HOME > Chowhound > General Midwest Archive >

Discussion

MSP: Where to eat for my 40th Birthday?

Hi Folks,

I've been having a hard time figuring out something suitable to mark such an occasion. My partner and I have talked trips and party ideas, but of course a tried and true celebration for me is always a good dinner somewhere. My 40th is at the end of March. I have two ideas of places I haven't been to and have wanted to try: D'Amico Cucina and Oceanaire. My budget doesn't allow me to do this price point of restuarants more than a time or two per year. Which would be more special?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. If you really like seafood then definitely Oceanaire..I would do La Belle Vie before I'd do Damico though..It's really beautiful (the bar even more than the dining room..) and very romantic. If you're talking trips though I'd do that..in fact I did do that. We ate at De Kas in Amsterdam on my 40th and a
    bunch of places in France and Italy after that. I know you said you can only do the pricepoint once or twice a year but you're only 40 once in your whole life (right?) To me, and I understand this logic is
    convoluted..If you go away on your 40th b-day..did it really happen?

    1. I would disgree about La Belle Vie. We were there recently and were offended by the ultra high prices and the microscopic portions. When you pay $200 for dinner, you shouldn't walk away hungry, imo. The food was good, but not that good.

      I suggest Vincent, or Solera.

      1 Reply
      1. re: plautus

        I don't want to turn this into a La Belle Vie thread but..while I am not usually a microscopic portions type person, usually at LBV every micron is perfect (maybe you pay per micron?) I agree Vincent is amazing & that would be another great choice.

        Not so much Solera. Sometimes tapas just bug me (maybe it's the microscopic-ness) I have had good food at Solera but usually when someone else is paying..I think it gets expensive too (tapas add up!) and I have taken offense there like you at LBV...Maybe you should go to
        Oceanaire littlefoodie.

      2. We've never been to D'Amico, but do enjoy Oceanaire occasionally. Probably the reasons we don't go there more often is that it has that hotel restaurant/business trip patron ambiance, and also I'd much rather support independent places.

        I know I've been pushing Alma lately but it is wonderful, and at $42 for a 3 course meal it's a great deal.

        1. thanks
          food for thought. I had also been wondering about both Vincent and La Belle Vie and I know nothing about Alma. Please note that this is not necessarily a meal instead of a trip sometime this year. My partner turns 40 in the fall. It is just that my birthday is in the middle of an academic term and we are both working full time and in graduate school. I do adore seafood (the oyster bar seems most appealing at Oceanaire), but I also adore fine ingredients and presentation, and portions that are not so big that you can't manage dessert. In fact I often feel that portion size can be a good measure of a fine restuarant. Big portions seem like a crass way to try to impress people, and portions that are so small they seem pretentious and stingy are equally amatuer. If fine dining is an entertainment then you want to be able to have something nice at all parts of the meal, or it is like only seeing two acts of a three act play. A restaurant that provides portions with this in mind is my ideal. I had a new year's eve dinner at Hotel Sofitel 6 or 7 years ago that was I thought rather flashy and boring for $100 per plate. The food was nice but patronizing, nothing surprised or delighted me in either the ingredients or creativity of the dishes. I remember having a really creative $6 salad a few days later at The Modern that was so much better than everything we had at sofitel precisely due to its creativity. So cost is not always in my mind an indicator of how entertaining the meal will be. I hope this offers insight into what I like. Alas, in my youth I could eat more quantity than I can manage now but that's another issue. I have fond memories of a meal I had at the New French Cafe about 10 years ago now. I appreciate very knowledgable wait staff that can tell about dishes without patronizing you. The wait staff at the New French were like that.

          I will explore some of these new suggestions and see what looks enticing.

          1. If obscene portion sizes bother you, avoid Oceannaire. Oceannaire takes on the steak house mentality of side dishes that are 2x the size of an average entree, and in general, they serve way more food than you can eat in one sitting.

            La Belle Vie, Vincent and Alma are much more sophisticated and have the goal of making the whole dining experience something wonderful.

            3 Replies
            1. re: katebauer

              Kate is right on. That said, The Oceanaire is awesome about splitting/sharing dishes. We found this out one time when we showed up one evening just wanting Baked Alaska. By the time we got a table, we wanted a light meal, and asked the waiter for suggestions. He suggested that we share an entree.

              An appetizer, split entree, shared side dish, and desert (tell them its your b-day and the baked alaska will be free) lets the two of you have Oceanaire quality without abusing your stomach or wallet. (We've since ordered split plates a few times, and even a family style meal there, and never had any problems. It's a great way to experience the place without an expense account.)

              1. re: Danny

                Is the Baked Alaska good? We asked our waiter once when it seemed like every table was getting one and he said no. I do love their childish desserts - root beer float, chocolate chip cookies and milk, etc.

                You can also order 1/2 portions of the side dishes, which is the perfect amount for 2 people.

                1. re: katebauer

                  It's good enough. Baked Alaska is a rarity in MSP so you have to take what you can get. We had a waiter once call our Baked Alaska as a "Fake Bake" which is probably accurate. The reason it's called a "Fake Bake" is because instead of putting the Baked Alaska in the oven to brown the meringue, they just pour booze over it to "bake" it. I know a lot of place put booze over the Baked Alaska (mostly for the show), but the desert is usually browned in the oven first.

                  But really, how bad can it be when you have cake, ice cream, meringue, and booze? I don't think there is much that can be bad about that combination!

            2. While I've eaten at LBV, Vincent, Damico, Oceanarie.... I'd rather go to Alma.

              Plus you can go 2x for what LBV will cost.

              1. I think if you loved the New French (me too!..) then maybe Vincent would be the right choice or maybe Alma but I think the food at Vincent really has a similar New French sensibility. Elegant, country French. I also would suggest A Rebours in St. paul for a New French feel but unfortunately
                they can be hit or miss. It's a shame because when it's good it's really good. I haven't been in a few months though so if someone has recent good experiences (or bad) I'd like to hear. It's really beautiful there too and not crazily pricey.

                1. I would highly recommend the Chambers Kitchen. We went there for my 30th, and between The Ice Chamber and the dinner (atmosphere, ingredients, presentation, moderate prices, service) everything except the duck l'orange was perfect. I could not possibly recommend the Mahi Mahi enough. It was absolutely wonderful.