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MSP- Date Night

Trying to decide which restaurant to go to for a (too) rare Date Night. Since the baby arrived just over a year ago, we don't eat out for dinner very much. There is a backlog of restaurants we haven't gotten around to trying, but now there are various new places I'm hearing about too!

Places we've been (tempting as it is to repeat a place we really liked, I think we'll resist and try something new to us):

Alma, Heartland, Meritage, LBV, Vincent, I Nonni, Strip Club, Masa, Solera... probably missing a few... We liked all of these to one degree or another.

We're looking for a special occasion place. $$ is no object (we eat out so rarely!). We're definitely looking for somewhere with a local/sustainable vibe. Some of the places I've thought about (and browsed some menus for):

112 Eatery
Bar La Grassa
Butcher Block

What am I missing? What would the hounds recommend? Thanks in advance!

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  1. Of those on your list, I have been to (and enjoyed) 112 Eatery, Bar La Grassa and Craftsman. Craftsman definitely has a stronger "local/sustainable" vibe than the others. It is also a more peaceful dinner experience. 112 Eatery and Bar La Grassa were very good when I was there. Both of these have a more "hip" feel.

    Another place to consider (based on your local/sustainable criteria) would be Corner Table. I only liked it the one time I have been (instead of really liked as I did for the restaurants above), but a few friends that I trust raved about some of the things they have eaten there.

    1. i'm excited to try bar la grassa too-- haven't been yet. i've also heard it's very "hot" right now, which makes it a little hard to get in there at times-- don't know whether that's a factor.

      112 is one of my faves. also love craftsman & that would be the sustainable/local pick of your list--maybe the best pick overall.

      a couple places you're missing & should definitely consider: saffron, lucia's.

      others that may qualify: heidi's, blackbird, levain (in transition, new chefs), barbette, corner table

      1. For a local/sustainable vibe, I'd go with Heartland, Signature Cafe, or Craftsman. While many of the others on your list are excellent, they don't have the local emphasis that the above three do.

        1. I'd go with Craftsman, Corner Table, or Levain. All seem more intimate and "date night-y" to me than some of the other recs. would you ever consider the kitchen table at Corner Table? Probably not very romantic being in the midst of a working kitchen, but would be an amazing, unique experience!

          1. If jfood had one date night with his favorite mrs jfood he would choose Meritage in SP. His top two favorite food are Meritage and Alma, but Meritage is more romantic than Alma. I Nonni can give Meritage a run for its money on romantic but jfood has not eatenthere in many months and if it is as good as it was then, he would include that on the Top 3.

            Finishing in positions #4. Jfood really likes Craftsman of the next group. Great food, nice little place, makes his own smoked meats, service has been great for jfood. Corner Table and Levain are also on the jfood "return" list, as well as Heidi's in that neighborhood. Before going to Corner Table of Heidi's check the menu on line. Heidi's is also a bit more sterile in feel and not romantic at all. There are times when the choices do not strike jfood's fancy. It also appears that Levain may be experiencing a chef-change, so that may be an issue. Likewise you should look at Tosca Trattoria where Adam, the former chef at Levain is cooking. Look to his website for his current menu as that has the same issue as Corner Table. Jfood ate at 112 last night. The pasta with foie gras meatballs has taken a downturn, but the pork and gnocchi were A-listers. Bar La Grassa is one of jfood's new favorites. If he did not get into 112 last night he was heading there. He might go there tomorrow for some pastas.

            Jfood owes Heartland a return visit. Since he is south of the city, if he is making that trip, it is hard not to go to Meritage, though. But he expects to return in the next two months. Strip Club is a steak place, not sure if that would get the jfood's happy on date night.

            Hope that helps and enjoy the adult time.

            1. Thanks for all the good advice. We've decided to go with Craftsman and will report back! Jfood-- we also love Meritage and Alma, but since we've been to both of those recently, we decided to force ourselves to try somewhere new...

              2 Replies
              1. re: mtullius

                Enjoy. Jfood may head up there tonight. Many have told him to order the meat platter appetizer. Sounds like a plan if he gets out of work at a reasonable time.

                1. re: mtullius

                  You will like Craftsman. The noise level may cut into how "romantic" the date night ends up being, but the food is excellent as is the service. If you enjoy the experience, you will have to return in warmer weather -- this place has one of the best outdoor dining spaces around.

                2. I know you've already decided on Craftsman (great place) but for future reference, I'd add Grand Cafe and Cave Vin. Both are neighborhood places and have delicious food. Grand is a beautiful, romantic space, very eclectic and cool.

                  1. Well, we enjoyed our date night at the Craftsman. Slow service was the one down side....

                    We had to wait about 10 minutes after being seated to see our server for a drink order. It appeared that he was held up by a nearby table which took a lot of time to order... Still....

                    We each got a "seasonal cocktail" (a nice touch)-- my wife liked her Dark and Stormy with a homemade mulled wine. I enjoyed my Old Fashioned with Dorr County cherries soaked in brandy (yum) and other fall fruit.

                    We also ordered the charcuterie plate, which was just as good as 'hounds have said. The copa and the soppressata were highlights, as were the crackers (apparently a family recipe of the sous-chef's grandmother? sauerkraut crackers? never heard of these before, but they were fantastic). I also loved the kraut and the mustard...

                    We ordered some wine (we thought the wine list was fine; beer list was also excellent) and soon our entrees arrived.

                    I had the pork chop with buttermilk pureed potatoes and horseradished creamed greens. The pork was very simple and tasty-- the flavor of the meat really shined through. The potatoes were tangy and delicious and the greens were good. I didn't taste very much horseradish, which was a bit disappointing, and they were a bit too salty for my taste.

                    My wife had the spaghetti carbonara (she's a huge carbonara fan and has been craving some for a while). She was well pleased. It had a huge amount of guanciale!

                    Then we ordered dessert. She had the boca negra, a ridiculously dense flourless chocolate cake with creme fraiche. She commented on how unsweet the whole thing was (not a bad thing). It's true-- the chocolate was very dark and bitter, and the creme fraiche was tangy but unsweetened. Quite a dessert.

                    I had the brioche bread pudding with plum jam. I thought it was just ok. Tasty brioche, but little plum flavor in the jam (just sugar, in contrast to my wife's dessert).

                    All in all the meal lasted around 2 1/2 hours, I believe. The service was fine but for the slowness. Restaurant was pretty packed on a Wednesday night, which was impressive and nice to see, but may also have accounted for the service issues (maybe they're not normally as busy midweek?). We looked for people matching jfood's description at the bar, but didn't see anyone we thought seemed like a match.....

                    Craftsman will certainly be on our list for a possible return visit. Thanks for all the suggestions.

                    Craftsman Restaurant
                    4300 Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406