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May 10, 2009 02:29 PM


My husband and I went to Cafe Brenda last night. Second time in several years for him. First time for myself. Food was good, not great. We shared the mushroom pate appetizer. Our favorite dish. I had the fish special: skate served with carrots, asparagus, potatoes, chutney and a mustard sauce. Skate was a bit underdone. My husband had the croquettes. They were ok. Not very flavorful.
Service was sub-par. We waited a while before getting water, then had to wait throughout the meal to get refills. We had to ask for knives. Our waiter forgot to bring a bread basket along with our entrees, while we watched other tables get one. By that point, we didn't even bother to ask. We passed on dessert after noticing that the tart was no longer offered. Parking attendants were very rude in lot behind building.
Many tables were empty when we left at around 8:00. With so many other restaurants in town that have great food and service, I doubt we will be going back to Cafe Brenda.

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  1. Since moving to Mpls a couple of years ago, wife and I have been there twice, inspired by their reputation. The first visit went fine; we liked the food and service was reasonable. However, the second visit did not go to well mainly because of the very amateurish service we got. I can't remember the details, but it was like our server had no clue about her job.
    So as much as we admire Brenda, we would concurr with your experience and wonder if still others have found the same.

    11 Replies
    1. re: mplsbruin

      My impression is that Brenda is putting most of her energy into her newer place, Spoonriver.

      1. re: faith

        Well, not so unusual for that to happen. But to me, business at Spoonriver will always be fine due to its proximity to the Guthrie.
        But the lady should consider Cafe Brenda as her signature restaurant and service standards should be top notch.
        Read somewhere that her son-in-law runs CB. Hmmn - family affairs!

          1. re: karakutie

            we have friends that love the place and my wife and I don't. It is average but to each there own.

            1. re: redmeatfan

              mplsbruin- I don't agree. I think Brenda gets to decide which one is her signature place- maybe her vision is changing- the woman has been doing restaurants for like 30 years now.

              1. re: faith

                You are mostly correct Faith, before Cafe Kardamena (sp?) on Selby Brenda had a small place on W 7th near where she grew up. This was about 1975 I'm guessing. I don't even remember the name of the establishment. If I recall correctly, she made home made ice cream. The start of her "organic" movement. I have known her since I was four years old. She can't be everywhere at once. I do not believe that her vision has changed much since 1975, but the constraints on her time have. I do know that she is the type of person that would like to know that things may be "slipping" in her absence.

                1. re: ssioff

                  It seems to me that her expression of her food 'vision' as manifested by her menus, has changed quite a bit over the years- from mostly vegetarian at Kardamena (with fish) to chicken being included at Cafe Brenda, to a much more meaty menu at Spoonriver that includes duck , beef and pork. She calls Spoonriver 'Cafe Brenda's chic sister' and says Spoonriver is the 'logical evolution of the owner, Brenda Langton'. This is verbiage found on the Spoonriver website.

                  1. re: faith

                    I agree that she no longer is strictly vegetarian, and some of this may be due to not limiting her restaurants to certain types of diners such as vegans, but her interest in "organic" has only increased over the years.

                    1. re: ssioff

                      I didn't mean to imply that she was getting less organic or health-oriented, but it appears that an evolution has taken place, which is completely normal and a good thing in my mind. If she is less focused on Cafe Brenda and more interested in developing the newer Spoonriver, I think we should try to accept that and enjoy whatever it is she is putting her heart into at this time.

                    2. re: faith

                      but local & sustainable meats such as lamb, pork, game, etc have been on the cafe brenda menu as well, Faith-- i think both restaurants have evolving menus, not just spoonriver. . . i guess i don't see where CB is getting ditched for spoonriver, although i am not a regular at either place. am i misunderstanding you?

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        I just looked at the CB menu- it has walleye, chicken and shrimp and zero other meats. Maybe on the nightly special occasionally some other meat shows up but more typically it is one veggie special and one fish special. I also was told by an employee at CB that Brenda spends most of her time over at Spoonriver. Really hounds, I don't want to beat this to death, but these days it is hard enough to run one quality restaurant, running two is rather difficult. What is hard to understand about that? And why are people who don't even go much to either place deciding what Brenda should be doing? I think we all need to get a life, myself included.