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MSP: L'Ecosse

We went to try L'Ecosse the other day. This new place is located at 4810 Chicago Avenue, in between Pepitos and Adrians. The space had previously been a rather uninspiring brakfast/lunch cafe. L'Ecosse is in a "soft opening" mode right now.

CNN did a piece on the chef, David MacFarlane;
http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayofl...

David was born in Scotland (thus the "L'Ecosse" name) and moved to the US as a kid (no Scottish accent, alas!). He was a White House chef in the Clinton era.

The space looks much nicer than in its previous incarnations but they have not yet replaced the old signs above the awning. Behind the bar there are some bits of memorabilia from David's stint at the White House.

The menu is inexpensive (I think all under $10) breakfast and sandwich type fare. Talking to the Chef and his wife/co-owner Christine, they said that despite David's inlcination to start with dinner and later expand to other meals, when they asked around the neighborhood most people expressed a desire for a breakfast place, so that is what they are doing first. They say the beer and wine licence will be coming in June.

Being a Brit-o-phile, I was eager to try the fish and chips and meat pies on offer. The Countess tried the meat pie and my tiny sample tasted like "more." i will be trying that next time! I had the fish and chips. Only $8, and seemed like good quality fish, but the batter seemed not as greasy as I would like. For some, that may be a plus. The fries were very obviously cut and made fresh there and were delicious. They were American size fries rather than thicker British "chips."

Service by young waiter was, friendly bur unpolished. I was rather charmed by what seems to be a family effort and hope they do well. We look forward to trying breakfast there.

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  1. Thanks for the review. I'd read about this place somewhere else, but when I went back to find more info, I'd forgotten the name of the place. I'll create a places link for it.

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    L'Ecosse
    4810 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis, MN

    1. thanks so much, I pass this place every morning dropping Lil' Pud'n off at daycare and I've been wondering about it. I do love fish and chips, we'll have to give it a try!

      1. Thanks for creating the place link, Bob. i was in too much of a hurry. Tha'ts my excuse for all the typos, too.

        One touch that I loved with the fish and chips was that it was served with a garnish of arugula leaves, which I love, and which tasted very good in combo with the f&c. I was never much for chomping on parsley garnishes.

        1. Wow-- I live two blocks away and had no idea that there was a new restaurant planned! I don't like Pepito's or Adrian's, and after I tried the "uninspiring" place that was there before, I never even went south of 48th! Not when there's Cafe Levain, Turtle Bread, Pizza Biga, Ba-Gu sushi, and Pumphouse Creamery on the north side. I will definitely be trying it. Soon.

          1. I just got home from having dinner there with my wife. I enjoyed the fish and chips, and she had the meat pie. The quick and dirty review is inexpensive and delicious. I am looking forward to seeing the dinner menu.

            1. I'm also very excited to hear about this place. I live in the area and I had no idea that it was there -- I'm guessing that it replaced Michael's Cafe???

              I never tried Michael's, but the popularity of Pepito's has me baffled. (I guess it must be one of those places that people grew up with...)

              Based on Earl said and what I read on-line, they're only open for breakfast and lunch until they get their beer/wine license. I'm bummed about that because I work downtown. However, I saw that dav3m just had dinner there on Thursday - are they open for dinner? Does this mean that they already have their license?

              I'm looking forward to trying, maybe I'll call this afternoon and find out their actual hours.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Kilgore

                If you do find out the hours, would you post here and/or update the Places link? Thanks! I want to find out if we can fit it into our packed weekend coming up.

                1. re: bob s

                  I updated the Places link. When I called to get the hours, the person I spoke with volunteered that they do take reservations.

                2. re: Kilgore

                  Kilgore: If I recall, they have not launched a dinner menu yet BUT they are open at supper time. Just serving the lunch menu. No alcohol yet (expected June)--that's what the licence is about.

                3. We were there on Sunday of opening weekend. I knew something new was going in there solely because the pupradelle needed flea goop and heartworm pills.

                  The food was great. The service was ...frustrating. However that being said we talked to the FOH while we were there. Turns out they expected to open the place as a 'Grab and order from the counter' , no realizing that they would get slammed during brunch in such a way that that model wasn't practical especially when the neighborhood expected it to be a sitdown place with servers.

                  As a result the first weekend the servers had little training, were relatives friends of relatives etc. The did however give us grapes to eat as we wait and food more than placated us.

                  We need to go back as we are sure the service has resolved itself. We would have gone on Easter but they looked packed so we ended up at Levain instead.

                  I'm honestly thrilled that something good is filling that space, it's been about 5 years by my reckoning that we went to that location with any regularity.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: frittering_away

                    We went there recently, and the service was pretty awful. The food's good, not great, but it's the horrendous service that sticks to my mind. The FOH blamed last-minute staffing problems, but EVERYTHING went wrong with the service, and we left shaking our heads. I'll give them a few weeks to see if the service is improved upon. I have my fingers crossed.

                    1. re: indiec

                      I had lunch there a week ago, and was underwhelmed to say the least. I had two of their meat pies, the ground beef and the roasted beef, and while the filling was tasty, the pastry was doughy and flavorless, and they were covered in a huge pool of sauce that overwhelmed the dish.

                      My dining partner had the fish and chips; the breading on the fish had an odd eggy texture and was flavorless, and the chips where limp.

                      I don't think I will be going back.

                  2. i wonder if their meat pies are like the australian meat pies... i miss my meat pies!

                      1. re: Enso

                        The service is still unpredictable but the food is still good. They've drastically cut their hours back - lunch and dinner only during the week ( I think Monday and Tuesday are closed) and breakfast and lunch only during the weekend.

                        Other than the service and the poorly laid out menu, the one thing I'd change about this place is that I'd make the staff pronounce L'Ecosse properly: leh-coss, not leh-cossay. Even the owner gets it wrong. That kind of inattention to detail is plaguing that place.

                        http://www.forvo.com/word/%C3%A9cosse/

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                        L'Ecosse
                        4810 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis, MN

                        1. re: UncleFeaster

                          They must have gotten the idea from the D'Amicos, who bastardized Lurçat into "Luhr-caught."

                      2. I was just at L'Ecosse and had an awful experience. We live in the area and have gone there several times since they opened. We've never been very impressed with the service, but we want our neighborhood restaurants to succeed so we check it out every few months to see if the service has improved. It hasn't.

                        Here are some of the reasons why we won't be going back (and don't get me wrong, some of these things aren't that big of a deal but when you add them all up it is just beyond excusable):

                        -The coffee is self-serve, which is fine with me, but they had two coffee stations and they were both out of coffee. We had to ask the staff to refill them, which took a long time because they had to brew it.

                        -We ordered an espresso drink and had to ask to get it after about 10 minutes had passed because they forgot.

                        -It took over 50 minutes to get our food in a restaurant with only four other tables. When we asked how long it would be for our food, they were unapologetic and not able to give us an estimate. I don't blame servers when the food is slow, obviously that's the kitchen's fault. However front of house is supposed to apologize on their behalf, maybe ask the manager to give you a discount, or something. And when the food did come two of the three people had food and one person didn't get theirs for 10 more minutes. We kept being reassured that the pancakes were on their way. So, by the time the last dish arrived the first two people were halfway done. This same thing happened to another table that got served before us. They also complained about the wait and two of their group got food while the 3rd person had to wait.

                        -When we got our food the server avoided us. When we were almost done with everything they asked how the food was and if we needed anything. At this point it was too late to get salt and pepper for the bland potatos. I did need to ask them to refill my empty water glass. The rest of the food was good, but not worth the wait. I could have gone to Turtle Bread down the street and gotten food that was better quality without the frustrating wait.

                        -We were told to go pay up at the counter, and after they located our bill they went through it with us, asking us what we had ordered. This was confusing. Why were they asking us if we had orange juice when they had the bill right in front of them?

                        On the menu they make a big deal about how the food is made from scratch, to order, and that they don't even break the eggs until you order your food. Frankly, I would have rather they did a little more prep work so that the food could come out in a reasonable amount of time. They need to hire professional servers that have some basic courtesy skills and more attention to detail. I'm not an unreasonable person, although I'm sure this review makes me sound whiney. All of these complaints wouldn't have been that big of a deal if they had just apologized. Maybe thrown in some free coffee. I expect more when I pay $40 for a simple breakfast for three!

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                        L'Ecosse
                        4810 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis, MN

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: s.mpls

                          I don't think you're being excessively whiny smpls, sounds like there are some serious flaws in the ointment, flies in the ointment, some problems with the place. I have stopped by once or twice, looked at the menu and walked into the place but something about it kept me from wanting to sit down. And even the menu seems kind of odd.........something about the combination of things or the way they are described........isn't coherent. Maybe I just have a sixth sense about these things. I tried to tell myself this is Scottish food and maybe I'm unfamiliar with it, but that didn't seem right either.