MSP Month End UPDATE - inform your fellow chowhounds
calling all hounds!!!!
Everyone must be out to eat.
I ONLY went out once - sick kids & had to cancel a lot of sitters and plans. Looking forward better chow evenings!
I finally made it to 2021. & I'm still undecided. I didn't love the format of the waitstaff slapping food on my plate and calling it family style. I did adore the duck. But I felt a little PF changs in there. And my clothes stunk of grease. I won't be rushing back! So I guess I'm no longer undecided.
& we finally got take out sushi from midori. HEAVEN. got it again tonight.
Let's see if I can remember since my mid-month update, it has been a short month.
SpoonRiver - for drinks and appetizers. I want to like this place so much, especially since it's 2 blocks from my office, but most things I've gotten have just been too bland.
Moti Mahal - we got takeout last weekend. It was fine, but we probably wouldn't go back as we like India Palace much better.
Pizza Nea - we got take out on a frantic night last week when my computer crashed and we wanted to bribe a friend into helping us :) It was good, although it somehow tastes better at the restaurant in my experience.
Bagu - another take out experience. I love it because it's close and average/slightly above average. It's proximity to our house is really what it's got going for it.
Town Hall Brewery - I went for a friend's going away celebration. I was craving their black bean burger so that totally hit the spot.
Town Talk Diner - A crazy long wait but we really like this place. I had the chop salad which was very filling and great mix of textures. I would have asked for the dressing on the side though because every piece was really covered in it.
Zushiya (Maple Grove) - Eh... we have to fulfill our sushi goal though :)
It's March, but we went to Tum Rup Thai tonight. It was busy although they had a quick turn over of tables. All the food we've had there has been really fresh and good, although we both asked for our dishes to be hot tonight and they ended up maybe medium. Kind of disappointing.
That's all I can think of for now.
Didn't eat out much this past month, but one place I got my, not so much of a chowhound, husband to try was The Modern, and he's hooked. Of course he got the pot roast. We started with the mussels, which were good, but the fries were delicious. I had the appetizer of mac 'n cheese with truffle oil as my entree. YUM. Can't wait to go back when I can have a glass of wine. (I'm prego-20 more weeks to go!)
See, I'm on the other side of the table with the Chorizo in the mussels. I had these and loved the smokiness and spiciness imparted. It was not overwhelming and was a great compliment to the meatiness of the mussles. White wine, garlic, and butter can only be had so many times before it bores me and turns into the next bruchetta IMO.
Susan, thanks for starting these threads! I always get good ideas on places to try.
This was a busy month, so we did lots of take-out from our regular places like Birchwood, Puerta Azul, Bona, U Garden, and Punch. And cooked a lot. We didn't get out to eat until the very end of the month.
Mairin's Table - Delicious and charming, as usual. I had salmon with grilled (roasted?) veggies and mashed potatoes. I meant to take half of my dinner home, as there was a lot of food, but before I knew it, the whole meal was gone. My husband had lamb kabobs, which were very good, and my friend had beef stroganoff, which he reported was nice, and chocolate cake, which he said was great.
This weekend (are we in March already?), we tried three new places:
Bombay 2 Deli - We rushed here as soon as they plowed our street for two combo lunches and a samosa. The chickpea curry was good (nothing special), but the eggplant curry was great, and the yogurt soup was fabulous. And I loved the samosa. The very best dish was a dessert of thickened condensed milk and mango - good for sharing, because it's really rich. I loved the atmosphere at this friendly and casual corner of a grocery store; I'll be back here often. Too bad they're not open today - they're closed on Monday and Tuesday).
Pho Ca Dao - Finally got here for some pho and papaya salad. I agree with those other chowhound who say this is the best pho in town. The papaya salad is a strong contender, too. Also, this just might be the least fancy Vietnamese restaurant in town - it's my kind of place.
Midtown Global Market - Got a medley of take-out food for an impromptu dinner. (I've been to MGM before, but I tried three different places this time.) I bought some Barbacoa de chivo (Goat BBQ) from Bymore Meats for a different meal, but I couldn't resist eating some as I put it away. (Verdict: WOW! It's rich and delicious and just fatty enough to be succulent.) For last night's meal, I got rotisserie chicken from Holy Land, plus a bunch of dips and sides that I've never had before: tabouli salad (good), Egyptian Hummos (super good), Imam Bayildi (mmm... excellent eggplant-tomato salad), and whole wheat pita (so much better than the white-flour version). And fresh asparagus and cherry tomatoes from the produce stand. What a feast! I would have gotten dessert, too, but all the dessert stands were closed at 6:30 on Sunday night. So I ate Imam Bayildi and pita for dessert.
I think I had cabin fever after several days of shoveling and pushing cars. But all the food from warmer climes cured the fever and I'm back to enjoying the snow!
re: Mill City Modern
It's on University Ave in St. Paul, near Little Szechuan and Mai Village. It's a very bare-bones place, and they serve only pho and drinks. And papaya salad.
Pho Ca Dao
439 University Ave. Saint Paul
No web site - it's not fancy enough - and it's not even listed on phofever.com! (Pho fans - help me submit more Twin Cities places so that the web site becomes a useful reference.)
There's a two-year-old review in the MSP/STP magazine:
We've been lucky - eating out in Singapore and Hong Kong. MMMMM! And in Atlanta a lot.
Runyon's - the usual buffalo shrimp (or wings, depending on who gets to call it), tossed salad, and still some of the best fries in the city. And Michael is the best bartender in town.
Pracna - I wish someone there would learn how to cook. How can you screw up walleye fingers? But they always taste skunky. And there's not much else on their late night menu that I can eat. But it was next to the movie theater, it was late, and we were hungry. Great space, though, and I love the beer selection.
Take-out from Keegan's. My friend had the shepherd's pie - it's one of her faves. I had the smoke salmon app. Really nice thick-sliced salmon with chopped bermudas, egg, capers, on thin-sliced baguette-style bread. Could use some Major Grey's Chutney, though.
Koyi Sushi - standby fave for well-selected sushi. Great selection of rolls. Love the place.
Tum Rup Thai - our first visit. Chowspouse was pleased, and considers it's the best Thai we've had in the cities so far. That said, I was a little underwhelmed. Like katebauer, we ordered Thai hot and it arrived maybe medium, if that. We had the salmon crisps. They were good, but that mae ploy dipping sauce came right out of the jar, didn't it? The spicy Thai fish - red snapper filet - was, ahem, subtle. The green curry was good, but not hot enough. And the place was a madhouse on a Sunday night. I don't think I could imagine going in there on a Friday or Saturday.
I agree 100% on Pracna. Husband works in that building so it would be wonderful if that was a great place where I could pop by after work and eat dinner with him. The sandwiches are alright and I've enjoyed the salmon quesadillas but there's nothing fantastic there.
We also got the spicy Thai fish at Tum Rup Thai (the whole fish, not sure if that's different than the filet) but it was totally sweet, not spicy at all.
I've been mostly in my kitchen but alas, a I did get to eat out a couple three times.
Little Szechuan - on my second trip to the much beloved restaurant, I simply ordered wrong - for me. We started off with the incredibly addictive Dan-Dan Noodles......perfect. I had remembered asking my waiter on my first visit to LS about the "shrimp with special sauce" and he said it was in a brown sauce. So, I ordered it - big disappointment for me. It was honey sweet shrimp (much like honey walnut shrimp) surrounded by a circle of cold broccoli. I wanted to cry. The shrimp were big and tasty but I was not in a sweet mood - sigh. My dining partner ordered Beef with Pickled Chili Peppers. It was fine. I did make up for this by getting an order of Spicy Beef Ribs to go. Those are sooo good - I nibbled on those for a day or two.
PI - a new restaurant, bar in the Seward neighbhorhood at 25th and 25th. I had an order of wings which were suprisingly fine by my Buffalo, NY standards, a burger - tasty but nothing special but fine with a huge helping of very tasty Tater Tots. Yup, Tater Tots. I was in Tater Tot heaven. My dining companions had Mock Duck with Sesame Noodles, and a Barbeque Burger with Tater Tots - plus some very fine cocktails. We were all perfectly happy with our order and look forward to heading back for happy hour food (cheap) and drinks...and tater tots.
Emily's - Camden area of North Mpls - basic breakfast joint with counter and regular customers. We were in the mood for the light but filling pancakes, buttery yet crispy and totally delicous hash browns and Italian sausage. Emily is from Italy and while the menu is totally American, she slides in a few Italian specials on occassion.
Abacus, thanks for the report on PI. I love the idea of a nice, non-college bar I can walk to! (No DUIs for me...) Cocktails and tater tots sound wonderful, as does the mock duck dish.
I found PI's myspace page, but there's no info on their food or drinks, just the shows and PI's friends. Makes me wonder if the food is more of an afterthought. What is the rest of the menu like?
OK I've been out more than I'll report on, but most of it was the same old same old for me. Saigon for banh mi a few times, great as always, Pizza Luce delivered a few times, pretty great for delivered pizza. The more interesting stuff:
Trung Nam French Bakery (739 University in St. Paul)- I've been wanting to try this place for months now, but it was always closed when I'd tried to go there before. The space itself is not very welcoming, surrounded by 10 ft (I think) high chain link fence which is gated off when the shop is closed. There is a drive through apparently but they haven't removed the old menu from the chicken-y place that was there before so that confused me enough to make me just park and walk in. What I found was a clean, bright, very casual, friendly place. They only sell one version of banh mi (the shredded pork loaf variety), but it was pretty decent. The bread was stellar. Some of the crispiest, airiest, yet not-too-dry-est banh mi bread ever for me. The fillings were jsut OK - no not bad, but I couldn't help but say out loud to my dining campanion that I wished we could have banh mi with Trung Nam's bread and Saigon's fillings. Because I just haven't found a comparison for Saigon's mushy, warm, savory meatballs and perfectly pickled veggies. Anyway, I also tried a chocolate croissant at Trung Nam, which was quite pleasing - very delicate, buttery, with just a hinting pocket of chocolate to complement the pastry. The price can't be beat - a banh mi, soda, and croissant for $4. Nice.
Tavern on the Avenue (825 Jefferson Ave in St. Paul - the former home of Spanky's) - We live just a few blocks away, so we had to try it (it just recently changed ownership). We went on a snowy evening with baby girl to see what was up. The menu is basically the same as any other bar and grill menu, but we were quite pleased with the quality of the food. Ordered walleye fingers (an appetizer, comes with fries), I got original sliders (several mini hamburgers) and husband had the hot dago sandwich. The sliders were pretty good actually, but I'd probably try something else next time. I didn't try the hot dago sandwich, but husband had the same feeling - wouldn't get it again, but it was perfectly satisfying. The walleye fingers were amazing though. Now I'm not what you'd call a major walleye-seeker, but when I find myself at the Tavern on Grand, I'll partake, and I generally enjoy it there. But the walleye at the Tavern on the Avenue was literally finger-licking good. The coating was light and crispy and perfectly seasoned (salty enough but not overwhelmingly so, with yer Minnesota dash of pepper and dat's about it). The fish tasted fresh and had a perfectly flaky-yet-meaty texture. Other notes: the service was very good and freindly, the crowd was a little sketchy (lots of loud, crude talk and swearing from a table within earshot - not appreciated, guys). Oh and no, they're not affiliated with the Tavern on Grand. We'll be back for beers and walleye fingers. For sure. Maybe without babygirl though. Now if we can only do something about the music (a distractingly improbable mix of five or six artists, ranging from hip hop to heavy metal to indie pop to R&B)...
diesel, I agree Trung Nam bread+Saigon fillings would be the perfect match for a bahn mi.
Even though Trung Nam only has the one kind of bahn mi, it's so cheap and easy to pick up one of those for lunch while you're picking up your chocolate croissant in the morning. You're all set for the day and, like you said, for under $4 (without the pop.) I like their blueberry croissants, too.
I saw a sign a month or so ago that there was going to be a price increase (if I had to guess, from $1.25 per croissant to $1.40 per croissant, if my memory is right), but I can't remember when the increase was to take place. I don't know if you got the good prices or the better (old) prices. I meant to post about it, but forgot.
And it's such a bummer that they are closed on Sundays. :(
Thanks for the tip re: Tavern on the Avenue. Sounds terrific! Did you happen to notice if they do AYCE fish fries on Fridays during Lent?
Solid thread for a short month.
Diesel - thanks for the report on the new tavern on the ave - I know one of the new owners indirectly & they are the team who bought Gabe's a few yrs ago. I had mentioned to a few peeps about that place & we were going to attempt to organize a family friendlier regular night. I'll float it around perhaps....
Additionally, I took my kids out in Feb to Damico & sons on grand - hadn't been for ages & I was delighted at the food & service.
I checked out the Bombay Bistro's lunch buffet recently since it's near where I work. I
enjoyed it quite a bit,& was pleasantly surprised at the preponderance of vegetarian dishes
in the buffet. The hostess told me there is even more vegetarian on the weekend lunch buffet. I don't agree with whoever called their food 'Americanized' on this board. BTW, a friend who is an avid Indian food lover tried Bombay Bistro years ago and complained that
it was 'too hot'- hardly an Americanization indicator.
Peninsula (Eat Street) - We had headed to Eat Street in the hopes of grabbing a bite at Quang or Jasmine Deli as they have been on the "must try" list for a long time, and that is where they will stay as they were both closed. We headed to what appeared to be the only place open, Peninsula. They have a good racket going as the place was packed. We shared the fried crab-claw appetizer. It was cute to look at and fun to eat but it tasted boring as hell. Serving it with mayonaise did not help either. Had it been spiced, it would have been a winner. I had a curried beef dish that was not cooked hot and fast, so the meat was fatty and gummy and grey and not very good. The sauce was good but required several shots of sriracha to have the heat the peppers next to it on the menu implied it had. My SO had a stir-fried shrimp with broccoli thing that was very good but also needed sriracha. Portions are enough for 2 people. Lychee drink was very good and the Thai iced tea was passable but not nearly as good as Chai's. Service was attentive and pleasant. Not sure if we'd go back.
Bad Waitress (Eat Street) Went here for dessert following Peninsula. Got the banana split and a couple espressos. The pineapple wasn't fresh and there wasn't enough carmel for my liking...but it was excellent. It's hard to mess up a banana split, but this thing was covered in fruit and was very good. Coffee was also yummy. We want to go back for waffles in the summer with the doors are open.
The Modern (NE) We go here at least twice a month, but i figured I'll do an obligatory rave just in case no one has been here yet. Always an awesome and changing menu, great wines, fantastic service, we love that it is so close. I had the grilled romaine salad with anchovies (perfectly wilted, buttery, jarred, not canned, anchovies are so good) and the turbot (which ended up being barramundi, but it's all fish to me) entree. Fish was brown and crispy with a spicy crust and medium rare in the middle, the grilled bok choy was delicious. Melted in my mouth, all of it. She has the mussles and the pot roast (is there anything more to say about this dish?) The mussles, as I mentioned earlier, were salty and meaty and a smokey. Go here already.
Chiang Mai Thai (Uptown) Went for the prix fixe during BOTB and the food hasn't really changed in 5 years, so we weren't pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised. Still good, and for the price it was excellent. Had a bottle of Pinot Noir that was a very good with our meals. However, since we are Chai's regulars now, we know when we wish we were eating Chai's food. We still like Chiang, and hope they change their menu soon so that we can try some new flavors.
Lurcat (Loring) Went for happy hour in the bar during BOTB. We shared he apple chive and cheese salad and hanger steak with fries, the burgers with fries, and the mini donuts. I like all of these dishes anyway, so it really wasn't a stretch to imagine I would like them when they were less expensive. A nice relaxing meal and we finagled a cheaper bottle of wine during happy hour, so that happened. Good meal, especially when it isn't busy (which isn't very often).
Wilde Roast (NE) We go to Wilde Roast pretty often for breakfast and coffee, this was my first time going for lunch or dinner. Went with a friend for half priced wine on a Tuesday night and had a great evening. Shared a couple bottles of Pinot Noir wish was surprisingly good for the price. I had the Turkey BLT and she the French dip. My sandwich was piled with fixins and made a mouthful of every bite. Good vinagrette on the salad. She loved the french dip, good bread stayed crunchy on the outside but still soaked up the jus. Dessert was good, but after two bottles of wine...what isn't.
Sorry to hear about your disappointment with Peninsula. I've come to like it a lot and have generally been happy with our orders. I keep a copy of the menu at my desk for take out on the way home from Downtown. I agree that they aren't always spicy-hot but you can fix that if you wish. I enjoy the Achat appetizer and order it almost every time I go. I give a thumbs up to the curry hot pots. I also like the Peninsula Style Tofu, the Beef Rendang, and the Spicy and Salted Golden Tofu. I've been less pleased with their noodle dishes -- I've tried the Seafood Chow Fun but thought it was a little slimier than I like. I also did not like the Char Kway Teow that my wife had once, but think that it might have been an "off" night for it.
As far as Chiang Mai Thai goes, I think the food doesn't hold a candle to Tum Rup Thai, which is a block or two away.
re: bob s
Thanks for the suggestions! We liked the atmosphere and service and everything else so we'll have to go back and hit these dishes up. I think with a menu that extensive it is fair to say they have dishes they do far better than others.
As for Tum Rup, I got a little "stomach flu" from there once, so we haven't been back. Plus it's in uptown which means we'd have to drive past Chai's to get there which would be a sin in our book. Have you (or anyone else) tried the Willy Wonkaish Thai place where Hagen Daaz/Panera used to be? The neon frightens me to be honest.
OK, I went to Kabobs on 494 and Portland Ave. again. (I think I will be going here very often) This time I got goat biryani, seekh kabobs, beef samosas, and garlic naan. The rice was a litter dry this time. But I got a lot of good food at a decent price and this stuff has longevity. The kabobs and biryani were still good the next two days; I just sprinkled water on the rice and microwaved it.
We went to Chapati in Edina for an Indian buffet. That was decent. They had all the usual stuff. But my favorite Indian buffet here is Sambol in Eagan, just for the masala dosas. Now that's easily the most popular item there so you need to watch carefully for when they bring it out because it goes very quickly.
My girl wanted to go to the Bonfire grill on Grand Ave in St. Paul right next to Cafe Latte. Somehow she thought it would be happy hour but that's only until 6. It was still nice. We got beer and appetizers. It's nice to have Newcastle on tap. Our chicken lettuce wraps and walleye fingers were good. If you never had lettuce wraps, they give you some chicken filling, sour cream sauce, some sort of salsa, and some lettuce and you make your own wraps. It can get a little messy.
I was jonesing for some sushi but rather than go to any restaurant I just got some from Lund's grocery store. Eh, it was satisfactory. Sushi is always better when fresh and I believe these guys will make it fresh if you want to order something special like a party platter.
I realize Fuddrucker's is a national chain but I went there for the first time in my life and had a really good mushroom swiss burger. It was probably one of the best chain burgers I've ever had.
Anne - in response to PI - the place was packed with virtually no advertising! Star Tribune reporter, Tom Horgen (sp), did a nice feature article on the place but mostly, it's been word of mouth and the place was packed!
The food was better than I expected - and the atmosphere - bar, easy, laid back, cool music, fun wait staff (expect mohawks, fauxhawks, lots of tattoos)
Here's what I found from an article online:
"xecutive chef Steph “the Chef” Hedrick brings years of experience to Pi. Her résumé includes sous chef at the Sample Room in Northeast Minneapolis, executive chef at Maverick’s Wood Grill in Champlain and The Independent in Uptown, and six years at the now-closed Table of Contents.
Hedrick offers special entrees nightly for $15: mahi mahi with soba noodles, miso sauce and raddichio slaw; or her favorite cut of meat, the “Cattlemen’s Cut,” from Swanson Meats, her “very local” meat purveyor, just up the street at 2700 26th Ave. S. Everything is made from scratch (except tater tots) with “fresh, great ingredients, as local as possible,” said Hedrick.
Pi also offers upscale bar food for $6–$8, such as tacos, sloppy joes, the GBLT (guacamole, bacon, lettuce and tomato), dips, sandwiches and salads."
I'm a little behind in posting. But I think I tried 4 new restaurants, the others were my typical places.
Wasabi - This was dissapointing, I went with 2 other friends and we are all huge sushi fans. We got the fried squid for an appetizer, the breading was off, and it was served in huge pieces (we were expecting more calamari like squid). the sauce that came with it, was a bit sweet which was odd. We got the sushi for 2 which was perfect for the 3 of us, you get a lot!! The sushi was alright, if you wanted a sushi fix, you got an assortment of fish, it seemed fairly fresh, but nothing specatcular. to finish off, we got tempura ice cream for dessert!. It wasn't as good as other places and they use vanilla ice cream, instead of having you pick. (if you ever want tempura ice cream, go to Koyi, Sushi Tango or Fuji-Ya!)
Cliquot Cafe- Stopped there for a piece of carrot cake, which was gigantic, very rich with thick cream cheese frosting, i couldn't finish it so i brought it home. I also got a paninin to go, so i had a lunch for the next day. The paninni had proscuitto and goat cheese in it and was delicious reheated.
Longfellow Grill - This was the first time i had been to any of the longfellow chains. I picked it so my non-chowish boyfriend would be easily able to pick out something to eat. :) he got the basic burger and I got the turkey burger. we both throughly enjoyed our burgers. I would come back when i crave a good turkey burger.
Vincent- went for the BOTB. first time there for me, and I loved it!
Erte – Went there with a girlfriend on a Tuesday night and got into trouble with the 1/2 off bottles of wine special. Oops? J I had the special of the evening – seared scallops with curried rice and a light curry sauce. I was a bit nervous ordering it as I didn’t care for the duck entrée the last time I ate at Erte but the scallops were a different story! I love the relish plate and bread, too. Perfect with the wine.
Birchwood – My roommate and I jumped at the chance to sit outside on the first warm night of the year! We originally wanted to do Clicquot but the patio was full (it was a Friday) so we drove a few blocks further to Birchwood. I had the black bean burger with mixed greens and a pint of Surly Bender (beer on a warm patio is a mandatory thing). MAN it was all good. The burger came topped with sprouts, yellow beets and aioli. I ate the whole damn thing :) My roomie had the roasted pork burrito and ate almost all of it. It looks great! And I'm now officially a fan of Surly. The stuff was awesome.
French Meadow - For brunch with my boyfriend and his folks. I'd never been and was thrilled to finally get there. AND we got an outdoor table. Score! I got the egg salad sandwich on hemp bread per a recommendation from a co-worker and wasn't disappointed. Could've used some mustard or something for tang but it really was good. LOVED the hemp bread so much that I bought a loaf at the Wedge afterward (and gave half to said co-worker). Also had a cup of the white bean chicken chili which was awesome. And don't forget the organic fair trade coffee. Yum.
I didn't eat there but hit up Holy Land on Central for several dips/spreads for a girls night I hosted at my house. I grabbed the original hummus, peppertizer, olive tapenade and some French feta and served it in a cool 4-compartment dish I got at Crate and Barrel. Along with some whole wheat pita wedges. It was all great, as usually. I'd just eaten at Birchwood before going in to the store which was a GOOD thing. Otherwise the smell of the Friday night buffet would've probably killed me.
A good month all around!
A girlfriend and I hit the new Mysore Cafe on Hennepin & 29th (half a block up from KinhDo) a couple of Saturday nights ago. She spent six weeks in India last year and was hankerin' for some good Indian. The restaurant was horseshoe-shaped; deuces and four-tops on one side and the other held four-tops and a loooong 20-top. As we found out, that's for the extend-a-family table. While we were there, it was packed. We were in the minority, most of the clientele were Indian. The 20-top filled up with one family, complete with kids that ran around and made noise.
The food was FANTASTIC. They had a buffet, which I'm not so fond of, but it was hot, fresh and good. My gf commented that the food was 100% authentic. It was spiced, but not spicy. I can't remember all of the dishes, but the fresh hot naan was outstanding and the trio of raitas (reg, coconut & mint) were well done and super tasty. It's AYCE and about $11 per person. We got Assam to complement our meal and it was really good as well. I ate until I burst, it was sooo good!
When you go -- stick to the left side of the restaurant -- not so many kids. I will be back!
Also dragged the SO to the Longfellow. Sat at the bar and discovered (happily!) that it was half-off bottle of wine night, which is every Monday. They were out of the one that I wanted (Malbec), which was a bummer, so we had a Pinot. SO had the steak & Peirogies and I indulged in fish-n-chips. I'm not a fan of their tartar [sweet pickles in tartar??] and they don't serve enough with the meal (I'm from SEA -- it's a crime to have bad tartar and not serve it w/your fries there). SO's a biiiig fan of the steak & pierogies. He gets it every time we go. All in all, very satisfying and the service was fast and good.
My favorite outing this month:
Toast Wine Bar & Cafe, 415 N 1st St, Mpls.
We went in a group on a Sunday night and LOVED IT! They have a great wine list, and a smallish menu of appetizers, soup, sandwiches, crisp-bread pizza, and desserts. We ordered almost everything, shared tastes, and everything was wonderful - I especially loved the butternut squash soup and the tuna-olive bruschetta (there are 5-10 bruschetta toppings available, all yummy). The salumi/charcuterie plate comes with some amazing violet mustard - we licked it off the plate. And the desserts are delicious - we tried them all, along with the suggested wine pairings for each. I had panna cotta with sparking sake - wow!
The place is lovely - quiet and softly lit - and prices are surprisingly reasonable for the high quality. I'll be back, especially when it gets warmer and they add sidewalk seating. (They're tucked behind a mini-mart, half a block off 1st St. N, so the location is quiet.) This place would be perfect before or after a show at Theatre de la Jeune Lune.
Note: This place is run by two ex-Auriga people - those of you who are pining for Auriga should get yourselves down here.
Toast doesn't seem to have a web site, but City Pages recently did a review, and it's on citysearch.com.
The second half of the month:
Butter. I went for lunch with a group of six for lunch. I think they were not prepared for all of us getting meals, because the service was a little slow, but everyone really liked their food. They have a burrito that looked amazing. I had the tempheh sandwich with the tomato soup. The sandwich was good, the soup was awesome.
Dashen. See my review here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38470...
Fuji Ya-Mpls: I ordered sushi. It was fresh, it was good, it was sushi in Minnesota.
Babani's. This is a standard work lunch locale for me. I love it. The lemon chicken soup with bread is my favorite lunch here. It is light and sour and addictive. The bread is always fresh and delicious.
Craftsman. Again, we went for hamburgers and beers, but I ended up getting the duck. It was a little overcooked (I ordered medium-rare) but it was very flavorful and tender. It came with a salad or, I think, wheatberries.
Dulono's. It is by far our favorite pizza in the city, plus we love the pasta. I had never been inside before, but it was great. It reminds me of pizza places of my childhood, with the weird wall hangings, families all over, and seat yourself seating at wood laminate tables. Dulono's has our favorite sauces for both pizza and pasta; sweet and tart at the same time. So tasty.
El Pariso- Local mexican seafood. We go all the time and it is always good. I got red snapper vera cruz style. A whole snapper, deep fried, with tomatoes, olives, and some other stuff. Really good.
El Meson. We went last night. It was super busy. We started with the ceviche. We both loved it. It comes with fried plantaines and a bowl of seafood ceviche. My husband and I were both spooning up the sauce once the seafood was done. I had "Pescado." It is a white fish on a coconut risotto with a ginger curry sauce. The fish and the sauce were great, but the risotto was a bit gummy. I was disappointed. My husband got the rice with seafood. It was a big bowl of rice and seafood. He really liked it and I thought it was pretty tasty myself. We got a cake dessert with a ginger guava sauce. The sauce was good, but the rest was boring. We will go back, we want to give them another chance because they were in walking distance, but I wasn't too impressed.
In all, we eat out too much.