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[MSP]Has anyone been to Craftsman recently?

I'm thinking about taking a buisness associate there but I don't see any recent reviews. Has anyone been there recently?

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  1. I assume you are referring to the restaurant in Mpls? I haven't been there since last summer, but it's still a favorite of mine. It's a smaller setting, good ambiance, and great food.

    1. I've never been there but a friend gave us a gift certificate to there because she enjoys it so much. Sorry I can't offer more details.

      1. Last Summer - it was ok....since we were outside. What are your other options?

        1. Chef Mike Phillips is terrific and his food is even better. He's been getting a lot of great press lately. Let us know if you go and what you think! They used to do lunch and I wish they still did .........

          1. the burgers at craftsman are fantastic.

            1. We went tonight. Beer list is great. Both the harissa hamburger and venison burger were fantastic, cooked to order, with thin, crisp fries. I think they make their own ketchup. Very tasty, with a hint of chili. Everything on the menu sounded great, but we were trying to play it on the cheap, therefore the burgers. We did get the ginger stout cake with pear compote. It was a little dry, but very tasty. We will definitely go back again. Num.

              6 Replies
              1. re: churchka

                Thank you for the report. Someday, I plan on getting around to going to Craftsman--it's another of those places on my (long) list of places to try. What did your tab for the burgers come to? Maybe it's a place we can go to instead of Longfellow or Highland for burgers, better quality for not much more price? Also, did you have to wait long for a table?


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  We didn't wait for a table. We walked in around 6:00 and were seated immediately. I don't think wait is a problem on a normal work night there.

                  I think our total bill came to just over $50, but that's because we had a couple beers each and dessert.

                  I've never had a burger at the Longfellow Grill, so I cannot compare (I usually go for the Crab Cakes Benedict.) We have decided that Craftsman will be our new go to place for burgers. They were some of the best burgers we have ever had, and they get bonus points because they were not huge. The food we got was the right amount for an adult, which we really appreciate.

                  1. re: churchka

                    Sounds terrific! We'll definitely have to put Craftsman high on our "list" of places we need to get to.

                    Re: Longfellow--if you feel like straying from the crab cakes benedict, I actually like their turkey burger quite a lot (together with the sweet potato fries), and my dining companion is a fan of the Elvis burger there.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Erk. Their sweet potato fries and so thick and ...dare I say... limp. I keep trying and keep getting disappointed. Best Sweet Potato Fries are at Herkimer - not much else there is good but the fries are great.

                      1. re: RedPepper

                        You're right--they aren't very crispy--but I like the texture, actually, and I like the chipotle mayo. But, I will have to try the Herkimer's sweet potato fries for a comparison. Maybe I'm missing out!


                        1. re: RedPepper

                          I disagree, only slightly. The Herk is the only all lager brewpub in town. They do very difficult beers very well.

                2. We went to Craftsman last night for a little bite. First time for both of us. Loved the room. The staff was good, though our server had just started that week and had apparently just quit drinking so really couldnt give us a drink recomendation. The lady ordered the minnesota pickle martini. ok, so the idea seems interesting. and it tastes....interesting. shakers vodka with minnesota grown pickles and and a little pickle juice. yeah, it is definately a pickle martini. if it even got a little warm i think it would be completely disgusting. (only 1/2 of the drink was finished between the two of us, but at least we can both say that we have tried a pickle martini and know that those are two flavors that do not belong together).

                  Had the cheese plate. nice. had the charcuterie plate as well. also good, but they don't really give you any bread for it other than the bread that came to the table beforehand. i dont know if that might have been the mistake of the new server or not. we then split the grilled polenta with roasted winter vegetables. that was really good. polenta was soft with a nice crisp crust.

                  will definately go back to try more.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jaysin612

                    If you like a dirty martini, then you would like a pickle martini, since the major flavor in both is the brine.

                  2. I was able to get Craftsman off my list of must-try spots last week, and while the meal was not disappointing, it was also not what I had hoped for. I love venison in all it's forms, and the cut of leg I had at Craftsman was very good, however the accompanying caramelized onions had far too much vinegar in them, completely overpowering the dish. The yams were there, and pretty, but likewise under-flavored if they were expected to compete with the onions. Oddfellows keeps its crown as best venison preparation I've had in the cities. A friend had the polenta, which I tried and was very good. Wife ordered an old fashioned that was watered down, and generally not very good (Town Talk still smokes the competition in the old fashioned department). A great room with prairie-style accents and craft features that I love. I will give it another chance, I figure they were just having an off night.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Foureyes137

                      I went to Craftsman for the first time Saturday after hitting the Living Green expo. I thought the room was beautiful, and servers very friendly and knowledgeable. I walked
                      in alone without a reservation and they told me they had a table that was reserved in
                      an hour and 15 minutes, and I said I would be fine with that. The room is quite a contrast
                      to the torn-up road almost up to their front door. I actually was feeling a bit sorry for the
                      owners due to the construction, but lost that feeling upon entering the bustling restaurant. I really love places that are into supporting local food, and using naturally-raised and organic meats and produce, as well as being creative with their menu. This
                      place hits all of those notes plus has a beautiful environment. The food was very good-
                      I had a beet and goat cheese terrine that was beautiful to look at, a bit drier than I might
                      like but still very good. I loved the walleye special I had- a beautiful plate with shades of
                      cream and light green- it had some herbed garlicky couscous, sauteed cauliflower and
                      cabbage, and the sauteed walleye on top, with a beautiful walnut-arugula pesto . Had a
                      perfect creme brulee for dessert- silky custard with bits of vanilla bean in the bottom of
                      the dish, not too sweet. They have a patio but weren't seating anyone out there since
                      it had recently rained and things were wet. It looked very pleasant though, with some
                      thatched hut structures and hanging lanterns. And the patio is non-smoking for all of
                      us who yearn for such things. A great experience-

                      1. re: faith

                        Hooray! Another non-smoking patio! Thanks for posting this note.

                        Now I know of three places (Craftsman, Birchwood and Signature) where I can dine outside and actually breathe. My summer plans are looking up.


                    2. Looks like I forgot to post our Craftsman experience from a few weeks ago. We really enjoyed our evening. We started with two cheeses which were okay, but nothing spectacular despite their descriptions of being strong and stinky. For my entree i Had polenta with a veggie ragu which was fantastic. Very light yet filling. Husband had lamb I believe and it was extremely good also with very flavorful sides. We really enjoyed the waitstaff and the space and will definitely go back soon.

                      1. We took our first trip to Craftsman and I had to revive this thread. What an amazing place! I'm definitely not as knowledgable about food as most of you, but I do know what I like and I loved it. We were a group of 5 women, non drinkers. We started with a cheese plate that was out of this world. The majority of us had the pasta special - homemade whole wheat noodles in a carbornara sauce with duck pieces throughout the pasta. A duck breast and duck heart were included. I would've licked the plate if I could've gotten away with it. Although I was full, I couldn't pass up the apple crisp with salted caramel ice cream with dessert. I can't wait to go back.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: debbie421

                          I love Craftsman, too, and especially like that they offer whole wheat pasta. They seem to have a lovely patio and I can't wait for spring to try it out.

                          I'm very intrigued by the duck heart in your pasta.

                          Personally, I have learned so much on chowhound by reading what others have posted about a restaurant, then going and experiencing it for myself and seeing if I notice what they notice, etc. I know I have plenty more to learn from my fellow 'hounds, but I know I will continue to learn more if I still around. It seems to me you have good instincts about "knowing what you like" all you need is more confidence to help you know why!

                          If I recall, you are relatively new'ish to the Twin Cities--please continue to post--it's great to see new, fresh perspectives!


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Thanks! Not new though, just new to the board. I did move from Dallas, but over 10 years ago. I'll try to post more and stop lurking!

                          2. re: debbie421

                            thanks for bumping this thread Debbie. i too love the craftsman and it's weird to see this thread without my name on any of the posts, i know i have been rec-ing myself hoarse about this wonderful restaurant on other msp threads! it's a good reminder to us regular posters not to neglect the original threads like this one when we really need to rave about a place, or others may never find the rec! :)

                            TDQ-- most unsurprisingly, in warmer weather, the cute patio at the craftsman seems to be very popular with the restaurant's local patrons, many of whom i'd imagine walk a block or two from home to meet their neighbors over a craftsman burger or pizza and a nice glass of wine. it's the type of little place anyone would be absolutely thrilled to have open up near their house. i like that their menu has these less expensive burgers and pizzas as fixtures on the menu for those who may want a casual experience, and also the *fabulous,* more expensive, locally sourced new american mains & specials, where i think they really shine. menu:


                          3. We came to The Craftsman on a night in which we braved icy slush and chilly river winds in order to find satisfying, high-quality food. Whether it was our too-red countenances or the gusts that blew in with us, the waiter seemed hesitant to bring us our drinks. He gave the impression that he wasn’t quite sure if we could afford our dinner. When I ordered the Korbel brandy and Door county cherry drink after deciding I would keep my glass of wine for dinner, he eyed me and my glass suspiciously, as though I was preparing to cause a disturbance. All of this certainly would have been palatable if the food had been. Though the beet terrine and my suspiciously-regarded cocktail were delicious, the old-fashioned tasted like bourbon on the rocks. The beer selection was predominantly dark and heavy on the stout and porter. The entrees were uninspired at best. The trout, though fresh, had nothing to recommend it except one flavorful bite underneath a lone sprig of thyme. The parsnip puree and undercooked greens could do little to salvage the bland fish. As for the grilled lamb with lamb sausage, the sausage was dry and under seasoned. The “chickpea stew” consisted of nothing more than warm chickpeas with balsamic vinegar, this sounding better than it actually tasted.. The apple crisp was far from crisp. The top layer was soggy like oatmeal and uneven The fruit layer was a mealy blend of leathery apple peels and barely sweetened mush, the only saving grace being the caramel ice cream. Hoping to find the redeeming qualities in this neighborhood restaurant, we went online to research responses to it. What we found was that the menu has changed very little in almost a year. We could not help feeling, given our experience and this new information, that we should have saved five dollars and ordered the steak and fries. We avoided the “steak frites” because we hoped for an interesting and eventful culinary experience with seasonal and local organic fare. We veered away from what we thought of as common food and received, for an exorbitant price given the quality, a meal that managed to be even more common than red meat and potatoes.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: billsluman

                              Welcome to Chowhound, Bill. Sorry to hear you didn't have a good experience at Craftsman. I've always very much enjoyed my dinners there, including the time I ordered trout (though, I don't know if it was prepared the same way as the way when you ordered it.) Just a clarification about the menu though--not only has it changed in the past year, it actually changes with the seasons. Because they emphasize on sourcing locally, you pretty much hit them at the most difficult season of the year in terms of sourcing fresh and local ingredients.


                              1. re: billsluman

                                I went to Craftsman with a small group last week and was similarly underwhelmed. Two members of my party arrived early and commented that they had wanted to order drinks but the waitress ignored them.

                                I started with the simple green salad which was quite salty. For my entree I got the gnocchi which was incredibly bland. It came with some root vegetables and in a cream sauce so in order to get any taste you had to ensure that your forkful was more veggies than gnocchi. One friend also ordered this entree and absolutely agreed. Another friend at the table ordered the duck special, which was served over a whole wheat pasta. She said the pasta was great but the duck was very overcooked and unappealing.

                                For dessert we shared the apple crisp and bread pudding. I completely agree with billsluman about the apple crisp. It was mushy and the peels left on were really distracting. The Izzy's salted caramel ice cream on top was okay, but I've enjoyed the ice cream much more by itself than on top of the mound of mushiness. The bread pudding was nice, but not what I would call bread pudding at all. It was 2 slices that were quite dry but with light flavor, no caramelly liquid to go with them.

                                Overall an okay, but not fantastic meal. I'd rather explore other neighborhood restaurants than return there.

                                1. re: billsluman

                                  I went there a few weeks ago, and we ordered the trout and the steak frites, and everything was cold. It was a specia dinner, and weren't impressed.

                                  1. re: jenniegirl

                                    Wow--bad recent experiences by Bill, Kate, and and Jennie--I wonder if we have a downhill situation with Craftsman? I sincerely hope not, but this doesn't isn't sounding good at all. I was really looking forward to spending warm summer evenings dining on their patio. But, I must say, this is very discouraging . It's been a couple of months since I've been, so, now I'm worried. Has there been a major change in the kitchen that would explain this? Maybe the chef's on vacation? *hoping the bad thing is temporary*


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      definitely sounds strange to have so many up-and-down experiences lately, there almost has to be something going on. maybe the craftsman is *also* having some trouble retaining good servers. when i was there recently for brunch the servers were having a little trouble keeping up and beverage service suffered. they seemed just slightly understaffed, was my nitpicky observation-- as if 2 competent-but-not-great servers were stretched just a little tightly over the shift, which should have been covered by 2 *very good* servers, or 3 just-kinda-above-average servers. if dinner service is similarly understaffed, even just slightly, it could lead to small service problems that can be irksome. attentive beverage service is ime the first thing that suffers when the server begins to get overwhelmed.

                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                        Interesting that you think it's a server problem--I only say this because it seems to be a common theme as of late--Craftsman, Red Stag, and, frankly, The Strip Club all seem to be suffering from overwhelmed and overmatched servers. The latter two are new so it seems more forgivable that they are still training people and trying to find their rhythm and balance, but it is interesting how much this comes up lately.

                                        I'm encouraged by NordeastB's and shinycakes recent experiences below, as well as your recent brunch experience, soupkitten, and really hope things return to a level of more consistency soon. With spring blooming, we can't afford to lose a precious patio to inconsistent chow!


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          dear, dear, this is worse than i thought! did you happen to eat at the strip club yesterday TDQ?

                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            Yes! We enjoyed our meal immensely, but thought the service needed some polishing. In general, my comments and experience are very similar to ajs'--nothing much new to add to his outstanding commentary, except to say I really appreciate their commitment to humane treatment of animals.

                                            Were you there? If so, if you feel like it, drop me an email (my address is in my profile) and tell me where you were sitting. Maybe we saw each other!


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              I gather you weren't waited on by Tim Niver, then. In my (single) experience at TSC, along with multiple visits to Town Talk, i would have to describe that guy as perhaps one of the finest servers ive experiences (definitely tops in the Twin Cities). Sure its not overly formal and there is something slightly awkward about his playful banter, but at the end of the night one of my friends wanted to take him home with us (and she doesnt even swing that way).

                                              I'd be curious to know what "polishing" means in this specific context to you TDQ, as my experience was about as polished as i could have possibly expected at a restaurant that had been open less than a few months. Is it possible there is a style issue that you were unhappy with?

                                              1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                Tim** was definitely there playing the omnipresent and gracious host--but I didn't get the impression he was serving. Quite the charmer, he. I don't mean to sound too precious here, but In order to maintain my anonymity (and for many of the sentiments expressed in this thread by MMRuth and others http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50642...), I'd rather not reveal too many specific details about my meal there; but you're welcome to email me if you're dying to know the details. I can assure you, it was nothing damning, just a few missteps here or there. I already gave them a pass above saying they are new and the missteps are forgivable as I imagine they are still training and fine-tuning, etc.

                                                Actually, I only revealed I was there last night because soupkitten specifically asked. Otherwise, I usually keep a vague distance between my restaurant visits and my posting about them...

                                                As I said above, much of my experience was very similar to what ajs described in his post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/504536

                                                EDIT: P.S. I'm starting to wonder if some of the limitations on the growth and affordability of the Twin Cities restaurant scene compared to the coasts has to do with the availability of affordable labor.

                                                ** Whom I recognized from the photo that accompanied the review in City Pages, I think it was...


                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                :) TDQ-- i can pretty much guarantee we *weren't* there at the same time-- i was there much earlier for brunch and overheard a staff member on the phone with someone trying to get a table, and the staff member was saying they were completely full for the evening, but that tables were available next week.

                                                i thought: 1) so happy that they seem to be doing well 2) oh so that explains why the kitchen staff outnumbers the patrons-- they're prepping for tonight 3) hope the staff can keep up when the restaurant's at full capacity 4) *snarky soupkitten* ha! and everybody thought that *nobody* would come to a wee little restaurant way up the bluff on the wrong side of the river! ha!

                                                i share your admiration of the sustainable and humane menu choices on the strip club's menu. btw the brunch and lunch menus are well thought out, simple fare menus that are moderately priced and interesting-- good food, with the same sustainable focus-- the fish&chips lunch for example has local sunfish and perch which you don't see on a lot of menus, and they make great use of locally farmed thick cut bacon and sausages (pastures a plenty & others). i'd write a review of them for brunchquest but i think i'd totally *out* myself to the staff, thereby shooting myself in ye olde paw. . .

                                                anyways sorry to hear the service was not all it could've been when the place was busy. the one night we were there when it was very busy as well, but i think we had the most experienced server there, & i thought he did a great job. i can see it getting hairy in the midst of dinner rush though-- i hope they work out the little kinks!

                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                  Hmmmm...I'll have to check them out for brunch!

                                                  EDIT: P.S. I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't want to get into specifics in order to avoid outing oneself to the staff!


                                  2. We went early last evening and sat at the bar. Split the cabbage, beet, bleu cheese salad and the white cheddar, burger with harissa. The split salad looked like two complete portions and was wonderful. We both enjoyed the burger and homemade ketchup. The bartender was busy but pleasant. We'll be back.

                                    1. I went for the first time with my parents and boyfriend last night, and we all enjoyed it. Our server was excellent - very attentive, with all the little this-is-a-nice-restaurant touches (e.g., big to-do with the wine, bringing out new silverware between courses).

                                      I had the gnocchi with winter vegetables and creme fraiche. It wasn't terribly flavorful, but I wouldn't call it bland - more like mild. The texture of the gnocchi was great - pillowy rather than dense. The vegetables provided a good variety of texture and taste. My mom got the oven-roasted polenta with winter vegetables, and after trying a bite of that I already know what I'm getting next time. It was delicious - garlicky, but not overwhelmingly so. My dad got the half chicken, which he loved, and my boyfriend got the white cheddar burger with harissa, which he really liked.

                                      We shared the cinammon and sugar beignets (basically mini donuts) and the Izzy's ice cream trio for dessert, and everything was yummy.

                                      We'll definitely be back. The only minor complaint I have is that it got very dark in there at around 7:30, and it was rather loud. I'm looking forward to sitting outside when spring decides to arrive.

                                      1. My husband & I also tried it for the first time on Saturday night and although we didn't have a reservation & showed up at 7:00-ish, they were still able to seat us (albeit at the bar) right away. AND they were still really kind to us - no hint of, "You idiots - who just shows up without a reservation?!" We continued to have excellent service throughout the evening.

                                        Started with our favorite bottle of cab franc (which was a delight to see on the menu - cab francs can be scarce) and some yummy cheeses. For dinner, I was feeling gutsy & chose the rabbit. And while I was a bit plagued by images of the jackrabbits I used to dodge on the highways of SD growing up, I have to say, in a word - AMAZING!! The meat was very tender and flavorful & the skin was so crispy - just plain good. It was served with kale & polenta (both delicious) and finished with a honey gastrique. My husband had the pork chop served with espresso baked beans & savory bread pudding. It was good - but lacked the flavor punch & variety of my dish. He was a little jealous :-) We finished with the creme brulee of the day - rosemary & honey. It was ok, but definitely the low point of the meal. I was looking forward to the combo of rosemary & honey and didn't really get either - it was your basic custard with crust. Not horrible, but not what we'd anticipated. All in all, it was a great meal & we're definitely going back. And I'm with ShinyCake - it was a bit loud, but that may not be the norm.

                                        1. Craftsman has been on my list of restaurants to try, and based on the mixed reviews here, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and went for dinner last night (Tuesday). I won't go into detail on the lackluster service only because they were understaffed (as commented by our server) which showed. Plus, what I was really interested in was the food.

                                          The bread was very good, fresh, and came with a lovely soft butter. I ordered the Elk Leg with horseradish barley 'risotto' and cherry roasted parsnips, recommended by the server and recommended medium rare. The elk looked like 2 petit filet mignons and tasted like roast beef. My issue with the protien was actually its toughness - the sharper knife they brought for the meat would not cut through without ample sawing, and it took a lot of chewing for each bite to go down. The barley risotto was interesting in concept but a bit bland in execution and needed salt. The parsnip would have been tasty but was served close to raw.

                                          For dessert we had the apple crisp with dulce de leche ice cream, which was nothing special; would have preferred anyone else's homemade version. There was something just not... fresh... about it, like it had been nuked in the microwave and the crisp on top was sort of microwave-hard.

                                          I really wanted to like this place but really the combination of expensive food with a casual almost brew pub atmosphere makes me think it's a restaurant more suited for a family with young children that wants go out to a 'fancy' (read: pricey) meal but not leave the kids at home. It's a very casual place but not in the same way that I would say 112 eatery is casual, and similar menu price range.

                                          Overall: love the concept of this restaurant but save your money and go somewhere like 112 instead. The quality and execution of the food just does not match the inspired menu.