Maude and Cave Vin [South MPLS]
Last night my wife and I got a friend to watch our 2-year-old at the last minute and went out for a neighborhood bite. We are expecting our second any day now and so were exctied to have what will likely be our last nice dinner out for a few months. We had been through the door at Cafe Maude twice before. The first time was a Friday around 5:30 with our toddler in tow. We were treated fairly dismissively at the door and decided not to stay. The second time was a mid-week evening by ourselves. The food was fine, but the service was aloof and condescending. Last night (we had no reservations), we arrived about 5:45. It was fairly empty. The guy at the door led us to a table by the front window. I asked if there was a banquet available for my wife (her pregnant belly is obvious; like I said, baby coming any minute). The host explained that he had some large parties coming in, so the banquet seats were unavailable. Then he said (I'm still in a bit of disbelief) "I could seat you in a booth, but . . ." his voice trailed off and he walked back to the host stand. We stood there dumbfounded for a couple seconds and then walked out. Folks on CH and around town have said such nice things about the food at Maude. I would love to expereince it; we live in the nieghborhood; but geez, hard to enjoy the food when it feels like the staff does not want us there.
So we went over to Cave Vin (calling on our way to make sure there was room). Awesome dinner, great service. It was empty when we arrived, but filling up nicely when we left around 7:30. The food:
Garlic Frites - fries with raw diced garlic on them and a super tastey aoili. They were really good; almost like salty little donut sticks.
Percorino Pockets - swiss chard wrapped around sheep's milk cheese. Melty-salty cheese inside; nicely wilted, but still firm, bitter chard outside; something of a truffle oil/butter on top - very yummy
Beet and Fennel salad - with a dijon mustard. so used to seeing a similar salad around with a balsamic reduction and goat cheese or some variation thereof that the bite of the mustard against the sweet and spicy of the beets and fennel was a revelation.
Steak Tartar - great texture; a poach egg-yolk barely holding together on top; traditional accompaniments.
Butternutsquash ravoli - just what you would expect and delicious; the pasta was perfectly made and perfectly cook
Pot de Creme - only got a tiny nibble of this, but it made a very pregnant woman a very happy pregnant woman.
Some good wine for me, etc.
So overall a great dinner. We are at the other South/Southwest MPLS restaurants so often we sometimes forget about Cave Vin. In the end, I'm kind of happy Maude got their third strike last night; no need to waste more time trying to like it, more time for Blackbird/Heidi's/Grand Cafe/Cave Vin/Etc. We decided our first dinner out after we get through the initial new-baby hibernation phase will be back at Cave Vin.
Thanks for your input ffthought. My husband and I have been "lucky" at times to get into Maude and we have always sat at the bar. I am not impressed with their service, and their prices have increased considerably for the same quality of food. The food is good, but not worth the wait nor the arrogant attitude of the staff. One night, my husband and I came in without a reservation, and I asked the woman behind the front table if they had any availability. She said that we would have to wait for the master seater - I am not kidding!. Actually, I should have thanked her because I got just a giggle out of it. Anyway, I don't know if you have been to Heidi's, but my husband and I have had similiar issues there. The maitre'd (I have been told he is the owner) is a snob! The food was okay...maybe, I just let the vibe get to me. What I am not getting is the attitudes of certain Minneapolis restaurants (I will put Fugaise into this category, too!). My husband and I ate at Vincent last weekend, and I had a flavorless filet (my biggest complaint here in the TC is lack of consistency in all restaurants except Heartland). Anyway, I normally love Vincent so it was not a big deal, except the waiter told Vincent and he came out to apologize. Okay, so if Vincent is not above doing that maybe some of the staff at these other restaurants need to take note. HIs doing that, plus giving me free brownies to go, and of course taking the filet off of our bill, totally charmed me, and of course, we will be back.
In the south/southwest neighborhood, we really like the Grand Cafe if you haven't tried it yet. They can be hard to get into at times, but at least they are pleasant there, and the food is good. They are on opentable.com.
Good luck on your new arrival! My husband and I have been consistent on date night since our kids (now teens) were little. It has been a marriage saver!
The owner of Heidi's is Stuart Woodman and his wife Heidi (not sure if she is a Woodman as well) so if you had a male maitre'd it isn't Stuart as he'd be in the kitchen.
Your comment about a flavorless filet is interesting because the hallmark of a filet is it's tenderness, not it's flavor. That cut is very low on fat thus it should be lacking in flavor. Perhaps you are referring to the accompaniments or the seasoning of the meat though...
I was of the understanding that Heidi's was owned by the Woodman's; however, I was corrected recently by another restaurant owner that it was the maitre'd who owns the restaurant and the Woodman's are in the kitchen. It's not really a big issue for me whether it is the owner or not, they treat you rudely there.
Funny, I am a huge filet fan, and I can't imagine eating a filet unless it has some sort of flavor, hopefully good.
Live nearby and agree with your take on the service at Maude - can be a bit arrogant without the food to back it up. Much prefer Heidi's/Blackbird/Broders/Grand Cafe. Cave Vin and Pierre's are also great - much better French-ish (IMO) than the always-packed Salut nearby.
I wasn't thrilled with the service at Maude's either. Our waitress was competent, but not remotely friendly. That said, without a reservation, I think you have to anticipate a mixed bag when it comes to seating preference. If I made a reservation for six, and had to wait for my table, I would be upset. Broder's has a more egalitarian process, but I doubt your wife would be thrilled with spending half an hour (or more) on her feet waiting for a table.
Not that condescending remarks are acceptable. I have trouble taking a "too cool for school" attitude from a waiter at a restaurant that serves Mac and Cheese.
I do think Maude's has solid food for the price point. They know how to cook a hanger steak, which was enough to offset the frownie looks from the waitstaff.
I've been going to Maude since it opened, and I've had three or four velvet rope-style encounters that have really put me off -- the worst was being told an attractive window table was reserved for another couple, dining for an hour+, and never seeing it get filled. I've had mixed (mostly positive) experiences with the waiters/waitresses themselves, but the host seems to invariably think that sophistication and condescension are one and the same.