MSP MID MONTH REVIEWS
OK after I referenced Tacos Pineda last week, I got a craving for their tortas and went to the Robert street location, and, well, it seems their tortas have gone way downhill. As in over-mayoed, under-avocadoed, under-japapenoed, boring downhill. So - nevermind. Sorry if I led anyone astray.
EDIT: this was supposed to show up as a reply to my previous post, but I guess I goofed.
Hi, I'm new to Chowhound. I've read for a few weeks but this is my first time posting.
Kabobs in Bloomington on Portland Ave and 494 was excellent for Kabobs and Biryani. I'm Indian and this is probably as authentic as it can get in Minnesota. Biryani is only on weekends and this is a real hole in the wall so I got takeout. Goat Biryani and beef boti kabobs were delicious. Next time I'm going to try the lamb kabobs and beef samosas and maybe some naan.
I had a nice dinner with my girl at Saji Ya in St. Paul on Grand Ave. We had eel and red snapper sushi for our appetizer, and then I got the teriyaki chicken and shrimp tempura which was OK. My girlfriend's salmon was much better. But one of the highlights were the breaded fried onions on a stick that came with our bento boxes. That reminds me of the state fair except it was GOOD!!! I love fried onions.
We went to Cafe Latte on Grand Ave. two weekends ago and had the chipotle bean chili. That was excellent, probably the best thing in that place. Definitely get cheese, chips, and bread.
And the Tea Garden in Minneapolis was an interesting place if you like crazy "teas". I had guava tea shake with tapioca pearls and that cost almost $5. It was good, and my first "tea shake", but it's not something I would get often. We got large teas so that filled us up pretty good and we decided against getting dinner that night.
Is Kabobs in the strip mall on the west side of Portland just south of 494? Just a door or two to the right of the Three Amigos/Morelos mexican? I think I saw the sign for Kabobs on the storefront where a BBQ place had been. There is also, I think a little Indian deli on the other side of the mexican place. Haven't tried it yet. That makes for a nice chowish strip mall!
Welcome, IronLionZion! I'm glad to meet another Goat Biryani fan. I stumbled across Kabobs a few months ago, and that's what I ordered. Very tasty and very different from other Biryanis in town (no vegetables, for a start). I loved the spicy sauce.
Kate, Kabobs is a Muslim northern Indian restaurant which serves only hallal (pork-free etc.) food. It's a tiny, bare-bones, formica-table, order-at-the-counter place with friendly staff and patrons. When I was there, a guy waiting for takeout helped me order.
7814 Portland Av. S, Bloomington
Two doors down is a tiny outpost of Tacos Morelos, and next to that is the all-vegetarian India Cafe - I haven't been there because they close between 2-5, which is always when I seem to be in the area. I found out about these two Indian restaurants from a post by chow researcher Loren3 (thanks, L!)
112 Eatery-mmm... I ate the fried mortadella sandwich late last night. It came out with two small pieces of meat and a slice of manchego on their housemade roll. My first thought was that it was enough! But once I started eating it soon became clear that it wasn't what I expected at all. I very much enjoyed it and would order it again.
Anyone seen or been to Saffron across the street?
It was not an adventurous dining month but we did get out a couple of times......
Origami - took a sushi/sake course/tasting sponsored by Surdyks......we tried eight different beverages - who knew sake could be so expressive, and the food was delightful. Edamame, squid salad, soft shelled crab, sashimi - it was an overall wonderful experience. I ate well, drank well and learned a little as well.
Lund's takeout for Valentine's- okay, not a restaurant experience but I have to share that I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of sushi (among other things) that I took home. The squid salad was very flavorful, full of squid, and Asian vegetablees. We picked up four different containers of sushi to go and all but one (the rice on the eel seemed like yesterday's news) were exquisite. We normally are Fuji Ya fans but did not want to be with people on VD and just took a bunch home......and we'd do it again if this is the norm!
Collossal Cafe - okay, I finally listened to my fellow Chowhounds and found my way to the tiny cafe in South Minneapolis. I was not disappointed! Light, fluffy, and yeasty (who knew) pancakes with real maple syrup, fresh eggs, thick sliced bacon and thick slices of homemade toast - buttery hashbrowns........we took a box home for later! Best breakfast out in a long time!
Broadway Pizza in Robbinsdale - a thin sliced pepperoni pizza and an order of wings and a couple of cold beers. Heavenly. This joint makes a great thin crust pizza - best I've had - not too greasy, nice tomatoey (is that a word) .......being from the Buffalo, NY area, I am always disapointed with wings around here but these were enjoyable.....finger licking good!
I'm also amazed at the quantity of meals out! We love to eat out but might like to cook at home just slightly more. It's a fine balance I guess.
So far this month:
Key's Cafe (Mpls) - Went there for a work breakfast meeting and had the Roast Beef Hash. I loved it. I'm a sucker for hash in general but the roast beef upped the ante. The meat was perfectly cooked and came with nice chunks of celery and onions. The coffee was hot and dark and going down WAY too easily. I felt a little jittery that morning!
Erte - I'd never eaten there and was mostly unimpressed. Went there for my future sister-in-law's bachelorette party. The starters were more exciting than the meal. The baguette slices and relish plate were tasty as were the cheese platters we ordered (which came with more baguette, grapes, Genoa salami and capiccola). I ordered the Maple Leaf Farm duck breasts which came in a cherry glaze with sweet potato "mashers." Now I'll admit, this was my first time eating whole duck breast (only had it before mixed into various Asian dishes). I found it REALLY greasy. I know it's a fattier poultry in general but it just seemed WAY too greasy. And the skin was rubbery and fatty, not crispy and well sautéed like I'd hoped. Oh well. I certainly haven't given up on duck. Any recommendations for other places to try it?
Pizza Nea (E. Hennepin) - Went there with my SO and his folks who were up from Rochester. We initially walked into Punch down the street but, for whatever reason, didn't realize it wasn't a sit down restaurant. I'm sure the pizza is good but we don't get to see his folks often so we wanted to sit and be waited on and linger over the food. At Nea, we ordered the bruschetta appetizer which was ok. Could've used some more salt or garlic or something. I suppose tomatoes really aren't in season anyway so maybe we should've made a better selection. The Gorgonzola salad was fantastic. I've always loved their salads. They don't overdress the leaves which I like. We ordered two 'zas - the more classic Salsicce (spicy Italian sausage, roasted red pepper, fresh mozz with red sauce and fresh basil) and the Melanzana (eggplant, roasted red and yellow peppers, fresh mozz, goat cheese, onions and red sauce). I definitely gravitated toward the Melanzana. I wished the Italian sausage on the Salsicce wasn’t so finely crumbled. It was harder to taste. Overall a really great meal (except for how COLD it was in the restaurant. But it was also like a million below outside so I cut them some slack).
And tonight we're hitting up Marla's Indian and Caribbean Cuisine in Uptown. I'll have to post about that later. Anyone been? It seemed like a good hit simply due to its proximity to Uptown bars - we'd like to get a few cocktails afterward!
I like Marla's - it's a cozy, family-run little place with nice food. My advice is to go for the medium spice level (at least) if you order Indian dishes - the mild dishes are a bit on the bland side. If the medium is too hot, order a mango lassi to cool down those tastebuds.
Marla's was fantastic! Anne, I didn't see your post before we went to eat there. Both myself and the boyfriend ordered our entrees Indian Hot. Sooooo good. We LOVE hot food (and both agree we could've gone hotter!) but the heat was fantastic.
We started the meal with two Indian beers (the name eludes me right now) and parathas (bread made from wheat flour, freshly baked in the traditional tandoor) that was filled with some sort of meat/spice mixture. An Indian quesadilla (minus the cheese) is the best way I can think to describe this. It was delicious! Nice and crispy on the outside and the filling was tasty.
I had the Saffron Chicken ("...boneless chicken marinated in our special seasonings and spices, then roasted to perfection in the clay oven, sautéed with onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and herbs") and he had the Spinach Lamb ("...lamb cubes cooked in spinach, onions and chopped garlic in a mild sauce"). Both were excellent, with a slight nod to the Saffron Chicken.
Marla herself served us and could NOT have been nicer. Her son bused our table. She was chatty and invited us to come back for the Sunday buffet. She alone would be a reason to come back, let alone how good food was! We'll definitely be going back.
Wow, I feel so much like a comparative homebody when I see how much some of us are eating out - way to go!
So far this month:
I had a training all week last week near Mpls Children's Hosp, and a co-trainee and I went to MGM for lunch Tu/W/Th last week:
2/6 Everest Cafe: can't remember the name of what I had - It was like a smushed up samosa with yogurt and veggies on top - it was OK, but I was disappointed beacause I wanted something with veggies and not fried and there wasn't an option like this on their menu. Someone mentioned once that they felt like MGM was like alot of Fair food, and I agreed - tasty Fair food, but Fair food. I love Everest on Grand, but wouldn't go out of my way for Everest Cafe given the narrow menu.
2/7 La Sirena Gorda for the deep fried whole tilapia and fish tacos. This was my best meal at MGM, and I'd go back if in the area, but this still wouldn't draw me over from across the river (I live in St. Paul). The fish tacos had a real nice, fresh citrusy flavor, and the fish was a perfect flaky/meaty texture, but both didn't taste especially fresh - sort of - well, fishy.
2/8 Manny's tortas for a Manny's special torta. I had never had Manny's tortas and after hearing so much about them I was really excited. My experience was disappointing. I can't really put my finger on why. I think that in the tortas I really love, you can taste each ingredient better - the avocado stands out, the jalapenos stand out, the meat stands out, etc. - but in this sandwich the flavors all jumbled together into something savory and otherwise uninteresting. I enjoy the tortas at Tacos Pineda (on Robert and there used to be one at Hi-Lake in Mpls but it seems to have been displaced by a big new building) much better.
2/8 la Loma for a Oaxaca tamale. Like my other MGM experiences, I jsut felt so-so about this one. There was nothing wrong with the tamale per se, and unwrapping that big ol' banana leaf was pretty fun, but the tamale didn't really taste much different than any other to me, and I felt like the banana leaf made it kinda soggy and overly dense. Just my feeling.
Sorry to be so negative about MGM, I really wanted to like it and was really excited to finally have a chance to check it out. I can't tell whether I felt disappointed because I had such high expectations or because the food was actually disappointing.
2/14 Little Szechuan - this was actually our second time there. The first time was good, but this was better. Well, OK the service was pretty poor, but it seemed like they were taken off-guard by the crowds on Valentines Day. We were there for an hour and a half for a meal that should have taken half that long. The food was totally worth the wait though - 1st, Bamboo shoots in chili oil. Thank you to whoever it was that recommended these - mmm, so good, reminded me of a hot summer day in Beijing (I ate lots of cold appetizers with a similar fresh, spicy, sesame-y flavor while I lived there). 2nd, lamb in black bean sauce. The lamb was very thinly sliced which made it soak up the flavor of the minimal sauce nicely. I found the flavor a little one-dimensional in the salty dimension, but still enjoyed the dish. My husband and our daughter loved it. 3rd, Spicy Chung King shrimp - The first few shripms were fantastic, but after that the saltiness of the dish became overwhelming. This would be great to share with four or more people so everyone jsut gets a taste. 4th, garlic A Choy (or A Cai) - this was a nice compliment to the rest of our meal because it was really mild and mellow, so it balanced out the spicy, salty dishes. Otherwise it was not remarkable. Overall the meal was very satisfying and I saw a lot of dishes on other tables that really interested me - we'll be back over and over to try everything (or at least as close as we can to everything).
That's all she wrote.
Edit: Oh geez I almost forgot to mention this: On Valentines day night, guess who sat down with several others at the table right next to us? I am quite certain it was Lynne Rosetto Casper. My poor husband - all I could do was strain my ears to listen in on her conversation with her companions - I was not a romantic dinner partner in the least once she arrived. I know what I did (eavesdropping) was terribly unmannerly, but if you heard Lynne's voice you'd listen too, right?
Sawatdee: lets just say that I was reminded why we make the hike to True Thai when we have a craving. I am crossing my fingers for Amazing Thai about to open in uptown.
Solera: The four of us had two different tasting menus (seasonal and Neuvas). I would say about half of the tapas were memorable. I would recommend skipping the dessert. The meal was over all good but a bit over priced.
Midori's: Finally made it to the much discussed sushi place. I found the place unworthy of the hype. We had the salmon dinner and multiple sushi items. I will stick to Fuji-Ya and Origami which IMO have better ambiance, better sushi and faster service for the same price.
Town Talk Diner for brunch: Pancakes were excellent. SO had the brunch Burger which was great as well. The "liquid pusher" ,as she called herself, behind the counter was funny and efficient.
The View for brunch: The service was great but the food as not memorable. I had the apple whole wheat pancakes (of course) which were too dense and overcooked. SO had the fish tacos which he descibed as "just ok".
Barbette: Had the beet (with apple) salad, mussels and fries. what a great meal for under $20 that is enough for 2 if you add the very nicely done carrot cake for dessert.
Vincent for valentines at happy hour: We are both too cynical to subscribe to the holiday manufactured by the flower and chocolate industry but always in favor of a reason to go out and eat. Trying to avoid the crowds we stumbled on the happy hour at Vincent. What a bargain. Delicious burger, chicken in curry - awesome, and wonderful wine (I had the Cab) with all the cynicism (People watching - couples coming in for dinner) and not a morsel of remorse (financially).
Gigi's: It is is one of our regular neighborhood spots which is consistent but have recently gotten bored with the never changing menu. The apple caramel bread pudding is worth mentioning.
BW for breakfast - Light and fluffy pancakes. Still waiting for real maple syrup. (Maybe someone else can say something next time you are there. )
I must be forgetting a few since I don't remember being in the kitchen for over two weeks. On the agenda for this weekend: Sapor and WA Frost for brunch.
Masa - We'd been several times when it opened but went back for some new menu items. Shared the ceviche, very fresh but a little too sharp for my taste (if I had to guess, they only used lime for the acid). She had the trio of sopes which she liked, but not as much as those at a couple places on Central. I had the ribeye that is as good as always (it is a great dish IMO) and a Mexican Barolo which was surprisingly fruit-forward with good acid. Also had a mezcal flight that was awesome.
Bombay 2 Deli - We went a couple times for takeout. As Faith mentioned the people working there are the best. The little asian market attached has some outstanding finds as far as subcontinental foods go. Sambar is good, okra curry is the best I have had that wasn't home-made and the eggplant curry is perfectly spicy. But the real highlight are the samosas with 2 sauces that are delish. On Saturdays they make a dish where they crumble up samosas and smother them in chickpea curry. SO GOOD.
Sample Room - I had the Sunday night special, pot roast, she had soup and salad. As many chances as I have given SR to impress me (at least 10 visits) I am perpetually let down by the entrees and the pot roast was no exception. 2 huge pieces of fat only and grey meat the looked as though it had been boiled rather than roasted. The autumn vegetables were good, but when compared with Lurcat's or The Modern's roasts, it was terrible. I do still like some of the small plates and the wine flights are a steal, but overall I am usually disappointed. Steven Brown was eating in the booth behind ours which was nice as we had a chance to talk to him.
112 Eatery - We go to 112 rather regulary during the week for an evening nosh at the bar and have had dinner there 4 or 5 times and have always had delicious food presented well. Went for dinner with two other couples on a recent Sunday however and had our first ho-hum experience (still not bad by any means). My lamb scottadito sat luke-warm in it's dish bored rather than how it usually has the bones up at attention. My short ribs were very good. The two biggest misses this evening were the service (inattentive, careless, uninterested) and a cheese plate that was attrocious. Having been the LBV Lounge several nights earlier, it made the contrast more obvious in these two catagories. What i noticed though was that neither nancy nor isaac were in-house this night. Not sure if that anything to do with it.
Origami - Outstanding. After ordering several sashimis to start, we let our chef pick the rest of our meal and were supremely satisfied. Rolls and Nigiri were fresh and the portions perfect mouthfuls. He also recommened a sake that complimented the meal very well.
Sabor Latino - Our new favorite C.A. S.A. place on Central (replacing the defunct Tortuga). I had the flounder special which was light and spicey. It felt like a good Thai dish done with C.A. spices and was perfect. The fish was crispy and brown on the edges and fell apart in the middle. Had baby yukon potatoes that had been fried whole and were light like biscuits. I had not had these since working for HFH in Honduras. So simple and good.
Pizza Nea - We used to go here every Tuesday in the summer and fall, but had fallen out of practice in winter. Finally made it back and boy were we glad. A fun Italian wine selection of well-priced bottles (which are half price on Mondays and Tuesdays) and good pizza (with a firmer crust than Punch, though no char). Had the new meatball starter which I recommend highly, a bottle of the Sexto Sangiovese and 2 pies all delicious (the pies had a perfect distribution of ingredients so that eat bite had all the flavors, something Punch is not very good at though they are rushed no doubt) . Dan our server is always great (and if you like the Current or the music played there on, a good guy for a discussion).
Charlie's Polleria has Mexican and Ecuadorian menu items. I had the half chicken, which was very good--juicy and with crispy skin. I gather that it is a specialty of the place given their name. It was WAAY too big--I should have ordered the 1/4 chicken but, hey, the 1/2 chicken was only like $1.50 more. It came with a large pile of tasty rice.
We'll go there again when we start doing "reruns" on our NordEat Street outings.
This is will include the end of Jan. as well since we havent gone out much. Went to Fugaise for my birthday dinner. Did the 5 course tour of the menu. Great stuff. stared us with a amuse (that was definately the largest amuse i have had) of butternut squash soup. then had scallops with salsify and an amazing sauce. skate wing stuffed with king crab, wild boar ravioli and a beef tenderloin with a wild mushroom encroute, that was amazing. had wines paired with all the courses which was done quite well. Liked the space. though what looked like a nice 2 top in the corner (we wanted a quiet dinner) was actually under the vent and we were told would be freezing.
The Peacock Lounge a few times for cocktails. Our bartender Barb makes a mean Hendricks Martini.
MASA. Our first time there. We both had margaritas. I had the cucumber margarita which was amazingly good. really bright tasting with mint infused tequila. then we split the shrimp "cocktail" which is more of a mix of fresh shrimp, avocado and salsa with sweet lime. Really good. Surprisingly much better than I think I am describing it. Also split the chorizo and potato sopes. Good. Not great. Entree was the pork shoulder. Really liked it. Could have some more sauce, but good none the less. Had a Petite Shiraz from Mexico that was actually good. Nice fruit and spice went really well with everything.
Tonite was take out from Rainbow chinese. Chow fun noodles with black bean sauce and some shrimp with red curry sauce.
that's it so far.
Just wanted to let everyone know that I tried Wasabi downtown last night. It was a pleasant surprise: the fish was fresh and the rolls were very tasty. I actually ordered sashimi and I was not disappointed. The bill was also quite reasonable. As a student from NYC, I have desperately tried to find reasonably priced, fresh sushi during my stay here. I think that this might be the winner so far. My more culinary partner in crime, who has been living in the cities for the past few years from CA, agreed. One thing that I have noticed about the rolls in MSP is that they often come so jam-packed with various ingredients that they are impossible to eat...let alone taste. I give Wasabi a thumbs up but I will have to try it again to give you all a second report.
Town Talk Diner for dinner (had been for brunch previously) - the adult malts were the highlight of the meal, but everything was great.
Willie's Wine Bar - enjoyed a brie/parmesan/asiago and arugala pizza, a grilled romaine salad (my new favorite thing, after having one in the Denver airport of all places), and various assorted small plates. The service couldn't have been more accomodating and the jazz trio playing made for a nice atmosphere.
True Thai - Tried their version of drunken noodles for the first time and they were unlike any other drunken noodles I have had. Very light (not greasy), by comparison, with a nice spicy kick.
Hot Plate - good mexican omelette, fast service, cute place.
We've had a crazy, eating out month so far.
Edited: alright, listing dishes is more fun than doing work :)
Alma - I had the special chicken pate buschetta as an appetizer which was AMAZING. As an entree I got the pheasant which was also wonderfully surprising. I love this place and it will be our new special occasion place since Levain is gone.
Grumpy's (on Washington) - Just got beer and tater tots :)
Kinkaid's - Ugh, I wouldn't go back, TGIFridays-esque I think I said on another thread.
King's - love this place. We got the kimchi pancake and I got the cold bibimbap. The service is a little pushy but the food is always excellent.
MGMarket (I went one night by myself and ordered ceviche and read for a while, very relaxing)
Fuji-Ya, St. Paul - Eh, if I'm going to St Paul for sushi I'd rather go to Sakura
Bulldog NE - I posted elsewhere - too loud and the bun of my black bean burger was stale.
Evergreen - Delicious pork steamed dumplings. I got the ma po tofu, I prefer LS's better. Husband got General Tso's Chicken which was unremarkable. We love the eggplant with garlic and three cup tofu, but for whatever reason didn't order them that night.
Takeout buffalo wings from Runyon's - Our favorite wings in the city
Woah, that's almost every night this month, no wonder I haven't lost any weight. Tomorrow I'm getting catering takeout for a lunch meeting from Broder's and on Saturday we're hitting Zushiya in Maple Grove. We might bring friends to Town Talk tomorrow since they haven't experienced the alcoholic milkshake.
I think there is some confusion here as Bombay Bistro is an Indian restaurant downtown (I've never been there; any other reviews?) and Bombay 2 DELI is the place on Central connected to the Indian grocery store (which I agree is excellent).
Back to the topic; I've been to:
Athens Cafe: very good, although I don't see myself going to Robbinsdale frequently.
South Asian Foods: they just ran out of halwa puri, so I had the pav baji which was not as good but still decent.
Fasika: I finally made it here. It was quite crowded on a frigid Saturday, and unfortunately there was a huge, loud, and annoying religious group seated near us. The food was pretty good although nowhere near the Ethiopian food I've had in Chicago.
Any other reviews of the Vegetarian? I thought it was halfway between Udupi when it was good and Nala Pak now. The ambience was creepy and there was also a large, loud, and annoying group which also appeared to be religious! I'm beginning to think I attract cultish ethnic food lovers whenever I leave the house . . . (l don't want to sound anti-religion; I'm just anti-annoying, distracting loud groups of people at restaurants, and in both cases they happened to be, I think, fundamentalist Christians).
I often carpool with a coworker who lives in NordEast and on Wednesdays my wife picks me up there and we go somewhere on Central. There are so many good places that I call it NordEat Street! In the last few months we have been to Holy Land, Marina, Udupi (whatever it is called now), Chutney (not a good experience), Chiapas, Crescent Moon, Charlie's Polleria... and there are lots more weeks worth of places we haven't been to.
We ate at Bombay 2 Deli a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it. The woman manning the counter was one of the most welcoming and enthusiastic people anywhere. She could get anyone excited about Indian food--but of course we are already into it. Good food! And, since it is attached to an Indian supermarket, we went and got imported bottled sodapops out of the cooler. I am not much for pop, but enjoy trying something unusual from another country.
Last night we went to the Vegetarian, on Central near 40th. LOVED the butter masala dosa! We will definitely be back there to try more things! I realized this space is where Sahib's Gateway to India(?) used to be when I saw the old Sahibs sidewalk sign laying back by the restrooms. Ate there years ago.
Chutney is on the corner of 37th and Central. On the Wednesaday night we went the service was lousy. We waited over 45 minutes for the food after we ordered. I enjoyed watching the bhangra videos on the TV, but Two-Year-Old got really squirrelly, of course. The irksomeness of the wait was compounded by the facts that the place was not particularly busy and there seemed to be at least one guy kind of standing around that *seemed* to be an employee, but heck if we could tell what they actually did.
The food was pretty bad, too. The paneer pakoras were like deep-fried cubes of mattress foam.
I would certainly not be surprised if we would have a better experience on a subsequent visit, but Chutney is not likely to get a repeat try-out from us when there are so many other places along Central falling into two categories:
A) We haven't tried yet
B) We tried and enjoyed so much that we walked out saying "we have to come and try some other things off the menu here."
Too bad, since I recall the that the old Chutney of years ago (which I never got to and I don't know if there is any relation besides the name), located at 694 and Silver Lake Road, got good reviews, IIRC. Also, D, this place is a five minute walk from the home of our mutual friend.
For Central Avenue Indian, we will return to the Vegetarian and Bombay 2 Bistro.
Ok, that is the place I was thinking of, but couldn't remember the cross street. Too bad it ended up being not good. I have previously only had occasion to eat there during lunch, and thought they had a fairly decent lunch buffet setup. But it has been about a year since I was last there.