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Mar 6, 2007 03:31 AM

[MSP] Wine bar at Heartland (St. Paul) --and "every day" dining

Churchka's quick report in a thread about Craftsman restaurant ( started me thinking (once again), about places I need to try, or that I should frequent, well, more frequently. When we're looking for an affordable spontaneous meal, we usually end up at a burger joint, like the Nook, or at one of the Longfellow/Highland siblings. But, even at Longfellow, you're going to drop $9-$11 for a burger or for a salad. While I think these places do a fine job for what they are, I think I could eat better, particularly if I wanted to place an emphasis on meals prepared with locally-sourced, artisanal ingredients.

So, what's the best way to do that, but still stay at the $12 and under price range for your main dish?

Churchka mentioned having just the burgers at Craftsman because of wanting to keep the meal affordable; when I looked at their menu online, I saw they offered pizzas for $10 and under The burgers and the pizzas are in the $10-$11 range--and these are prepared using locally-sourced, often organic, ingredients.

112 Eatery has several dishes (mostly sandwiches) under $10, the bacon egg & harrisa sandwich and the gougère & fried mortadella sandwich, and, of course, the burger. But, it's hard to get into 112 Eatery without a reservation, though, you could try getting there early and eating at the bar.

The wine bar at Heartland offers charcuterie in the $10-$12 range, and salads for only $8 (click on "view bar menu" nearish to the lower left hand side of the page) The wine bar seems to be trying to appeal to those who aren't up for the full fine dining experience, but still want to have a meal prepared from locally-sourced ingredients. I like this idea, that in the Wine Bar, they have a specific focus on serving smaller plates at reduced prices, specifically to serve the casual, more "every day" market.

So, if you know where and when to go, and what to order, you could eat this way "every day." Does anyone have more ideas of fine dining restaurants, or restaurants focusing on the highest-quality organic and locally-sourced, artisanal ingredients where one could go in the Twin Cities for every day dining, without planning ahead so far that you'd need reservations, but at the low-end of the price scale, say, $12 and under for your main dish? When are the best times and days of the week? Maybe they offer specials on their slower nights? (Please add your comments to the secrets of dining at Heartland, 112 Eatery and Craftsman, as well as others I haven't mentioned). Places where they welcome having you order the smaller, less expensive dishes as your meal?

Ideas? Thank you, as always, for sharing your thoughts and experiences.


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  1. Our usual spur of the moment place is either Lucia's Wine Bar (if we want a drink) or Lucia's Bakery (if not). I think everything on both menus is under $12. Sometimes, I'll get a salad and a small plate of something. Other times, it'll be one of the entrees.

    You can also get a soup or salad, along with a ginormous serving of frites at Cafe Barbette.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bob s

      Lucia's --great idea!

      I haven't been to Cafe Barbette yet, another one for the list! They mention on their website that they offer an inexpensive prix fixe menu on Mondays. Bob, can you (or anyone else) comment on that?



      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I don't know about the prix fixes Mondays, but I know they have some pretty good happy hour food from 3-6pm which includes the awesome fries bob s mentioned, a fruit & cheese plate, and some other stuff all at $5 each.

        My fiancée and I ate there (Barbette) a few days ago and had the pomme frites (with an addictive saffron aioli), a croque monsieur (with greens and amazing homemade potato chips), a buckwheat crepe with tons of yummies inside (came with greens, too), a mammoth slice of carrot cake, and two iced teas all for something crazy low like $36. The most expensive item was the crepe at about $10. The whole meal was great. I even heard the word "authentic" from her lips.

        I took a few camera phone photos. We were towards the back away from the windows, so my apologies:

        pomme frites:

        her crepe:

        my croque monsieur:

    2. TDQ - the bar at heartland can be crowded at times - & there isn't a good spot to wait since you are "in the bar" were people should be waiting for their tables. I do think you can reserve a table in the wine bar section.

      Barbette is now on my list too!

      1. Keeping it in my neighborhood, Barbette was right on my lips but everyone already covered that. I also think that the pizzas in JP's excellent lounge are a nice option at 10-12 dollars. Bryant Lake Bowl's menu is also focused on organic/fresh and is very reasonably priced at all hours - morning, noon and night.

        1. Cafe Brenda specializes in vegetarian/seafood and local/artisanal. They have some $8-12 apps and a la carte items including the Brendaburger for $9.50.

          1. Some of our favorites have already been mentioned (112, JP), but we also enjoy

            -Bar Lurcat (hanger steak and salad can be shared, plus you've plenty of dough left for fries)
            -LBV Lounge (Lamb burgers and a salad can be shared with bread left over for a cheese plate)
            -Masa has a great happy hour taco special,
            -We like the sandwiches and half priced wine at Mairin's Table
            -AYCE maki at Martini Blu on Sundays

            All of these are dependent on not getting drinks to stay in the "everyday affordable" range (for me at least).
            Must of these selections

            5 Replies
            1. re: Foureyes137

              Since i can't edit, I will add:

              Wilde Roast fits the bill.

              1. re: Foureyes137

                I thought I'd be the first to mention Mairin's Table, but you beat me to it. According to their web site, they have a deal on wine and "small plates" from 1-5 on Saturdays. Sounds perfect for a leisurely lunch!



                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  I've always wanted to check them out. is it hard to get a table?

                  1. re: dotMac

                    Not on weekdays (when we've gone). We just did walk-in.

                    However, from what we've been told, the Moraccan nights the first Saturday of the month fill-up.

                  2. re: AnneInMpls

                    It does make a very nice leisurely lunch. And no, it isn't hard to get a table. The two Saturdays we were there there was only one other table occupied.