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Jun 5, 2008 05:48 PM

The Old Standards (MSP)

I just like to hope that we will remember and frequent the places that Mom and Dad went to and someone else's Mom and Dad own. Good cooking. Nothing fancy. Always satisfied.

My post on this topic: Tinucci's. They had a tough time with road construction. Had to cut back on restaurant hours. They still had great deli - just did carry-out on their Italian Wednesday might. Love the veal parmiagiana (it's 60 degrees and rainy rainy rainy right now in minneapolis - needed comfort food...).

They still have great buffet. Normally not my kind of dining, but they have the old-fashioned kind - herring, shrimp cocktail, cheese board, then sides and entrees - that works well after going to events like the upcoming Minnesota State Democratic Convention.

I love this place. For its history. For its basic, good quality food. For it's tight-knit employee group that make you feel like you are dining amongst family. For the stick-to-the-ribs food that you simply need here and there.

Do any of you have places like this you would like to honor?

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  1. What comes to mind off-hand:

    Emily's F&M Cafe
    Our Kitchen
    Al's Breakfast
    Milda's Cafe
    The Nook
    Bonnie's Cafe
    Russian Tea House
    Windmill Cafe
    The Buckboard
    Brianno's (carry out, but I always feel recognized and welcomed)

    1. Great topic, rp.

      I echo MSPD's Al's, Russian Tea House, and the Nook (except that I don't think the two owners of the Nook are anyone's parents yet--but, they are, I think, the fourth owners)--

      I also love:

      ~Mancini's on W. 7th in St. Paul for it's old St. Paulness and the texas toast (more for atmosphere than chow), fantastic lounge, and friendly, friendly staff
      ~McGovern's on W 7th in St. Paul for their turkey sandwich
      ~Key's Cafe in downtown St. Paul for the caramel rolls, turkey omelettes, and housemade rhubarb sauce (I don't love all the Key's locations equally)
      ~Dari-ette on Minnehaha in St. Paul for the hot Italian sandwich and spaghetti on the side
      ~LIttle Oven (is that also on Minnehaha) in St. Paul for their baked pasta dishes and affordable prices--great comfort food
      ~ Italian Pie Shoppe on Grand Ave in St. Paul for their house-made tomato sauce and ultra family friendly dining
      ~Copper Dome on Randolph in St. Paul for their greasy-spoon pancake breakfast and atmosphere
      ~And I'm going to say...Ngon Bistro and Cafe BonXai. 2nd generation restauranteurs, those, who renovated the previous incarnations of the restaurant. Their pho (Ngon) and coconut soup (Cafe BonXai) makes fantastic comfort food.


      3 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        This is fun! I hadn't thought about Mancini's for a long time! Wonder if they still serve the cute little complimentary relish tray.

        Thinking of restaurants over that way brough to mind the sloppy hot dagos at DiGideo's. Yarusso Brothers on the East Side has a nice one, too.

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          One of the guys who ones the Nook & Shamrocks is a dad. So it counts....

          My spot is The Lexington. Filled with folks the same age is my grandmother.

          1. re: St Paul Susie

            sorry for the lack of proofreading

            ones = owns

            as my g'mom

        2. i first thought of mancini's--and sinatra--simultaneously when i saw this topic LMAO!!!

          how about jax, moscow on the hill, mayslack's, nye's. venerable old crusty bars also deserve a piece of this: the uptown bar, cc club (my parents went there when they were dating). this should be a fun thread :)

          1. Many of these are favorites. I'd add The Lexington (old style supper club) and the St. Clair Broiler.

            A friend treated us to the Sunday brunch at Jax recently. It's the old style buffet with a superabundance of everything. Old style salads like macaroni salads, herring, elaborate cheese trays, a station where a chef would make you an omelet or cut you some ham. Bloody mary's to drink. Lot of little old ladies and guys having dinner. And whole big families having dinner together. It was a blast from the past.

            9 Replies
            1. re: karykat

              hey i've wanted to do a brunchquest report on jax. i've only gone to jax for dinner-- Karykat, how did you like the brunch food?

              1. re: soupkitten

                Up until two years ago, we used to go to New Year's brunch at Jax every year. Loved it. The food was good and the atmosphere was elegant and fun. We went with one friend who ate his weight in oysters off the buffet every year. They lost money on him.

                1. re: Jordan

                  RP -- I ate at Mancini's recently -yes, they do still have the complimentary relish tray with tomatos at the bottom - along with the grilled basket of varietal breads that are really good-but contain way too much olive oil or butter (which is probably why it tastes so good).

                  1. re: snoboardbabe77

                    I would like to add the following...

                    Little Szechuan for their amazingly addictive Pork in Spicy Szechuan broth.
                    The Copperdome for the Hashbrown Platters.
                    El Burrito Mercado for their delicious carnitas, Posole and Menudo.
                    Los Ocampos for the El Pastor Huarachazo.
                    The Uptowner on Grand for The Tex Mex and Cajun breakfast as well.

                2. re: soupkitten

                  We liked it more than we expected to. We knew it would be one of those massive buffets and I thought it would probably be quantity at the expense of quality. But we did find plenty that we did really like. It was a good opportunity to have some of the old standards that we don't normally get. Very good bacon. Good roast beef, And the fresh fruit (which I took as something of a bell weather of quality) was very good.
                  And the assortment was massive including many things we didn't try: many salads, canadian bacon and sauages, lox or salmon, roast beef, omelets, eggs benedict, devilled eggs, waffles, cakes. I would have a good feeling about the things we didn't try based on the things we did.

                  And the service was excellent.

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    Love the brunch at Jax. Their eggs benedict are maybe the best I've ever had.

                    1. re: drew13000

                      Have you had the eggs benedict at Bon Vie? Best in Twin Cities imho.

                        1. re: drew13000

                          Bon Vie is on Selby just East of Dale St. in St. Paul--and , I agree, it's very good, though I haven't had the eggs benedict there.


                3. Carol's in Blaine. Classic comfort food made with care and real ingredients. Nothing fancy, but their turkey with stuffing is worth the trip from the south metro, even with today's gas prices.


                  P.S. Re the original premise of this post: "... the places that Mom and Dad went to ..."

                  I don't know the age of your parents, but mine aren't young enough to have eaten at Little Szechuan, BonXai, or Ngon back in the day. (Of course, parents are getting ever younger and younger... :-) But these new places do indeed have a mom-and-pop charm about them!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    I included Cafe BonXai and Ngon Bistro on my list because, as I said, both of those restaurants are both 2nd generations of restauranteurs who just made over the previous generation's restaurants, literally in the same location. Cafe BonXai still has the steak from the menu from the previous restaurant (which I recall correctly was their aunt and uncle's restaurant--okay, not their parents, but somebody's parents) and the chef at Ngon Bistro has said his inspiration for his pho came from 25 years of working at his parents restaurants (Caravelle and Pho 79). So, I don't know how old your parents are, but somebody's parents are probably old enough to have eaten at the precursors of Ngon Bistro and Cafe BonXai.

                    In addition to their second-generation-ness, I most certainly think they meet these requirements "For its history. For its basic, good quality food. For it's tight-knit employee group that make you feel like you are dining amongst family. For the stick-to-the-ribs food that you simply need here and there."

                    For the record, my parents haven't eaten at ANY of these places. ;-).


                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      Anne - Thanks for your PS, I was a little confused by the direction the thread was taking. Although my parents were raised, met and built a family in NY, so a pretty different scene, I was thinking about my husband's parents who are North Dakota and Minnesota natives in their late 50s/early 60s. I cannot imagine they would have ever eaten at Little Szechuan or an equivalent during their courtship or early family building years. Italian was as ethnic as they went until recently. My father in law was in the Vietnam War stationed mostly in Thailand so was exposed to Asian food, but would never consider it comfort food.

                      My husband loves pickled herring so I think we'll be hitting Jax's brunch soon, maybe when my in laws are in town :)

                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        Isn't Carol's a relatively new restaurant? I don't think it was there when I started working in Blaine 10 years ago.

                        1. re: pgokey

                          Carol's Blaine location is newish, but I think they were in north Minneapolis for years, until a fire destroyed the building.

                          Now that I think again, however, I'm not sure the original place was there long enough for anyone's parents to have gone there. I just have the memory of it being there long before I discovered it...


                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                            Carol's used to be in that little town of Lexington on the north end of the cities (Lake drive & 35W). It is true a fire damaged the restaurant and never reopened at that location. Unattractive, dingy yellow brick exterior, lots of character inside and great food. I know she was there in the late 80s, no idea how long before that.