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May 26, 2007 08:35 PM

Cue at the Guthrie-better with the new chef?

I know Cue had gotten a pretty bad review in the Tribune before...has it improved? Going to a show at the Guthrie in a week and would love to go to Cue before, if people think it's worth the $$. I'd have no idea what else would be close, anyway.

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  1. Cue actually got quite a good review from Rick Nelson in the Strib.

    3 Replies
      1. re: elrushbo

        Don't know about that one, but I'm rarely inclined to respect Kathie Jenkins's opinion. Anyway, if you don't want to go to Cue, there are a few spots nearby. I've had a couple of good dinners at Spoonriver, the second restaurant by Brenda Langton of Cafe Brenda, which is right across the street from the Guthrie. Toast Wine Bar is not far away and is getting good reviews; see Josh Resnik's recent post on his visit. I've not heard anything good yet about two of the new places in the neighborhood, Wasabi and Spill the Wine -- both might still be working out the kinks.

      2. re: mcgeary

        Dara liked it, too, though she said desserts were inconsistent and sometimes the food oversalted. But, overall, I'd call it a favorable review.

        Also, City Pages annointed Lenny Russo as best local chef this year. And his restaurant, Heartland, was awarded best restaurant-St. Paul this year.


      3. Reviews have been on balance positive. The "new" chef was part of the opening team. His name is Michael Delcombre and he's very competent. It's definiitely worth a try. Please post your opinion.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Karl Gerstenberger

          Was Lenny Russo replaced? I've been to Heartland a couple of times and loved it - was hoping to see how his style translated to a new spot. If he's gone, looks like I waited too long. Dang.

          1. re: BatMan

            Lenny had a 1 year commitment and fulfilled it, moving back to his focus @ Heartland.

            1. re: Foureyes137

              How do you know about the 1 year commitment?

              1. re: faith

                It was in the Strib (and probably other papers) when Cue launched.

                1. re: MplsM ary

                  Then again, searching for those articles I could find none. Perhaps my brain is playing tricks on me.

                  Though I'm not a big fan of Andrew Zimmern I include this link to a blog post about Lenny Russo's departure from Cue. I guess Mr. Russo would have stated he had a one year agreement within his comments both within the blog post and in the reader comments.

                  I could swear I did read he had a one year commitment when Cue opened. Especially as I haven't been to Heartland because I was awaiting his return. I've had prescient dreams before but I don't believe this is one of them. ;)

                  1. re: MplsM ary

                    I went to Cue when lenny was there - it was amazingly awful.

                    Heartland is much better.... But I haven't been recently.

                    1. re: St Paul Susie

                      Oh, that must have been a tremendous disappointment, sorry to hear it. Susie, what was awful about Cue when you went?

                      EDIT: Also, has anyone been to the Level 5 Cafe (or whatever it's called) at the Guthrie and can anyone comment on how the Level 5 experience is different than the full-on Cue experience? I assume the kitchen's the same. Are the menus also the same?


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        was it last fall? or further back.... I'll have to check my posts. I'm fairly certain it was fall 2006.....

                        The low lights.....

                        ordered a bottle of wine - waited forever for it (well over 30 mins)

                        basically presented me with uncooked risotto. not even close - complete and 200% miss. they "redid it" and it was truly still awful. rice that was warmed in a pan and plated. took forever to get it both times.

                        chocolate desert that was billed at dark chocolate was like a melted hershey bar

                        I am looking forward to better meals at Heartland. We were fans of the wine bar & we'll be in the dining room sometime this summer. I talked to a friend who went a few weeks ago and she said it was excellent.

                      2. re: St Paul Susie

                        We went last fall when and were dissapointed as well. All the plates seemed to be just centered on the protein and everything else just an afterthought. Service was passable, but not at the standard it should be for fine dining. Especially since we were there with friends from SF who eat out a lot.

                        Ate at Heartland Wine Bar a couple of weeks ago and had a great time. Excellent food. Good wine. Service was outstanding and fun. Really had a nice time and would go back.

                        After that first experience at Cue really not excited to go back since the price is pretty high for what we had. We do like getting a drink at the bar there before a play, but doubt we will be spending the money on dinner there anytime soon.

            2. We went to Heartland tonight and were kind of disappointed. The place was dead (only two other tables occupied), but you can't blame the restaurant for that on a Sunday night. But the food was pretty hit or miss. I started with a frisee salad with cherries, walnuts, and ricotta. Overall I felt the whole was less than the sum of the parts. For my entree I had the hazelnut crusted walleye with golden raisin wild rice and chive oil. Half of the fish was so oversalted it was almsot inedible. The heavy hand on the salting carried over to part of the wid rice as well. I feel like the dish would have been pretty good otherwise, but that is the type of mistake that can turn a good meal into a disappointing one. My wife had grilled chicken breast with spinach and fennel in a carmelized onion red wine vinegarette. That dish was better (the chicken was tender and it had really nice onion flavor), but also parts suffered from over salting. We ended up skipping dessert. Even though it was empty, they were out of the peach-pecan torte, and the other two desserts did not really interest us.

              Lenny Russo was not in the kitchen tonight. I actually talked to him this afternoon when I made my reservation, but the waitress told us he was at a meeting for the night. I am not sure if the over salting would have happened if he were there, but if a restaurant is going to charge premium prices they need to deliver great food whether the chef is there for the night or not.Unfortunately Heartland did not tonight.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Josh Resnik

                Josh, I feel for you. Did you send back the oversalted food? I'm getting in the habit
                lately of saying when I order just about ANYTHING, "Please tell them not to salt it",
                especially items like fish and other meats. You can always add your own salt if you like.
                I ate at Heartland once back when Lenny was there, and was not super thrilled with
                the food, but I do like that they are into creative and sustainable foods.

              2. Not at all impressed with Cue. The food was less than flavorful. The bread rolls to start off the meal seemed as if they were sitting out for 2 or 3 days. Meat with toooooo much gristle......and poor service - and that was just my meal....our guests all had something different with similar experiences. I hope that this place gets better because I think that it is a great space. Just needs a lot of work!

                3 Replies
                1. re: nymoving2004

                  NyMoving2004, thank you for your remarks, disappointing though they are. (It's more fun to read about a fantastic experience, of course.) When did you go to Cue? They had a chef change awhile back (Lenny Russo moved on--I'd guess around the beginning of the year), so I'm curious if you went to the Lenny Russo Cue or the post-Russo Cue and how long ago that was (ie., after giving the kitchen a reasonable time to adjust.)


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I'm pretty sure (in fact 99.9% sure) that it was post-Lenny Russo -- February/March timeframe.....I hope that the staff has gotten was the simple things that they screwed up on .....seasoning was off, their butchering was way off, and the service was sub-par.....I MIGHT go back if somebody raved about it, but there are too many other restaurants that I'd like to visit.

                    1. re: nymoving2004

                      We ate there on Friday before a show at the Guthrie and I just have to say - um, okay. We had been there once before and it was again, just okay, but we really want to love it because the space is just so cool. So - we gave it another chance and even with the new chef things are still just ok.

                      I started with carrot soup which was pretty good - nothing special but still tasty. My SO had the artichoke heart salad and it was pretty blah. We split an order of mussels next and they were probably the best part of the meal but again - nothing out of the ordinary. The main courses were the most disappointing. SO had the trout and I had the ravioli. The trout was so bland. Seriously tasted like nothing but breading. It was over sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes and those pieces were good. In fact - that is all he ate. The ravioli was suppose to be in sage brown butter cream sauce. The sauce had no sage. It tasted like alfredo sauce that you can buy in a jar.

                      We split dessert which was blueberry cake with ice cream and that was yummy.

                      We decided that we won't give Cue a 3rd chance because there are so many other yummy choice by the Guthrie. It makes me sad though because the space and idea is cool. The service was good as well - it just seems the food execution is off.