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Parasole Restaurants MSP

I am coming back to msp for the holidays after leaving the dining scene there about 5 years ago. I was in the business, but have been working in chicago since, so that being said I feel i put a lot of pressure on a dining experience. My folks are giving me a $100 parasole gift cert., and I just can't decide where to spend it. I would prefer the city locations, so as to not drive and be able to enjoy some wine, with more focus on the food and wine list, and less on the "scene" however. any thoughts? any recent meals at manny's figlio, chino, is salut worth the trip? thanks in advance

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  1. I don't know how it is since the chef change, but I think Muffuletta in St. Paul is pretty low-key...

    http://www.muffuletta.com/

    ~TDQ

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      I just looked at Muffuletta's menu online, looks pretty creative and yummy. They
      even have a short tapas list, includes sweet potato 'croquettas'. Go there!
      http://www.muffuletta.com/menus/dinne...

    2. I would third Muffulettas. The Chef is terrific. Chino is all scene. I have not really enjoyed their food much.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Latinpig

        I had a great brunch at Muffuletta -- that's probably a great way to get bang for the buck.

        Also, re: Chino -- they have a tremendous happy hour that runs until 7pm. The $3 Latin-style mini-sandwiches (with chips + guac!) are worth the trip unto themselves. With $100, you could take 8 friends out for a happy hour bash, just so long as no one orders off the regular drink menu.

        I dug Manny's very much, but I think $100 might be enough for you + 1 guest if you spent frugally.

        1. re: jrnorton23

          If I were to pick manny's, I figured that the $100 would probably just go for wine, and I would take care of the rest...anyone know about the wine list at muffaletta? probably bottles mainly, I seem to not be able to open any menu's on any of their websites. Anyone else have a problem with that? I remember chino to pretty sceney, and never cared for figlio too much, so you can see my hesitation with this gift cert. as i worry about mediocrity in my only real meal in msp. I would almost rather pay full price somewhere top notch if my options at these places were just adequate. that being said, i think i will have to choose between muffaletta, salut and manny's. Does manny's only serve dry aged? any good seafood? fresh stonecrabs perhaps? -i know i'm picky but what is worse than going out for a forgettable meal!

          1. re: mitch cumstein

            I can't offer an opinion on Salut or Manny's, but I do agree with faith, that Muffuletta, though pleasant, isn't consistently exceptional. It's consistently good to very good. If you insist on only exceptional--and why shouldn't you, except that you have this gift card to use up and you can only use it at a specific few places--I don't know if Muffuletta is the place for you. I think their atmosphere is pretty mellow, definitely not a "scene", and I like the neighborhood. If you can wait until summer to use your gift card, they have a lovely patio.

            As far as wine list, it's not on their website. But if you look at the reviews on their website, Jeremy Iggers said their wine list is updated monthly and "offers an imaginative global selection of intriguing labels, mostly from smaller producers, but has little to offer for under $8 a glass or $28 a bottle." I'm afraid I'm not knowledgeable enough about wine to personally illuminate you.

            Also, Dara recently wrote a review of Manny's in City Pages, which might give you another data point in your quest for the unforgettable: http://articles.citypages.com/2007-11... This review did generate some discussion here on CH if you care to search around for it.

            Good luck!

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I remembered that Manny's discussion in response to Dara's review was buried in an unlikely thread, so, I'm linking it for you: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/46029...

              ~TDQ

      2. I would avoid Figlio, their food has gone rapidly downhill in the last five years or so. They are coasting on their location and the bar crowd. I liked Salut, although I've heard mixed reviews. The steak frites was delicious. I cannot comment on the wine, but they had a good cocktail menu. What I liked best was the atmosphere, to tell you the truth. It's a Minnesota adaptation of Balthazar, lovely golden light and a bustling atmosphere. Just don't get stuck in the back of the restaurant.

        5 Replies
        1. re: mskitty

          Mitch-
          Now that you have added further info on your desires, I'm thinking you should skip
          the gift cert because none of the Parasole list could be considered guaranteed stellar.
          Go to Heidi's or La Belle Vie for stellar.

          1. re: faith

            hmm. theoretically, mitch could check out any of our local fave restaurants and probably have a better experience, then cab to whatever parasole restaurant is closest to where he's staying, for wine, dessert & after-dinner drinks. . .

            i agree with TDQ that if you'll be back in summer, with less pressure on the meal, you might enjoy spending the cert. at muffaletta (patio). i believe they are still in chef-transition currently, so it might not be the best time to visit now.

            regarding fresh seafood at manny's-- they do the whole waiter-wheels-the-cart-of-meat-to-the-table thing, and it always featured a huge live lobster, pleading with his beady little eyes "don't pick me"-- and i always ate steak at manny's so i can't vouch for the lobster one way or the other. . .

          2. re: mskitty

            I was at Salut recently, and it was crowd-pleasing fare but nothing stellar. It was awfully salty though.

            I know I am one of the few fans of Figlio on this board, but I'll still pitch it. They have some of their "classic" signature dishes they still do consistently well (pollo mattone, joe's eggs, pizzas, kebobs, maybe a couple of others) and an occasional special that is terrific (the pot roast, fondue). They are a couple of pasta dishes that aren't so hot (I'm thinking of the one that comes with sun dried tomatoes and oilves and chicken). Overall, my enjoyment of the place hasn't waned over the past 10 years.

            I agree with TDQ and others, though - you can get a better sense of MPLS in other places.

            Check the fine print of the Parasole card - it may not be valid until after the holidays. It seems to be I went one year with my card before either Christmas or new years and couldn't use it yet.

            1. re: pgokey

              i think that working in chicago, the op would have access to zillions of good italian restaurants to choose from, and probably wouldn't get figlio's continued appeal to msp locals. though i never tried joe's eggs, always wondered what the big deal was about those. how are they?

              1. re: soupkitten

                And there are better Italian restaurants here in MPLS. As you can see from my post (where I agree with TDQ), I wasn't recommending the place to him - I was just giving my opinion on the place.

                But if he really wants to use his card and really wants Italian, he can have a not-terrible meal there.

                I wouldn't say Joe's Eggs are a big deal, but they are good. I think it's scrambled eggs with sausage, spinach and maybe something else scrambled into them. Comes with rosemary potatoes.

                I also really like their death by chocolate there.

                None of the Parasole restaurants are particularly great. I'd even go so far as to say that The Good Earth official sucks. But the ones I've been to recently (Salut, Figlio, Chino Latino) at least offer decent food and fun ambience.

          3. I wouldnt recommend Muffuletta given the other restaurants you have the option to go to. Of all of Parasole's restaurants, I think Salut is one which is unique and tops in its category. The food at Muffuletta was unispiring and nothing above average. I've been to Salut multiple times and always walked away wow'd. Manny's is good, but I think Capital Grille has better steak. Chino's food is below average - great atmosphere and drinks, though. For my money, its Salut all the way.

            1. Mitch,

              I dunno, for my money, it sounds like what you're really interested in is taking in the state of MSP dining as it's evolved over the last five years. For that, save the Parasole certificate, as TDQ suggests, for a summer trip to the Muffuletta patio. Try instead:

              1. 112 Eatery
              2. Saffron
              3. The Town Talk Diner

              and get (for a fairly reasonable price) a pretty decent sense of some the new restaurants that have sprung up in the last five years...

              3 Replies
              1. re: Dragon

                so after all the debate, i decided we would have the parents keep the gift cert, (they can go to muffaletta in the summer or manny's for a steak(i work at a steakhouse, i didn't wan't to go to one) and i would cook dinner at home in my great grandmother's cast iron skillet. It was a great meal, nantucket bay scallops in a thyme butter sauce to start, a bit of foie in the middle, kobe beef strip steaks seared hard and fast and almost rare. I followed it up with a little cheese and drinks at il vesco vino and the night was great. Thank you all for the imput and suggestions, my indecision just left me with no reservations and although i didn't think it would be impossible to get a table without one, i wandted to not drive and therefore did not want to risk restaurant hopping. But I shall return...

                1. re: mitch cumstein

                  Oooh, sounds like a fabulous meal! Mitch, if your parents ever disown you, which I doubt will happen, I want to adopt you and let you cook for me. Especially if you arrive with your grandmother's cast-iron skillet - those years of seasoning can't be bought for love nor money.

                  Did you bring your dinner ingredients with you, or buy them locally? Do you know about Clancey's Meat and Fish in Linden Hills (Mpls)?

                  Anne

                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    anne- I'll keep you posted on the relationship, and the cast iron. actually haven't heard of clancey's, but I will keep it on the radar, I anticipate a move back to the msp in a year or so. I bought everything at coastal seafoods on snelling in st. paul. Fresh Nantuckets were reasonable compared to my $49.99/lb price here, and they had good prices on the kobe. Actually they were selling a 6 lb frozen kobe tenderloin for 24.99 a pound!! i would have bought it had i not flown back and vac sealed it in individual filets for the next year! Coastal was a good shop, about 10 varieties of fresh fish, some live offerings and about 10 shellfish/oysters on hand. the sell foie in pre packed form and kobe beef in several cuts.

                    Coastal Seafoods
                    (651) 698-4888 coastalseafoods.com
                    74 Snelling Ave S, St Paul, MN 55105