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MSP: Pre-theatre dinner - Cue or Alma

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We'll be visiting MSP in July and attending a 7:30 performance at the Guthrie on Friday. I was thinking of having dinner at Cue, but also noticed that Alma isn't too far (by cab) and looked interesting. Any thoughts?

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  1. If you don't care about parking twice or taking the cab, go to Alma. Or Fugaise.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Brad Ballinger

      Hey Brad!

      I second your opinion on Alma. I've had very good meals at Alma.

      1. re: Brad Ballinger

        GOOGLE MAP
        http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&h...

        The pedestrian in me is shouting, Stone Arch Bridge! Eat at Alma! Walk across the Stone Arch Bridge. Cab it home, or back to where you parked on the East Bank. If it's raining they have this new fangled invention called the umbrella. The gall of the City of Minneapolis for not allowing a skyway connection between the parking ramp and the Guthrie. We have to use our feet to cross a street in the outdoors. The livability of a city should be less about parking structures, and more about pedestrian friendly infrastructure. If parking once is the object, there's always Spoonriver. Very stylish and professional, and great for the price point. Malls with residential dwellings are the next wave of development. Look at the Galleria in Edina if you doubt it. Attach a birthing center and a crematorium and you never have to leave the complex....... BTW food at the Guthrie is not on par with the quality of the acting.

        1. re: keg

          We have loved Alma whenever we've gone. And I love the Stone Arch Bridge idea.

          Will you be seeing Midsummer Night's Dream? I hope so! It was magical and Alma would be the perfect complement to it.

          1. re: keg

            We will be totally on foot, public transit and cabs (when necessary) for our weekend visit to explore Minneapolis. About how long a walk is it from Alma to the Guthrie? Is 3rd Ave. the Stone Arch Bridge? We were thinking of heading back across the river after the play to visit Nye's for a drink.

            1. re: ClevelandRandy

              The Stone Arch bridge is downriver (closer to the Guthrie and to Alma) from the 3rd Avenue bridge. You would take it to or from Alma. To get to Nye's from the Guthrie on foot, you would cross the Third Avenue Bridge then turn left on 2nd to get to Hennepin. You could take the Hennepin Avenue bridge from the Guthrie side of the river to the Nye's side, but it is shorter to take 3rd.

              If you are going to rely on the buses, you can take them to any destination mentioned in this thread. The Metro Transit web site (below) allows you to enter a starting and ending destination along with either a departure time or arrival time, and you will get a couple of recommended routes.

              www.metrotransit.org

              1. re: ClevelandRandy

                the stone arch bridge does not appear on some maps because it is a pedestrian/bike bridge only (it's a historic bridge made of, er stone arches, spanning the mississippi, and is lovely). it would be a lovely walk either after alma or back across the river after the theater. longish walk/stroll, so maybe i'd do it after theater, when not full from dinner. sounds romantic!

                1. re: soupkitten

                  It's about 9/10 of a mile one-way. Here is a map with satellite view and the walk highlighted. Note, the satellite photo is pre-Guthrie...you can see the temporary Cirque du Soleil tents where the Guthrie is now.

                  http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=1997439

                  1. re: MSPD

                    If you ARE seeing Midsummer Night's Dream (rather than one of the other plays), know that the play is longer than most. (Not to worry. You will love it.) So it may be later than you would want for walking back across the bridge after the play.

                    So I would think about a cab for that piece.

                    1. re: karykat

                      Yup, the time could be an issue, because the Stone Arch Bridge is technically a park, and it closes when other parks do. (I think the zero hour is 10:00 pm, but I'm not sure about that.)

                      A few months ago, as Mr. Tastebud and I were strolling across the bridge, digesting our wonderful dinner at Alma, we were kicked off the bridge (not literally, though!) because the park was closing. The park employee was polite and apologetic, but warned that the approaching cop had been known to give tickets to obstreperous strollers.

                      Other than that issue, the combo of Alma and the Stone Arch Bridge is a great suggestion.

                      If you've looked at the Alma menu and it appeals to you, you'll probably enjoy the place. I've taken people there for whom the food just doesn't "click" - for example, a steak-eater who was bored by his dinner. Me, I really love how they cook fish and poultry - I've been less enraptured with the pork and beef dishes that I've had (that is, I don't go to Alma for a steak).

                      Anne

                  2. re: soupkitten

                    Ah, that explains why I don't see it on my map. Excellent suggestions. As always, Chowhounds are a wonderful source of knowledge!

            2. I second Cleveland Randy, Alma or Fugaise. Cue is only good for a pre-theater cocktail.

              1. Neither. Cue's food is good, but not great. Some love Alma, but others, like myself, have had nothing but overpriced, blah experiences there.

                Fugaise is an outstanding choice and just as close.

                1. I'm on the Alma bandwagon.

                  I went to cue when it was new and was disappointed - but that was a few years back.

                  1. alma alma alma. a thousand times alma. if i had to say something nice about cue: "cue's staff are very nice." fugaise is also great but if you are from out of town, really, you must try alma. they must be getting beautiful local produce right now from the chef/owner's (james beard nominee alex roberts) dad's farm. alma is brilliant. did i mention i heart alma?

                    1. Hands down Fugaise, where we've had two spectacular meals. Had mediocre expereinces at both Alma and Cue (although I would pick Alma over Cue if I had the choice). Here's our review of Fugaise.

                      Fugaise
                      208 E Hennepin Ave
                      Minneapolis, MN 55414
                      612-436-0777
                      http://www.fugaise.com/

                      Category: French

                      Rating (Scale 1-10, with 10 being the highest):
                      Food: 10
                      Service: 9
                      Ambience: 9

                      Recommendation: Excellent. Fugaise was recently ranked by Zagat as one of the Top 10 restaurants in the Twin Cities (we agree wholeheartedly and understand why) – the result of meticulous preparation and exacting execution is a meal we won’t soon forget.

                      Fugaise is the brainchild of chef and owner Don Saunders (formerly of Vincent, La Belle Vie, and A Rebours). It’s located on a stretch of Hennepin Ave north of the river and even frequent visitors to the area probably don’t know it exists (the entrance is tiny and easy to miss). We’ve heard incredible things about Fugaise and were looking forward to the meal…although with a bit of trepidation because high expectations have sometimes lead to let-downs. The restaurant is located at the end of the building’s entrance corridor. As soon as you enter the restaurant, your eye is drawn to the mosaic tile that forms the backdrop to the small bar. The dining room itself has the feel of a modern, romantic loft with flashy, colorful, contemporary art adorning the dull gray and brick walls. There are no windows in this restaurant, but frankly it doesn’t matter – the décor is splendid and you don’t feel like you’re in a confined space.

                      The menu is small and is more readily appreciated by those with a more refined palate (luckily for us, our group of friends fall into this category). We were treated to fresh baked bread (warm out of the oven) and an Amuse – Olive Tapenade with Basil and Anchovy on Toasted Brioche (salty and wonderful). Among the appetizers, the Scallops with Parsnip Risotto and Lemon Truffle Froth was the clear winner and we’d all go back just for that dish alone. The sweet scallops were cooked perfectly and everything on the plate was a hit – this might be the single most memorable dish we have had in the Twin Cities. The pan seared Foie Gras with Poached Pear and Puff Pastry was amazing and came in a close second followed by the Fried Squid with Butter Lettuce, White Anchovy and Basil (which was good, but not in the same league as the first two).

                      We got an assortment of entrees, including the special of the day – Pheasant with Root Vegetables and Lemon Truffle Froth. It’s hard to pick a favorite, so we’ll pick two – the Assiette of Veal (Tenderloin, Sweet Breads, and Cheek with Sauce Perigord) and the Duck (with Grilled Mushrooms, Fried Sweet Potato, and Orange-Sherry Sauce). Both were cooked to perfection (actually, all meats were beautifully cooked) and the sauces worked really well with the meats mentioned above. The Pheasant special would have been up there with the other two if it weren’t for the Lemon Truffle Froth which we felt was too mild for the game. The Monk Fish with Savoy Cabbage, Pork Belly and Cider Jus was the weakest entrée – it just didn’t have the wow effect like the others did. In fact we swapped the Cider Jus from the Monk Fish and the Lemon Froth from the Pheasant and that significantly improved both dishes! For dessert we highly recommend the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Chestnuts, Toffee Sauce, and Vanilla Ice Cream – it was devoured quickly. The Dark Chocolate Marquise with Orange was quite good but could have used some more orange peel/zest as the combination of the two ingredients elevated the dessert. I know its nit picking, but that’s what remains when the meal is of this high a caliber. The service was great, partly because the restaurant wasn’t crowded but also because the staff was tag teaming when waiting on tables.

                      $$$$. Most entrees are $25-$30. On average we paid $55 with tax and tip not including wine, which was around $10 per glass.

                      Update (May 8, 2008) – Just returned from a fabulous evening at Fugaise. We were sad to see the restaurant was completely empty but that allowed the server and kitchen to have their undivided attention on us. The 5-course tasting menu ($65) was ahead of us and we were looking forward to it. We were enticed with an amuse of Prosciutto wrapped Grilled Asparagus with a berry compote - refined rustic would be a good definition with the char flavors of the asparagus paired with the sweetness of the compote. Our first course was an Almond Crusted Scallop served with celery root puree, celery remoulade, and bacon vinaigrette – the crunchy salty bacon left a lasting impression and really added depth to the flavors. The Frog Legs, prepared two ways, was our second course – a light tempura frog leg and a pea puree with frog legs was immaculate. I’ve had the pleasure of some great Halibut preparations recently and the delicately flavored Seared Halibut with Leeks, Whipped Potatoes and a Parsley Artichoke Broth was no exception – the fragrance emanating from this dish was intoxicating. Our fourth course was the Pork Tenderloin with Glazed Pork Belly, Root Vegetables, and Honey Au Jus. The single most impressive component tonight was the crispy and sweet pork belly and that’s high praise for what might seem as an innocuous ingredient. We ended the meal with a Lemon Panna Cotta with Strawberries, Mint, and a Honey Foam. A light and clean finish to a wonderful meal – sour citrus, sweet strawberries and honey, and pungent mint. Service was impeccable and our server even went out and replensihed our parking meter. Chef Saunders is on a roll.

                      www.mspfoodies.com

                      1. Currently Alma is serving what I think is the best dish in town, grilled quail with a liver pate crouton, apricots and port reduction. I enjoyed it so much the last time I went I ordered 2 of them. Fugaise is also a rock solid recommendation, though it is more our go-to winter restaurant.

                        I have been to Cue twice, once when Lenny was still there (it was very good, though I am not a fan of the room) and once for happy hour where my wife and I waited at a table in the bar for 15 minutes without anyone greeting us before we decided to leave and go next door to Spoonriver (we'll never go back to Cue). I recommend against it.