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Mar 12, 2007 06:13 PM

(MSP) I want to like Spoonriver...

I've noticed a lot of positive comments about Spoonriver, but I've been so disappointed the 4 times I've been (1 lunch, 1 appetizers and drinks, 2 dinners - so yes, not brunch). I've just found everything to be too bland. I will admit I often order things that advertise curry/Indian/Thai flavors - maybe I shouldn't expect the strong flavors you'd find at say, an Indian restaurant? What am I doing wrong? Does anyone else agree with me? It's about 2 blocks from my office so it would be so wonderful if it was a good destination.

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  1. I think that it's just a matter of personal taste. I, too, am usually in the mood for bolder flavors. I ate there last week for the first time -- lunch -- and enjoyed both the soup and the veggie special. I thought both were well prepared. I guess it's just a matter of calibrating expectations.


    1. Kate, I have had the same problem with Cafe Brenda (I've only had brunch at Spoonriver and it was good and expensive, not great). The food just seems underspiced when I eat there. I had a mock duck with green curry and it was anemic. A vegetarian risotto that was well cooked but boring in flavor. Yes, cooking with animal fats adds flavor, but I have had plenty of vegetarian Indian food that is terrifically spiced and full of flavor. I have all the respect in the world for locally sourced ingredients, I guess I just want them to impress me as I have been at Auriga, Fugaise, Alma, and other locals.

      My main reason for not going to Spoonriver for dinner has been my experience at Brenda and fear that I will leave disappointed and light of wallet. To Bob's point, it would be hard for me to "calibrate" my expectations unless Spoonriver looked to "calibrate" it's price-point relative to what I expect from the food.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Foureyes137

        Fair enough. I haven't made Cafe Brenda a destination because I don't feel a strong connection to either the food or the space. I do, however, think that Spoonriver's space is appealing.

        1. re: bob s

          Agreed. The space is spectacular and the drinks I've had there have been outstanding. We live just on the other side of the river and liked stopping there for the farmers market and cocktails during bike rides last autumn. Lovely patio as well.

      2. I actually enjoyed the meal that i had there. More so than the meal at Cue. But i agree that it seemed like the more "ethnic" style dishes were a little lackluster. I thought all the appetizers were quite good. The fish that i had was perfectly cooked and quite delicious. I really think they have some good drinks. Interesting. The gin and tonic with fresh sage was great. Though I dont know if I would be back for a meal soon, but for drinks and appetizers yes. Oh, we also had desserts, all of which were great, but they were HUGE. Portion size much closer to Cheesecake Factory than fine dining. I do agree also that vegetarian fine dining can be much better. Brenda is making a great effort and I do want to support her, but the flavors could be better for the price. If anyone is ever in SF and wants to taste truly amazing vegetarian fine dining, check out Millenium. Flavors on par with any fine dining that i have had.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jaysin612

          At Brenda's restaurants, I think it's important to remember that she's cooking for health, too, so she uses almost no salt. Anything I've found to be bland has perked right up with a small addition of salt.

        2. I've only eaten at Spoonriver once, but I loved my smoked chicken-cheese-mango quesadilla. It wasn't spicy, but had a lovely balance of flavors. I had a taste of the caesar salad, too, which was very good. A seat on the patio, a glass of wine, and a quesadilla would be my idea of a good way to celebrate a warm day.


          1. I also work a few blocks from Spoonriver. I've been by several times, and I keep meaning to try it for lunch, but the menu never looks very appealing. I have had a take-out Caesar salad from their refrigerator case. While it had a very tasty dressing, the salad was an eye-popping $10. Just lettuce, croutons, and dressing ... maybe an olive or two. For $10.