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May 6, 2009 06:38 PM

Fussy Euro Foodie and Mother's Day in MSP

Well, the stars have converged in a particularly odd pattern and I need to find a place to take both my mother, who is an adventurous eater, and European foodie houseguest who tends to be somewhat difficult to please, and loves the FoodForward, local, amusing variants. Unusually for me, this time price is no object, as guest wants to take the family out. Suggestions that we could pull off this late in the game?


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  1. Is this for dinner? If so, one suggestion would be Heartland in St. Paul. It certainly fits the "local" description and I had a very nice experience about a month and half ago in their dining room. Another suggestion would be Restaurant Alma - it has been almost a year since I have been there, but I loved it and it also fits very well into the "local" category.

    11 Replies
    1. re: LauraB

      Heartland's a great choice, if you can score a reservation!

      It is the last minuteness that's going to make it tough...also, Meritage (the local angle isn't as strong here), the aforementioned Alma,...and then a tier down (which might be easier to squeeze into) Craftsman, Spoonriver, WA Frost (nice patio, not a tier down price-wise, though), Lucias... then, super casual Birchwood, Tanpopo, Ngon Bistro, possibly even Cheeky Monkey (everything made in-house), I suppose.

      Have fun!


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Oh! How about Red Stag? It might not break the bank, but the whole local and green thing can't be beat... the state's first LEED certified restaurant.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          i'd go down TDQ's list and try to score a res at any of those places, perhaps at an odd time. i'd also add 112 eatery (fat chance) and saffron to the top tier, and strip club & barbette after you've tried to get in at lucia's. i don't suppose Teamkitty has a chance at la belle vie, heidi's or blackbird at this late date-- is it even worth a call? porter and frye might be doable and a mother's day meal to remember. & what about levain?

          1. re: soupkitten

            forgot to add that i would agree with Laura that heartland would be the top choice, probably for others as well, so chances are slim. . . :)

        2. re: The Dairy Queen

          I guess im here to third Heartland and Alma, and put in another good word for Meritage. TDQ is right that the local focus is a bit softer at Meritage, and i dont think of any of those places (much as i love all three) as partiularly food-forward, unless a somewhat retro sense of "forward" is being used. I would actually suggest that all three of these places (to a lesser extent Alma) are more about returning to classic, older ways of thinking about what goes on a plate (Heartland's head-to-tail and game focus and Meritage's old-worldy thing both strike me as more retro than forward - but that does seem to be what is "in" or certainly what defines the twin cities top tier of local - non hotel - places. If reservation availability requires it, Craftsman would be a good choice as well, i've had some really good food there, and some just ok to pretty good food. If you go be sure to get some of their excellent house-made charcuterie (featured in last weeks citypages).

          One add-on (or deletion) i would make to TDQ's list would be to nix spoonriver. even if i werent paying for my own meal, i think i would feel somewhat cheated. The drinks are good but the food just didnt live up to my expectations. Perhaps its too close to how i would cook dinner myself, or the location/connection to the guthrie, but it felt like there was more pretension than execution in the meal.


          1. re: tex.s.toast

            I completely agree, TT, with everything you said...except that I will add Spoonriver would be a lovely setting for a mother's day brunch. Also, soupkitten has described in the past the best way to enjoy spoonriver is via a progression of dishes Since this is a "money is no object" kind of situation, it's the perfect opportunity to order a meal with all the courses. It's just a charming little restaurant, and you can take the most amazing stroll along the Stone Arch Bridge, etc. afterwards.

            soupkitten, I agree with all of your additions, except for Strip Club. I wouldn't take my mom there, though I agree the food is fantastic.

            Also, if you are willing to compromise on local ingredients, another great spot might be Jasmine 26 for upscale Vietnamese.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              really? you wouldn't take mom to strip club? we took dh's *grandma*! LOL guess we're terrible kids :) she really liked it though! okay maybe the strip club mightn't be a top choice. . . not even for brunch? i see lots of silver haired ladies and gents enjoying themselves at strip club brunch. . . ah. well, perhaps i'm completely off-base on this one.

              Jfood just reminded me of nick&eddie's-- took my mom and bro there for dinner once. it's my experience that n&e's *can* be really great, when it's great, although i've had so-so meals there too, mostly at lunch. i'm also just throwing out the names of a lot of places because i really do think it will be quite a trick for the op to get a good res this close to the date. so. . .not for the food, but for the gorgeous view-- 20.21 on top of the walker might be a choice, interesting for the euro guest to experience a puck restaurant?

              i'm missing fugaise quite a little bit right now, r.i.p. :(

              1. re: soupkitten

                Oh, I can't opine on strip club's brunch--maybe!

                But, for dinner, no, I wouldn't take my mom or my grandma there. But I don't think you're a bad kid for doing so. Everyone's different. I wish I were one of the cool kids who thought Strip Club is clever. Instead, I think, wow, it's a name that you can't even google safely. And then it contines with the tackiness from there: the do meats website, and the double entendre menu. In spite of the outstanding food and their commitment to sourcing sustainably, it's the cleverness that is too borderline for me to take a certain kind of guest there. The problem is that my mom is as spacy as I am and won't "get it" right away/ I don't want to be the one sitting across from her when she suddenly does catch on. Also, dark, loud and uncomfortable, and cheap chairs.

                EDIT: P.S. this kind of comment makes me feel like an old fart. I guess I am!


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  you are not an old fart TDQ! it sure does seem like a couple of dudes sat around and made the double-entendre menu @ strip club-- beavis & butthead-style. . . "uh. . . huh-huh, you said 'pork loin.'" "heh. . . hehhehheh, well you said 'duck sausage!'" LOL!!! tim nivers' wife is a server there, i wonder what she said when she saw the menu theme? :) i think the 'clever' element is getting toned down @ strip club as time goes on. but yeah, a "strip club" credit card receipt is a funny thing to try to explain to one's small business accountant: "it was a business meeting!!!!" "suuuuuure, it was. . . ." ;-P

                  fwiw the msp restaurant that i immediately think "i want to hang out here with my mom, sometime," mother's day or no, would be lucia's. the service is always great and i love the care they take with the little things-- soup, bread, dessert, fresh flowers.

                  i thought of another place that probably was booked solid a month ago-- corner table.

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    You guys are great. We have booked a table for spoonriver which I think will work for all parties involved. Any of you guys want some first pick rhubarb? You've earned it and we have lots... Danny, the offer stands for you guys as well. Thanks again! TK

                    1. re: soupkitten

                      BTW, I love Lenny to death, but we've been there quite a bit lately and I wanted to do something in addition to Heartland.

        3. I would keep in mind Vincent, esp if price is not a consideration. Call today and see if they have reservations left.

          3 Replies
          1. re: daniellempls

            Spoonriver did us right - the shrimp dumplings and paté plate were excellent for my part and Euro-Foodie loved her veg special which looked like a phyllo quesidilla. DH went for the Greek salad and I don't remember what mother ordered. Full points, we enjoyed ourselves immensely and appreciate the tips!

              1. re: teamkitty

                YAY! seems like all the puzzle pieces fit. thanks for reporting back, Teamkitty!