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Apr 20, 2008 06:06 PM

MSP - SLP/Edina/Uptown business dinner for 15?

I am responsible for helping plan a business dinner for about 15 people. There was a recent thread which was similar asking about places for 30 people but it was primarily for St Paul. Ideal setting would be a private room (although not required if noise level not too high), entrees in the $20 - $30 range, and as broad a menu as possible (some picky eaters). Would like to avoid ethnic choices (although Italian would be OK). Goal is to be in/near St Louis Park, Edina, or Uptown - and avoid downtown. The last dinner we had was at Crave, which I though was actually pretty good. Places I have considered so far are JP American Bistro, Craftsman and 20.21 (technically outside my geographic area - but seems like a beautiful setting). I have not been to any of these myself - so I am excited! Any thoughts on these choices or other suggestions to consider? I very much appreciate the help!

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      1. Jp's American Bistro is an excellent choice. I have hosted parties in their wine room downstairs and it's a perfect location for the type of experience you're discussing here. The staff is very professional and the food is accessible to everyone. One of the challenges I've had in booking these types of things is that places that are too food-forward don't appeal to all types of tastes. Jp's does not have that problem and I think you'll find their wine room to be an ideal locatino for such a party. Do not forget to include the bistro fries on your order!!!!

        5 Replies
        1. re: Db Cooper

          Thanks for the advice. It looks like the wine room at JP American Bistro is unfortunately not available for that night. There was also a post in this thread recommending Amore Victoria but it seems to have been deleted. Strange.

          1. re: TDS1

            I've only eaten at Amore Victoria once and it was fine, but not my favorite. I live in the neighborhood and prefer both Barbette and Lucias to it. If you're considering Amore, i"d suggest a test run to make sure it works for you.

            There is also a private room at Campiello if you are looking for Italian (which may be a good choice for a business setting). I'd check there to see if the room works for you - their food is very good in my opinion and most picky eaters ought to be able to find something good.

            1. re: bob s

              Thanks for the advice everyone! Called JP American Bistro back and the room is now available so we have a reservation there! Very excited. It's in a couple weeks but I will post a review after. Sounds like the bistro fries are good, any other menu suggestions are appreciated.

              1. re: TDS1

                Good choice. Here is our review of JP.

                JP American Bistro
                2937 Lyndale Ave S
                Minneapolis, MN 55417
                (612) 824-9300

                Category: American-Upscale

                Rating (Scale 1-10, with 10 being the highest):
                Food: 8
                Service: 6
                Ambience: 7

                Recommendation: Very Good. The menu at this chef-driven restaurant isn’t intimidating and definitely not pretentious, but the array of flavors and JP’s international inspiration is what makes this establishment one of the most beloved in the Twin Cities.

                Chef J.P. Samuelson opened this restaurant with his wife in 2003 – a bistro of sorts with a seasonally changing menu. Casual sophistication is evident in the minimalist rustic décor – exposed beams and frosted glass are two elements that jump out immediately, but it’s the pale yellow wall color, dim lighting, and white linen tablecloths that give this restaurant its elegant feel. The restaurant also features a full-service bar as well as outdoor patio dining. Happy Hour (served only at the bar) lasts from 4-6pm everyday and features half price beer, wine, specialty cocktails and appetizers.

                The restaurant wasn’t very busy on a Tuesday night, and we were seated at a large table within earshot of the kitchen – JP even came over to give us his recommendations on the menu. We were excited to learn that the restaurant features half price bottles of wine from Sun-Tue (that’s a steal) and we ordered a couple bottles for the table (we liked the Andrew Rich Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley). On the cocktail menu, the New Pueblo, JP’s version of a top shelf margarita was amazing. An evaluation of the menu coupled with the aromas from the nearby kitchen made out mouths water. For appetizers we would highly recommend the Bistro Calamari with Thai Dipping Sauce, Seared Au Bon Canard Foie Gras with Pickled Beet Salad and JP’s Rustic Pizza with Bacon and Currants. The Foie was spectacular – the richness was carefully balanced with the sweetness from the pear and beet salad. The pizza was amazing as well – the unusual toppings resulted in a great burst of smoky, sweet, and crunchy flavors. Everyone on the table couldn’t stop talking about it.

                For entrees, we would recommend the Pork Tenderloin with Sour Cherry Sauce and the Hangar Steak with Slow Roasted Grapes. The pork was cooked perfectly and we liked the combination of the sweet and sour sauce with the creamy potato puree. Similarly, the hangar steak, which was served on the rare side of medium, was succulent and matched well with the sweetness from the onions and grapes. Although we love caramelized onions, the large peels were unmanageable and looked rather unappetizing. The Pacific Arctic Char with Horseradish Crème Fraiche was quite good as well. One of our friends had the Prairie Trout stuffed with Onions and Mushrooms and wasn’t impressed. The desserts were disappointing…the menu felt contrived and unimaginative. The Warm Chocolate Mole Cake has its moments, but the accompanying pumpkin seeds put us off and there were two strawberry desserts (the Napoleon and Parfait) that were similar in nature. Service was good at times but towards the end our waiter disappeared for the better part of half hour (hopefully the restaurant is better staffed during busy times).

                $$$-$$$$. Entrees range from $15-$30 but be prepared to pay for a multi-course meal.


                1. re: MSP Foodies

                  Thanks again. Here is the update. We had dinner at JP's a few nights ago in the wine room (13 people). I was very pleased with the meal. We ordered a variety of appetizer items including the calamari, Flatbread, JP's Pizza, and a special pizza with smoked duck on it. The JP's pizza won hands down. It was amazing. The calamari was served with carrot slivers on top, which I thought was a bit unusual, but it was a generous portion, the sauce was very good and the calamari was cooked correctly (which is unusual).
                  For dinner many people ordered the open faced ravioli, which they all seemed to enjoy. I am not sure it would have been my type of dish. Another person ordered the risotto with chicken, which looked outstanding. I had the special which was a duck breast with garlic potato puree. The duck breast was one of the best cooked pieces of duck I have ever had, with a perfectly crisp skin. Wow was it good - I could have cried when I reached the last bite. I ordered the pommes frites as a side dish as suggested, but it had too much paprika for me. I was the only one in the group that was still hungary for dessert - and I ordered the Chocalate Mole Cake - I will pretty much always pick any dessert that has chocolate in it. While it was an interesting combination of flavors, it didn't work for me and was the low point of the meal.
                  Service was excellent. The wine room doesn't have as nice an atmosphere as the main restaurant, but it was private and quiet, and everyone enjoyed the meal. Overall, it was a very good choice.

        2. Giving this thread a bump since I am having a hard time using the Search function using the words, "hosting business dinner." I am trying to give some recommendations for a business dinner for 15-20 people where we can have a private roon that doesn't charge extra, only for the food and wine ordered. Last meal was at Pittsburgh Blue, whose room had a 1500$ minimum, so they ended up putting us in the restaurant and it was so noisy we could not have a discussion. No real limitations in terms of geography, just would prefer good food in a nicer atmosphere (a lot of these guys are serious business-types). Thanks in advance- and if you think this should be an entire new thread, let me know.

          7 Replies
            1. re: cheeseguysgirl

              I had my rehearsal dinner at Firelake in downtown Mpls. It was wonderful and you can create your own menu.

              They have a room with doors, or a room with a curtain. Either way, the place is not loud.

              1. re: MayrMN

                You beat me to it! We were at Firelake on Sunday from brunch and noticed the 2 private rooms that appeared to seat 15-20.

                1. re: Foureyes137

                  We had a business dinner at Firelake in one of those private rooms. It bombed, terribly. I believe I posted about it a few years ago.

                  1. re: Jordan

                    Food, service or both? We love the food there, but we've known them to be rather, nonchalant on occasion...which is why we eat at the bar.

                    1. re: Foureyes137

                      Both, I'm afraid. Nonchalant is a good choice of words regarding the service. Although we had made a reservation for the private room for our business event, they couldn't seem to get their act together. They stuck us in the bar for about fifteen minutes while they claimed they were "looking for a table." We were getting ready to order and eat, a dozen of us lined up at the bar, when the private room was suddenly made available.

                      The food was pretty mediocre in our experience. I don't recall all the details, but I do remember some kind of fruit cobbler served in a small cast iron pan. The cobbler was burned so badly it was stuck to the pan.

              2. re: cheeseguysgirl

                When I was in High School, about 15 years ago, we had our Girls' Hockey Banquet at the Old Country Buffet. Everyone paid when they entered and they reserved a room for us.

                Now, I DON'T actually recommend this, but I wanted to share. OCB, perfect for Girls' Hockey teams.