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end of the year survey: What were your best 5 meals in MSP in 2007?

i'd love to hear your thoughts.

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  1. I don't know if I can boil it down to my "top five" best meals, but I'll give you my top 5 favorite "new" dishes of 2007. I hope it's close enough to your criteria (I had so many wonderful meals in the Twin Cities in 2007) ...And by "new" I simply mean I hadn't tried this particular dish at this particular restaurant before, perhaps because the restaurant was new in 2007, or it was a new menu item in 2007, or simply that I just hadn't gotten around to ordering the item before 2007:

    In no particular order:
    1. quesadilla de chorizo, Taqueria La Hacienda, Minneapolis

    2. scallion pancakes at Tea House II, St. Paul

    3. duck confit at Ngon Bistro, St. Paul

    4. honey sesame seed ice cream sundae at the Minnesota State Fair

    5. BBQ pork ribs from Big Daddy's, St. Paul

    Other nominees:
    6. liver toasts, Jay's Cafe, St. Paul

    7. dan dan noodles, Little Szechuan, St. Paul

    8. meat momos, Highland Cafe and Bakery, St. Paul

    9. banana cream tart OR 10. farro w/ gorgonzola piccante, 112 Eatery, Minneapolis

    Looking forward to seeing others choices, including, hopefully, yours, DukeFan.

    EDIT: and since we're doing a 2007 round-up of sorts, I'd like to take a moment to thank all of my fellow passionate, articulate and knowledgeable Twin Cities 'hounds for all of the great chow you tipped me to in 2007. I've learned so much from all of you, thank you. I look forward to seeing your 2008 tips and, perhaps, meeting a few more of you at chowdowns.


    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      I agree with TDQ that I am more comfortable naming dishes than meals, especially given how I order at restaurants - I like to do sampler meals, and I almost always end up liking one thing much more than others.

      My list, in no particular order, and not adhering to an arbitrary length:

      1. tagliatelle w/ foie gras meatballs from 112 Eatery
      2. Pumpkin ice cream from Izzy's
      3. Churros from Masa
      4. Turkey burger from Craftsman
      5. Truffle burger from Bulldog NE
      6. Cheese curds from Town Talk
      7. Croissants at Trung Nam's
      8. Crepes from the Midtown's farmers market.
      9. Pastrami sandwich at Be'Wiched

    2. 2007 was a phenomenal year for DH and I for food. I'm going to stick to meals, not dishes as best I can.

      1) La Belle Vie tasting menu with wine paring for our 1st anniversary, after a day at a beer fest. Perfect day with perfect food and drinks.
      2) At one of many visits to the Craftsman we started with the cheese plate, I had the Fish and Chips which were spectatular, and a brioche bread pudding for dessert. Num.
      3) A celebration of my and a friend's birthday at J.P. American Bistro. We tried everything. The biggest standouts were the foie gras salad and the pizza. Great wine too.
      4) Any and every time I go to Peninsula and get the Curry Tofu Hot Pot. Sooooo, good.
      5) On a work trip to Duluth, I tried Fitger's for the first time. While I remember I got the Salmon, and it was good, the beer blew me away. They had a winter warmer that was amazing. Also, my co-worker had never had salmon before, and I let her try mine. Weird.

      If I could go with a sixth, it would either the day long eating adventure at the State Fair.

      1. *sigh*..

        1. Yum Woon Sen at Thai Bazil (now defunct)
        2. Tom Yum @ Thai Bazil
        3. 3 seed sandwich + Cumin bean salad @ Birchwood
        4. Splitting 2 gosa gosa platters @ Blue Nile.
        5. Hok Mon Pla @ Thai Bazil
        ... this is so depressing

        Most fun new experiences:
        the chicken, corn, cilantro & cheese curd pizza at Pazzaluna
        sampling@Aribel's! (we ordered something from every section & shared)
        trying almost every flavor @ ring mountain ;)

        1. Thinking about my reply this is not neccasarily the best food or the best dish but that combination of food, location, company and time of day. The best meals have been at home with friends and lots of wine but in terms of meals out I enjoyed the following.
          1- almost any meal at Sea Salt in Minnehaha on a nice day - calamari, fish tacos, etc
          2- lunch at Vincents for a croque madame, omelet or other comfort food
          3- many lunches at La Sirena Gorda in midtown global market
          4- many pizza dinners at Punch always with Buffalo Mozarella
          5- a grilled calamari dish at Masa for dinner
          6- Can I cheat and say a cappucino at Kopplin's with a danish from Rustica (not a real meal but definitely one of the best things in town).

          1 Reply
          1. re: stpaulbreadman

            Wow this was really hard to narrow down to 5 but here goes.
            1. TheTex Mex at The Uptowner Cafe on Grand. My go to dish time and again for a sure fire hang over destroyer.
            2.The Rib-Eye Pho at Ngon. I've had this dish at least 10 times this year and was never let down
            3.The Shanghai Juicy mini buns at The Tea House off 94.I'm convinced Bourdain would love these highly addictive delights.
            4.The tried and true Juicy Lucy at The Nook
            5. Cioppino at Stella's Fish Cafe-Un goddly delicious.

          2. My top 5 "wow" food experiences that I can recall from 2007 (in MN):

            5. Dinner at Harbor View Cafe
            4. Poached Lake Trout, at Lucia's
            3. Cappuccino at Kopplin's (thanks breadman, I would've forgotten this one)
            2. Pancakes at Colossal Cafe
            1. Spaghetti Squash at 112 Eatery

            Honorable mentions: Raspberry Mint adult milkshake at Town Talk Diner; Beer Primer class by Myzurgy.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Chris Mitra

              Chris, I'd like to more about the spaghetti squash at 112 Eatery. Was that an entree or a side? I've not noticed it on their menu before, so, I'm guessing it is (appropriately so) a seasonal offering?


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Adding on..how was the spaghetti squash seasoned? Tell us more! I'm going there in two weeks and love spaghetti squash...

                1. re: jeanmt

                  I'm pretty sure the spaghetti squash is sadly gone, as TDQ guessed, because it was a seasonal dish in the fall. It was a generously-sized side plate, and the key was the freshness of the sqaush and the simplicty and finesse of its preparation. The thin strands of squash were soft yet chewable to provide a perfect texture. It was lightly cooked with some sort of vinegar -- possibly apple cider vinegar -- which gave it tang, probably a bit of sugar for sweetness, red pepper flakes, and a light sprinkle of shredded parmesan on top for some salt.

                  It made the top of my list because it was the only dish I had this year which, after taking one bite, I ate the entire plate before even touching anything else I had ordered. It was so, so good. Oh yeah, and $6.

                  1. re: Chris Mitra

                    most fun veg side dish i had this year: broccoli rabe @ pazzaluna. i think it's like $5.. huge plate & topped simply w.little dried peppers, olive oil, garlic and anchovies.. perfect side to share w.someone else who also ordered a pizza =)

            2. In no particular order...

              1. Lobster spaghetti and bone-in pork tenderloin at 112 (with the scallops/oyster mushroom appetizer)

              2. Huevos rancheros, side of bison sausage at Hells Kitchen

              3. Pork shoulder plate with garnet yams/andouille and beans/rice at Brasa

              4. Stack of buttermilk pancakes and bacon at Al's

              5. Fresh oysters and a shrimp po boy at Sea Salt

              1. I like to eat cuisines I can't find here in Duluth when I visit the Cities, so you'll see my list reflect that. I also like to try a new cuisine each time.

                Ranked roughly (but not exactly - my memory isn't THAT good!) from best to worst:

                La Hacienda (Salvadoran et al) - Carne Deshilada and a bean and cheese pupusa. excellent! Very delicious. Certainly worth returning to!

                Bombay 2 Deli (Indian, esp. snack food) - Vada pav and samosa chaat. Excellent menu, cheap prices, good food. Will certainly return to. Occasionally crave but even it's not good enough for 150+ miles of driving (that'd kind of defeat the "cheap" part).

                Safari Restaurant (Somali / East African) - Beef suqqar. Great service, great food. Some of the best rice I've ever had, and the green sauce is killer too. Happily took my green salad (I'm a salad-hater) back and replaced it with more mango juice. They even re-fill your rice! Very impressed.

                Singapore! (Malaysian) - Roti paratha and Captain's curry. Disappointed it wasn't "Malaysian - Ethiopian" fusion any longer. Roti paratha good, but appetizer way too big (made for several people rather than 1). Left me too full for the captain's curry, which otherwise was good.

                Aribel's (Guyanese) - Truly an "experience restaurant". The bara and (especially) the accompanying sauce was excellent; I didn't care for the chicken curry, but now I know how it is served "Carribean" (or "Guyanese"?) style. Will try the rice cook-up or pepper pot the next time I stop in.

                Salsa a la Salsa (Mexican) - Unfortunately, this was the only restaurant still open when I arrived at the Midtown Global Market after a hard day of biking. The combo plate was good, but nothing spectacular.

                Tam Tam's African Restaurant (Pan-African) - Hunter's stew, along with roti and ugali (cornmeal mush). Stew was kind of blah but not bad; service was the best I've had. Perhaps it was just that dish. Whatever the case, it's great to have an MSP restaurant that serves such exotic dishes (like the Ugandan favorite "matooke").

                Babani's (Kurdish) - Naan wa paneer, dowjic soup, and kubay sawar. Kind of blah.

                Three Crowns (Nigerian) - Pepper soup with goat, jollof rice. Had to try their Nigerian pepper soup, which my mom has made countless times from a recipe I found for her years ago. Three Crowns' version was certainly more authentic and very, very different - and not too my liking. Perhaps all goat has that texture (it was my first time). Jollof rice was pretty good, though. Restaurant was quite the experience - truly a "ma and pop" (or "ma and daughter"?) operation.

                Sambol (Sri Lankan / Indian) - Chana Masala. Here I received the Indian menu, not Sri Lankan menu. Very disappointed because of this. The Indian food I did order was not good, as it had large, raw onions in it.

                Foodsmart (Hmong / SE Asian) - Rice and a beef (?) / mushroom / tofu mix. Not my taste.

                And outside this list....

                Hmong International Market (Multiple stands, S.E. Asian) - Fascinating place, good food. Just don't try the papaya salad first...it might burn your lips, requiring the consumption of copious amounts of bubble tea. But the idea of having a "Chow-down", along with expert tour there couldn't have been any smarter.

                1. Here is my top 5 dishes in no particular order:

                  yellow tail with serano chili & cilantro (Anemoni Sushi)
                  chicken with poblano mole (Masa)
                  trout (Lucia's for brunch) - best trout dish that I've EVER had
                  crab salad (112 Eatery) - friggin' spot-on every time...
                  Butter-poached lobster (Chambers) - cooked absolutely perfectly

                  ....kind of sad, but I just realized that we haven't eaten out nearly as much as we should have in 2007....I'll be using this list -- thanks guys!

                  1. I had great food in 2007, much of it because of you chowhounds. For example, I probably wouldn't have known about Bon Xai without all the raves on this board.

                    It's so hard to pick just 5, but here's my list:

                    1. Coconut Soup followed by Red Snapper at Cafe Bon Xai.

                    2. Samosa Chaat and Yogurt Soup at Bombay 2 Deli.

                    3. My birthday meal at Restaurant Alma: buffalo carpaccio, fish (I forget what, but it was great), and a pluot tart with saba ice cream. Actually, my favorite dish was my husband's roast chicken, which he kindly shared with me. It was simple, perfectly cooked, and divinely memorable in its deliciousness.

                    4. Sea bass and green beans at Keefer Court Cafe. The delicate sea bass was fried but wasn't a bit greasy, and the green beans had bits of pork and mushrooms that made them insanely delicious. Oh, and I had a cream horn for dessert - I love how the not-too-sweet cream filling is just slightly salty.

                    5. Papaya salad from many places in St. Paul, during my summer quest for the best. I think my favorite was from Dragon Star Market, but I didn't try every option. This year, I simply must get to the Hmong International Market!

                    Runners up include the hot turkey sandwich at Carol's, the pulled pork and cabbage salad at Brasa last summer, many small plates at Saffron, a plum sandwich at Kallyste, almost everything I tried at Little Szechuan, and the multi-grain bread from Rustica.

                    Oh, what great food memories! Now I need to get to all the other great places in the Twin Cities. I'm going to use this thread to direct my dining for 2008.


                    1. Since 2007 was our first year living here, this is the same as saying, what were my best 5 meals ever in the TC.... still tough, and tougher the more I think about it, so off the top of my head, and in no order:

                      1. Pupusa revuelta and the all-important curtido, Manana Restaurant, E. 7th St., St. Paul
                      2. Blueberry pancakes, bacon, hash browns, Al's Breakfast, Mpls.
                      3. Slow-cooked pork, cheese grits, creamed spinach, Brasa, Mpls.
                      4. Eggplant w/ garlic sauce, Little Szechuan, St. Paul
                      5. Various ice creams and sorbets, Pumphouse Creamery, Mpls.

                      1. 1. La Belle Vie Tasting menu with 1982 Cos Destournel and 2001 D'Yquem
                        2. Gnochi with big chunks of Crab at Cave Vin
                        3. Incredible Ribeye special on a Saturday night at Meritage
                        4. Veg. Bolognese at Hedi's
                        5. Multiple menu items and the Tres leches cake at 112 Eatery

                        1. OK, my list probably isn' t as adventurous as most on here, but I'll give it a go. In no particular order:

                          1. A lamb orzo dish at Gardens of Salonica
                          2. Spaghetti with veal meatballs at Al Vento
                          3. Dan dan noodles at Little Szechuan
                          4. Cabbage rolls and varenyky at Kramarczuk's
                          5. Incredible fish mouse appetizer at Corner Table

                          I know we're only supposed to talk about Minneapolis, but my best meal hands down of 2007 was the hot lobster roll at Neptune Oyster in Boston. I want to fly back right now to eat it again.

                          1. 1) ricotta ravioli with brown butter & biscotti topping, at the modern cafe
                            2) steak helene with roasted brussels sprouts, pommes frites, at barbette
                            3) tomato confit salad with goat cheese and champagne vinaigrette, at barbette
                            4) risotto with butternut squash and pumpkin seeds at the town talk diner
                            5) corn on the cob from the farmer's market

                            1. ze salut Steak Sandwich at Salut
                              BBQ Pork Bun at Pho tao Bay
                              Chicken at Corner Table
                              Conchas at Cafe Ena
                              Homemade crabcakes and sauce http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                              Looking forward to 2008 I plan on going to Heidi's, Ngon Bistro, Sea Salt among many others....

                              1. In no particular order.... the spring rolls at Rice Paper were enjoyed on numerous occasions, the mango-glazed salmon at Victor's 1959 Cafe for dinner, and for breakfast their mango pancakes. Of course the lemon ricotta pancakes at Hell's Kitchen and their blackberry jam, and last but not least, grilled octopus appetizer special at It's Greek to Me.

                                1. In no particular order(other than the one I remember them in ) the top five dishes of last year which I had in the Twin Cities Metro area which weren't tried and true favorites.

                                  1) Beet variation 13 @ Heidi's : I got this because I was intrigued. I left the plate empty with a deep appreciation of both beets and brussel sprouts.
                                  2) Cauliflower flan@Corner Table: This was done for a 4(or 5 i forget) course menu at a Yalumba tasting dinner. This dish was lovely and made me like cauliflower. My DH's comment was 'I don't like cauliflower and I don't like cauliflower and I don't like flan but I like this.'
                                  3) The Longhorn @Blackbird: A damn fine beef sandwich
                                  4) Junk Burger with Truffle fries @ Bulldog NE: Still a little spotty on execution after Col. Mustard left but still a damn tasty place for a good burger and great beer.
                                  5)Crab rangoon@ mission: So decadent and tasty.

                                  1. 1) Masa - Shrimp Quesadillas, Ribeye w/ Ancho Chile Butter, Tres Leches Cake
                                    2) Brasa - Roast Pork/Rotisserie Chicken, Cabbage Salad, Cheese Grits
                                    3) Fogo de Chao - The whole experience.
                                    4) Solera - Tasting menu at the Bourdain event.
                                    5) Bon Vie Cafe - Breakfast. Best hash browns in town.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: BigE

                                      Bon Vie also has the best eggs Beni in my opinion!

                                      1. re: BigE

                                        I'm always on the lookout for great hash browns, it seems like a lost art. BigE, what made them the best for you, so I can tell if we're on the same wavelength?

                                      2. In no particular order...

                                        -the chicken with mustard tarragon sauce at Lucia's (fantastic) as part of dinner club.
                                        -lettuce wraps at PF Changs (I know, I know, it's a chain) celebrating birthdays with friends.
                                        -my mom's cherry roll-up cookies at Christmas (cream cheese based dough with maraschino cherries wrapped in the middle).
                                        -fried egg sandwich at Town Talk (heart-clogging yummyness) as part of another dinner club night.
                                        -everything I had during my three visits to Nokomis restaurant up the North Shore past Duluth (www.nokomisonthelake.com).
                                        -Izzy's sour cherry, pomegranate and cream cheese ice creams for dessert at WA Frost during a bridesmaids lunch the day before my sister's wedding.

                                        I realized as I was writing this, that it was way more about the experiences than the actual food - great as it was!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: nelly55403

                                          Thanks for turning me on to Nokomis on the Lake, just had fun looking at their
                                          website- talk about some fine print! And I love to find original items on menus,
                                          and they had 2- smoked cashew milk, and malted milk foam!

                                          1. re: faith

                                            You're welcome! Nokomis has been spot-on for food every time I was there. Their service is a little shoddy, as they mainly had college age serving staff, but it's getting better.
                                            Their menu changes through the seasons a bit, so don't get too attached to a favorite dish! They also do a little amous bouche (don't criticize my french spelling!) that are quite good.

                                        2. + Green papaya salad and sole special with green curry & squid @ Chai's
                                          + Collards and yams @ Brasa
                                          + Huerache al pastor @ Gorditas el Gordo
                                          + Pork belly with fiddleheads and corn gratin @ Alma
                                          + Quail @ Cafe Maude