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Minneapolis - T's Place

I haven't seen anyone post about T's Place and went there yesterday for lunch and thought I'd share. Friends had dined there for dinner earlier in the week and had rave reviews.

We got there at 1 PM and it wasn't yet open although the hours posted said it opened at 11 AM. About 1:15 they were open.

The owner was gracious, friendly, and attentive...but we were the only folks in the place. We had Yesiga Sambusa as an appetizer, two large pastries stuffed with spiced ground beef. They were very flavorful. I had the vegetarian combo plate that had a variety of Ethiopian vegetables served on Injera. All were good, on a par with your "standard" Ethiopian places. It was a considerable amount of food, and I'm in fact having left overs for the second time tonight. My husband had the Ethio Asian Fried Rice, described as "fried rice with Ethiopain spicy sauce with chicken, eggs & vegetables." Think fried rice but with unusual seasoning. This was fantastic, and something we would definitely go back for again and again. The fusion of flavors and ingredients worked really well, and wasn't like anything I've had before.

The owner said they had live jazz on Wednesday nights, and we'll probably go back to check that out. It seems like the place might be struggling a bit, and the owner talked with us quite a bit to try and get ideas of what would draw people in. Hopefully it will stay afloat, and that others will find his fusion dishes worth a visit. It's at 2713 East Lake Street.

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  1. T's is fantastic. I heartily recommend the Roti Prata and anything with his curry. It's easily the best curry I've ever tasted. Check www.tsmpls.com for his online menu and ordering info.

    1. Thanks so much for this review! I've been meaning to try T's Place, but there are so many restaurants to try that I plain forgot about it. Now I've bumped T's Place to the top of my list. I love the idea of Asian-Ethiopian fusion food.

      Anne

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      T's Place
      2713 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

      1 Reply
      1. re: AnneInMpls

        Asian-Ethipian fusion? Is the eponymous T the Ethiopian guy that teamed up with Kin Lee at Singapore restaurant? If so, T's Place is now on my list of places to try. Well, it's on my list either way--sounds like a nice place.

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        Singapore Restaurant
        5554 34th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55417

      2. I went their last night with my family. Our non-meat eating friends met us there. We had an absolutely wonderful meal. There was spicy food for me, and mild stuff for the kids. The servings were copious. The service was great. We eat out a lot and like great food. T's place just got on our short list of great restaurants like The Birchwood, Town Talk Diner, Vincents, Meritage, and The King and I.

        1. I am almost certain that this restaurant is the work of the former chef at Singapore! in "Far South" Minneapolis (don't know the neighborhood name). I went to Singapore! back in June, expecting to find the menu of Malaysian - Ethiopian fusion cuisine I had read about in a review, but dismayed to hear that the Ethiopian half of the operation had "left". Looks like he might have started his own place. You can't get much more unique than Malaysian - Ethiopian fusion (maybe Icelandic or Kyrgyz - Ethiopian fusion, but that's asking a little too much). Definitely a must-try for me.

          EDIT: Suspicions confirmed by the "About" section of the restaurant's website.

          1. We went there for dinner last night. As others have mentioned, the food is good (I think Fasika on Snelling Ave. still has an edge, but T's menu seems more varied somehow) and served in large-ish quantities. The place was busier than most of you have reported (Friday at 7 pm), but there still seemed to be only three staff people in the place -- two servers and "T" himself. All of the staff were indeed gracious and welcoming, but they weren't easy to find (for things like water-glass refills, etc.). Tee came out toward the end of the meal to chat, which was a nice touch.

            We had the entree sampler and the fassolia. All tasty, all hot without being searing, most a bit heavy on the clarified butter, but all very enjoyable. It looks like the actual menu has changed some because the entree sampler is not listed on-line and there are dishes on-line (Zilbo Gommen) that I definitely would have ordered had I seen them.

            My only real issue (aside from the spotty service, which may not be spotty if you're the only folks in the place) is that I think Tee could do more with the "fusion" aspects of the menu. The Ethio Asian Fried Rice and Spicy Bean Curd are steps in that direction. But, for example, the cabbage listed in the Tikel Gommen could be either Nappa or bok choy, not your standard green cabbage. Maybe they could make more use of hing instead of onions in dishes in which onions are not a major flavor. Or they could use Thai peppers instead of jalapenos. Just some thoughts....

            1. I live in the neighborhood and finally checked out T's Place last Sunday nite. I highly recommend going there...the food was delicious.

              My companion and I shared the Roti Prata, which includes an incredibly complex and wonderful curry. (I assume it's the same as the "Captain's Curry" listed elsewhere on the menu.) It's sweet, dark, sour, and utterly unique. We also tried the lentil sambusas, which were rich and well-spiced, though could've used some kind of sauce. Finally, we split the vegetable sampler plate - a huge amount of food for the price ($13.00.) The sampler includes three kinds of lentils, stewed potatoes, green beans with carrots, and injeera...all them fantastic, solid renditions of standard Ethiopian fare.

              Our final bill was $40, which includes two tall beers. Needless to say, we were full and satisfied - quite a bargain.

              There were about seven other tables of customers...nowhere near full, and it seemed a few of them were there because Town Talk was closed. I'm really hoping T's customer base grows in the coming weeks...they deserve it, and it's a great asset to the East Lake community.

              7 Replies
              1. re: petergray

                Peter, not to get too far astray (maybe start another thread?), but I'd be curious to hear about other neighborhood gems, especially the hole-in-the-wall kind. I'm finding myself in that part of town more and more frequently lately and could use some fresh tips. There is so much to explore along East Lake Street it's hard to know where to start, although, T's place sounds like it might be a good place to start! (I'm usually on my own when I'm in the area, though, and I find Ethiopian cuisine in particular is more fun when shared...).

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  There is a lot to explore on East Lake...hope I can help.

                  There are the usual suspects, which are probably already on your radar:
                  Manny's Tortas, directly across the street from T's Place. Also, Town Talk and Midor's Floating World, right next door to T's. (That whole block is pretty incredible...and a new Northern Indian place, Gandhi Mahal, just opened. I haven't been there yet but hope to go next week.)

                  Further East is the Craftsman, a great place for cocktails. Deeper into Seward, about five blocks off of Lake, is the Birchwood and the Cliquot Club Cafe. (Again, all three of these are probably on your radar, and widely written about on Chow.)

                  At 36th and Lake is Merlin's Rest, an Irish bar with bar food...the food is hit or miss but the place is solid otherwise, often with live music, and a few tables on the sidewalk.

                  There's also a nice, small, family-run coffeshop off of Lake, further into Longfellow...Fireroast Mountain Cafe at 3800 37th Ave; their small but good menu skews towards Mexican food (tamales, quesadillas, etc.)

                  Fun note: one of the City Pages' new food writers, James Norton, apparently moved into the neighborhood recently. He's been posting about various places off of East Lake on the Eater blog, http://blogs.citypages.com/food/ ...I'd check out the archives and then keep an eye on it for new discoveries.

                  Hope this is helpful.

                  1. re: petergray

                    Hmmm...I don't think I've heard of Fireroast Mountain Cafe--sounds interesting! Please do report back after your visit to Gandhi Mahal--we could use some good Indian places. Thanks again.

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Hey I know Fireroast - they sell at our Midtown Farmers' Markets on Saturday mornings (at the Lake Street light rail station). We have a garden plot at Dowling Community Garden and will stop at their cafe after a hard morning of garden labor. They are really nice there!

                      1. re: ABakersWife

                        Another encouraging endorsement of Fireroast! Thank you!

                        ~TDQ

                    2. re: petergray

                      I agree that the Captain's Curry at T's Place is incredibly good. I've been there twice and both times had to wait some time for the food to arrive, but it was definitely worth the wait.

                      Please report back on Gandhi Mahal.

                      1. re: petergray

                        Cliquot Club closed two weeks ago.

                  2. Website's still up and says open from 11:30 am, but no one ever seems to answer...what's the deal, anyone know?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Enso

                      hmm - that is strange. i'm not sure what's up with that, as i've never had lunch there. (someone's always answered when i've called to make a reservation or get take out.)

                      1. re: Enso

                        I walked by T's place a couple of weeks ago on the way to another restaurant in the neighborhood. There was a sign up that they were closed for dinner that specific evening, but they'd be open for dinner the next day. There was a different sign in the window saying they aren't doing lunch service during winter. So, I guess I would recommend calling them in the evening as it sounds like they aren't around for lunch these days.

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Thanks for the info. I would think in these tough times they might take a little more care to let people know what's going on. I know these details (website, answering machine) don't necessarily reflect on the quality of the dining experience, but it does have a quelling influence on willingness to keep trying. "There are a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market that are just as tasty as the real thing." --quoted from Real Genius

                      2. I found out about T's Place when Tee asked me for advice about which pot to choose for plants for his new restaurant as we browsed the same store. :-)

                        I finally got around to actually trying it over a year later when I was moving and had already packed up too much kitchen equipment to cook well.

                        It was good. I said I was in the mood for greens, and the person serving me (can't remember if it was Tee) recommended not only the collards, but another dish he'd bring out. (One dish; half-portions.) I think that "other dish" must've been the "Tikel Gommen," because it was full of cabbage. I don't remember there being any meat in my collard greens (as listed under "Zilbo Gommen" on the web site)...maybe mine was made to order.

                        Anyway, both were delicious.

                        I can't remember if it was the same trip (a three-way split) or another trip where I went back and the person who knew how to make the collards was out of the restaurant or something... :-) ...but I had a red-lentil dish (probably the "Yemisir Wot"), and I liked that, too.

                        I thought everything I ate was flavorful, even though I ordered mild food.

                        I would take my family or friends there to eat. I enjoyed it.

                        1. I loved T's Place! My friends and I ordered a bunch of dishes to share for dinner. The Captain's Curry is amazing, the red lentils are very good as well. The atmosphere is great and Tee is very amiable. I hope that more people go and try this amazing food!