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MSP- Birthday Spot

I know, I know, another special occasion restaurant request post but since some of you know me online and in person I thought I'd call for suggestions.

My 30th birthday is in 2 weeks and my husband will be away. A group of friends have offered to go out and celebrate with me and have asked for restaurant suggestions. Together we've already been to Alma, Solera, El Meson, and many Thai places. Also for previous special occasions I've already been to La Belle Vie, Cosmos, Craftsman, WA Frost and um, well, lots of places that are now closed (Levain, Five, etc.). I want to keep the price point on this reasonable but still make it nicer than a mid-week dinner.

Here's what I've thought of so far:

Levain Bistro
Ngon Bistro

Any other ideas? Two of us are in Minneapolis and two coming from the Western suburbs so Minneapolis is slightly easier than eastern St. Paul.

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  1. Try Moscow on the Hill for good Russian and a great selection of vodkas. Ask to sit in Chris's section. Definitely try the chef's appetizer tasting plate and the borsht. Get one appetizer plate per two or three people depending upon your appetites.


    1. Chambers Kitchen? I haven't eaten there, but the bar is really nice.


      Cafe Maude?

      Saffron Restaurant & Lounge
      123 North 3rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401

      Chambers Kitchen
      901 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

      Cafe Maude
      5411 Penn Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55419

      3 Replies
      1. re: pgokey

        I definitely second the Saffron suggestion. Tasty tasty food, great service, and a reasonable price point.

        Another option closer to the western 'burbs would be Cafe 28 in Linden Hills. It's not quite on a par with 112, but it certainly measures up against Lucia's or Brenda. And, they serve their own beer, Surly, on tap.

          1. re: Loren3

            Ok, that didn't work.

            Cafe Twenty-Eight
            2724 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55410

      2. how about lucia's restaurant?

        1. Bank is pretty swanky, although pricepoint might be an issue, but it sure is beautiful in that space. Maybe Bank for drinks and apps followed by something else (I've always liked Ike's, but that might not be the style for the evening).

          The Grand (38th & Grand) is a wonderful place for celebrations, too. Great food, excellent service - a little less loud than a lot of places seem to be these days. Also, I love Vincent.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Samanth2

            I haven't been to Bank, but Dara rakes it over the coals in this week's issue.

            1. re: pgokey

              It's funny because though I know what you say is true, her review actually has me wanting to go to B.A.N.K. I was going create a thread on the Food Media/News board to address this but I got lazy.

              Is it crazy to crave tomato soup with grilled cheese sticks, a thing so easily prepared at home? In this weather? Yes. Must be brain fever.

              Still, I think I will go soon to have a grapefruit cosmo and maybe the deviled eggs and the above mentioned soup.


              1. re: MplsM ary

                I don't think it's crazy. I admit that the food looks so pretty in the pictures. I think many of us would love to hear a report of the place.

          2. Thanks for all the suggestions! I've been to Moscow on the Hill and just am not a huge Russian food fan, unless I'm specifically in the mood for it.

            Saffron is a fantastic idea, I completely forgot about it. Lucia's is another great option, extremely reliable delicious food.

            I keep hear mixed reviews about Chambers and am not sure what to think. I think my husband would want to go there so I'll save it for another time.

            Any idea if Cafe Maude is a table service restaurant? I got the impression since they advertise coffee that it might be an order at the counter more casual place but with wine. Has anyone been?

            I was also scared off from Bank because of Dara's review today.

            I'm mad at Bakery on Grand (Grand Bakery? What's the new name?) that they don't have the brie sandwich on the menu anymore. It was so amazing toasted with truffle oil. I don't know if I can forgive them ;)

            Wonderful options though!

            4 Replies
            1. re: katebauer

              Maude is full service, and they take reservations.

              1. re: pgokey

                pgokey is right; the counter service at breakfast and lunch didn't go over so well, so they're switching that around. But it was & is table service at dinner.

                For BANK, I was interested to visit the bar but less so for the restaurant unless I ordered very, very carefully.

                Interestingly, another newspaper reviewer (R. Nelson or K. Jenkins or J. Iggers, I forget which) did note that the food would please hotel guests but might not bring locals in looking for an inventive menu. Dara said as much, but so

              2. re: katebauer

                The Grand Cafe is the new name/place. Call Mary there and tell her 1)its your bday, 2) you want the back room (depending on your group size) 3) you want a brie sandwich.

                She is a doll and so laid back. I need to go there soon as well!

                I've had good meals at chambers - but I agree to save it for hubby & not the best spot for a group.

                1. re: St Paul Susie

                  Would she need the back room for just the 4 of them?

              3. I enjoyed Saffron and you can't go wrong with 112 if you can snag a reservation.

                Other ideas that have easy access from the western suburbs:
                Fugaise (although this may be above the price point you're looking for)

                Places mentioned in this thread so far (other than B*A*N*K, which I can't find):

                Lucia's Restaurant
                1432 W 31st St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                Sapor Cafe-Bar
                428 Washington Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                1600 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                J P American Bistro
                2937 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                Cafe Twenty-Eight
                2724 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55410

                Moscow On the Hill
                371 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                Grand Cafe
                3804 Grand Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55409

                112 Eatery
                112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                Fugaise [CLOSED 2009]
                304 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                Pho Anh Vietnamese Restaurant (CLOSED)
                799 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104

                Cafe Levain
                4762 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                8 Replies
                1. re: bob s

                  I forgot about my love for Thom Pham!



                  Azia Restaurant
                  2550 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                  Temple Restaurant and Bar [CLOSED]
                  1201 Harmon Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                  1. re: pgokey

                    And Masa. The baby chicken is terrific, as is the pork in banana leaf. Best churros in the world, too.

                    1. re: pgokey

                      Had trouble adding places.

                      1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                    2. re: pgokey

                      Really? I've heard such inconsistent things about Temple. I guess they've revamped the menu now so maybe the food is better but my husband went in the first few weeks and the staff was terrible and basically ignored them when they were having a business meeting with some pretty important people. I'm not sure we can forgive that.

                      1. re: katebauer

                        I hadn't heard of any of the inconsistencies, but it's certainly possible they had them, especially when it first opened. I read an article that said as much, I think - birthing pains.

                        I wouldn't hold it to what it was like when it first opened. Then again, I've just been there once, so I could have gotten lucky. But it seems, at least, that when it's good, it's good.

                        1. re: katebauer

                          I'm a big AZIA fan (especially for groups) and I've heard (from chowhubby & his co-workers) that Temple is not worth a visit.

                        2. re: pgokey

                          I guess I've never fallen into the cult of Thom. The first few times I was at Azia (when it first opened), I enjoyed myself but I think it was the novelty of the place. As I've gone back, I've been less and less enthusiastic about it - for me, at least, it seems overpriced for the food. The atmosphere is fun though and I think it's best when you are in a group having a good time.

                          Given what I've heard about Temple (high prices, uneven food), I haven't had the desire to try it.

                          Just one person's opinion....


                        3. re: bob s

                          OK, it's been a few years since my brief sojourn in the Cities, so consider this a somewhat dated review. I heartily endorse Moscow, but def get that Russian may require you to be in the mood. Of the above list, jP was my go-to restaurant when I was living there -- very very solid. Also, what about the highend tapas joint on Hennepin downtown -- Solera? I remember it to be excellent if pricey.

                        4. Speaking selfishly, I'd like you to go to Saffron so we can get your report on it. I've been wanting to try that place. I love Ngon Bistro, but is it really a special occasion kind of place (plus, you've already been there.)

                          I love 112 Eatery, too, and it can be very affordable if you want it to be. If you haven't been, you really should go one of these days!

                          Happy birthday (two weeks early)


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Well I've submitted my (your) suggestions to the group and we'll see what everyone else is up for. I have been to 112 twice but not for at least a year and a half. We can just never get a reservation there nor get there when doors open.

                            I'm really excited about all of the options. You're right TDQ that Ngon isn't really a special occasion place but I thought it would be nice for this group since I'm not sure they go out to the University Ave options at all.

                            1. re: katebauer

                              Now that 112 opened a 2nd dining room upstairs, it isn't nearly as impossible to get in. And, I've never really had a terrible wait calling the night I want to go and asking them to add my name to the list.

                          2. Barbette -- Terrific mussels and fries. Great fresh locally sourced specials that change frequently, and they do very good fondue and cheese plates (always nice for a crowd.) The place is a little small, though, so if you've got more than 12-14 people coming it may be too tight a squeeze. Also surprisingly affordable (some of their starters are nice light meals, and clock in around $12-$14.

                            Amazing Thailand -- One of the most poorly named restaurants in the Twin Cities, but they really take Thai to a new level. It actually reminds me of The Elephant Walk, a Boston place that fuses Cambodian and French food; the dishes at Amazing Thailand are both more sophisticated and further off the beaten path. Dunno if their bar is up and running though, which could be a deal breaker.

                            1600 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                            Amazing Thailand
                            3024 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jrnorton23

                              Now I can't wait for my own Bday! Happy Bday to Katie B.