though!!

                                      Had breakfast at Acadia cafe the other day as well. The hanging menu is terribly indescriptive but i decided to venture towards the "denver". What i got was a breakfast sandwich on english muffin. Plenty of cheese. But to my horror they used canister pepper to flavor the eggs. unfamiliar black flecks all over my poor chicken embryos! And aside from the green peppers there were strange squishy pinkish purplish things sticking out that i had to only assume were red onions cooked to mush. Worst breakfast sandwich EVER!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: anolli

                                        Evergreen consistently drives me crazy. Having grown up in Taiwan, I was delighted to find this kind of "small eats" restaurant right here in the heartland. All the dishes they have are authentic. It's just that none of them are cooked particularly well. Also, the staff seems to have no real idea what they're doing.

                                        But I'll keep going, because I can't get that food anywhere else in TC.