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MSP April Mid Month UPDATE

s
St Paul Susie Apr 15, 2007 10:41 AM

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/387121

Where have you all been since the above thread.

Tell us!

Rants, Raves, etc...

You know the drill.

Susan

  1. o
    oystersallday Apr 15, 2007 02:17 PM

    I have been out of town for most of the month but yesterday I went to Town talk diner for brunch and I was not very impressed. Maybe I ordered poorly: egg special with homade chicken sausage? The dish was not bad but the menu didn't really excite me and I ordered my food somewhat unenthusiastically. Initially, I was craving a burger but then I read that the Town Talk burger came topped with a fried egg and ham. I'm all for eating protein but this struck me as bit much. My egg dish and my gf's were tasty...but really heavy and not very original. I wonder if we should check out Town Talk for dinner and drinks instead.

    1. bob s Apr 15, 2007 09:06 PM

      I, too, was out of town the first part of the month. This past week, though, I've been on my own - the family was out of town - so I was eating out most of the week. Whenever this happens, I try to make it to places other than my usual haunts. Except for Bar Abeline, all of the places I talk about below were either new to me or places I haven't been to in a long while.

      1) Sapor - Dinner last monday night with two colleagues. Great meal. We split the fried green bean appetizer (flash fried in a light batter and served with a green garlic-buttermilk sauce, radishes and soft-boiled egg) and barbacoa appetizers and I had a rack of lamb that was finished perfectly. We also sampled most of the Bell's beers that they had there. Sapor is not a place that I ever think of and that's too bad. I'm going to try to make a conscious effort to get over that way more often.

      2) Wasabi - I had wanted to like this place, but was underwhelmed. Sat at the sushi bar by myself and was basically ignored the time I was there. I didn't mind that, but things seemed to be tense between the chefs and the wait staff. Had a chirashi sushi which had decent portions of sake -- salmon -- which was great, along with three other types. Was underwhelmed and may or may not return.

      3) 112 Eatery. I found a single seat at the bar as I walked in. Enjoyed a drink and talking with bar mates. Ordered steak tartare appetizer, the egg and harisa sandwich, and the cauliflower fritters. After seeing the size of the tartare, I cancelled the sandwich. The steak tartare was gigantic. Easily shared by 3 as an appetizer. It was delicious too, although I must admit I like Vincent's tartare as much if not more. The fritters were over the top and great.

      4) Bad Waitress. A quick dinner of an egg scramble with chorizo, peppers, and gouda, along with a side of hash browns. The dish had just the right kick to it. My first time there. I'll be back to try other things.

      5) French Meadow for breakfast yesterday. Had a single strawberry and almond pancake (the special). Appreciated the real maple syrup and the flavor of the pancake, but thought the cake itself was pretty bad - dry and chewy.

      6) Bar Abeline. Has the service gone down here? Had a mediocre meal with spotty service.

      1. m
        MIKELOCK34 Apr 16, 2007 01:53 AM

        Went to Moscow On The Hill two weeks ago for dinner. Food, drinks, service were good as usual. We always ask for Chris to be our waiter.

        We had dinner at Phil's Tara Hideaway in Stillwater too. Very friendly and accomodating staff. Food was wonderful.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MIKELOCK34
          Gastron Apr 16, 2007 05:58 AM

          Made it a point to seek out Satay 2 go in Apple Valley Saturday.Its really hidden in the nondestrip mall on the north end of Home Depot.Now that I'm progressing to this important second sentence,it hits me-I can't remember the exact name of what I had.Okay-they were wider noodles with chicken,shrimp and assorted veggies.The guy at the counter was extremely helpful.Everything entree/side is pictured,along with a nice description below it.I ordered "hot" and said I'd like to sweat a bit.When I told him it was for take out,he smiled and joked about how I'd have no recourse if it were too hot.

          I will be back.It was fresh,tasty and spiced well.Worth seeking out,hounds.

        2. mnitchals Apr 16, 2007 06:39 AM

          I was gone too for the 2 weeks of the month. Did get to have the tasting menu at Alma, however. The arctic char 'pastrami' was the best first course I've ever had! The gnocci and mahi-mahi were less memorable. Taste of Thailand downtown minneapolis for lunch too. Not destination-worthy, but nice to have something downtown and reasonable.

          1. katebauer Apr 16, 2007 06:58 AM

            Let's see...

            Bulldog NE - we went around 11pm one night for a very late dinner. I ordered the chili appetizer which was pretty disappointing. Very little flavor or spice. The service was also very slow considering we just ordered two appetizers. Husband go the beet plate which he's a big fan of.

            Margaux - I posted our experience elsewhere but basically I wouldn't go back. The waitress could care less about us and my entree of mahi mahi over sushi rice was poorly done.

            Aster Cafe - I really enjoy their food, even though it's pretty overpriced and the service isn't so friendly. I picked up a sandwich on baquette and green salad for dinner to take out.

            Thai Bazil - Got takeout again this night. Our dishes were a little funny but I could tell that the flavors were intricate. We'll definitely go back.

            Nami - We went to Nami for our monthly sushi night. I got the agedashi tofu appetizer and chirashi sushi dinner. It was all very good and the waitress was friendly.

            Riverview Wine Bar - We went yesterday after ripping out our kitchen! I had the Shiraz/Syrah wine flight and all but one were very good. Five of us split 3 pizzas - pear and gorgonzola, goat cheese, and a meat heavy one. The meaty one was a little too greasy but the others were light and flavorful. I also split the creme brulee with a friend and it was quite good.

            We'll be having lot of takeout in the next couple of months since our kitchen is being redone. I hope we encounter some fun places.

            1. s
              StPauliGirl Apr 16, 2007 09:00 AM

              I was on an Indian kick so I gave these a try:

              1.) New Delhi. Had the vegetarian pakora appetizer -- delish! I ordered Chicken Tikka Masala (Indian hot) and thought it was excellent. Husband ordered lamb vindaloo (Indian hot) but wasn't very pleased with it. He said it was not like vindaloos he's had at other Indian restaurants.

              2.) Chapati (Edina location). Had basically the same thing as before. Pakora appetizer was not quite as good as at New Delhi. I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala again and thought it was good. Husband ordered Rogan Josh and thought it was excellent.

              Bottom line: We'll go back to New Delhi because it's close to our house, but avoid the vindaloo. We *would* go back to Chapati if it weren't so remote.

              1. diesel Apr 16, 2007 11:02 AM

                I can't remember them all, but here's what I'e got for you:

                1) Champps in Maplewood (I think?) with coworkers for lunch. A buffalo chicken wrap was icky in a Sysco-esque, lettuce preservative-tasting kind of way (no surprise, it was Champps). However, waffle fries with seasoned sour cream were pretty wonderful!

                2) Boca Chica in St. Paul - again with coworkers for lunch. Lunch buffet: nothing to rave about, but there were some solid stewed meats and enchiladas. Sadly, they served only flour tortillas (I'd prefer corn) with the buffet.

                3) My extended family goes to the Lexington (on Grand in St. Paul) almost every Sunday for brunch. You get a complimentary beverage (you can choose among many alcoholic and nonalcoholic options), cinnamon rolls (which are not worth the calories - nondescript in flavor and dried out in parts), and whatever entree you choose. The brunch (well actually all the food there) is just so-so: I don't recall ever having anything there that I'd say was "good." I think the "Lex" is really overpriced for what it is, and the windowless, heavy decor is depressing (especially on a sunny day). However, the service is always very, very, very good.

                3) Sakura in downtown St. Paul - Husband and I went last Wednesday (the babe was at grandmas!). We ordered shrimp gyoza (a special menu offering), negimaki with scallions, a kaiso (seaweed) salad, saba (mackerel) nigiri, and several sushi rolls including "crazy salmon roll" (also a special menu offering), spicy tuna roll, spider roll, yellowtail roll, and tuna roll. Excellent: shrimp gyoza and the "crazy salmon roll" if you like VERY spicy food (it's called crazy because it's full of habanero pepper). Bad: spicy tuna roll (way too much mayo) and negimaki (tough and flavorless). The rest was good but not stellar. In the interest of brevity I will not go into more detail. Oh, I enjoyed the sake flight. For about 10 bucks you get to try three varieties of sake - none of the sakes really stood out to me, but they were serviceable and it's always fun to try a lot of new stuff in one sitting.

                4) Tacos Pineda on Robert in St. Paul. Mexican tacos with chicken in "tomato sauce" (they don't have the Spanish names on the menu at this location), and husband had Mexican tacos with "spicy chicken". His tacos were fabulous. Mine were good, but not great. The meat was a bit bland. Also, they were out of agua tamarindo so I had agua horchata - I don't care for theirs there - too sweet. Baby girl loved it though! Side note: I really wish they had high chairs there.

                That's all I can remember right now. Happy posting and sorry about my overuse of parenthases.

                1 Reply
                1. re: diesel
                  t
                  TaylorRoot Apr 20, 2007 11:01 AM

                  I've had some really good food at Sakura. It's a regular place for sushi with work friends.

                2. r
                  Reddyrat Apr 16, 2007 02:50 PM

                  My parents were in town this weekend, so we got to a few restaurants.

                  1) Barbary Fig: I really love this restaurant. I had rabbit with figs and some vegetables served over basmati rice. Very flavorful. The space is small and charming and the servers are friendly.
                  2) Cafe Latte: We went here for dessert after Barbary Fig. I had Michael's Fudge Cake. This has always been one of my favorites. My parents split a chocolate cheesecake with a white chocolate topping. I thought it was better than many of Cafe Latte's cheesecakes.
                  3) Basil's: We went here for breakfast Saturday morning, specifically to sit at the Mary Tyler Moore table. I wasn't very impressed with the food. I ordered an egg white omelet which is supposed to come with spinach, artichoke hearts, and asparagus. I asked them to substitute onions for the artichoke hearts. The omelet I received was full of artichoke hearts. Normally, I'd just eat it rather than go to the trouble of sending it back. But for a $15 omelet, I wanted it to tast decent to me. Once they returned it, it tasted pretty good with the onions. So, the food wasn't really worth it, but the view and my mother's surprise at sitting at the Mary Tyler Moore table was.
                  4) The Modern Cafe: I feel rather ambivalent about this place. I had the pot roast. It was quite good, with wonderful roasted carrots, onions, and garlic and mashed potatoes. It could have used more salt though. My dad was really disappointed with his pork dish, which the server highly recommended. Both the taste and texture were quite poor. But the dessert made up for it! We had their chocolate pot au creme which was wonderfully rich and thick.
                  5) Muffuletta: We finished off our weekend with brunch at Muffuletta. Their complimentary coffee cakes are delicious. Not very sweet - reminded me of a biscut - with excellent homemade raspberry-blueberry jam. I had their European hot chocolate with homemade mint marshmallows. Absolutely marvelous! Muffuletta and Salut Bar Americain are the only places in town I've found making European hot chocolate. Well worth the trip just for that. I then ordered the french toast which was three huge slices of brioche with a blueberry/cranberry/raspberry sauce. It was excellent - didn't even need maple syrup. Needless to say, I was too full with the hot chocolate and coffee cake to finish it, but I enjoyed what I had.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Reddyrat
                    s
                    St Paul Susie Apr 16, 2007 03:20 PM

                    April so far.....

                    Shish take out (grand ave) excellent, fresh and fast

                    Pad Thai (on grand) take out - for a crowd, decent.

                    King & I (dwtn mpls) take out - excellent

                    WA frost - st paul. selby. Hadn't been in eons - ages, years. split ahi tuna appy & small order of raviolis to start. Tuna ok - raviolis were great. Hubby had the beef filet - which he ordered medium, and they came rare, he didn't send it back. I had the duck breast which I thought was excellent - however for the $ I'd rather go to Alma.

                    Had some wine 2x at il vesco vino - excellent option for us. Friends ate there one evening and said the food has vastly improved.

                    That's it - had family in town for easter and that cut into our dining out nights.

                  2. j
                    janiceh Apr 16, 2007 07:16 PM

                    Finally got to Toast and really loved it. We both liked the atmosphere and we had a wonderful waitress who was so personable and made some great recommendations. We met the owner as we are looking for a place to have my 50th birthday. She was so helpful and so willing to put together a nice party.
                    Anyway, we had the antipasta plate. Very nice, could have used some more bread but I'm sure they would have brought more if we asked. Tried 4 bruschettas-mushroom, chickpea, salmon and squash. We liked all of them. We then had a mushroom pizza and the sausage. I love their pizza as I love thin crust and they were both fantastic. Had some dessert, nothing memorable but still good. We will definitely go back.
                    Went to Barbette. Hadn't been there in a few years and gosh I love that place. Very busy on a Saturday night. There was a lot of energy in the room but still relaxing. We started with the fries with aioli. Oh my, I could eat that every night of the week. I had the small plate of shrimp risotto and it was so good. It was the perfect amount of food and it was absolutely great for $10. My husband had the Steak Helene. He liked it alot, a little more than we usually spend so that was kind of a splurge. I had the panna cotta for dessert (loved it) and he had the carrot cake (wow). Overall, just a great time, good wine and can't wait to go back.
                    Ingredients (White Bear Lake). Needed a night out after a really sad day with a family member. I had the shrimp fried rice (just ok) and he had a pasta dish with shrimp (Diablo I think) that was very good. It was very busy for a Thursday night and they had live music which was really nice. We go there often since we live close by.
                    Tejas-Went for a friend's birthday and we had a great time. I had the scallops which were so good, I'd go back just for them. Everyone else loved their meals and the service was great. We used a gift certificate from Restaurant.com which saved us $30 off the meal. I've never used one before and they didn't even bat an eye when I gave it to them. We had some kind of buckle with cinnamon ice cream which was so so but it was free for the birthday girl so we didn't complain. Really like it there but it's a drive so we don't get down there often.
                    That's it so far-J

                    1. Jordan Apr 16, 2007 07:53 PM

                      My apologies -- Chowhound took this very long post and decided to replicate it once or twice. I've tried to edit it, but all I can do is modify the first line.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jordan
                        Jordan Apr 16, 2007 07:57 PM

                        trying again...

                        I got out a fair amount this month, and to a few new places, as well.

                        La Belle Vie – We had another fabulous dinner here. My starter was “Carpaccio of Beef with Crispy Serrano ham, Marcona Almond Sabayon and Red Pepper Confit.” This was a pretty display of silver-dollar sized paper-thin slices of beef, raw in the middle and charred on the outside, with a sprinkling of spices and fresh herbs, and what I can only describe as “ham chips.” The soft, succulent beef, wrapped around the crispy, salty ham chips, was addictive. If you could buy this as a snack food, you’d eat it until you were stuffed. My wife had the “Warm Goat Cheese Tart with Tomato Confit and Tapenade Vinaigrette.” This “tart” was actually goat cheese and thin sheets of pastry, alternating in layers like a rough Napoleon. The flavors were good.

                        My entrée was “Pan-Roasted Duck Moulard Breast with Foie Gras, Red Cabbage and Alsatian Spices.” The description doesn’t do it justice. A fan of rare duck breast topped a tangle of braised cabbage, which concealed nuggets of perfectly seared foie gras and also some kind of delicious starchy dumplings. An intensely delectable reduction sauce completed the dish. My wife had “Sautéed Arctic Char with Razor Clams, Squid Ink Ravioli and Bibb Lettuce.” She thought the fish was excellent, but the real star was the ravioli, which was stuffed with smoked sable mousse. She’s usually disappointed by fancy ravioli, but she loved these.

                        For dessert, she had “Chocolate Custard Cake, Coconut Sorbet, Sweet Curry Foam.” All I can report is that that foam tasted of cardamom. I’m not a coconut fan, so I didn’t try the rest of this dish. Actually, I wasn’t paying any attention to my wife at this point, because my dessert was the amazing “Banana Pain Perdu, Spiced Hot Chocolate, Malted Milk Ice Cream.” This was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. The pain perdu was a brick that resembled a fried Twinkie … and tasted like a terrific brioche … stuffed with bananas, and served with the aforementioned ice cream and a great, thick bittersweet chocolate for dipping. They should put a stick in this thing and take it to the State Fair; it’ s that decadent.

                        All the little touches were there as well … the attentive, knowledgeable, friendly service and the pleasant, spacious dining room. One particularly nice detail was the non-alcoholic mixed drink menu. I mentioned that I’m not a drinker, and the waiter brought me a printed menu of a dozen or so unique non-alcoholic concoctions available from the bar. I had a ginger-blackberry (I think) combination that was very nice. I wish more restaurants would do something like this.

                        We also took a peek into the lounge and checked out the menu there. It looks like a nice place to sit and have a nosh with friends … and it even has its own tasting menu!

                        http://www.labellevie.us/

                        The Bulldog N.E. -- This bar with high cuisine pretensions replaced the gay-friendly Boom and Oddfellows. The latter was a restaurant we always found reliable and somewhat innovative (especially with fish). I hear this place is a zoo at night … however, it’s not far from my office, so I have gone there twice for lunch. If you’re interested, I was there once before the chef was fired, and once after.

                        Seating is mostly at bar-height tables, which is not the most comfortable of settings, but it’s otherwise OK. The service was fine, friendly in a busy-bartender way. It took a while to get my food, but I expected that, from what I’ve heard about the miniscule kitchen in the basement. Don’t go when you’re in a hurry, and the wait won’t be too bad. Mostly, I had to try these legendary burgers, made with twice-ground (why twice?) Kobe beef, cured overnight with spices, and “rested” in a butter bath (or beurre fondue, to make it sound fancier) before heating.

                        So, how are these burgers? The short answer is – pretty darn great. In my pantheon of burgerdom, the Messiah is the Town Talk Kitchen Sink burger, which may be the Greatest Burger on Earth. The Bulldog N.E. burger tries a little harder and thus falls a little bit short. (There’s a zen to the Greatest Burger on Earth … that it must accomplish so much while making it seem effortless.) However, these are still great burgers – thick, juicy, crusty and seasoned on the outside and cooked to my order (medium rare) on the inside. The Stilton Burger comes on a big, apparently homemade whole-grain bun, and is topped with Stilton cheese, garlic chips, and horseradish mustard. This is not a flavor combination for the faint of heart. In fact, it’s a bit too much. The garlic chips, which appear to be crunchy dried/cooked slices of garlic clove, are very cool, but between Stilton and horseradish, their flavor is lost completely. The Truffle Burger is on a big, homemade English muffin, topped with truffle oil and Brie. Very, very tasty, but again – probably gilding the lily. Next time, I think the plain burger with lettuce & tomato would be the way to go, There’s no need to drown a great burger in all these other ingredients.

                        The burgers come with a big mess of fantastic golden-brown fries. You can also get the fries as a separate order, dressed up with tarragon aioli or “truffled with parmesan cheese.” I haven’t had those, but I have to wonder – more overkill?

                        http://www.thebulldogmpls.com/ne_index.php

                        Ba Gu Sushi & Pumphouse Creamery -- We’ve had takeout from our local sushi place at 48th & Chicago, but this was our first opportunity to dine in. I had read somewhere that they had a good kid’s menu. Alas, no kid’s menu in sight, though they do have a few high chairs. We ordered the veggie tempura app and Japanese bagel balls (salmon, cream cheese, green onions wrapped in seaweed and rice and deep-friend), then split a sushi platter (8 nigiri and a cucumber roll), the salmon teriyaki dinner, a sunrise roll (seared tuna, ginger, shiso, wrapped in mango), and three wise guys roll (tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and roe rolled in tempura flakes). We ordered too much, even with the baby. Unfortunately, only the three wise guys roll was really memorable. The sunrise roll was unusual, but the tuna was completely lost between the minty shiso and sweet mango flavors. An interesting combination, but we ended up not bothering to finish it. The nigiri on the sushi plate was pretty much undistinguished. Overall., this meal cost over $100, and for the same money, we can get a more interesting and satisfying assortment at Origami (which is equally kid-friendly). I think we’ll stick to just getting takeout from Bagu.

                        On the bright side, it’s right across the street from Pumphouse Creamery, so we were able to get the baby a scoop of Cookies & Cream (made with Newman-Os) and a pint of chocolate mint to take home. Unlike regular chocolate mint, the “chips” are chunks of handmade bittersweet truffles. YUM!

                        http://www.bagusushi.com/

                        Baja Sol (on Excelsior, St. Louis Park) -- This is a local burrito chain with 10 stores in Minnesota … it’s more similar to Baja Fresh than to Chipotle or Qdoba. They have a 99 cent kid’s meal deal on Sundays. When we went there for lunch, they were slammed, so it took a while to get our order. Fortunately, the self-serve hot chips and salsa bar made it very easy to wait. I had the chicken tinga taco, and my wife had carnitas enchiladas. The baby had the kids’ chicken & cheese mini-burritos, which came with a handful of sweet sopapillas. Overall, this is pretty decent fast food for a good price.

                        http://www.baja-sol.com/

                        Stella’s Fish Café -- Now open for lunch. I have found it good for casual seafood in the past. This time, I was a bit disappointed with my lobster roll, which didn’t seem as fresh as when I’d had it before. The sandwich came with OK fries … not bad, not very good. The kids’ menu had what they called “fish sticks.” This turned out to be a small bucket of fish & chips … The fish sticks were actually big pieces of a really nice breaded whitefish, way better than my lobster. We sat by lobster tank which provided free entertainment for the baby. At Stella’s, I say stick with the fried food.

                        http://www.stellasfishcafe.com/

                        1. re: Jordan
                          t
                          TaylorRoot Apr 20, 2007 11:07 AM

                          I've been intending to try Stella's and your info is much appreciated. I live in Uptown and have started shying away from many of the restaurants there, unless I hear something good by word of mouth. It seems a guaranteed clientele due to the location can keep places open regardless of the quality of the food or service.

                      2. AnneInMpls Apr 16, 2007 10:24 PM

                        April is birthday month for me as well as much of my family and inlaws. So I ate lots and lots of BIRTHDAY CAKE!

                        Cupcake - I had a chocolate buttercream cupcake on my birthday, and a carrot-cake cupcake a week later. Both were nice - I liked the chocolate one better - but neither is as good as my all-time favorite: lemon-blueberry white chocolate.

                        Keys - My wonderful mother brought Keys' House Chocolate Cake to a group birthday party. She must be psychic, because I barely even hinted - only a few dozen times - that I love this cake. It's a deep, dark, slightly baking-soda-y chocolate cake (a bit reminiscent of red velvet cake) with a really luscious sour cream frosting. Yum.

                        Birchwood - I sampled their new lemon-coconut cake (extremely rich and decadent), the chocolate-strawberry cream cake (oooh - would be perfect for a cream tea), the best-in-town carrot cake (twice - but I shared a piece both times) and one other cake that I can't remember. Could cake blindness be setting in? In any case, Birchwood makes wonderful cakes, and I need to eat more of them.

                        Two Tres Leches cakes at Midtown Global Market: One slice of Vanilla Tres Leches from the Mexican panaderia, and half a slice of the Chocolate Tres Leches cake from La Sirena Gorda. La Serena's version wins this particular taste-off, but I must admit that I've never had a T.L. cake that I didn't like.

                        And that wasn't all: one family party featured a homemade carrot bundt cake, and the other had a huge commercial-bakery white sheet cake. (Oh, there's nothing on earth like crisco frosting!). I think I need a cake moratorium for a while.

                        Between all that cake, I managed to have a few meals, too:

                        Istanbul Bistro - Loved the Anatolian Lamb Stew with carrots, potatoes, onions, chickpeas, and feta cheese. The red lentil soup and tabouli salad is also very good. If this place was closer to my house, I'd be a regular here.

                        Jax - I sat in a booth for my biannual burger and a caesar salad. Because I eat only two hamburgers a year, I wanted a really good one. It was indeed delicious - high-quality ground beef, served medium-rare at my request! (And perfect with blue cheese instead of the usual cheddar and bacon.) The accompanying fries weren't that great, which is good because that left me some room for another onion roll from the bread basket.

                        Moti Mahal - Someone brought their samosas to a potluck, and I loved them. I gotta remember to go here again instead of always making a bee-line for the Birchwood or True Thai.

                        Midtown Global Market for Los Ocampo's tacos (love the al pastor and chicken tinga), Safari Express' chicken fantastik (quite tasty, especially with the green sauce), and Holy Land's delicious imam bayildi (eggplant relish). We also sampled a so-so custard tart from the Scandinavian booth - I wish I'd gotten one of their cream puffs instead. And I picked up a fresh chicken from Farm In The Market that had a wonderful "free-range bug-fed chicken" flavor. (I "roasted" it in my crockpot - easy-peasy!)

                        Little Szechuan - This time, we had House Special Chicken-with-bones, Scallops cooked with Sugar and Vinegar, and Eggplant in Garlic Sauce.

                        The House Special Chicken is hacked pieces of cold chicken - with bones and shards and skin - in a tongue-numbingly spicy oil. Another waiter stopped by and asked politely if we had ordered the chicken by mistake, because we hadn't eaten much of it. We loved it - bones and all - but it was extremely spicy and a bit difficult to eat. (He says most Chinese people eat the bones, because they love the taste of the marrow.) And there was a lot of it - we brought the leftovers home so I can nibble on them all this week.

                        The scallops were fine, but I wasn't wild about the sweetness in the sauce, which also made the breading a bit soggy. (I prefer their other scallop dish, which doesn't have a sauce.) And yet I ate most of this dish, so clearly I liked it.

                        The eggplant was sweet and smoky, with a very different red-oil sauce than the chicken. I loved it. I didn't think it was very spicy, but my tongue was numb from the chicken - Mr. Tastebud tells me that there was a nice amount of heat in the eggplant dish. This is going on my favorites-to-repeat list.

                        Anne

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: AnneInMpls
                          AnneInMpls Apr 16, 2007 10:46 PM

                          How could I forget? I went to Restaurant Alma for my birthday dinner! It was marvelous.

                          I had grilled bread with mushrooms and a poached egg, ham and caramelized onion crepe, and grilled halibut with shitaki mushrooms. Wow.

                          I'm so lucky that Mr. Tastebud is an enthusiastic taste-sharer, because he ordered the best chicken I've ever had. It looked so boring on the menu: roast chicken with potatoes. But it just exploded with flavor in my mouth.

                          http://www.restaurantalma.com/

                          So there goes my reputation as a cheapskate diner, because Alma isn't cheap. But at $42 for a three-course menu, it's not that outlandish, either. And, as I keep telling Mr. Tastebud, it's much cheaper than a trip to Paris (the only place I've ever had better food).

                          Anne

                        2. l
                          Loren3 Apr 17, 2007 02:02 PM

                          Mostly out of town, plus a lot of the old reliables (Moose & Sadie's, Runyon's, Koyi, etc.)

                          New or recently reacquainted these past few weeks include:

                          Bulldog NE - similar take as a couple of other posters. Slammed with slow service on a Friday night (to be expected). Menu left me kind of flat. It doesn't help that I don't eat mammal - kind of makes that whole Kobe beef thing irrelevant. But that said, I didn't see many decent alternatives on the menu. Veggie burger, wings, fish & chips, basic salads. We ordered the green goddess salad and the fish and chips. The green goddess was served whole leaf (I hate that - what are all those knives for in the kitchen, anyway?), and the leaves were kind of limp. I was expecting the dressing to be zestier than it was. It was a lot like eating plain avocado. The fish was simply greasy. I think I prefer Keegan's. On the up side, fab beer selection and although a modestly short wine list, the selections were very good and quite reasonably priced.

                          Tejas Edina - Haven't been here in years. We were rushed for a flick at the Edina, and had to grab a quick couple of apps at the bar. Had the crab taco and the nachos. The crab taco was terriffic. Blue corn crispy shell with nicely spiced crab and other things inside. The nachos were good too, with fresh (not canned) jalapenos. Not enough at first - we asked for (and got plenty) more. They are piled nachos (vs. stacked), but not greasy, not soggy, and not burnt.

                          Ike's at the MSP terminal - built to look just like the old Ike's downtown, this place retains that 40s chop house ambience, at least a little. Everything is prepared fresh - virtually no precooking. The blackened fish tacos were great. Wonderfully spiced salmon and roasted red peppers served in a small dish with a side of steamed tortillas, lettuce, avocado, and chunk pico de gallo. It's a roll-your-own thing. Unfortunately, this is old-school slow service which is not inherently compatible with having to catch a flight. But it's worth it.

                          Baja Sol MOA - OK, I was dragged to this place (the Maul as well as the food court) but was pleasantly surprised to find that they take fresh pretty seriously. Again with the fish tacos (what is it with me? Oh, yeah. I LIKE fish tacos). Lightly breaded and not greasy. No lard, no MSG. Their signature roasted salsa was a little bland, but their hot salsa was hot.

                          Future projects: Toast, Saffron, Mairin's Table

                          1. bluesman13 Apr 18, 2007 01:18 PM

                            after hearing the raves about the Modern Cafe, I packed the blueswife and bluesdaughter into the car and headed over there. I already heard much about the pot roast, so I knew that that was what I was having.

                            I was really underwelmed. I really wanted to like this place. I must be missing something because the pot roast was been raved about everywhere. I mean, it was good pot roast, but I thought $16.50 was a lot for it. Meat for pot roast is very inexpensive, and not difficult to make. My wife and I shared it, and my daughter ordered the soup of the day (which was tomato) and the olive plate. She didn't care for the soup, and she really liked the olive plate.

                            I guess I'll stick to the St. Clair Broiler when I feel like that type of food.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: bluesman13
                              c
                              cheetobrain Apr 20, 2007 12:45 PM

                              I have to agree about the Modern Cafe. Went a couple weeks ago. We had 2 cups soup, hubs had the pot roast, I had the gnocci, he had a beer and I had a soda..our bill came to $50.00. The food was fine, but I just think a bit pricey for what it is.

                              1. re: cheetobrain
                                m
                                Mill City Modern Apr 23, 2007 09:30 AM

                                I definitely agree about the Modern for dinner, but it does a very good breakfast. My favorites there are the Modern hash, the French toast, the biscuits & gravy, and the pampered eggs.

                            2. clepro Apr 20, 2007 04:50 PM

                              Taste of Thailand (Selby, St. Paul)-grabbed a buffet lunch with a friend in the middle of a workday. A bit better than your standard buffet of this type. Soup was very good.

                              La Grolla (Selby, St. Paul)- I've always liked the atmosphere in La Grolla, and it's been that that draws me in more than the food. But, my meal this time was much better than previous times I've eaten here. I had the fried green olives stuffed with gorgonzola, split one of their salads with my friends (fine, although the only memorable thing about it was the $2 split charge..), and then my event of the evening, the pasta cartoccio. Shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, and squid with linguine, all in a garlicky broth with bits of chopped tomatoes, wrapped and served in parchment. I liked it, although so much food that my husband and I made another meal from the leftovers. Nothing fancy really, just homey food, done well. (If your mother was in the habit of serving you seafood in parchment, that is...)

                              Hoa Bien--I got my usual seafood sweet and sour soup, my husband his usual hot and spicy chicken, and my daughter her usual vegetarian something or other. We were all, as usual, very happy.

                              Cafe Latte--late night wine and soup/salad after a meeting. Can't remember the wine, which is too bad, because it was excellent. Portuguese, I think. A coconut milk/curried soup, and a salad with broccoli and walnuts. Satisfactory all around, considering I just wanted something quick and reasonably nutritious at 10 p.m.

                              Bread, Cake, Coffee (Wabasha Ave)--I've noted the Tres Leches cake (excellent) in its own thread, but I also had an outstanding beef sandwich. Good quality rare roasted beef, carmelized onions, greens, and tomato, excellent bread made on the premises, with a horseradish dipping sauce on the side. Yum.

                              True Thai--my favorite fish cakes, and a papaya salad. One of my favorite places to eat papaya salads. (Although my Hmong friend who imports produce tells me that one of their customers, a grocery over on the East side, makes THE best papaya salad.)

                              Nina's--stayed late at work and rushed to Nina's to meet some friends without taking the time to go home for dinner. What to do?? Her pulled pork sandwich did me up nicely, along with some iced Evening in Missoula tea.

                              I spent the first week of April in San Francisco where I ate at Tartine, Caffe Trieste, Farallon, Vignette (x2), Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store, Molinari's, L'Osteria del Forno, Washington Square Bar & Grill, The Citrus Club, some little place in Chinatown, and Ti Couz. And if I'd thought to bring some decent clothes, I might have eaten at Masa, since it turned out to be just halfway down our block. And futhermore, if I'd planned a bit better and had known we'd end up taking BART out to Berkeley, I might have made plans to eat at Chez Panisse. Darn it. Then again, I did have the best croissant I've ever had at Tartine.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: clepro
                                s
                                St Paul Susie Apr 20, 2007 08:00 PM

                                Mouth watering post!

                                I love those olives @ La Grolla.

                              2. p
                                pgokey Apr 21, 2007 06:38 PM

                                Went to Evergreen Chinese/Taiwanese on 24th and Nicollet. The beef with broccoli was perfection - the beef was impossibly tender and the broccoli was perfectly al dente. My dining partner has a Taiwanese version of lo mein which was very good. The steamed dumplings were very flavorful.

                                1. t
                                  Terrieltr Apr 22, 2007 11:12 AM

                                  We did Heartland this past Friday for my mom's b-day. Very good. I had an excellent warm salad of frissee with a bacon-shallot vingerette and topped with a poached duck egg. The egg was very essential, because it cut the vinger's acidity. My dessert was a white chocolate-duck egg pot de creme and was heavenly. My mom's roasted romaine and beet salad was also very good, as was her duck, though they were a bit heavy-handed with the barley risotto that accompanied it. There was simply too much. Service was excellent, and my mom already wants to go back this week when her sister is visiting.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Terrieltr
                                    clepro Apr 22, 2007 10:01 PM

                                    Or another option: If her sister is staying through Sunday, they might want to go to a Slow Food event that includes Lenny Russo (Heartland) plus six other well-known chefs.

                                    http://www.slowfoodmn.org/events.html

                                  2. Uisge Apr 23, 2007 08:46 AM

                                    I finally made it to Sea Salt. There were three of us. We split the day's special of oysters, broiled with garlic and butter. Very nice. They were warm all the way through, but still very tender and lots of good liquor. Two of us had the tilapia fish tacos. I'll be back for more of those. Two tacos, very fresh, good corn taste in the tortilla. It really hit the spot. The other diner ordered the veggie burger and proclaimed it the best he'd eaten locally. We wanted to eat outside, but the weather had other plans. Luckily we were able to console ourselves with ice cream. Yum.

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