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Mid-month dining out highlights MSP

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  • faith May 13, 2008 12:21 PM

I would like to see these summaries back on the board- I enjoy them- I will try to keep
mine succinct -

Common Roots Cafe- I had some excellent fish tacos made with walleye and a delicious
creamy green sauce, served with warm corn tortillas. Also really enjoyed several baked
goods- a honey oatmeal raisin cookie that had a nice honey flavor and very buttery as well,
and an almond apricot rugala that was good, not super rich though as I expected for those,
also enjoyed a roasted root veggie salad and a special with pounded chicken strips and
arugula- a dinner type salad called Chicken Paillard. I did experience one slightly surly
counter person but everyone else was quite friendly (I went two days in a row).

Jasmine 26- I ordered 2 salads- a green apple one that seemed marinated in fish sauce-
and one with fried banana blossoms that seemed too sweet, came with fish sauce dipping
sauce with chili peppers floating in it. Both looked nice and sounded interesting but I would
have preferred more control over the level of sugar and fish sauce in them. Chicken was in both salads, and was dry. have been there in the past and enjoyed the popular salt and pepper tofu appetizer and a veggie crepe.

Salsa ala Salsa downtown mpls-
I am on a hunt for good tamales- tried a chicken one and a veggie one- not great, the veggie one had bits of cooked corn and not much else in the masa. Very good homemade corn chips and homemade salsas, green and a chunky tomato one, came with the order.
I could tell they didn't put the amount of lard in that La Loma does- didn't have that
seductive flavor depth in the masa. I'd love to hear any other places recommended with
good tamales.

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  1. Hmm...let's see. I also enjoyed my fish tacos at Common Roots the other day. I posted the lengthy story somewhere. Mine were definitely NOT walleye though...they had flavor and texture. The menu says marinated tilapia which sounded about right. I wonder if they change the fish types (?)

    I finally got around to trying the burger at Vincent (with braised short ribs inside). It was extremely disappointing. Fries weren't remarkable either. All in all, a ripoff. I didn't even want to post about it.

    My wife and I tried the new wine bar in downtown Lakeville on Friday (Mainstreet After Hours). They offer 25 "craft beers" -- I'm not into beer but the list seemed more interesting than their wine list. My (forgot the brand) Nut Brown Lager from Ashland, Wisconsin was very tasty. That said, I'm the worst judge of beer quality. Most of the list was somewhat local.

    I've been enjoying a number of products from Golden Fig and gave my wife a nice assortment of BT McElrath and Lovehandles chocolates for Mothers Day. I could guzzle B-grade maple syrup and they seem to be the only place I can find that ever carries it.

    I've also had good gelato at Luxury Sweets in Apple Valley and Papa's in North Minneapolis. I'm not a big fan of banana flavored stuff, but their roasted banana gelato is really addicting.

    I had a great chicken tinga sope and some tacos from Los Ocampos in the MGM a while back. Nothing new there -- they always do a good job.

    I posted a good review of my Brasa redemption a couple weeks ago.

    And the reign of "best carrot cake in the South Metro, and possibly the whole metro" now goes to Chianti Grill in Burnsville. It's enormous (like those gigantic cakes at Coffee News on Grand) and excellent. The previous leader at Roasted Pear in Burnsville, which used to be among the best carrot cakes in all of MSP has gone downhill over the last year or so.

    And finally, my CSA shipments from Harmony Valley just started last Thursday. Hooray for ramps (which I lightly sauteed into some spinach). I can't wait to get the first fruit share and coffee share shipment this week (I think).

    That's all I can think of from the last couple of weeks aside from McD's and whatnot.

    5 Replies
    1. re: MSPD

      Thanks for chiming in mspd- re: Common Roots fish tacos- I noticed the printed menu said $7 while the blackboard said $7.50 for them, and asked about it-
      the counter guy told me he thought they had recently changed to a better
      tasting fish that cost more, and he said they switched to walleye. In my opinion, good walleye is much nicer than tilapia- Tilapia is always farmed whereas walleye is wild, so maybe that means walleye is going to vary in taste more than tilapia. I would say walleye has a more delicate flavor but when it's good I vastly prefer it.
      I kind of agree about the Vincent burger- I tried a bite of a friend's and it
      seemed like the smoky flavor predominated- kind of weird for a burger-
      although I suppose it gets points for creativity-
      And I still really like Luce's carrot cake- pineapple, good walnuts, not too
      sugary, and a great cream cheese icing. No silly orange dyed carrots....

      1. re: faith

        I'll have to try Luce's carrot cake when I'm in the area at dessert time. Thanks for the rec.

        As for the fish, mine for sure wasn't walleye -- wrong color, wrong texture and wrong flavor. I guess I'll have to go back and find out what the deal was. Darn.

        1. re: faith

          Where is Luce? That carrot cake sounds interesting, with the not too sweet and inclusion of pineapple. The 3rd criteria I have for c.c. is moist but not at all oily--how would you say this one does, faith?

          1. re: Enso

            Enso, I am referring to Pizza Luce in downtown Mpls, at 4th St and
            2nd Ave N. There are a couple other locations as well, but I've only
            bought the carrot cake downtown- and yes, no oiliness- it's perfect,
            plus it's a nice big slice. I have to add that I am not a huge fan of their
            pizza which they are more known for-a slice is ok in a pinch though,
            and it does have the merit of some whole grain in the dough. They sell
            some decent salads to go and for eating in, with pretty good dressings,
            that I get occasionally.

        2. re: MSPD

          One of the vendors at the Minneapolis Farmers Market sells B-grade maple syryp, extremely chuggable. He's from Wisconsin, I think his name is Keith, and his tiny table is in one of the middle aisles in the northern half of the market. Look for the little maple lollipops. yum.

        3. We went to Osteria I Nonni for the first time and really enjoyed it. We both had appetizers, a pasta dish, a glass of wine, and dessert. All were excellent-- my Orecchiette alla Barese (with spicy sausage and rapini) were yummy, though a bit too sausage-dominated I thought. Her Lemon Tagliatelle with Shrimp were very good (so she said). The strawberry rhubarb panna cotta was fantastic, I thought. Service was good. All in all a nice evening out.

          We had Mother's Day brunch at Vincent. It was pricey but superb. Great food, wonderful service, I love that place! We've now been for lunch (during Restaurant Week) and brunch, and can't wait to go for a fancy dinner sometime...

          1. The only thing new or noteworthy I've had recently was the Bloody Verde and Duck Bombs at Town Talk. Bloody Verde is a bloody mary but made with tomatillo puree and tequilla instead of vodka and tomato juice. LOVED IT. The duck bombs - think gut bombs made out of duck. Very, very delicious. Happy hour special at the bar. $5 for 3. Moist, of course, not at all gamey, well seasoned, grilled/toasted buns. Duck makes for superb burgers, it turns out.

            Going for the tasting menu at Sanctuary on Monday. Will report back.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pgokey

              ok, pgokey, you jogged my Town Talk memory- I had a very good Caesar salad
              there with toasted garlic bread crumbs- kind of like the world's smallest croutons-
              and one of the happy hour items- a curried chickpea croquette- that was quite
              delicious and prompted my comment to the server that they could do a nice
              Indian plate if they wanted- would be a good addition to the vegetarian offerings
              on the menu.

            2. Pardon the interruption folks, but please refer to The Chowhound Team post in this link for a refresher on the guidelines for posting in these "monthly update" threads http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39709... Thank you.

              Because it was a lengthy and thorough report, we split this post about Heartland into its own, deserving thread. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/519090

              1. We've been to Levain twice recently, and really enjoyed the luscious burger, short ribs, and charcuterie (chicken liver pate and beef tartare). I really like the chef's eagerness and passion to offer innovative items. Order anything that gets you charred greens. This week we went to 112 late night and had their mussels with shellfish veloute (the sauce was worth every finger-licking drop, so smooth and velvety). I also tried the veal tongue with soba noodles in peanut sauce. If you tried either component separately, they were out of balance (tongue too rich and fatty, noodles too vinegary), but when you ate them together they complemented one another quite well. Also ate at Red Stag, but enough has been said about that on a separate thread.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                  I have to admit I'm not a fan of the charred greens thing, but I too enjoyed the Levain burger. The leftovers, eaten cold right out of the fridge late that night, were even more delicious somehow. I'm discovering that while I love Levain's mushrooms hot, I love them even more chilled.

                2. Brunch @ Firelake - I love the lamb ribs. So simple but so good. Crawfish were good but overpowered by the batter. Grilled whole trout was outstanding. Again, simple preperation with oil, salt and pepper, but that is my favorite way to enjoy good fish. Asparagus simply steamed, fresh, local, yummy. Wife had Joe's Scramble, said it was ok, wished she'd had the panekoken.

                  Lunch @ Be'Wiched - I had the Pastrami. Similar to other reviews, I couldn't help but wish it was warm (but understand that it would be logistically unsustainable). While the cabbage provided a nice crunch, i was hoping the flavor of it's brine would hold up to the heavily peppered pastrami and even more heavily seeded rye. No luck. My wife's Hero was awesome. Great sandwich with terrific balance of flavor. The mexican vegetable soup was also noteworthy, good flavor of ground, dried chilis.

                  Brunch @ Red Stag - Thoroughly enjoyed the chicken fried steak. Gravy was salty like it should be, strong flavor of leeks. My only suggestion would be to pound the steak out further. Bloody mix isn't bold enough in my opinion. Hash browns were good enough and did a passable job of soaking up the gravy and yolk from the eggs. Scramble was good with favas and peas, though a bit bland...but it's favas and peas. Duck (or was it chicken?) terrine was very good. Highly recommend that.

                  Dinner @ Masa - Outstanding service at the bar. I love their drinks and usually just eat at the bar so I can talk to the tender about them. As always, the ribeye was perfect. Wife had the Mahi and loved every bite, the fish looked like it was grilled with great care and the accompanying perserved onion was a nice match with the bite I was allowed to try.

                  Lunch @ Loredo's - Oh boy. Needs work. Fish taco's had good flavor, but were labled "San Diego" fish tacos, though these were missing several of the hallmarks that make that dish (cilantro, fish chunks rather than a filet, lime wedges, corn tortillas). The green-chili mac & cheese was actually quite good, but the cheese and bacon masked any flavor the green chilis may have given the dish. A margarita tap? Unless there is a guy under the bar squeezing limes into a bucket, this is an abomination. Lemonade was pink off the gun. No bottled (or otherwise) root beer at a SW restaurant? They did have Dr Pepper though. Service was slow and didn't seem cohesive. Everyone doing their own thing entirely.

                  I could keep going, but my fingers hurt. Good meals had at Mill City Cafe, Brasa, Chai's, Spoonriver, Broders, Moose & Sadies, and late nights @ Red Stag (Mmmmmsmelt fries).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Foureyes137

                    Had brunch at Firelike as well. I was fairly disappointed. I will be the first to admit I didn't order correctly - ordered the burger. It was fine, but certainly not as good as the description. The roll completely fell apart, so it was very hard to eat. Fries were very thin - almost fry "sticks". On the other side of the table, my wife had the panekoken. She thought it was very good, and correctly stated I am just not a fan of brunch. Possibly true. Anyway, looking around the room, I became more and more convinced that I had ordered incorrectly. Some items looked very good, while others looked merely average. The trout and eggs looked outstanding and from foureyes137 review it sounds like they were. Service I thought was poor, although it was mother's day. They gave all the mom's a $20 gift card, so we will give it another try - this time I will try the trout!

                    On the walk back to the car, passed by R. Normans which was having a mother's day brunch. When I got back home, I looked at their website and wow did it look good. Seemed quite reasonable for what they were serving. Hopefully they will do a father's day brunch so I can give it a try.

                  2. Hunting for tamales .... Have you tried La Loma Tamales @ Midtown Global Market?? Very good, problably the best in the TC's....

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Maggie19

                      Yes maggie I mentioned them in my post- my problem with La Loma is that
                      I have read the ingredients on their frozen tamales in the markets, and there are
                      some chemical additives that I'm not fond of, even though yes, they do taste
                      great.

                      1. re: faith

                        I would bet that the tamales they sell in the markets contain preservatives that they don't put in the ones they sell in their restaurants.

                        And the MGM location isn't as good as the Mercado Central location.

                        1. re: pgokey

                          I wish you were right, but I've asked them and been told they are all the
                          same. Since the grocery store ones are frozen, there would be no need
                          for preservatives. And vegetarians should know that the very tasty
                          vegetable tamales have lard in them as well.

                          1. re: faith

                            Thanks for the lard warning @ La Loma - I had been meaning to try them, but now I won't. It's hard to find good vegetarian Mexican food in MSP - any recommendations?

                            1. re: egusto

                              Since the food in Mexico is rarely vegetarian (lard in masa, lard in beans, lard as a common cooking fat) what you are looking for may be hard to find. I bet places like Salsa A La Salsa or Little Tijuanna, El Norteno or Pancho Villa who use a good deal of packaged ingredients would have options for animal-less food.

                              Masa always has one vegetarian option, however no one we've dined with has said it was all that good.

                              If you do decide to eat animal though, definitely try Pineda's, Gorditas el Gordo and La Hacienda. Super good options, though not vegetarian friendly.

                              1. re: Foureyes137

                                Just curious, how do you know that the above-mentioned list of
                                restaurants in your post use 'a good deal of packaged ingredients'?
                                And why would that lead to having options for vegetarian food?
                                Please clarify.

                                1. re: faith

                                  Because I know people that work in them (all but El Norteno, but I've eaten there and it is obvious many ingredients are packages although the beans likely contain lard as they taste good), because animal shortening spoils 20 times faster than vegetable shortening which is why vegetable is used commercially.

                                  If a restaurant has few component ingredients that contain animal products, wouldn't it stand to reason they would be more likely to produce a vegetarian end product?

                    2. We did Mother's Day brunch at Craftsman. I ordered the brioche French Toast, which I didn't care for. Too dry? But my SO's egg sandwich and his mother's strata were to die for. The cinnamon roll and sausage were also memorable.

                      We've hit Jasmine 26 twice this month (we're always on the look out for good food served late), but both times it has failed to impress us. I've eaten their crepe, the sashimi salad, their spring rolls, and a noodle salad. The only thing I would go for again would be the sashimi sald. I agree with faith though, lots of sugar and sauce already in the salad when it somes to the table. It was a little much, even for me a sugar and sauce kinda girl!

                      We've also gone to the AYCE sushi night at Seven. Very impressive for AYCE. If you sit at the sushi bar, they'll include items that aren't normally on the menu. My SO is not a sushi fanatic and got the tempura. He really enjoyed it. He also tried the mussels and said he would definitely come back for those.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: debbie421

                        Debbier421, do you remember which of the items were on the AYCE sushi menu? I have been dying to try it.

                        1. re: TDS1

                          Went to Little Szechuan wednesday and had the Pork in spicy szechuan broth and it was delicious. I think next time I will tell them to add more peppercorns though because I am building a tollerance to the heat. This morning got around to trying an Al Pastor Huarachazo at Los Ocampos which was also very good. Al Pastor is probably now my favorite type of meat.

                      2. Korea Restaurant at the U for lunch again. Dol Suk, Kalbi & Rice Cakes with 2 friends this time. Very good. Learned to leave the rice alone in the Dol Suk for a little while so it gets a crispy crust. Will definitely keep going back. Parking lot has foreboding signs but the staff insists their customers can park there without fear. This is unusual for a U of MN restaurant.

                        Cafe Barbette for a dinner party of 8. The service was kind, competent, and overwhelmed so it was slow to order. Good wine, we finished their stock of 2 of our favorites (Mas de Gourgonnier and La Planella Monsant from Joan D'Aguera), they didn't have the 2004 Abbaye de Tholomies Minervois and it's really a different beast from the 2005 (04 was mostly Mouvedre and 05 was Grenache, or at least that's how they tasted to me). We ate happy our oysters (good, but not compared to Starfish in Toronto the night before). And mussels (which were good) and frites which were great and pate which was not so good and then we had fish and steak and lamb entrees to share and they were very good as well. A festive, bustling, high-energy great time and we spent $50 / person including 4 bottles of wine.

                        Gardens of Salonica for lunch...had octopus and skordalia and both were good. The gyros with fries were good too.

                        1. Went to The Nook (can't thank TDQ enough for getting me over there) Sat for lunch. I think I am ready to crown that place as best burgers in town. I had the 3 B's burger (bourbon bacon burger with smokey cheddar) with fries and my dining partner has that supreme whatever (the one where if you eat two they give you a free T shirt - that you would probably no longer fit if you ate two!).

                          They have it down pat, there. Buns are perfect, the beef is perfect, cheese placement, everything. I savored every morsel. Worth the drive and worth the wait. And the price - mine was $6.50 for burger and fries.

                          The leprechan legs are great, too! (deep fried green beans)