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Minneapolis on Valentine's Day - Reports

Given the size of the Minneapolis on Valenine's Day thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/592288) I thought it would be nice if people reported back on their experiences for the night/weekend. Even considering the financial minefield of the current business climate, it figures that some of these places will be around next year, and having a sense of just how places handle the busiest night of the year.

We enjoyed some absolutely outstanding fried chicken at Skinner's in St paul, where waits were long but the servers were pleasant (if harried). Good as ever, maybe even better the chicken was, and we figured that the wait was worth it considering we had earlier given up on the nook after a drive by line analysis (this way we waited while sitting at a table, with beer!). Really good fried chicken in an atmosphere that makes me question whether we could possibly be in the sticks, not 5 minutes from downtown.

Looking forward to Alma later this week for a more high brow celebration.

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  1. Started the day at Manny's for breakfast. When we heard that they served breakfast, we had to try it out. It was good, but as you would expect - pricy. I ordered steak and eggs, and my wife ordered lobster Eggs Benedict. My steak was excellent, but the eggs were over cooked a little. The hash browns were great. The lobster Eggs Benedict was very good with the lobster very tender, and the eggs cooked well. We also tried their pancakes and French toast. The pancakes were non-descript. The French toast was very good, but just too sweet to eat an entire order. Lastly the OJ was really great fresh squeezed, with no bitterness at all. My coffee was excellent, I tried it two ways, both standard brew and french press. One of my pet peeves with MSP breakfast eateries is poor coffee, but Manny's passed that mark easily.

    For dinner we went to Stella's for some seafood. My wife’s crab legs were very nice and thick. They tasted a little briny, but when dipped in butter were great. I had grilled halibut and broccoli which was cooked very well and tasted good also. There were many big groups and the service seemed a little disoriented, but overall a good experience.

    We had been to Manny's for dinner before, but other than that this was our first trip to both places.

    1. Blue Door Pub:

      Service and cheese curds: Outstanding
      Burgers: Average
      Standing around waiting for an hour plus: Not at all worth it
      Atmosphere: Would be cool without the packed environs
      Not being able to get cheddar inside the burger: Unconscionable

      1. My boyfriend and I had a special Valentine's Day dinner at Afghan Restaurant in Crystal. This used to be the Crystal Bistro, but they changed their name. The ownership and menu are the same, the only change was the name.

        They had a fantastic dinner special, bottle of wine, appetizer, soup or salad, 2 entrees and 2 desserts for $70. This is a favorite place of ours, we've been there 3 or 4 times in the last year. As usual the food was fabulous. We chose the Spinach Pie for our appetizer, he had the Lentil Soup and I had the House Salad. He had the Mantu Pasta and I had the Gyro Platter. He had the Baklava and I had the Bread Pudding. They had a belly dancer and music through out the night and the place was pretty busy the entire time we were there. Service was friendly and perfect as usual. We both kept commenting thoughout our meal how great the food was and that we need to get there more often. I want to remind everyone to give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

        1. Of for sad. We planned a wonderful evening at home with a pork stew. Unfortunately our 15 minutes nap turned into 3 hours and we were unable to get the food in on time...

          So, what is a person to do? "CRAB LEGS!" I exclaimed after trying a sample of them at Lunds. But where to get crab legs on V-Day? 98 Pound Buffet was our answer and we headed to Bloomington.

          Big Mistake. It was packed. Who the heck goes to a buffet on V-Day? Apparently half of Bloomington does.

          So we headed to Zantigos. It was awesome. We were one of the only ones there and they were super friendly. We joked around with them and they joked back, promising us T-bones with the fixings. I got two Chilitos and an Enchilada with Green Chili. The green chili was great for fast food. And the Chilitos are classics.

          1. We went to 128 Cafe. They had a special 4-course Valentines Day menu. One of the choices was the ribs, which we enjoyed.

            ~TDQ

            6 Replies
            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Did you have to choose one choice between you two, or were you and the dairy king just thinking the same on saturday?

              1. re: tex.s.toast

                HA! No, he ordered the ribs. I made him order a full rack so I could have some. :) I had the scallops. meh.

                FYI, in case there's any confusion, the person who posts here as the dairy king, wonderful person though he is, is not connected to me.

                ~TDQ

              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                One of my worst all-time dining experiences was Valentines Day at 128. Food was OK, but service was probably the worst that I've ever had anywhere. They did eventually try to make it up, but I haven't been back in about 10 years. But I'm not bitter.......

                I know that I should give them a second chance since it's a whole new restaurant (other than the ribs). Maybe I will sometime - but there are so many good choices that it's hard to make an effort to get back there.

                1. re: bob s

                  We found the service attentive, but it wasn't a mind-blowing experience food-wise. But, then again, I try not to judge any restaurant by those big special occasion day.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Glad to hear it. I try not to judge too hard on big nights, but our experience was inexcuseable.

                    1. re: bob s

                      Inexcusable is hard to overcome! As you say, so many restaurants to try, so little time.

                      By the way, I don't know if it is a "whole new restaurant"--supposedly, the people who run it now, worked under the past ownership and acquired their recipes. So, the folks at the very top are gone, but the new owner and the chef were involved in the old restaurant.

                      P.S. tex.s.toast--I love Skinners! Such a dive, but very genuine and neighborhoody. I don't know if I'd drive across town for it, but it's a great neighborhood spot. Funnily enough I enjoy their Texas toast. And fried chicken.

                      ~TDQ

              3. We got the VD takeout menu from Broder's Cucina Italiana. For $36, we got an arugula salad with strawberries, shaved pecorino, and an addictive champagne vinaigrette; a 6" square warm rosemary focaccia; two pasta dishes (stracotto di manzo -- braised beef with tomatoes over rigatonni, and penne con salmon with fennel, tarragon, and cream); two chocolate truffles; two pieces of marzipan; and a red rose. This was a really nice deal and a reminder of just how simple and good Broder's can be.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Jordan

                  What a great idea! thanks for sharing; we will probably check this out next year.

                2. On valentine's night, we cooked in (duck confit and wild rice). The next day (Sunday) we went with another couple to a Valentines day dinner at Bayfield Marina. The themes were chocolate and truffles for a fixed prix five-course dinner. It was very very good. Things like eggs sous vide with brioche and asparagus, carrot infused salmon, cocoa nibs on pork tenderloin, a veal thing and a chocolate/truffle ice cream dessert. Normally I think I would rather go somewhere like Alma where more of what you are getting is local and where there is less fussy frou frou. But, everything was very good. The servings were small enough so that you weren't crammed with food and could enjoy everything. Very glad we tried it.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: karykat

                    karykat -
                    On Sunday I think you ate at the Bayport Cookery, because this is the meal we had on Friday before V-Day. Egg sous vide was fantastic. The restaurant was full, but cozy and quiet - very romantic.

                    -----
                    Bayport BBQ
                    328 5th Ave N, Bayport, MN 55003

                    1. re: chelle

                      Yes, you are exactly right. I don't like hard boiled-type eggs but everyone else at our table just loved those eggs. I have heard about this place for years and was glad to finally get there and had a very nice leisurely evening.

                  2. Based on the very mixed reviews that have been posted in the past, this should come as no surprise, but...

                    The hubby & I decided to go to Spill the Wine for the 3 course menu - each course paired w/wine @ $90/couple seemed like an ok deal. We've been before & liked it for happy hour or just your basic wine craving but have never had an actual meal. Now I have to say, I love the space, esp. the bar - I just find it a comfortable place to hang. The appetizers we've had have been decent, I love the little wine shop in the back - I really want it to be great. Unfortunately it was a disappointment on V-Day.

                    Service - while the host, servers & even the parking attendant were all very attentive & sweet, they seemed way too busy (our reservation was extremely late - 9:30pm & they were running behind), almost as if they'd overbooked.

                    First course - An extremely wimpy, uninspired little salad. Sparkling wine was good, but not a great way to start.

                    Second - Choices of some sort of potato wrapped fish (don't recall specifically), barbecued chicken or a dueling duo of tenderloin (beef & pork) over risotto. Both tenderloin were cooked very well, quite yummy - but atop blatantly undercooked risotto, just plain ghastly. I mean really bad.... (On a positive note, wine pairing was great)

                    Third - Red velvet cake. Meh. And totally predictable, right? Served w/AB chocolate port - waaaay too rich.

                    In order to salvage the night, hopped over to Toast where we're always happy. And, after reading their menu, really wished we'd just gone there in the first place. They expanded their menu to include a couple of fresh pastas which according to other diners were excellent. Not sure whether it's their wonderful Mallorcan red or our shared passion for Rafael Nadal, but Erin never lets us down! Hope to have a great V-Day meal there next year...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pm1013

                      I don't get the fascination with red velvet cake. It's just chocolate cake with a ton of red food coloring added. I think it's a nostalgia thing, maybe especially in the south.

                    2. A few days prior to 2/14 we headed to Meritage for dinner with another couple. It was really good. But not quite as good as prior visits.

                      service was great. wine, outstanding

                      appys -

                      Tiny Tuna Tartare Taco - great - I know its done everywhere but it really one of my favorite things anywhere for over the past year.

                      Lobster bisque with a side of lobster salad - excellent

                      hamamchi - eh - not good, at all.

                      Mains - I had the duck 2 ways which I have ordered there previously. It was good, not great. Chowhubby had the cod - which he said the same about "good, not great"

                      we had a variety of deserts and they were all excellent. Actually we may have had all the deserts. and all the Izzys.