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Apr 2, 2008 07:44 AM

MSP - Common Roots Cafe

Mediocre food (salad dressing acidic to the point of inedibility), surly service. Definitely not recommended.

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  1. Oh no! That's a bummer. I really liked the broccoli salad I had there about a month ago. And they have a fantastic tea selection.

    Did you try the bagels everyone loves so much?


    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      I have to agree with Plautus. I was pumped to try this place..and I thought what they served was mediocre. I like to support the locals, so when I'm over in Uptown visiting my girlfriend, we'll probably head that way...but I wouldn't actually "recommend" it.

    2. Wow! That's a surprise about the service. I haven't tried much there besides bagels with lox, cream cheese and capers and a couple random baked goods, but the women at the counters are usually very pleasant. (Weekdays at about 8:00 a.m., maybe five visits now?) Even patient with my incessant questioning about the odd colored hummuses and spreads.

      That's too bad...surly service sucks. Thanks for the warning.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MSPD

        I've had some excellent soups and salads and never noticed surly service there. I'm watching my gluten, so don't usually have bagels, but had to try theirs since they are using local organic flour etc. I like the bagel, but to be honest I have to say I like the NYC ones better. The common roots bagel was a bit bland, although it had nice chewy texture. I also appreciate that they are making their own spreads without the chemical additives of places like Bruegger's, using organic cream cheese. They may be having some staffing issues but I think a lot of their food is very good. May not appeal to people who like high-salt cooking though. They are happy to let you taste anything ahead of time, so it sounds like a good idea to sample soups and salads before making a choice.

        1. re: faith

          I agree with faith on the bagels. They're good ... for the Twin Cities. Not really up to par for a real deli bagel, though.

          1. re: Jordan

            Have you found a better bagel in the Twin Cites? If so, where are they and what varieties were offered?

            Beyond that -- the horse is surely dead by now, isn't it??? :)

            1. re: KTFoley

              Not noticeably better, but I don't think CR's bagels are significantly better than Bruegger's. That's not a slam -- I like Bruegger's just fine. However, I've had really good bagels from both New York and Chicago delis, and nothing we have here holds a candle to them.

            2. re: Jordan

              I don't really count the Common Roots bagels as bagels. They're more like bready things that go well with their soup (which I've tried two flavors of and really enjoyed - one was carrot ginger, I can't remember the other). But no, I don't actually know of better bagels.

        2. Having read this review, and having been making a point to try Common Roots for several months I finally went this morning (I'm actually there now) to see for myself what the disparity in the reporting was the result of.

          After one visit, I found the following:

          Plain Bagel with Lox: Bagel is good and fresh but not really like the NY bagels I know. Very good though. Lox are tasty and the thing came loaded, though I was puzzled by the addition of sprouts which overwhelm the flavor of the lox.

          Caffe Macchiato: Feh. Acidic underwhelming espresso. Good dab of foam. My local measuring stick is the macchiato @ Broders which is closest to what we've had in Italy. Needs work.

          Service: Outstanding. Smilingly greeted and welcomed despite a long line by two people. Perhaps they read this review already? Anyway, the barista was great and had a sweet antiquey owl necklace on.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Foureyes137

            i've always had very friendly and sweet service at common roots. sometimes i've felt that different food items were weak, but i think c.r. is okay-to-good and improving. the bagels are consistently good imo. yes-- not nyc bagels, but good, better than other msp bagels.

            1. re: soupkitten

              Bagels are okay when they turn out. And the price totally beats out another bagel shop I won't name. However, on at least two occasions the baker erred or fate entered and they didn't get a proper rise from the dough but sold them anyway. Replaced them both times, but at the cost of a 20-mile round trip. If I can't trust them to sell quality products and have to yank out a bagel in the store before leaving to check it...well, it's just not worth it to me.

              Other stuff I've tried has been okay, and service has been at least 80% fine, but the bagels ended my desire to recognize it as a place to go. Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, the poor music selections and overly-loud volume did contribute to that decision.

              1. re: Enso

                ick! that's pretty bad about the bagels. did this happen any time recently?-- i ask because when c.r. first opened i had some menu items that were **very** weak (i would normally not return to a place with such poor food options). when i did give c.r. another chance everything was much improved. with the owner's philosophy of using as much local food as possible, i think it took the kitchen staff some time to adjust from whatever they were accustomed to. they learned bare-bones for all i know. i think the cooking is still improving *sigh*.

                so re: bagels-- how long ago are we talking?-- could it possibly be an inexperience issue that could have worked itself out by this time?

          2. I've been there many times. Granted, I only live 4 blocks from there, but I've always been really pleased with the place. The soups are delicious, there just aren't better bagels in town, and the organic cream cheese is very flavorful. And not at all waxy.

            I'm really surprised about the surly service. It's too bad it happened to you - I've had nothing but incredibly friendly people help me there. I *cannot* say the same for one other bagel shop located in Uptown, where I had terrible, terrible, terrible service several times in a row. I think it makes a huge difference when the staff are connected to the company in a meaningful way. The staff I've talked to at Common Roots are enthused by the aims of the cafe, and it reflects in their work attitude. Chain places - employees are just there for a paycheck. I can't help but thinking of "flair" from Office Space when I see corporate restaurant employees.

            I also really like their commitment to sustainability.

            1. I keep going back to Common Roots Cafe over and over and I have to say I have never had surly service. I think everyone should have a place like this in their neighborhoods - they have a room that they let non-profits use for meetings for free, try so hard to be sustainable and local in their food and other doings, offer free wi-fi and have long hours. The place is always full of an amazingly diverse group ranging from students to people on dates. It just feels good.

              The bagels are good - some times better than others times. The soups are incredible! Take a taste to see what you want first. The rest of the items... it's chance. They like to experiment. I think it is all kind of fun. SO much better than the grease-filled Soba's that used to be in this space.

              1 Reply
              1. re: RedPepper

                You can disparage Soba's all day, you cannot speak ill of their stuffed french toast, though I know you'd not have had a chance to experience it.

                Also, your experience moreso than the posters, most closingly resembles mine.