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End of the month UPDATE MSP (March)

Where have you been since


Tell us everything! Raves, downhill alerts, new spots, old favorties, etc.

Happy April Fools Day Everyone!

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  1. I was out of town a bit this month.

    But I did make it to Shish a few times. Excellent. Highly recommended and the staff is very friendly!

    Downtowner woodfire in St paul for dinner - I had the beef kabobs (persian roasted) and a salad, a few beer, great food, great service and well priced

    Went to the Grand Cafe in Minneapolis last night. Food was excellent - I had the roasted beet salad and the kobe pot roast. I plan on returning soon. Good price points for food and wine.

    1. Nothing new, really. Matty B's for lunch; Town Talk for dinner and brunch ... but I've posted about both of those places before.

      We did hit an old favorite for breakfast -- French Meadow Bakery. They've still got it. The "basic egg breakfast" is a simple plate of very good bacon, crispy hash browns, an egg cooked to your liking, and two slices of excellent French Meadow toast, with butter and strawberry jam. We had a waffle of the day, which was topped with too much of an excessively sweet raspberry sauce and a giant scoop of very dense fresh whipped cream. The French toast was a better choice -- very thick slices of sourdough boule. Coffee was very good. Even better, refills are now free (although you still must get your own).

      1. We were on vacation in Florida for a week but did try two new places this month we had not tried before. Willie's Wine Bar. Loved the jazz combo playing and had some great wine. Had a scallops appet. but thought the scallops were much better at Margaux's. I had a pizza (wasn't wild about the crust) and husband had salmon (??) which was great. Will probably go back. Last night went to Il Vesco Vino in St. Paul. Great atmosphere, lots of energy. Had the salami/cheese appet., very good. Then we each had a pasta. MIne with shrimp, his with seafood. Liked both. Flourless choc. cake for dessert-good. Great wine. Will probably go back in summer when new patio opens and wood oven pizzas are available.
        As posted on another thread, still trying to find a good winebar/bistro where you can get good wine, appies, pizza, pasta, with meals around $12 a person. (especially around St. Paul). Love Gigi's in Mpls but would love to find something similar nearby St. Paul. J

        1. Alright, I've been keeping track this month:

          JP's - Husband has been wanting to go for a while so we went there on a Wednesday night. The waiter was very friendly but gave the same exact shtick to the table next to us. I had a foie gras appetizer and 1/2 of the gnocchi entree. The foie gras was good but came with a very plain salad along side. The gnocchi was weird - it was supposed to have a sauce with blue cheese which I guess it did but the flavor wasn't very strong and the sweet candied nuts on top totally dominated the dish. Husband had tuna tartare which was excellent and then I believe roast pork which was a bit dry, but came with a fantastic polenta on the side.

          Mediterranean Cruise Cafe - this is our new go to spot when we're by MOA. Although the belly dancing bugs me, the food is fantastic and the portions are so huge you'll easily have 2 more meals left. I got the lamb with couscous and besides being a little fatty, it was fantastic. Their hummos is wonderful too.

          Fasika - I was having a craving and husband and I hadn't gone anywhere that weekend due to house painting. It was great as usual and the Ethiopian beer was surprisingly good. We got the veggie platter and a chicken dish and between the 2 of us only finished about 1/2 of both. Great deal.

          Bagu - we went late one rainy evening. It was fine, although I got the sashimi platter and the bowl of rice that came with it tasted off - not too much vinegar like others have reported about the sushi rice, just too dry or something. The salmon was fantastic but the tuna was a little too tough and fishy.

          Holy Land - I picked up takeout and got the sauteed chicken and veggies for myself. Absolutely fantastic and had tons of leftovers for the next day.

          Kabob - We headed down there this past Friday because of the reviews on here. We decided to get takeout because the restaurant was freezing cold. They were out of what we first wanted so we had to modify our choices a bit. Husband got one of the beef kabobs which came totally cold - it was very strange. It was really dry also, we ate 1 of 3 and tossed the rest. We got the goat biryani weekend special which was fine but nothing great. There were big pieces of bone in the rice which was unappealing. I got the chicken tikka masala which was nicely spiced. We ordered everything hot, the owner looked at us funny, but then we explained that we're not from MN and he agreed to make it hot ;) It was the perfect spice level. I don't think we'd go there again though because the kabobs were so disappointing and the other entrees nothing special.

          Hell's Kitchen - I just returned from brunch there and got a cup of the porridge and the sausage bread. I'm totally stuffed and only ate 1/2 the bread. It was all good, but not as mind blowing as I remember.

          Tonight we're going to King's with some family that live up near there. I'm very excited for the bi bim bap.

          2 Replies
          1. re: katebauer

            Wow Kate, I am surprised by your experience at Kabobs. Every time I went the food was piping hot and the right spice level. I was not impressed with the biryani, which I thought the rice was too dry. But the other stuff was always good. Sometimes I just get some naan to go and eat it with something I make myself. The beef samosas are good, very few places have them. Yup, it's definitely a takeout place.

            I agree with you on Fasika and Holy Land. Awesome stuff.

            1. re: IronLionZion

              We did think the naan at kababs was good - fluffier and softer than some other places. So the kabobs are not supposed to be cold? We thought maybe that's how they were supposed to be and we missed something. The owner (?) who helped us was very friendly and the order took 20 minutes to put together so we assumed what needed to be cooked was cooked.

          2. India Cafe on Portland and 494 - I've been wanting to try this place and my new girlfriend is a vegetarian. I had the Mysore masala dosa. It was good stuff. I think a better value is Sambol's lunch buffet because then you can get as many masala dosas as you want. A dosa at India Cafe will run you around $6.

            Sambol in Eagan - I came here only because I wanted the masala dosas during the Saturday lunch buffet. Good stuff as always. This is probably my favorite Indian restaurant in the twin cities but I haven't been to that many. The buffet on Saturday is something like $11.

            Tum Rup Thai - My girl's favorite thai restaurant. I went here for the first time and got chili cashews with beef. Good stuff. I got spice level 3 and thought that was the right amount. She got green curry with tofu and that was good too. I prefer the spicy stuff. The portions were large, so we took it home and got a few meals out of it.

            Ketsana's - This place was awesome. I had the panang beef at spice level "hot" and this was absolutely amazing. Panang is probably my favorite Thai dish, but very few places have it. It has coconut milk, peanuts, lime, chilis, and I don't know what else. Unfortunately they give very little of this and everyone wanted some so it went quickly. The dishes with vegetables or noodles are a lot more substantial if you're very hungry. I've been looking for a Thai eggplant curry but I haven't seen it anywhere here. I don't know what it's called. If anyone knows where to get it, let me know.

            Cafe 28 in Linden Hills - interesting stuff, supposedly very "natural" and "organic". I had the fish special. It came with some sort of pureed vegetable and asparagus. It was good but the portion was very small. My buddy got the pork dish where you wrap it in tortillas. That was good stuff and the portion was bigger. What really looked awesome was the "chocolate decadence" dessert. That was a very rich chocolate cake of some sort with ice cream and more chocolate. Someone got it and I so wanted to try a spoonful but I gave up sweets for Lent. Damn.

            Yup, Happy April fools day!

            2 Replies
            1. re: IronLionZion

              I have to mention the fried smelts on the happy hour menu at Vincent's. Met a friend
              there Friday, first time at their happy hour, went at 5 as advised- fills up rapidly after
              that- pleasantly quiet which is important to me- didn't think the chickpea fries were
              anything great although they sounded interesting- they ended up looking like fish sticks
              and had a very smooth creamy filling, not very interesting. Good deal on the famous
              Vincent burger- my friend loved hers, and I scored one yummy bite- half price at happy
              hour. But try those smelts, they reminded me of going camping and frying up some
              fish we caught- tiny though, with a nice homemade tartar mayo.

              1. re: IronLionZion

                I'm glad Ketsana's is back. They closed for a while for "renovation" and right after they reopened it was abysmal. But I always loved their curry duck and the green papaya salad.

                I don't think I would drive across town for it, but I work near there and love it for lunch.

                Thanks for the post. Now I know I can go back!

              2. I jumped the gun and posted my end-of-March outings in the first-half-of-March thread. I was just so excited about "my" new find - Toast Wine Bar.


                Only a frantically busy schedule has kept me from going back to Toast right away. But I'm planning another visit soon!

                And those fried smelt at Vincent's happy hour sound like something else I need to try soon. I wonder how long they'll be on the menu?


                5 Replies
                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  Anne, we might have to try Toast Sat. night. Can you get a table pretty easily? Do they take reservations? Can't wait to go. Thanks for the review-Janice

                  1. re: janiceh

                    I've only ever been to Toast on a Sunday night, so I don't know how crowded they are on Saturdays. They're tucked away on a side street/cul de sac (4th), so they might not have been "discovered" yet. But give 'em a call and ask! (612-333-4305) And be sure to ask for directions.

                    Hope you like it!

                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      Thanks Anne. I will call them. I'll post a review of what we have. Janice

                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      Anne, we tried Toast and absolutely loved it. I'll save the details for April's restaurant review but we will so go back and I talked to the owner about doing my 50th birthday celebration there. Great service, atmosphere, wine and food. What a find!!! Janice

                    2. Quang: Pork Hock and spicy beef pho, shrimp and pork spring rolls, shrimp w/ cellophane noodles. It boggles the mind that I've lived in Minneapolis for 6 years and not eaten here. I've been a fool. I apologize. That said, Quang is terrific. Everything about this place screams comfort. From the food, the the families working, to the families eating to the ease of the waitstaff. Truly the most efficient place I've eaten in recent memory. While maybe not "pleasant", the service is informal and direct, which I appreciate. They were out of roast pork this night, so we couldn't get a bahn mi (we shall return for this), but the spice warning on the pho was accurate (good heat), the thai basil was fresh, the cellophane noodles not overcooked and the vietnamese limeade was perfectly refreshing. All this and we were in and out in 30 minutes. A fun treat for which we will return.

                      Sushi Tango: Braised baby bok choy, blue fin sashimi, otoro sashimi, oysters, spider maki, sea bream nigiri. I like Tango, though we hadn't been there in at least a year. When compared with the Nami and Origami (where we usually go for sushi/Japanese), Tango is more laid back, less formal. The service was a bit spotty (had to ask for our waters to be refilled) the fish was terrific. I asked if they had any toro, and Bruce told me they had some otoro. Very fresh and a good cut (though a bit steep compared with Origami:$10 for two good pieces of sashimi). The sea bream was chef's choice and it was gorgeous and delicate. Bruce's service was terrific, and this would have been a perfect meal had the beverage/hot service been a bit more attentive.

                      Zeno Uptown: Cookie sundae, carrot cake. Oh man were our eyes bigger than our stomachs. We went to Zeno after Tango, and although we has seen the portions in the case, we still ordered individual desserts. Mistake. Each was big enough for 4, and since mine had ice cream, we ended up taking the carrot cake home, which was still good the next day (the icing wasn't too sweet). The sundae was very good, perfectly paced service despite the room being slammed with drunks (st pats day), and a good soundtrack.

                      Puerto Veracruz: Tacos mexicanos (chorizo & asada), tamal, tres amigos. We loved Puerto when it was La Tortuga, but it has steadily gone downhill since changing owners. Every time we order chorizo on sopes or tacos, it's interesting to watch the cook bolt out the door and down the street to the mercado to buy it and we appreciate the effort, but it seems an item easily stocked. Sometimes they have the hot hot peanut salsa, sometimes they do not. Sometimes the music is so loud you can't talk. The sopes are still good but not where they were 2 years ago when I had deamed them "the best in town." But the worst is that the hood in the kitchen does not appear to work any longer and the entire restaurant stinks of rancid grease, leaving our clothes and hair smelling when we leave. Because of this, we'll be returning to Chiapas for our mexican fix.

                      Surdyk's takeout (2 nights): whole cage-free roasted chicken, roasted pork, beer cheese soup, mustard greens with garlic, bok choy with chilis. A $12 cage-free roasted rosemary chicken is a deal in my book. It is bigger than the cage raised $8 chickens across the street at Lunds (which are over salted and gross), which make one sufficient food for at least two meals for two people. Sides were very good, especially the bok choy. All the food was quickly and easily heated on the stove or in the oven at home. Overall a far better deal and tastier than the $8 per pound steam-trayed food at Lunds. Also, you can buy wine to go with dinner. Der.

                      Lunched at Cosmos and Masa, both experiences were very good. Also had lunch at M&S, which was somewhat odd as the portions were very large for lunch.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Foureyes137

                        I'm late and this is the best I could do from memory. I am sure for many of you these names are tired and true: (and cheers!)

                        Jasmine Deli- We had two big steaming bowls of soup: delicate slightly sweet broth with toasted garlic, greens, tofu/shrimp and rice or egg noodle. Good spring rolls-(fresh shrimp, cilantro, and rice noodle wrapped in a rice paper.) We also ordered the deep-fried spring rolls, which were unfortunately too greasy for my taste. I went back for the Bahn Mi, which was the best $3.00 lunch I’ve had.

                        Taco Moralos
                        We like the fish tacos here.

                        The sea bass soup served Friday – Sunday is amazing: very delicate with pieces of fresh sea-bass and noodles.

                        Bryant Lake Bowl
                        We get cravings for the burger. It is made with organic beef and comes with standard fair (lettuce, tomato, onion). The roll is nothing spectacular but we ask for a side of avocado, which is great. This place also has the best bloody marys I’ve had. We love the “Amanda’s Rock N Roller,” which comes with fresh chopped garlic. It is perfectly spicy and boozy.

                        Joes Garage
                        Another burger craving: I didn’t love this place even though my burger was okay. Our “greek salad” tasted like it had a bottled wishbone Italian dressing on it.

                        Tum Rup Tai
                        Generally good Thai but they didn’t serve Drunken Noodles, which was a disappointment. The place was loud and somewhat overpriced. I also don’t like how you can’t get a Tom kha (or any soup for that matter) in a small sized portion.

                        Restaurant Alma
                        Beef carpacio: amazing.

                        I was blown away by this brunch: delicious coffee and great eggs (I ordered the huevos cubanos.) The corn pancake was sweet and light and fluffy and we order a side of sautéed yucca with lime juice and garlic. My hangover melted away.

                        Went to have some wine and snacks. I got the Croque Monsieur (gruyere cheese and organic ham): delicious. The buckwheat crepe was good too.

                        I am not a raw food person but I was really impressed with the preparation of our food. The tostadas were really tasty. The lasagna was okay although I longed for real (and hot) lasagna.

                        Oysters were A+.