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Special dinner for two in Minneapolis - Saint Paul

I live in New York and my fiancee in St. Paul. I want to take her out for a really nice meal and surprise her with someplace new (oops Hi Kim if you read this!). She is an amazing cook and a foodie I suppose. She likes 'authentic' places and we don't go in much for fanfare or glitz. Our favorites are 112, La Belle Vie, or even Town Talk, but we also love venerables like the Monte Carlo (not to mention Al's Breakfast, The Nook, etc.). Was considering Sanctuary. Ethnic is great too. Any thoughts out there? Thanks a lot.

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  1. Alma, ftw.

    Restaurant Alma
    528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

    1. Alma is a great recommendation. Meritage is another one to consider. My SO is a meat and potatoes guy and he's loved the short ribs and steaks he's had there and I have enjoyed the fish dishes. Enjoy your dinner...wherever you go.

      410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

      1 Reply
      1. re: BigSal

        I second Meritage. I also think Heartland does a nice job. Both in St. Paul.


      2. Heartland would seem to fit the bill. Down to Earth, with spectacular food and a menu that is crafted based on whatever ingredients are fresh that day.

        For ethnic, I would consider Gandhi Mahal, which is right by Town Talk. Great Indian and a lovely atmosphere, or Cafe Bonxai on University. The latter is particularly good if you like coconut curries, and don't mind fusion.

        1. Hmmmm. I'm not sure if Sanctuary is your best bet. I went there with friends about a month ago because we were in the neighborhood and wanted to try it. I loved the setting -- very restful, and decorated with furniture from an old church. For example, I think the hostess station is actually an old pulpit. May sound a bit kitschy, but i thought it worked. And the host is very welcoming.

          The menu is kind of a combination of asian and other influences. Frankly, I can't even remember what I ordered, but remember thinking it was ok, not great. My SO had a soup, think it was a fruit soup. It didn't do much for him -- kind of blah. He also had crab cakes which he thought were pretty good.

          The patio that night was a lovely spot for a summer evening. The menu emphasizes fresh stuff. I would definitely try it again.

          But I think there are some options that are a cut above. In that League, I concur in the recommendations for Alma and Heartland. Both are excellent cooking, very fresh and local, and in a setting that is restful but not fussy. I would also recommend Corner Table. A small place where we have had excellent meals, very fresh and local.

          1. Heartland and Alma would be my first two choices.

            1. Alma and Heartland are two good choices, as is Craftsman. My favorite places are small neighborhoody type places, so maybe you can ddiscover new areas of town. In that vein, I'd say Corner Table, Cafe Levain, Al Vento, Heidi's and Blackbird.

              Craftsman Restaurant
              4300 Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406

              Corner Table
              4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

              Al Vento
              5001 34th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55417

              Blackbird Cafe
              3800 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55409

              2903 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

              Cafe Levain
              4762 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                1. re: Foureyes137

                  6th alma.

                  If you are stuck with downtown I'd do Sea Change.

                2. Thank you all for your great suggestions. I think she has mentioned most of these so we are on the right track. Unfortunately she is onto me! She came across this post so I can't reveal the choice I have made (at first she thought she had found this great coincidence of another couple with the same long-distance situation...). Thanks again!

                  1. Must amend my post: It should be in Minneapolis, preferably downtown. Else we would probably go to Meritage. We have had great great food at La Belle Vie but only at the bar, so thinking of dinner there. Is it still great? And what about Porter and Frye? No one has mentioned that. Strong leaning toward that, maybe the Chef's table.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Keeter

                      I quick warning that P&F went through an ugly, public management overhaul a few months back. I have not yet heard what impact this has had on food quality.

                      You might consider Saffron, across from 112. Upscale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern stuff. The chef was nominated for a Beard award, and the cocktails are outstanding.

                      1. re: Keeter

                        You've titled this post "special dinner." La Belle Vie has the best dining room in the Twin Cities. So I would consider that. I would also consider Cafe Lurcat. Sea Change (fka Cue at The Guthrie) seems to be getting some good reviews.

                        1. re: Brad Ballinger

                          La Belle Vie is the place I would go. Never had a bad meal there. Always think at the end that I didn't pay enough

                        2. re: Keeter

                          I think Alma is a super choice. Another option I'd consider is Vincent. I think they do a lovely job with special occasions-- when I noted on an opentable.com reservation that it was for our anniversary, we were congratulated by the hostess and server, and received a special dessert with "happy anniversary" written on it. Very sweet. And we've always had great food, needless to say.