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MSP - St. Paul recommendations

I am going to be in St Paul the first few weeks of next year. I used to live there and will be revisiting some old haunts (but it's a while since I lived there and so much will have changed).

Could I ask for some local recommendations.

Firstly, is there anything much that's worthwhile that is Skyway accessible (or walkable from downtown) these days? I assume the system has expanded considerably since the 80's when there wasn't much going on at night really.

I like all kinds of food, but particularly European ethnic, unpretentious French, good regional Italian, and one-of-a-kind and/or long-established places (like Mama's Pizza, or Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter for example). I am also fond of authentic Cantonese or other authentic Chinese.

A place from olden days I never tried was Mancini's. It sounds a bit like St Paul version of Johnny's Cafe in Omaha (which I like).

But I will try anything. Since I generally dine alone, I also enjoy places with good people-watching.

Am particularly interested in the East side of the Metroplex though.

Thanks a lot. It's appreciated. I will pick up a Twin Cities Restaurant Guide once I get there no doubt.

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  1. Downtown...

    Meritage on St. Peter across from Rice Park. I think the skyway goes to the Hamm Building, which has an entrance to Meritage. I've had two average experiences there, but others have had better ones.

    Babani on St. Peter (at 11th). This is a Kurdish restaurant that puts out very good dishes. Especially the soups.

    Senor Wong's on 4th. A Latin American-Asian fusion concept that works good enough. Everything I've had has been pretty good. There's a decent bar scene, and good beers on tap.

    Mickey's Diner on 7th. You asked for "institutions" so...

    East of Downtown...

    Strip Club on Maria. It's all about the steak. And the steaks are cooked expertly.

    Red's Savoy Inn on East 7th. Another "institution" for pizza and red sauce pasta dishes.

    West 7th...

    Day By Day Cafe. Good for breakfast and lunch. Good people watching among the clientele.

    Mancini's. Hasn't changed except it (like all St. Paul places) is now blissfully non-smoking.

    DiGidio's. Italian institution. Not sure you're going to find "regional" you're looking for, but you asked about instituions, so this makes the list.

    University Avenue...

    LIttle Szechuan. Some consider it one of the top Chinese (but it is Szechuan, not Cantonese) places in the Twin Cities.

    Ngon Bistro. Higher scale Vietnamese fusion place. Good beer list.

    Grand Avenue...

    Punch Woodfire Pizza. I prefer the original location at Cleveland and HIghland Parkway, but this one is closer to downtown St. Paul. Authentic Neapolitan style pizze.

    Brasa. Nextdoor to Punch. Fantastic Southern/Caribbean style meats and sides.

    So that's a start. There are also neighborhood gems like Heartland (at. St. Clair and Fairview) and the neighborhood institutions like The Nook at Randolph and Hamline.

    Others will add more places.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Brad Ballinger

      Just a quick clarification - The Skyway no longer attaches to the Hamm building, but it can get you within a block of the restaurant. Probably head to the Wells Fargo building and then through the mid-block plaza area that passes by Great Waters, take a left and you are there.

      1. re: Brad Ballinger

        Brad's tips are spot on. One I would add is Barrio, located across from Mears Park. Excellent Mexican plates - one of Tim McKee's places.

        1. re: rp1760

          I appreciate all the recommendations. Next week, the rubber meets the road.

        2. re: Brad Ballinger

          Happy Gnome has amazing beer variety and better than run of the mill bar food (beats Champs or Applebees). I just tried Dark Horse Scotch Ale. It's like drinking maple syrup with bubbles and 10% alcohol. It totally left me hung over....but I liked it.

          1. re: JimGrinsfelder

            Has the food gotten more tolerable there or is it still pretty bad? I haven't been since the year they opened.

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I feel like the food is slightly better recently. But still not as good as I wish it were or as it sounds as if it should be. Anyway, that's what I think...

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                imo, food is prettier to look at rather than more delicious to eat. it's not as abysmally bad as when it first opened, when they were screwing up salad, etc. nowadays i'd share an app over a beer or something at HG, but would still eat my mains elsewhere. beer is great, as JimG says. really wish that some of the effort that goes into making the food pretty would go into making it *taste* good--even if they served one or two good bar-food type items. . . c'mon dudes.

                1. re: soupkitten

                  Bummer, turtlebella and sk, that the food isn't as good as the beer list or as delicious as it is attractive. It's also one of my favorite patios in St. Paul, so, it could really be one of my favorite places if food tasted good. The times I was there, they couldn't even serve the desserts properly, even though A Piece of Cake (which is awesome!) across the street was making them.

                  ~TDQ

                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I don't know when you went, but my husband and I have been greatly impressed by this place. One of the few I've actually pulled the manager aside to compliment them. I think it's a nice casual alternative to Meritage or the Heartland. Can't wait until they open up the Hangar Room!

                  1. re: larsonkl

                    I agree with larsonkl.... The one time I went last summer, I was pleasantly suprised by the food. Perhaps it was a fluke?

            2. Thanks for the immediate response and very useful (and well-augering) ones. I will be sampling and posting come Jan.

              1. since it sounds like you will be staying downtown i'm going to echo the recs for meritage. excellent french/french influenced. bonus that it's open for lunch & brunch. walkable.

                strip club (on maria ave)-- short cab fare away. grassfed steaks and local meats. a mean cocktail. highly recommended. i also like (and miss) their delicious weekend brunch menu.

                mancinis-- an old-school classic steakhouse. more about the ambiance than the food, but probably a good time for a solo diner. loved taking my dad here.

                heartland-- longer cab fare. the local foods focus here and level of execution make this a *must* on the list.

                bulldog-- on mears park. higher-end burgers, dogs, and good tap list.

                i don't know if you were aware that mama's pizza had a fire a few years back, rebuilt and is back in biz. :) great for the "st paul pizza and red sauce fix."

                since you mention you enjoy gasthaus i'll mention a newer german place on west 7th, the glockenspiel. might be fun to try out as a single diner. i haven't dined here personally and have read mixed reviews on the food, but the german sausages are from a good traditional german butcher out of lindstrom, mn.

                concur with all of Brad B's solid grand ave & university ave recs, particularly brasa. if you go to little szechuan make sure you get the "real" menu, not the "american" menu. note that if you get to ngon vietnamese bistro shortly after new year's you may be able to score a pint of coveted, rare, nearly extinct *surly darkness* and make the beer dorks in your life quiver with envy. the owner will crack the keg new year's eve. however i'll have to disagree with Brad on senor wong's, day by day and red's savoy-- imho they are quite skippable, or there is something i'm just not getting. Jfood recs Craftsman, which is *just* across the river, into minneapolis, but is excellent (again, local-foods emphasis) if you are considering a jaunt out of st paul.

                do not forget to enjoy some izzy's ice cream while you are in town. i know, i know-- it's winter! but there is nothing like an izzy cone at 7 below ;-P

                -----
                Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
                799 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                Day By Day Cafe
                477 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                Red's Savoy Pizza
                421 7th St E, Saint Paul, MN 55101

                Babani's Kurdish Restaurant
                544 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                Craftsman Restaurant
                4300 Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                Mancinis Char House
                531 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                The Strip Club
                378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

                Senor Wong's
                111 Kellog Blvd, St Paul, MN 55101

                Heartland
                1806 Saint Clair Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                Meritage - St. Paul
                410 Saint Peter Street (Hamm Building), St. Paul, MN 55102

                Punch Neapolitan Pizza
                769 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                6 Replies
                1. re: soupkitten

                  sk -- There are certainly places I'd pick over Wong's, Savoy, and DbD. But each can hold a certain "allure," and the OP needs options, and I tried to think of walkable places. I would certainly go with Bulldog and Barrio over Wong's. Just didn't occur to me earlier. Doh!

                  Regarding Surly Darkness... Had two pours of this at Blue Door Pub recently. I'm in L-U-V.

                  1. re: Brad Ballinger

                    i know, i was trying to rack my brain over what else went into the restaurant store fronts around mears park-- barrio escaped me too. and i could literally break small bones in my foot for forgetting to mention tanpopo. double-doh!

                    & thanks SmartCookie for the clarification about mama's pizza. they were out of biz for a while and there was much rejoicing when they re-opened. they really got a lot of neighborhood support. the t-vs are still in the booths (did they get an upgrade though?), and there is a, well. . . amazing & fascinating mural. you must re-visit and see the place!

                  2. re: soupkitten

                    I had not heard of Mama's fire. I hope the miniature coin b&w TV's survived! Or are they long-gone?

                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                      Mama's did not have a fire; there was extensive water damage from a broken pipe. The TV's survived.

                    2. re: soupkitten

                      I made it here, for take out at least, but failed to get the real menu. But still scored some extremely nice pork tripe in peppers and some so-so rubber duckie (not terrible, but better duck must be had). The pork trip was nice and next time I will remember to ixne on the echnicolortey enumey.

                      Also had breakfast at Bonnie's (their polish sausage and eggs). I liked the fact they were open at 5:45 on a holiday (apparently 5:30 is opening time for them) but the breakfast was only "quite good." No better, no worse. Definitely not horrible though.

                      Little Szechuan - 422 University Ave W Saint Paul, MN

                      -----
                      Little Szechuan - West End
                      5377 16th Street, St. Louis Park, MN 55416

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        I agree with you about Senor Wong's. The first time I went there we had some great drinks and decent appetizers. The 2nd and 3rd time, meh. I've not returned for a 4th.

                      2. You've gotten some good recs already and I second many of them (especially Meritage, Strip Club, Ngon, Brasa).

                        If you're at all into beer, you should know that the Twin Cities now has one of the better local beer scenes in the midwest. Of particular note:

                        -Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery is one of the best brewpubs in the country. Their Masala Mama IPA is amazing, especially the cask-conditioned version. Decent pub food too.

                        -in DT St. Paul there is Great Waters on St Peter St. Decent beer (though the above is way way better).

                        -others have mentioned Ngon Bistro on University Ave.-- in my opinion it has the best beer list in the metro. All local stuff on tap, always 1 cask-conditioned offering. Go for happy hour if nothing else and soak up some local beer vibe.

                        -there are also the Happy Gnome and the Muddy Pig, both in the Selby-Dale neighborhood in St. Paul, and both fantastic beer bars with tons of local and midwestern beer on tap.

                        If you like the Juicy Lucy type thing, you might also consider the Blue Door Pub on Selby in St. Paul (though not near downtown). Good burgers, good beer list too.

                        -----
                        Muddy Pig
                        162 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                        Happy Gnome
                        498 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                        Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery
                        1430 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454

                        Meritage
                        410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                        The Blue Door Pub
                        1811 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                        Great Waters Brewing Co
                        426 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: mtullius

                          I am a cask-ale man. Used to frequent Sherlock's Home very often. May even have to have a drink at the place that resides there now, whose name escapes, for old-time's sake (I assume the wonderful carved wood bar back is still in situ? --- maybe not?) .

                          1. re: bishopsbitter

                            Without diluting the previous recs, you might consider heading to Barley John's in New Brighton. Outstanding brews, and a good example of how the cities have progressed in that regard. Food is better than average.

                            And I was about to be pained that nobody mentioned Tanpopo, until I saw that someone else was pained that nobody mentioned Tanpopo. Between Tanpopo, Heartland and University Ave. (Bangkok Thai, Hoa Bien, Mai Village), you will have a great idea of how the cuisine has progressed.

                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                              If you're going to be all the way over at the old Sherlock's Home, maybe you should drop by this place on your way back:

                              www.thefourfirkins.com

                              Disclaimer: I know little to nothing about beer. I couldn't tell you if the Four Firkins and cask-ale are relevant to one another. I just figured maybe it would be a worthy stop.

                              1. re: MSPD

                                It's not too complicated, the name is just a reference to a unit of measurement for beer. I agree that it is a good stop as the guys who run that store are walking beer encyclopedias, makes for great conversation for beer nerds.

                                And for those who are interested in the definition:
                                Cask ale means the beer has matured through cask conditioning and it is unpasteurized, unfiltered. This beer is dispensed without the use of extraneous CO2/nitrogen. Cask conditioning refers to the stage of fermentation that takes place inside a firkin, which is a sealed barrel/cask.

                                The beer is dispensed through gravity, air pressure, or a cask engine (a hand pump). I have not been to Europe, but from what I have been told, you generally don't see cask ale too often in the US.

                                1. re: air

                                  I knew what a firkin was, just not if their offerings included cask-ale. I'll try to write in English next time...long week and the words aren't flowing clearly. ;-)

                                  I do appreciate the definition. That I didn't know for sure.

                                2. re: MSPD

                                  Four Firkins is definitely worth a stop! I'm married to a beer nerd (mtullius, above) and fancy a beer or two myself, so I know how much money we spend there! We live on the East Side of St Paul and *still* manage to get over there with some frequency.

                                  -----
                                  The Four Firkins
                                  8009 Minnetonka Blvd, St. Louis Park, MN 55426

                                3. re: bishopsbitter

                                  Ngon Bistro always has a cask pour on their beer list.

                              2. Definitely do not miss Brasa and you'll enjoy Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery. And bb, I know I'd be jealous if you got ahold of that Surly Darkness. Have a blast up there.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: air

                                  I'll have to try Town Hall again, but first experience was flat and off form.

                                  Tanpopo - Great simple vibe. Solid sourcing of ingredients. Excellent service.

                                2. It pains me that nobody has mentioned Tanpopo.

                                  www.tanpoporestaurant.com

                                  I don't see Barrio anywhere either. Or the Nook/Shamrocks.

                                  So I guess those are my contributions.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: MSPD

                                    Mmmmm, it's been too long since we've been to Tanpopo....

                                  2. You didn't mention Japanese, but Sakura is also skyway-accessible. And I second the nominations for Meritage and Barrio. Oh, and Bulldog is also good for people watching.

                                    1. My dance card runneth over so far! Thanks to all. The scene sound vibrant and most interesting compared to Houston where I find a plethora of everything except that elusive restaurant that actually makes me want to return (I canna take more punishment Cap'n) a second time. I will be posting my St Paul reports here on a regular basis. Thanks again, and by all means keep the rec's coming.

                                      1. For cask ale success you need a place like the TC's where pubs have sufficient cc customers (as Sherlock's used to do) to keep the stuff moving and not sitting around too long, which is the bane of cask ale down in Texas and similar places. It's often plain undrinkable as a result. God, I could murder a glass of Sherlocks' Winter Warmer right about now! :-)

                                        1. If you need a sandwich and want to walk down to Lowertown, Golden's Deli makes the best sandwich for the $$ and have good soups, too. (You can take the skyway as far as the Union Depot then it's a block more on 4th). Tanpopo is excellent and a block and a half farther. Avoid the Black Dog- over priced and slower than the molasses that used to be stored in that Warehouse building.

                                          In the other direction, down W. 7th is Cosetta's for a slice o' pizza, wine by the glass, and other Italian- cafeteria line service, fun deli w/ good imported comestibles to bring home with you.

                                          Nick into Candyland, for the experience and their storemade popcorn, cheese corn and carmel corn. Or get the Chicago Mix- all three- as I usually do.

                                          Thirdly, cross The River on the Robert Street bridge down to Cesar Chavez Boulevard, then right to El Burrito Mercado. It's a grocery with take-out deli items (I always get the nopales salad), bakery cases (try the gingerbread piggys) and best of all a cafeteria line-- lunch brought to you by mamacitas! You can walk it, but you probably want to go by car if you're pressed for time.

                                          If you're there on a weekend and they are roasting corn out back- indulge yourself.

                                          1. Thank you for help, just moved here from So Cal ( 3 months ago ), I am actually 3 hrs from Twin Cities, but visit 1x a month.... not much out this way. near Fergus Falls.
                                            Any good sushi restaurants....??? really miss Calif sushi....

                                            thanks !

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: danita53

                                              Welcome danita! I hope you are surviving this cold!!! Don't worry -- it's not usually this bad.

                                              I can't help with the sushi recs, but others here will. And lots of other good ideas. Keep weighing in.

                                              1. re: danita53

                                                Two good baseline threads for the long discussions of the where, when & how of sushi in the Twin Cities:

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/431016
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367904

                                              2. Any recs for a place with good wine in the STP area? Preferably near downtown/rice park. Heritage is out (too expensive, fancy), and I can't tell if Bin is open or what it costs.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: mech_e

                                                  If you're looking for less expensive/fancy....the only one that I can think of is The Modern Cafe in NE. They have good, but limited, wine selection and good food and modest prices.

                                                2. 2.5 stars rating this. Dined Sunday (not sure if that means non-regular chef) and it was "kinda OK" but not much more.

                                                  The oxtail amuse I didn't find all that amusing, nor the tuna one either.

                                                  The (hanger) steak frites I really objected to the fact that they (in their infinite non-wisdom) sliced the bloody thing up for me. This is somehow truly annoying. Especially for a man who likes it really rare and part of the pleasure is to cut into the almost raw flesh.

                                                  Also their fries, they just were not as fries should taste. An edge of burnt-sugary-ness. Perhaps the choice of potato.

                                                  Service was of the "can't keep track of who's my waiter" variety, which again: I really dislike. Random people bring food at THIER convenience rather than establishing a rapport between waiter/ress and customer.

                                                  I also picked up on a "if you know the owner you might be onto a better experience" thing, another personal dislike (although I am realistic enough to know t 'twill always be so).

                                                  The Cahors wine was a saving grace, but liquor cocktail service was slow and inconsistent.

                                                  All in all, I can't rave at this stage. Nice enough space. And at least the bread wasn't warmed, which is something.

                                                  -----
                                                  Meritage - St. Paul
                                                  410 Saint Peter Street (Hamm Building), St. Paul, MN 55102

                                                  3 Replies
                                                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                      That's a shame since jfood absolutrely loves this place and wanted to take the uneaten fries home in his coat pocket.

                                                    2. Affiliated with the St Paul hotel, this is in the 5-star (wanna be at least) mold, and it wasn't a terrible experience.

                                                      I ate at the bar. Steve is the man in charge (that night at least) and older, and old school, which I like.

                                                      Immediate warning: "contents of your wallet may appear smaller when you leave than upon entering." This is no cheap bowl of spaghetti place.

                                                      Now what did I have? Good question. An excellent couple of cocktails. It's hard to screw up gin and tonic but 75% of bartenders do all the same. These were perfectomundo (the ultimate accolade, next only to "as good as I make myself."

                                                      I then had mixed luck with the antipasti. Steve selected some for me, and firstly gave me not the smallest but the "for two" portion which was far too much. But also he had neglected (I exude carnivore in my being) much meats and it was all fairly vegetarian stuff. A huge dollop of not-so-great olive tapenade didn't help. It just wasn't that great a selection.

                                                      After the fact (too late) I saw their wood-burning pizza oven. This might be worth a try. A simple pizza, salad, and bottle of house red. you might escape for $55 :-)

                                                      For my main I must have had something very forgettable, because I've forgotten what it was. But I do remember the risotto (side of) I ordered was blissful and frankly the one dish I remember with relish.

                                                      A finished with a grappa and it successfully stopped a sore throat in its tracks.

                                                      I will try this place again and report back. But with this and Meritage both the phrase that came to mind was "All hat, and no cattle." I tend to wonder if it is the grim inroads of food police, having tasteless ingredients and fats that leave you with a "vacancy" sign on your taste buds.

                                                      Something missing in both.

                                                      This one, the better of the two.

                                                      -----
                                                      Pazzaluna
                                                      360 St. Peter St, St. Paul, MN 55101

                                                      4 Replies
                                                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                          Pazzaluna
                                                          www.pazzaluna.com

                                                          360 Saint Peter Street
                                                          St Paul, MN 55102-1512
                                                          (651) 223-7000

                                                          1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                            The missing link syndrome has started happening for me. They were there, and now they are gone! I will always add the contact and address info from now on. This site has a few bugs obviously.

                                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                              Glad to know it's not my computer (I think).

                                                          2. I don't go to Mickey's Dining Car very often. It must have been about 5-6-7 years ago since I did. At that time a very annoying homeless lady took it into her head to sit at my table in the middle of my breakfast (and the staff did nothing to stop it!) and asked me several questions: "was I a policemen? (she doesn't like policemen) "was I a doctor?" no and then told me she was Darla Hood from the Little Rascals (all grown up). To add insult to injury after ruining my digestion and basically my breakfast, when I left she panhandled me for money, and when I refused she said "I still like you bishopsbitter". Overall I remember from all those years ago a very annoying experience.

                                                            Last week, the exact scenario above, with the exact same lady, repeated itself. I am not sure why they allow it: it can't be good for business. I know the lady's harmless and all this, but seven years on and she's still panhandling the same spot? Come on.

                                                            Sorry "historical landmark" yes, a restaurant that allows their patrons to be hassled without interveneing: no.

                                                            -----
                                                            Mickey's Diner
                                                            36 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                            1. The little TV's have gone the way of all flesh and digitalization I fear. But their pizza is still grade A. ("It's the quality of the ingredients, stupid.") Good (not opaque grease) cheese that holds up in cooking, superior crust (Blodgett ovens) and a really nice ownership that seems to really care about their customers. Now their antipasto salad dressing (which I now remember should be confined to a tomb somewhere deep under Nevada like plutonium waste: goopy disgusting Italian dressing like gooperoni) is another matter. Also they give you a to-go antipasto salad in a tub (crammed full and then some) which is generous, but everything is added in layers so you have an inch of ONLY meat, and inch of cheese and without a salad bowl (darn I forgot to pack one) you actually cannot serve yourself a side of mixed-up antipasto salad.

                                                              The pizza really was quite nice though.

                                                              -----
                                                              Mama's Pizza
                                                              961 Rice St, Saint Paul, MN 55117

                                                              2 Replies
                                                                1. re: karykat

                                                                  Mama's Pizza
                                                                  www.mamaspizzaparlor.com

                                                                  961 Rice Street
                                                                  St Paul, MN 55117-4950
                                                                  (651) 489-2005

                                                              1. I'm sorry but any place, that is empty (literally empty) and has about 6 members of staff, and lets me sit at an (did I mention, EMPTY) bar for 5 minutes before the bartender deigns to sidle over (he's chatting with the staff and doing obviously critically "important" other things (like straightening the bar towels) in plain view of me, and me of him) and take my order, and then proceeds to serve up a cask-ale from hell, and all the while with TVs' blaring the favorite programs of the staff at volumes dangerous to small children . . . I was really ticked off.

                                                                Had a few sips of the brew-from-hell (this is no Sherlock's Home!) and off to Meritage, which wasnt' a great deal better (ref: above.

                                                                -----
                                                                Great Waters Brewing Co
                                                                426 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: karykat

                                                                    Karykat, bishopsbitter provides a link to the restaurant he's reporting back on at the bottom of each of his posts.

                                                                    I, for one, am bummed bb's having such a rough time in St. Paul. :(.

                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      Indeed.

                                                                      When I checked earlier I saw little red dots and clicked on them, but no info on where. Now they seem to be working.

                                                                    2. re: karykat

                                                                      Great Waters Brewing Co
                                                                      www.greatwatersbc.com

                                                                      426 Saint Peter Street
                                                                      St Paul, MN 55102
                                                                      (651) 224-2739

                                                                  2. This pertains to the airport location.

                                                                    You don't expect much from an airport dining experience, which is just as well. This was that dreadful combination of expensive, and awful. Mind you the glassware was nice, but again all the nice fixtures in the world can't save an awful product.

                                                                    I had an Angus sandwich (hard carved!!) which could have been made with Hormel 5000 year-old beef slices to better effect. And they served a bowl of "au jus" with it that was beyond horrible. It tasted like Bisto powder partially dissolved and uncooked.

                                                                    As Gordon Ramsay says "What is going on, madam?" Does anyone actually taste this stuff and say "mmmm, yep this is good stuff to serve to customers?"

                                                                    Some of these enterprises seem to be on autopilot with no sentient person at the controls. Food IS supposed to taste good you know! And professional chefs SHOULD be able to produce something better than that pitiful junk au jus.

                                                                    I did not like it, although (did I mention) the glassware was nice.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Ike's Food & Cocktails
                                                                    50 S 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: karykat

                                                                        This is the airport location, not 6th Street. Surely the same enterprise though.

                                                                    1. Posted some reports above. More to follow after next week's round. Will try Strip Club (I worry about seasoned steak: can I relax??) and Mancini's maybe.

                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                        Can you relax at Strip Club? I find Strip Club to be a very difficult place to relax --crowded, super loud, uncomfortable plastic chairs. It's especially crazy on Friday on Saturday evenings. Don't know about other days of the week...

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          yep but there is a pernicious m.o. of "steak rubs" at some places (not the real high-end steak houses . . . usually) which may be a good idea for 20 year-cow hide boot leather, but the only seasoning on steak I want is salt. Period. And if you have to ask . . . I have long given up asking for special cooking requests. It's like asking for a dose of grief.

                                                                          1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                            Personally, if I were you, I'd call ahead and ask how they prepare their steaks and determine if they are going to be able to serve you something that will be to your liking. You know it's all grass-fed, hormone-free beef at Strip Club, right? Their steaks come with a lot of sauces (which I personally dislike).

                                                                            Given the string of St. Paul meals with which you've been displeased, why chance another one?

                                                                            (Beware the video in this link to their website:)
                                                                            http://domeats.com/

                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              Hmmm "lots of sauces" . . . I'm with you there too. Not so much sauces but "lots of". I never like scattershot "something might stick" approach. 2 KILLER sauces that you have to almost kill yourself to decide between is what I like to see.

                                                                              I don't call ahead. I won't even call for my wife to ask about MSG in Chinese or Asian restaurants (she proclaims to be allergic to it, but still). It just strikes me that if you as the restaurateur have decided on MSG no-MSG seasoning no-seasoning that some punter calling up intimating you're doing it all wrong if they do it the opposite way is asking for a rocky start to any future intercourse or business. Essentially analogous to asking Indian places to "spice it up." Heck, it has to be spicy to start with or else the whole dish is like some sort of Identikit photo.

                                                                              I miss the Sri Lanka Curry House in that regard. No worries about "extra spicy" there.

                                                                              Yes, I know. A tendency to overthink. :-)

                                                                              1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                Although the menu highlights the sauces, a good many steak-lovers skip those offerings altogether. Not necessarily that they're bad, but that they prefer their meat as presented on the menu (grilled, w/grilled lemon and poached carrots.)

                                                                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                  Just remember, it's all grass-fed steak at Strip Club. If you don't like grass fed steak, you're likely to be unhappy.

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                          2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                            jfood ate as a single at SC at the bar with a book...very relaxing.

                                                                            He votes loudly against any of the sauces, the steaks are great and stand on their own. Remember they are closed on Mondays.

                                                                          3. I kinda struck out a bit this first week. Will try to do better. St. Paul is pretty dead at night, I discovered without venture out in the car, which was maybe the problem for lack of real success.

                                                                            Just curious: anyone know of anywhere that does good lamb in the TC's but ixne on the eengay intmey ellojay. English-style mint sauce: OK.

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                              Bishopsbitter----PLEASE name the place you are describing at the beginning of each post, you have multiple posts up here with no identifier..........I want to take advantage of your strong opinions but can't if I don't know where you're talking about. I agree with you on Meritage and a number of places that are 'favorites' ......something is missing.

                                                                              1. re: faith

                                                                                Faith,
                                                                                I am sorry about that. Chowhound now has a "This is a review of a specific restaurant" check box which I thought was a method both to consolidate reviews of a particular restaurant (even if from a different thread) and to prevent the need to manually cut and paste the name and address (with the concomitant possibility of fat-fingering the spelling).

                                                                                I am sorry if it is causing you a problem I thought it might make things easier for readers and me both. Perhaps the software is buggy at the CH end. Also please see above thread {about links were not working, but started working for someone}. Another possibility is that CH site only supports certain browsers perhaps? Are you on something exotic browser-wise? I use Google Chrome (which I am somewhat falling out of love with) and no particular problems.

                                                                                Can others advise if they have similar problems and I don't mind at all retrofitting the info that should be displayed into the body of the post.

                                                                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                  I haven't had any problems (I can see the name and address of the restaurant in each of your posts), but it sounds like both faith and karykat had problems seeing the restaurant info. So, 30% success rate? You've put a lot of work into your reports; it would be a shame for people to miss them.

                                                                                  I've always had good experiences at Meritage, so, I'm sorry your experience was only so-so.

                                                                                  The only advantage of Great Waters Brewing is they do have a nice patio, but that's not going to do anyone any good this time of year! Still, food is super-duper meh.

                                                                                  I've never been a huge fan of Mickey's, although, I do like that it's had a long history in St. Paul.

                                                                                  I hope you have some better experiences during the remainder of your stay. I'm worried you won't enjoy Strip Club. Mancinis should be about the same as you remember it, even though Nick is gone.

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    I was sort of thinking that. The name is far too cute and I might give it a miss. Mind you I loved Sherlock's Home enough to drive 40,000 miles to and from it. And that is probably the most contrived name on the planet, or was before it closed.

                                                                                    I have never been to Mancini's even though ti operated in my time living in the TC's 82-84. Never did go. But I think if 'old school' it has my name on it. I am starting to see signs of distinct generational disjoint.

                                                                                    Perhaps for Gen Y and younger having one's steak CUT UP FOR ONE (!!!!!) is par for the course, even desirable. It sits uneasily for old bishopsbitter I am afraid.

                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      Yes I read about these grilled lemons. I found that a bit of a strange thing also with a (good) steak. Maybe the answer is to bit the bullet and go. I did try to locate it but it seems a bit tricky to find. I found Maria on a preliminary foray but not the place itself. Oh well.

                                                                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                        Ah, yes, The Strip Club is a little hard to find. If you're in downtown St. Paul, take East 7th Street (which turns kind of bridge-like when it crosses that railroad area/Swede Hollow) as if you were going to Swede Hollow Cafe. But, before you get to Swede Hollow Cafe, you'll encounter Carbone's, which is at 7th and Maria. Turn right onto Maria. Strip Club is 6th and Maria. Strip Club is across the street from a big parking lot for Metro State students.

                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          Thanks, I can visualize that. I must have driven right past it.

                                                                                    2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                      yup, jfood does not know which restaurant you are reviewing either...plz state the restaurant first. your reviews are very precise and it helps to start that way.

                                                                                2. Keys Cafe & Bakery - 500 Robert St N Saint Paul, MN

                                                                                  Not a bad breakfast here. But they need to do something about their flaccid toast which spoils the egg-yolk dunking pleasure.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Keys Cafe & Bakery
                                                                                  500 Robert St N, Saint Paul, MN 55101

                                                                                  1. Browsing through Twin Cities Magazine restaurant section I am struck that St Paul is quite a bit neglected in terms of volume of places reviewed and recommended. Seems like about a 4-5 to one margin of Minneapolis versus St Paul. Not exactly "twin" in this regard, at least not identical one. I see a lot of old favorites from olden times, still going strong though. I might try Moscow on the Hill as I like smoked fish. Used to live in that neighborhood (before it became trendy).

                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                      I don't think the strength of St. Paul dining is in its high-end restaurants, necessarily (although, as I've said, I've always enjoyed Meritage--I especially like it for brunch). It's historically been a working class kind of town with a strong bar culture. I think places like the Nook (which you must surely remember) for a burger, or DeGidios for a hot dago, or Saigon (on University Ave) for pho or banh mi sandwiches, or Manana for pupusas, are where its at in St. Paul.

                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                        TDQ - SP = Meritage, Heartland, Strip Club. Many towns in CT would love to have that tri-fecta

                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                          I love Meritage and Heartland and, as you know, recommend them often. I'm not a fan of Strip Club. I'd also throw in W.A. Frost when it has its act together. Nevertheless, despite these excellent high end dining spots, I still believe that the strength of the St. Paul dining scene is in the low-end casual spots. This also reflects my personal bias about dining out, of course, but I think that's why St. Paul suits me. :).

                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                            Any good ones open on Monday nights. Jfood needs some good homey cooking tonight.

                                                                                            TIA

                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                              Hmmm...homey? Have you tried Cheeky Monkey Deli on Selby in St. Paul yet? Mixed opinions on this place (definitely do a search on the board here to see the kind of feedback people have given), but I think their dinner service, "hot pots and plates+vegetable sides" is pretty darn homey. Stylish but comfy atmosphere. http://www.cheekymonkeydeli.com/menu

                                                                                              It's all counter service, unless it's changed since I was last there (which has been awhile...

                                                                                              )

                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                Dinners and weekend brunches have moved to table service.

                                                                                                1. re: KTFoley

                                                                                                  Thanks for that clarification. I had a vague recollection of something along those lines, but could remember what I'd heard or where I'd heard it. Probably here on Chowhound!

                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                              2. re: jfood

                                                                                                Another place to try, if you haven't yet, is Tanpopo in downtown St. Paul. Nothing spectacular, but this time of year, who can argue with a steaming bowl or udon or soba noodles. Nice, serene setting.

                                                                                                http://tanpoporestaurant.com/t_hours.php

                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                      2. Kim Huoy Chor - 1664 University Ave W Saint Paul, MN

                                                                                        Tried delivery from their website ordering service. http://www.yourchineserestaurant.com/...
                                                                                        Enjoyed the food including some Cambodian variations.
                                                                                        http://www.yourchineserestaurant.com/...
                                                                                        Nothing out-of-this-world, but nothing was awful either. On a shocking horrible night (for cold and snow) it didn't take too long and everything ordered (including chopsticks and a few extra sauces) were correctly included.

                                                                                        I would (probably will) order from them again.

                                                                                        Thanks for reading my posts today. Will report back next weekend, if nto before.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Kim Huoy Chor
                                                                                        1664 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                          I find their delivery hit or miss, but when it's a hit, it can really hit the spot.

                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                            Quite, just ordered again from here and this time . . . not quite so good. Slow delivery, and the food had lost a step from last time for whatever reason, presumably the chef on duty.

                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                              The links are back active again tonight. It would be nice to know why they appear and disappear because it makes CH site a bit confusing.

                                                                                          2. Just as an aside, is Jeremy Iggers still writing about restaurants in the TC's? His "Twin Cities Restaurant Guide" 15 (or more?!) years ago alerted me first to the existence of Sherlock's Home in Minnetonka: a fact making me eternally indebted to him. But most of his recommendations in that book I found were 100% spot on. Is he still writing?

                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                              http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/blog/jer... If you liked Sherlock's you need to try Town Hall, Some of the best beers in Minnesota.

                                                                                              1. re: ibew292

                                                                                                Or Barley John's (which, despite the link down below, is actually in New Brighton rather than St.P). I much prefer their beer to Town Hall.

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Barley John's Brew Pub
                                                                                                781 Old Highway 8 SW, Saint Paul, MN 55112

                                                                                                1. re: bob s

                                                                                                  Two totally different stlyes of beer, Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery style is much closer to Sherlocks than Barley Johns. Town Hall has also won some medals at the GABF in Denver. Don't go to Town Hall for food, although at times it can be quite good.

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery
                                                                                                  1430 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454

                                                                                                2. re: ibew292

                                                                                                  I did poke my nose in to Town Hall this afternoon. And while their cask ales were not truly horrible, they were not the sort of quaff able session beers I lust for (Bishops Bitter at Sherlock's the paramount example, or King and Barnes' (the Late King and Barnes') "Sussex Bitter." Alcohol in the 3.5%-4% range works so well in English bitters where there is a thirst quenching initial effect, followed by subtle inebriation over the course of pints. These big beefy west-coast beers I can only sip at, and (it may just be me, I admit) not with much relish.

                                                                                                  I tried both their cask offerings (IPA and Pub Ale) and ironically liked the former (the non-English ingredients one) better.

                                                                                                  The bartender had much knowledge and knew Sherlock's and the brewer and bagpiper (Bob) who was there for a period of time before going to St Cloud to spearhead the first Granite City. Clearly though, minus Sherlock's, the only solution for me is a plane ticket to the UK. And fair enough.

                                                                                                  I also drive out to St Cloud as the ALEX Hall cask ale site said they were a "known cask ale outlet" but what a waste: two beer engines "we haven't used them in years" said the rather spotty youth of a bartender. "No-one bought it."

                                                                                                  I hear what people say about winning contests but it's tempting to wonder about what they are competing against. Michael Jackson's old post about Sherlock's seems to me to still portray what a "different kettle of fish" it was from all others, One of a one of a kind in US brewpubs I think for their 4 "always on" cask ales as the whole centerpiece of the beer offerings. http://www.beerhunter.com/documents/1...

                                                                                                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                    I've only lived here for a few years, so Sherlock's is before my time. I've heard some good things about it from others too.

                                                                                                    But I have visited many many brewpubs all across the U. S. of A. And make no mistake, Town Hall is among the very best. The IPA you damned with faint praise is among the 4 or 5 best IPAs made anywhere-- and that's not just my opinion. You're of course entitled to your own opinions, about beer and everything else. But implying that Town Hall is some kind of second rate place in terms of its beer, well, that crosses the line for me.

                                                                                                    It's not entirely clear to me what sort of beer you're looking for-- I guess English Bitters and not much else?-- but I hope you'll also make it to one of our finer beer bars (I'd recommend the Muddy Pig or Happy Gnome in St. Paul-- might even find an English bitter on draft!) and try some of the other local brew. Surly, Flat Earth, Lift Bridge, to name a few.

                                                                                                    1. re: mtullius

                                                                                                      Yes, I do favor English style I must say. I don't have a taste for West-coast hops with all the floral stuff going on. Also, in my opinion, those casks had been on "a while" and while not by any means horrible, did not seem in prime condition (especially the Pub Ale).

                                                                                                      I am not one to want to want to cross any lines at all and indeed when people are singularly unimpressed with my favorite places I tend to simply shrug and feel vaguely sad that they are missing out on something undeniably good.

                                                                                                      I mustn't be expressing myself very well if it appears I am mindlessly slamming stuff which is above being slammed. Maybe I caught it on a bad day, maybe I really don't know a thing about beer or food.

                                                                                                      Do you remember on Fawlty Towers (the background interview with the rather tedious [when he's opining about stuff] John Cleese) and he was talking about Americans versus British and how this had shaped his episode about the couple from california. Cleese said what he admired most about Americans was their ability to be absolutely forthright, and say what they mean, but without being offensive. And that's how I try to be. I don't pussyfoot around my opinion, but I NEVER aim to cause offence to anyone I assure by a ventured opinion you. I thought it would be pleasing that I had made the effort to go over there (suspecting it might disappoint) based on your and other recommendations. And I do appreciate the tip. The place itself seemed congenial (not like the Great Waters which I highly disliked for its blaring TVs and disinterested staff), just the beer was not to my taste.
                                                                                                      Thanks,
                                                                                                      bb

                                                                                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                        My only issue was when you suggested that Town Hall's (many) awards were not deserved. At that point, you go beyond saying that their beers are not to your taste (de gustibus, and all that).

                                                                                                        And I didn't want some future visitor reading this thread to think that Town Hall was a 2nd rate place. It is not.

                                                                                                        I myself love nearly all types of beer, certainly including a good English bitter (the real ale variety, of course). Town Hall makes all kinds of styles of beer. While they particularly excel at the IPA (an American-style IPA, to be sure-- perhaps you thought you would be sampling an English IPA, a horse of a different color), they also make fine examples of other beers. But if you are on a single-minded quest to find a superlative English bitter on cask, well... you'll probably have a hard time being happy till you cross the pond. That's all I was trying to say.

                                                                                                        Cheers!

                                                                                                        1. re: mtullius

                                                                                                          In the post-Sherlockian era you are quite right. I have not found a single English -style cask ale anywhere (and I have looked: trust me!!) worth drinking [or, in most cases, even drink-able!]. I still think, though, the Town Hall "may" not turn enough cask product around to truly always offer it at prime. that was my impression of the Pub Ale. Now they are coming out with an 1800 (?) brew next week I think which they say is a hot seller in years past and is made with all English hops, and malt. so things could change.

                                                                                                          I may stagger back for the 1800 (or was it 1812 something like that) just in case.

                                                                                                          also water is a big thing. One of the reasons Sherlock's was in Minnetonka (and not elsewhere in the Cities) was (prospective brewers take note) the water science there.

                                                                                                          Cheers and no hard feelings I hope. I never wish to be combative personally, just forthright with opinion. But it's never in the manner of "you're wrong". I assure you.

                                                                                                          bb

                                                                                                          1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                            It's too bad you don't like the American IPA style, since the Twin Cities boasts 2 of the top 3 according to the raters at BeerAdvocate (http://beeradvocate.com/top_beers?sty...). I cannot vouch for the Pub Ale, because I cannot get past the cask IPA. I suspect I am far from alone in that regard-- I do a little beer trading, and the Masala Mama IPA is very much in demand nationwide. So the Pub Ale may well be past its prime.

                                                                                                            1. re: mtullius

                                                                                                              Very interesting. I've always wondered about cask ale trading in the US. I had tried to hook up Alex Hall & Co with Houston pubs but to no avail. The product has such a limited shelf life that it's doomed to failure unless and until most people are supping from the beer engine versus the spigot. Have you been to England and if so did you find nirvana in those thirst-quenching (but will catch up to you eventually!) pints of amber goodness. Check out my post for the Three Horse Shoes in Northumberland if you are ever in that neck of the woods, but that's the thing about England: people are so picky about beer (and turnover is not normally a problem! :-) ) it's hard to find a bad barrel about.

                                                                                                              1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                Folks, please keep the conversation focused on where to eat and drink locally. Thanks.

                                                                                              2. Kincaid's Fish Chop & Steak - 380 St. Peter Street St. Paul, MN

                                                                                                A bit of an abortive evening.

                                                                                                A taxi to The Strip Club only to find they are fully booked. A taxi (10 minutes later: the same driver!) back to where I started from.

                                                                                                Into Pazzaluna but something about the aura tonight put me off. So off again.

                                                                                                Walked past Kincaid's and thought it might have possibilities, especially since I had set out for steak at The Strip Club.

                                                                                                What a disaster this place was, with one exception. Me to Maitresse D "Do you have a table for one?" Maitresse D' "A table for ONE is that what you are saying" Me: "Yes, that's what I am saying." [Already wishing myself dead.]

                                                                                                So shown to (expected) pokey horrible little table for one although the place empty by and large. Then the waitress and I think I have scored a trifecta that she also has an attitude.

                                                                                                Anyway, I order a gin & T. Horrible.

                                                                                                Order crab cakes and their "signature" Prime Rib "How do you like it?" "Rare!" No problemo. A bottle of Cotes du Rhone.

                                                                                                So . . . crab cakes arrive by another waitress (arghhhh how I hate interchangeable waitressesii) and yet no wine. Wine arrives, it's pretty warm: undrinkably warm. No surprise, the heating is on.

                                                                                                My waitress is a bit in the mold of Elaine from "Airplane" Julie Hagerty. And yet a stunningly bright young thing all the same. She originally mis-categorizes me as the regular clone she has to wait on day-in and -out. In town on business, drinks too much, and makes a complete arse of themselves. But we gradually (over the course of the appetizer and LACK of main course) begin to bond.

                                                                                                Eventually she comes back to me "would you mind a prime rib that's not so much rare as incinerated: it's the time of evening you know" . . . ."or, we could do you another steak."

                                                                                                We settled on another steak. the sirloin: rare.

                                                                                                And we had a chat about life in Olde England (she had time there) and such.

                                                                                                In the end I grew to like her no less than Ted Striker. But Kincaid's is a Mecca for expense account pillocks who annoy the Elaines of this world, such that it takes said Elaines several interactions before she realizes someone who is not a total pillock has inexplicably stumbled into the restaurant and onto her table.

                                                                                                This was a pretty horrible experience (Elaine excepted) for $99.97 plus tip. But I did not begrudge the tip, only the $99.97.

                                                                                                What can be done to alleviate the suffering we have to undergo in the name of chow these days? At this rate I am off to Chez Colette at the sofitel. 27 years ago it was pretty damned good and never made me want to kill myself, as Kincaid's (but not elaine) made me wish to.

                                                                                                Thanks for reading, but I am getting paranoid that they've got it in for me. Infamy, infamy: they've all got it in for me. ref: Ken Williams.

                                                                                                p.s. Bloody Hell. Surely (Shirley?) I can find a decent place before I die in the trying.

                                                                                                p.p.s. I wish to have Elaine's child.

                                                                                                Thanks for reading:

                                                                                                bb

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Kincaid's Fish Chop & Steak
                                                                                                380 St. Peter Street, St. Paul, MN 55102

                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                  I forgot to add last night:

                                                                                                  Crab Cakes - Only OK. Arrived 'sorry for themselves' as if sitting around for some while.

                                                                                                  Steak was absolutely nothing special for the (considerable) price. It was meat that did nto edify in any way, but perfectly edible.

                                                                                                  This whole place again is like some strange space-craft where all the staff are somehow programmed to be disdainful of their "alien" patrons. I see this more and more, and yet they still expect the 20% or 25% tip. We aliens must be daft to pony it up really, although I still liked my waitress ("server" is another term that should be banished" what a horrible word for an honorable and ancient profession).

                                                                                                  Like the much-abused Warp engines of the Enterprise I canna take much more punishment Cap'n.

                                                                                                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                    my god, jim, we're minnesotans, not mind readers!!!!

                                                                                                    heh heh, heh.

                                                                                                    ummm. . . i feel badly that it isn't going so well for you :) otoh, if you'll accept a gentle chiding: you got a lot of very good recs, and despite them you chose to go to some chains-- be they local like key's, or national, like kincaid's. and to go to some hotel affiliates and tourist fleecing operations like pazzaluna and ike's. the only chef-driven place you've even tried (correct me if i'm wrong) is meritage. it's safe to say you're getting "the st. paul business traveler's experience"-- not something you'll die from, but you're certainly spending too much money on mediocre food and not seeing the best or most unique or notable food st. paul has to offer. locals just don't really go to these places much. okay, we might go to key's once in a while, but only for breakfast or lunch with our elderly relatives, and we know which items to get ;-P

                                                                                                    a few comments based on your experiences so far. re: meritage: occasionally there are reports of folks getting a bad bounce here (not often). my own first experience actually was not stellar, but after many great meals which followed the first, i'm a fan. maybe consider giving this restaurant a second try. mickey's-- it's a counter diner in a dining car. it's a landmark, get a cup of coffee and your picture taken for your facebook page and move on. ike's, pazzaluna, st. paul hotel restaurant/bar: overpriced mediocre food brought to you by servo-bots. you are not a person, you are your credit card info at these places.

                                                                                                    you comment that st. paul is "pretty dead at night." boy are you spot on there! st. paul really rolls up its sidewalks quick in the early evening. . . see also TDQ's comments-- st. paul is certainly mpls' older, more working-class and conservative, and early-to-bed "twin" in this way. if you crave a bit of a night life you're probably going to need to come across the river to mpls. you may want to do this anyway, as there are a ton of great restaurants on the minneapolis side! caveat: you can have still have some good times in many st. paul neighborhoods, check out some of the neighborhood bars rec-ed in this thread.

                                                                                                    you ask about local food critic jeremy iggers. iggers has done some great reviewing over the years, especially bringing little, cheaper, hole-in-the-wall type places to light for wider audiences. great stuff. he was reviewing for the rake's online mag for a while, left last year (i believe you can still google and check out some of his writings there), and is currently contributing to http://tcfoodies.ning.com/

                                                                                                    reality check: remember that houston is big and st. paul is very little by comparison. the "twin cities" phenomenon is quite weird, i could go on and on--but in short, it means that lots of local restaurateurs have chosen to open their doors in minneapolis rather than putting all the "eggs" (and cash/capital) in st. paul. st. paul has lots of places that are second or third locations (see alex roberts' brasa on grand ave) as a result. . . and minneapolis has more of the independent, chef-driven small bistros/neighborhood restaurants that msp is becoming known for. the best restaurants here might not *look* like what you might expect, coming from the nation's 5th largest city-- try to judge the *food* first, then the service, ambiance, the rest of the experience second, and please keep in mind the population difference in perspective-- houston has 2 million, st paul has not even 300k, and again, there is the "twin cities" phenomenon with mpls getting a disproportionate share of many of msp's cultural amenities, including restaurants.

                                                                                                    i don't know if any of this rehash is helpful to you at all, but if i were you i'd take a deep breath and go get a nice bowl of noodles at tanpopo in lowertown. don't put a lot of pressure on the meal, just enjoy good food at a real st. paul restaurant. if nothing else, the considerably lower tab (after pazzaluna etc) should prove refreshing! :

                                                                                                    )

                                                                                                    if you want to rethink your strategy, going forward, you can perhaps choose to skip the recs of your hotel concierge or bartender. look over the recs in this long thread instead-- they are all good ones! imo the "best" st. paul has to offer include heartland, strip club, meritage, brasa, ngon, other gems on university ave. a tour of second tier neighborhood bars/bistros would also be fun, there are sushi places, "old school" classic places like mancini's, the lex, moscow on the hill, w.a. frost. . . lots of good options. or, again, you can always come over to minneapolis, it's not far.

                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                      soupkitten,

                                                                                                      Very nice of you to write that. It is helpful. Also, you must realize, that at least the bot places provide writer's muse more than some place where my head is too busy scoffing in the trough.

                                                                                                      I think I was unlucky in not liking Meritage (and again, surely the chef gets a night off, and Sunday may be it) and probably thinking along the lines of "can't do worse just to wing it."

                                                                                                      Last night I could not remember if Kincaid's had made the cut. From 'casual" observance it looked quite nice. Hmmmm.

                                                                                                      Totally with you on Iggers and that's why I like him: his penchant not to keep hitting the mega-expensive joints.

                                                                                                      This may sound silly but I can't go for a bowl of noodles and call it dinner. Sounds crazy but while I will do that at home, I can't be ar*ed to schlepp out for that. Good as it undoubtedly is. I do like a :sittee down leisurely style of meal. I nearly went to Mancini's last night but reckoned the cab driver would not be impressed if I asked him to break a 100 (the abortive round trip to Maria Ave took care of my smaller change.)

                                                                                                      Moscow on the Hill also is of interest. As does Brasa. Ideally though a drive-less scenario would be more relaxing as i don't know my way around as well as I used to in . . . 1982.

                                                                                                      Hey, I will be here for a few months. There's time to find a place NOT requiring self-immolation :-) although as a Wagner fan, that's not the worst way to go.

                                                                                                      Also if I did find a place I liked I'd probably eat there nightly for 6 months, so at least this way I get to see a few more places.

                                                                                                      I found your note very well meant, and touching. thanks a lot for writing it!

                                                                                                      bishops

                                                                                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                        Downtown St. Paul at night. Without a car. Yowsa. That's got to be hard. You do have Bulldog and Brasa and Meritage. But if you're walking at night....truthfully there is not a lot. Do go to Candyland (in the day). for the cheese corn.

                                                                                                        1. re: jeanmt

                                                                                                          I have a car, just finding places in the neighborhoods in the dark can be tricky, parking, can't have too much to drink: blah blah. Will try the Bulldog Brasa parts of the equation though. I do have a few months to locate the place(s) that I like.

                                                                                                          I am contemplating reserving hotel in Minneapolis and reverse commuting to the work in St Paul: see if that works out better for grub.

                                                                                                        2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                          I am sorry you didn't get to Mancini's. They are a St. Paul favorite. They donate meals to our troops and support many charities. I am not sure if you would like it there based on your previous posts.
                                                                                                          I own a business in St Paul and the cab drivers have seen $100.00 bills before. Good luck

                                                                                                          1. re: otps

                                                                                                            Thanks, Mancini's is still on the agenda either tonight or soon. It's good to know they do good works like that as well.

                                                                                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                              Porterhouse in Little Canada has much better steaks for the dough even with the short taxi ride but go to Mancini's on a Karaoke night ( after 9) and eat at the bar. Its pure enjoyment and if a Wild game in town it can get pretty packed pre/post which makes for great people watching!

                                                                                                  2. Briefly noted: I spotted this as a possible breakfast nook (University, at Vandalia) and if it's any good at all it's probably that meal that shines. I had lunch. $7 and change for a cup of chicken noodle, a roast beef sandwich with potatoes and gravy, and apple pie. Can't beat the price. Shame the pot's were instant: hard to chow down those. The soup was wet and "OK" and apple pie quite tasty. Hey $7 I'm not complaining about anything. This will fill the belly for a song. Quite an eclectic little place and I will try their polish sausage and egg breakfast tomorrow I think.

                                                                                                    Bonnie's Cafe
                                                                                                    2160 University Ave W
                                                                                                    St Paul, MN 55114
                                                                                                    (651) 644-3393

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Bonnie's Cafe
                                                                                                    2160 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55114

                                                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                      *disclaimer* I'm 5th generation St. Paul so I apologize in advance if I get overwrought. I simply must comment though...ok deep breathh.

                                                                                                      Wow you ventured to University Ave. and ended up at Bonnie's?! It is as you say "ok". I think this was your most positive "review"? You can eat *much* better for $7 on University ave. but I get the feeling you're not much on basic, authentic (read stellar and transcendent) ethnic places given your touchstones; Chez Colette and Sherlock's Home. (CC had good food I guess but I only went there on a high school french class field trip and for my great aunt's 70th birthday brunch in 1981 and I think I had some bangers and waffle fries at SH in the early 90s)

                                                                                                      I could recommend lots of St. Paul places (as others have attempted) but I don't think any of them are what you're after..You kind of seem hellbent on going to mediocre/yucksville places so you can go.."oh this was so.. not.. good! . Ok, Mickey's is not a chain and it may be an "institution" but I only ate there once in like 1976 before the shrine circus with my dad. Mostly (I'm with soupkitten) I'd say get a photo of Mickey's, heck even do an oil pastel of the dang place but don't eat there. ..I don't know..by the way all cabdrivers can break a hundred and I don't really think Meritage is all that either (I've been twice and both times was mystified by the buzz..)

                                                                                                      I could go on (and on) but my husband says I have to stop. I have this rabid St. Paul loyalty that I can't seem to keep in check. I'm dying to steer you towards my favorites but I'm afraid my fair city has already been set up for failure somehow.

                                                                                                      1. re: cherrylime

                                                                                                        This is not so. If there's any intimation I am out to get St Paul it's rubbish. I only went to Bonnie's because it is near where I am working and looked 'quasi interesting'. Houston (where I live) is not a brilliant food scene and I have actually (warts and all) eaten better here in St Paul than in some while there. So I hope that's clear. Rabid loyalty (for the beer, not the food) is why I drove 50,000 miles to and from Sherlock's. So I would be indebted (and it would not be wasted on your part I assure you) if I could ask the favor of your recommendations. Thanks, bb

                                                                                                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                          Welcome back to the Midwest board. I concure with most of you reviews. You are hitting the nerves of some of the people on this board. They love there places and don't seem to understand that they are not good for other people. You are going to have an almost impossible time in St. Paul unless you like ethnic food.I don't know a city that has the variety of food available for such a small population. You will need to venture to the other side of the river to get the foods you are looking for. If you were at Bonnies(great breakfasts, most of the time the potatoes are real) it's only about 2.5 miles to Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery where I think you can get a taste of Sherlock's. I lived in St. Paul for 20 years before heading to the other side of the river. I find the food in Minneapolis , on the most part, to be superior to St. Pauls offerings.

                                                                                                          1. re: ibew292

                                                                                                            I agree with you about the mom and pop "ethnic" food being St. Paul's relative strength, especially if you expand your definition of "ethnic food" it to include tavern/bar food as I think tavern culture is alive and well in St. Paul.

                                                                                                            As far as whether bb is hitting people's nerves with his reports, it's not that people (for the most part in this thread) are defending their favorites as much as, at the level of dining of Meritage, that (and Heartland, and in the past at least, W.A. Frost, though I'm not sure what's up there lately.) are probably the best there is in St. Paul. If he wants to dine at that level and none of those spots are tripping his trigger, then, yes, there are definitely some more options in Minneapolis that he might be happy with. Definitely a lot more options in Minneapolis at the fine dining end of the scale. But, if he wants to stay in St. Paul, he doesn't have many more options for "fine dining". There's the Lexington and the St. Paul Hotel and Forepaughs, but those haven't been historically big favorites on this board, so, no one's really offering them up as recommendations.

                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              Find yours a quotable quote I split the thread into a taverns oriented one:

                                                                                                              Thanks for the idea.

                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/681141

                                                                                                          2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                            well, you certainly are a puzzle, BishopsBitter! i had to re-read your op to try to decipher more about your tastes. i agree with Cherrylime that bonnie's is an odd choice. okay, well after mickey's, key's and bonnie's it seems you're certainly a diner food fan. would you describe yourself as such? would you describe yourself as a meat&potatoes person at heart (i'm going off of kincaid's etc)? no judgment here, but it would help us to zero in on your ideal restaurants and rec them to you!

                                                                                                            as far as good lunch spots: if bonnie's on university is close to your work. . . you could go further on university toward minneapolis and the 280/94 interchange there. just before you hit this, you'll hit raymond ave. you can turn north on raymond. there is a liquor store on the corner, next to it another outpost of the key's chain, if you like, but next to *that* there is a tiny independent restaurant, jay's cafe. they serve sandwiches and blue plate type things, including a walleye plate; lunch and dinner, and breakfast on fridays and weekends. there is a pork hash you might like. don't order a pizza at this place, i remember them being small, misshapen, manhandled things that were quite a poor value for what they were, and the price charged. but the hot-food plates are good food and real ingredients--no dehydrated potatoes. this place will be changing ownership/going away soon, but you might want to check it out first. of course you could continue on university ave to the dinkytown area, not far away-- lots of good grub there if you wanted recs for dinkytown (any diner food fan in msp *must* go to al's breakfast in dinkytown at some point btw).

                                                                                                            but-- assuming you drove down university from the st. paul end of things, you must've gone past any number of good mom&pop east asian places on university, as well as, to your credit, some bad fast food and chain places. aaargh. so, okay, you're taking a pass on the noodles at tanpopo-- i don't *get* it, but it helps me to get a better bead on your preferences ;-P-- i'd still say you might really like little szechuan on university (your op says you enjoy cantonese). and given that you like "unpretentious" french food, there is a possibility you would like ngon vietnamese bistro very much. bear with me. the menu is french-influenced vietnamese, and you can eat meat and potatoes-type plates, including pork belly, venison, rabbit, etc, and avoid the noodles and broken rice, in favor of the delicious sweet potato fries, if you wish! :) as a beer connoisseur, you owe it to yourself to check out this place's fun all-local beer selection, really and truly!

                                                                                                            as far as dinner spots close to downtown st. paul: i think there is really a very good possibility you might really like mancini's steakhouse and/or strip club. strip club's much-touted grassfed steaks are great, but i'd actually tell you to ignore them on your first visit and concentrate on the good crafted cocktails and the other local meat/fish plates (at a lower price point) and appetizers on the menu. they get slammin' busy on the weekends (it is a very small place), but on the weeknights you can often score a table on the front edge of the balcony, where you can get a nice view from the bluff of downtown st. paul at night. very pretty and charming. gosh, i'm just wishing to have your feedback on either or both of these two dinner spots, because it would be so much easier to gauge whether you might enjoy other options in the same vein. good luck & happy dining.

                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                              Note to call ahead to Jay's Cafe: the place is being changed over to Caribe and I don't know when Jay's is shutting down, if it has not done so already.

                                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                Thanks for the clarification on Ngon" ~ that sounds much more enticing. Yes, as I posted, did go to Strip club although they were booked up (could have sat me at the bar in 30 min';s but the bar looked really crowded and cramped) and it is pretty tiny. A table for one will have to wait for a freezing rain event or some such. But the owner (I guessed) or whoever he was, could not have been more welcoming.

                                                                                                                I like the sound of the raymond Ave place although I am pressed for lunch.

                                                                                                                Tonight I have (like the old Gentleman in The Railway Children "Hopes, great hopes." (I have not flown home this weekend owing to one thing and another.)

                                                                                                                I am thinking Mancini's and I have edged around the dance floor enough and need to get acquainted..

                                                                                                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                  I'm not not not a fan of Jay's Cafe. I'm pretty excited to find out what it will be like in its new incarnation.

                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                    bb, was Russian Tea House around when you were in St. Paul last? They have a tiny menu, but the place is uber-friendly and has a lot of charm for what it is. They are open for lunch only, Tu-Fri and seem to be nearish to where you work (if you work near Bonnie's and Kim Huoy Chor)... which on University Ave in Midway...

                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                      Funny you should mention that. I just spotted it today, as I was driving past in daylight for a change. It does look charming!
                                                                                                                      bb

                                                                                                            2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                              Bonnie's Cafe

                                                                                                              Welcome back Bishopsbitterto and condolences on the shaky reentry. Bonnies lacks warm homemade gooey rolls or real anything 'cept the nasty linoleum and truck drivers who frequent this throw back establishment.
                                                                                                              Since we're on University Ave try Cafe' Bon Xai 1613 University ave. just west of Snelling/Univ sandwhiched between a hair salon and the Love Dr. or something like that. When they opened a ways back I was impressed with their Tuna salad ( sushi grade & wonderfully flash seared ( ohh so hard to find peeps that know how to flash well)) It was on my lunch-speed dial-pick up 3x a week.for awhile. When I returned recently they had taken it off the menu and when my face looked so disappointed the waiter said they could make it for me even though it wasn't on the menu and I wasn't disappointed. My friends were impressed with the fusion/eclectic choices of basil garlic lemongrass with shrimp. A mixture of sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms in a soy lemongrass sauce with risotto. I enjoyed the Pad thai noodle with chicken and for 14.00 I thought it was a reasonably priced (dinner). The coconut basil soup was also a hit.
                                                                                                              You can walk off your meal by trotting a few blocks down to the AX MAN supply and meandering through the aisles of miscellaneous brick bracks and oddities since you never know what will be on the shelves.
                                                                                                              Another hole-in -the wall further east on University is Vietnamese style Trieu Chau (500 University ave west) which is always packed. Few locals know of the place since it is so easy to miss and might of been a old Dairy Queen at one time. Not much on ambiance but great crab and asparagus soup, Pho, spicy ginger beef and the egg roll Vietnamese salad. Again the owner graciously adjusts the "heat" to your liking and I think EVERYONE should try this place. Its much better priced than Ngon with fresh ingredients, fast service although zero atmosphere except people devouring mounds of food.
                                                                                                              Hopefully this helped.

                                                                                                              1. re: plezmeplez

                                                                                                                Wow this thread is meandering all over the place (both literally and figuratively).

                                                                                                                Re: Bonnie's -- I like the joint, but it's not great food. VERY close to there, just down Cleveland Avenue is Trotter's Cafe, which is a good place for breakfast. Similarly, turn left at Bonnie's (Vandalia/Cretin), go about 1 mile, take a right across the bridge and you're at Longfellow Cafe. Good, reliable food for any of the three meals, as well as local beers (again, I'm not an expert, so can't speak to the quality).

                                                                                                                Past Bonnie's, just past the 280/University intersection, you can get some very good danishes and croissants for breakfast at Cupcake.

                                                                                                                1. re: MSPD

                                                                                                                  You guys actually have been all of you TRULY great. We have meandered more than the mighty Mississippi in the Delta but heck I am enjoying it. If Tavern culture is alive and well, I would like that. I will check out walleye and jug wine just as fervently (hence my escapade at Bonnie's which seems to have got a lot of people annoyed at me for stumbling into the place) as the high-end places. What I enjoy is either high or low or middle but GOOD on its own terms. And that includes service, the strength of the cocktails, the way they keep the beer, real potatoes, ixne on the easonedsay iesfrey etc. But I am not a high end or a low end guy. I am (I think) the sort of guy that defines chowhound. I chase ANYTHING that's good and am a FANATIC when I find some place I like. I will tend to eat there daily. But I just love talking about food and reading others talking about it. . After 6 months in St Paul this thread will have to be put on a separate server at chow headquarters :-)
                                                                                                                  Fond wishes to all who have kindly chipped in with loads of great advice.
                                                                                                                  bishopsbitter (I loved Sherlock's so much I bought the company er . . . I mean renamed myself after their flagship cask ale. All today's posts are great and thanks again.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MSPD

                                                                                                                    Is Longfellow the one on Lake across the Miss? Can't quite tell from your directions? thank you. I am going to set out for that one for breakfast and see how we go.
                                                                                                                    bb

                                                                                                                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                      Yes. And just a bit further down is Craftsman, which gets a lot of pub on here.

                                                                                                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                        I liked this place. I had their breakfast burrito which at first I thought (when it arrived) had been a mistake. But cutting into it was another matter. The puleld pork, potatoes, beans and cheese (and what all else) had been well calculated in ratio an quantity and even though it was a bit in the Man Vs. Food size category I could easily have snarfed the lt (but didn't).

                                                                                                                        I suppose it's (?) their trademark but I did not find the face flannels at all appealing as napkins. But that was the only off touch for me. Good service; the people seemed to care whether it was enjoyable for me; frequent coffee refills. Nothing wrong with this picture.

                                                                                                                        I also had a ride around the old neighborhoods and (I could be dreaming but I don't think so) it looks like the site of an old favorite of mine (Napoleon's French Bakery [whose French bread really was worth the name] where I went for croissants and pain-au-chocolat in 1982 (!!) i now inhabited by Heartland.

                                                                                                                        in an even MORE bizarre twist, in d/t Minneapolis it appears what used to be a dirty bookshop and video store (Broadway's) is now an elegant looking d'Amico Kitchen~an interesting change of facility indeed!

                                                                                                                        I feel I am getting my sea legs back under the layout of the Cities at least. I am toying with spinning off a separate thread about "St. Paul's lively tavern culture" because I have not located those said taverns as yet.

                                                                                                                        Thanks again for reading.

                                                                                                                        bb

                                                                                                                        Longfellow Grill - 2990 W River Pkwy Minneapolis, MN

                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                        Longfellow Grill
                                                                                                                        2990 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                                                                                                                2. I seem to have used the phrase "have to kill yourself" rather extensively of late, well . . . I have to tell you: I have finally died . . . and gone to heaven!!!!

                                                                                                                  [Cue Alleluia Chorus]

                                                                                                                  Mancini's Char House has restored my faith in a) meat, b) herring, and c) the possibility that mankind MAY persist on this planet beyond next Wednesday.

                                                                                                                  Now for starters, as soon as I plopped down and within a microsecond a nice-looking salad appeared on my table, I realized I have been here once before. 15 years ago at least, but I have been here. The salad had not changed, thank God. It still looked appetizing and gloriously unKincaidish.

                                                                                                                  What an operation. I had to park at the extreme "long term parking" area which suggested some sort of mega long wait to be undertaken. But no, I stagger up to the hostess and announce "table for one?" and she waves to a table 'this one OK?' The whole process again took such minute periods of time that scientific measurement tools are probably required.

                                                                                                                  Then the waitress (there was NO waitress substitution this evening NATURALLY) who was an eager-to-please but no dummy type, and highly friendly, very efficient, and overall what you want.

                                                                                                                  I order: sirloin (rare) and herring and crackers (I love herring to die for: here's the death allegory again :-) )

                                                                                                                  The opening salad (tomatoes, pickles, peppers) is good. I mean it's not brilliant, but REALLY good compared to events of late. Then she brings some garlic bread. Again, this is fine stuff once sprinkled with salt. Then the herring.

                                                                                                                  The herring is not in cream sauce (which is how I like it) but I did find myself dunking it into the blue cheese salad dressing.

                                                                                                                  Cue: music from Carousel "Then at last come the STEAK: [boom boom] grilled to perfection, and like a red in-got". The sirloin (I remember this from last time: I must have ordered it then) is cut into a shape like an ingot of gold, except it blood rare and oozing red juices.

                                                                                                                  What a lovely-cooked piece of meat this was.

                                                                                                                  Now comes the high point of the whole meal. I had just ingested a mouthful of beef. The dear young thing of a waitress was about to say "is everything OK" to which my inevitable response would have been "choke, hhmmm, verrry ncie thhnkkk youu". But she deduced this was a bad moment for asking, and came back a couple of minutes later when I was not in the throes of "chewus delicti".

                                                                                                                  That alone was worth the whole meal. and indeed (ref my comments about Kincaids) I detected that none of the owners or staff had any disdainful feelings towards the punters who were making their business a thriving one.

                                                                                                                  What a bloody refreshing change. I think even Mr Mancini himself may have asked how things were going, and I thought that again (ref Meritage) was a nice gesture to a clear stranger.

                                                                                                                  The steak went down extremely easily and well. I enjoyed a long g&t and then switched (at the waitress's suggestion) to the shorter version. A glass of vino: fine.

                                                                                                                  Best of all this meal was $60 including tip (which was a generous one). The tab was less than $50.

                                                                                                                  My answer to the waitress (btw) was "I have died and gone to heaven."

                                                                                                                  Mancini's will be on my roster these next few months.

                                                                                                                  I think the only negative is the pacing. Its so nice, you want it to last. But this (essentially like the Oyster Bar at Grand central: and nothing wrong with that place either) is not a place where you are going to spend more than an hour unless you have a time machine. They hustle things long, but it appears not be in the name of turning tables, but in the name of getting hungry people fed. A big difference that,

                                                                                                                  As had been said, the people watching was grand. Mind you: this is an older crowd. Everyone seemed my age (50+ or within 10 years minus or much older. I saw one gentleman from the time when an evening out required a shirt 7 tie. He was the only one. What a shame some things change.

                                                                                                                  I didn't really see the "next generation" of Mancinians. they are probably killing themselves at kincaid's I suppose.

                                                                                                                  So to all those who accuse me of never finding anything to like and being someone who just likes to complain about everything . . . . this, I think, is a RAVE.

                                                                                                                  And well deserved. Bravo Mancini's Char House.

                                                                                                                  Thanks for reading.

                                                                                                                  bb

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  Mancinis Char House
                                                                                                                  531 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                    Carb freak that I am, I really love their toast. :) I'm glad you found something to love in St. Paul.

                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                      ah, so happy you and mancini's found each other! the suspense was killing me! :)

                                                                                                                      it's not the best *steak* in msp (see ongoing steak threads), but mancini's is one of msp's *great restaurants,* oh yes. every diner is treated so well.

                                                                                                                      thanks for the great review of this st. paul classic. one for the books for sure!

                                                                                                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                        So happy you liked Mancini's, TDQ mentioned the toast, did you try it?
                                                                                                                        If you want extend your visit, go to the bar side and relax with the locals after dinner.

                                                                                                                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                          Mancini's is a classic...glad you tried it. I've had uneven experiences with their steak, but the rest of the experience (salad, relish tray, garlic toast, etc) is always good. I went there for my birthday a few years back and Pat Mancini brought out a cake (with candles) at the end of the meal. Things like that make me return again and again.

                                                                                                                          1. re: BigE

                                                                                                                            That is so sweet, about the cake.

                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                          2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                            A revisit here last night sort of put this place back in the betting. When it was packed on the first visit things were great. Last night on a slow night things fell apart rather. Mainly a poor waitress I suppose who didn't seem that interested in making the thing a success. It's funny, some places just are at their best when packed and vibrant, and I suppose this is one of them. I was underwhelmed last night and sort of take back a bit of the unbridled praise I had above. Last night I felt motions were being gone through, although the same Mr Mancini (I assume) stopped by and asked how things were. A nice gesture, but I'll have to have a trip back a third time and decide if this belongs on the roster or no. The steak was still good although I'd consider mine medium-rare when I asked for rare. I don't know: an off night is all I can say. I'll try it again some time and see which was the aberration.
                                                                                                                            bb

                                                                                                                          3. I thought by now it was understood that the French are not rude, except if people waltz into restaurants at 5pm annunciating "meat loaf sandwich" very loudly.

                                                                                                                            I rarely lose my temper, but if some global calamity happens such that St Peter Street in St Paul is the only thoroughfare left in the world, and global pandemic is threatening the planet, I still will not ever darken its doorways again.

                                                                                                                            Tonight I went there (having noted several empty tables) and the [rather annoying] host [did I mention, rather annoying host] I can see weighs me up as not of the caliber of clientele he (in his infinite, although maybe somewhat less than infinite) wisdom seeks to encourage in his hallowed halls of Meritage and directs me to the bar. "That's your best bet." He seems chagrined that I don't immediately accept this mandate. I evaluate the bar" there are 4 seats. Two are taken. And the other two are clearly where the waiters get drinks. So if I sat there the entire meal will be people passing drinks over my shoulder. "Return to the 'esteemed' host" How long for a table? "For you sir, 2000 million years."
                                                                                                                            Well **** you! And I left, and if I had severe gangrene and they had the only saw to saw my own leg off, I would pass. What an appalling enterprise. They irritate one of the (probably) few punters that night that would know what cassoulet in Toulouse actually tastes like (which is what I would have had, in a previous life, that no longer exists)!
                                                                                                                            Appalling, appalling, appalling.
                                                                                                                            Never again will the Hamm Building and I cross paths.
                                                                                                                            Urgh. Urgh. Urgh. Has anyone else run afoul of this heinous and ugly attitude? I assure you I am an ideal customer. I know my food. I tip well. But that's clearly not enough for those in charge here. And I wish them ANYTHING BUT well.
                                                                                                                            bb

                                                                                                                            Meritage - St. Paul - 410 Saint Peter Street (Hamm Building) St. Paul, MN

                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                            Meritage - St. Paul
                                                                                                                            410 Saint Peter Street (Hamm Building), St. Paul, MN 55102

                                                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                              As I reread this I just want to clarify that: Yes, they may have been booked and the empty tables reserved~~that I can fully understand and accept, but the problem was the supercilious attitude which was displayed throughout by this guy. And someone I took to be the owner was standing nearby and therefore must have agreed at this manner of treating a prospective customer. When I first brassed up I said to the host "Good evening." And was not replied to. I was not rude at any point but I VERY NEARLY said "the customary response is to say "good evening" in return, and I didn't finish my opening thought about French rudeness: the French have a lot of catch up to do to match this fellow and I can't imagine why people would put up with that, even if the food is any good, either in France or d/t St. Paul.

                                                                                                                              So annoy-ing. Contrast The Strip Club where the owner gave me his business card and was very "very sorry" he could not accommodate me tonight owing to a busy booking. "Please call me when you are coming again and we'll take care of you."

                                                                                                                              Now that is running a restaurant.

                                                                                                                              In fact I'll take it a step further. I won't even walk past the place, I'll cross the street via the ice rink rather than do that.

                                                                                                                              Jeez, I discover I am still annoyed this a.m. so it was not an undigested piece of cheese, Incidentally on my abortive foray to a) find, and b) evaluate the bar seating I noted a pretty uninteresting cheese board.

                                                                                                                              OK enough. Recalling all this is giving me gangrene as we speak.

                                                                                                                              Thanks for reading

                                                                                                                              bb

                                                                                                                              1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                Jfood has been to Meritage several times and finds this summary of events to unbelievable to accept and believe. He has been treated warmly, welcomed with open arms by both the chef-owner and his wife. Even after the server made a allergy-related event, the empathy and caring expressed were overwhelming.

                                                                                                                                Sorry, but there is more to this story.

                                                                                                                                Have fun on your quest for something in SP.

                                                                                                                                There is more to this story than written here.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                  Obviously I can only speak to my own experience and those of many who I have sent to Meritage on my recommendation. However, because of that, I also cannot imagine this occurring. The Kleins' investment in welcoming patrons to their restaurant has always been abundantly evident in my experience, insofar as Chef Klein regularly visiting our table to check on things, even with a buzzing restaurant.

                                                                                                                                  This story reminds me of your writeup about Heartland jfood, and others I've read about The Strip Club -- just so incredibly out of character that it's virtually unfathomable.

                                                                                                                                  Bishops...I'm really sad and disappointed you had a miserable experience, especially at a restaurant I love so much.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: MSPD

                                                                                                                                    Well it's true. The tall young guy host with long black hair (you will know him, or perhaps he's new on the job?) did not return my friendly "Good Evening" greeting. He stiffed me by not so doing. I know it's impossible perhaps to know for sure, but I don't fabricate lies. I received treatment was shoddy, a lot worse, but not a lot warmer than the first time. I can't help thinking the message they seemed to be sending was "Out of town, solo diner, not-a-friend-in-the-world loser." Something like that. It was take this appalling seat at the bar or leave it - and then they just ignored me. I'm sorry but there isn't any more to it. If this isn't a clique-ey (if you are "in" then you are embraced, if you are "out" "the bar's over there, see if you can squeeze in between the dishrag and the dirty glasses) restaurant then I really must be losing it. Notice I didn't say everyone was being treated in this manner: only me. A stranger, dining alone. With a funny accent perhaps. Who knows. It's academic for as I say I will make large detours not to cross their portals ever again. I mean (in a fairly decent way) I was giving them a second go at my wallet and the benefit of the doubt by going back anyhow after not enjoying Round 1.
                                                                                                                                    Thanks for reading and sorry if you think I would publish fantasy reports. It's not in me DNA so to do.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                      OK maybe he did not hear you and this is not grounds, in jfood''s POV for anything other than give it a try. And what were they to do if there were no tables?

                                                                                                                                      And the last point is that jfood has been there as a solo twice, so your "Out of town, solo diner, not-a-friend-in-the-world loser" is simply untrue, in jfood's experience. They did not know jfood from Adam but welcomed him with open arms as they did every other patron. So jfood will stand by his experience and you by yours. C'est la vie.

                                                                                                                                      BTW - You should have seated at the bar for the Cassoulet. You knew not what you missed.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                        Maybe he didn't. Well then why didn't he greet me with his own greeting of Good Evening or whatever himself then? He just stared at me (and not in a friendly or welcoming way) and it was up to me to allow his snub of non speech by pressing on even though he owed me some verbal etiquette (even if he had not heard me, he knew he had been spoken to, and that demands the courtesy of a response, even if it's only "sorry I didn't hear what you said"). Look this is pointless "j", I agree. C'est la vie indeed. But since I do believe that you received GOOD treatment and are not lying about your experience or obfuscating what you experienced, why the intimation that I am just making stuff up?

                                                                                                                                        Twas the cassoulet I had my eye on particularly because of my love for the Toulouse area and they (this impressed me) implied it was of that classic style.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                          Jfood never thought made it up but there is a pattern. Not being there only you know your perceptions and you reported them here as we all have. But it appears that the mis-treatment (in your eyes) is pervasive at SP restaurants and that is somewhat head-scratching. Minnesota Nice is usually what jfood experiences.

                                                                                                                                          Just a thought, and not being snarky, could it be your appearance? Not that many would say that is appropriate, but a pattern normally has a trigger. Just a thought Double-B to consider, not a comment.

                                                                                                                                          Hope your night after the Vikings win is better. Should be a hoot in town.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                            I don't know j. I am fairly mainstream looking. But I am foreign. I remember back in my time in St Paul a fellow I worked with used to have a few drinks and then start getting "into" The British. "We KICKED your ass outta here!" Maybe it's 'cos I'm British. Maybe it's because I seem to come from the South. I don't know. I don't think it's my physical appearance for it's not (so far as I would tell) noteworthy or "undesirable" in any way.

                                                                                                                                            Glad the Vikings won. I am (after a lot of years) gradually warming to American football.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                            My husband and I frequently experience diner profiling that results in us being seated next to the kitchen or waiters' station, waiting a long time for the waiter to grace us with his/her presence, receiving cold food, etc. We're young, my husband has a lengthy and rather unruly goatee, and we don't typically dress up. The hosts are correct in deciding that we're not going to drop a lot of money; we usually order tap water, skip the appetizers, pick mid-range entrees, and skip dessert. But it's still really frustrating to get crappy service based on that.

                                                                                                                                            However, we have never experienced this at Meritage. I think we've been there three times, and all three times the service has been great from beginning to end. The chef hasn't visited our table or anything like that, but the hosts and waiters have been attentive and friendly. And the food has been amazing.

                                                                                                                                            Bishops, it kind of sounds like you're expecting to be profiled as an "Out of town, solo diner, not-a-friend-in-the-world loser" and then interpreting every bit of evidence to fit your expectation.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                          I suspect what people are finding hard to believe is the "not in 200 million years" comment (or whatever the exact quote was). You put this phrase in quotation marks, which suggests that that was precisely what was said, out loud, to you. If that's not what actually happened, you might clarify that bit. You returned from the bar and asked how long a table would be? And the response was?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mtullius

                                                                                                                                            Mtullius, sorry it was in quotes but the quotes indicated what I knew he was actually wanted to say, not what he actually said [sorry I thought that was clear] "which was "No!"" (not "sorry, no" but) "No!" The Million years comment was editorializing but it was clear that was the timescale involved. Likewise of course I did not say "**** you" but that's what I was thinking also.

                                                                                                                                            It was an unhappy event in Minnesota "nice" but no-one seems to knwo this host. he may be a new guy, who's irritating all and sundry. But if someone chips in and says he's really nice and lovely fella then yeah he must just not like Brit's (overweight Brit's) or whatever combination.

                                                                                                                                            No room at the inn for you tonight

                                                                                                                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                              bb, I'm sorry you've now had two bad experiences at Meritage. Maybe it's just not for you, and that's okay! Not every place is for every one. Thank you for clarifying that the remark you had put in quotes wasn't an exact quote, but just how you felt. I was also pretty confused when I read your post, thinking that's what he'd actually said to you. I will say all of my experiences at Meritage I've found the service almost obsequious. I do think the chef-owner takes a great deal of pride in his restaurant. (Funnily enough, before Meritage, Chef Russell Klein was at W.A. Frost).

                                                                                                                                              I was also in downtown St. Paul last night and it was pretty zany for 2 reasons: 1) Brad Paisley was performing at the XCel Center (Paisley is apparently a big deal in country music circles) and 2) the St. Paul winter carnival is gearing up.

                                                                                                                                              My guess is that the host was being as honest and realistic as he could be when he recommended you dine at the bar. And, frankly, I think of Meritage as a place I'd want to make reservations at ANY Friday or Saturday evening.

                                                                                                                                              Be forewarned that downtown St. Paul is going to be pretty busy for the next couple of weeks, due to Winter Carnival. http://www.winter-carnival.com/ Also, you might want to keep your eye on the Wild hockey schedule while you're in town. Downtown restaurants are packed with hockey fans before and after game whenever the wild is in town. http://www.xcelenergycenter.com/event...

                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                              1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                Sorry, but seriously, I don't buy this story for one second. My experience at Meritage to date, based on several visits, is that the hosts are practically fawning. I am a native--and quite frankly, I would rather enjoy the view of my wing tips over having to converse to the person at the stand about my dinner plans. I would warn my fellow diners that they should be aware of over-friendlniness, rather than rudeness.

                                                                                                                                  2. Having almost had to kill myself (ref: Meritage) I decamped downtown for this place.

                                                                                                                                    Let me say first, there were some good things, but it's not for olde bishops bitter. For a start the lighting level. My mother was always one who would freak out and never eat in any restaurant where you were uncertain if you were eating a pig's snout or a donkey's dingus. I understand mood lighting, but this place was TOO DIM . . . unspeakably so. For a start, although my eyesight is not bad at all, I could no more read the wine list or the fine print of the menu items than I could headline as Ethel Merman in a revival of Gypsy! It's embarrassing to have to take the winelist to the standing lamp outside the restroom in order to make a selection. as I say I am not blind!! (indeed I am a licensed pilot) but this while maybe an allusion to gentle candles on Vietnamese verandas of old was truly "murky."

                                                                                                                                    The space was interesting. Again, sort of "Old Saigon" concept I guess. Nothing wrong with that. Clearly no hard liquor: beer & wine. I noted the beer engine people had mentioned, but had had enough beer disappointments for one day. A bottle of Cotes du Luberon was ordered. I ordered the cured salmon and the braised lamb.

                                                                                                                                    The salmon came and was a sort of "composee" with (again I am deconstructing the ingredients as best I can as I could not read the small print beneath the menu item name) a cilantro dressing and rice "croquettes" I guess.

                                                                                                                                    Now let me say: the tastes were not awful, but they were not my taste. The salmon had been cured with some asian spice, perhaps 5-spice. The croquettes were quite nice. But I am not (at heart) a "fusion" kind of man, and this is fusion par excellence.

                                                                                                                                    No knife is offered and it seems like the waitress thinks it infra for me to request one.

                                                                                                                                    When the lamb arrives I see why: what a curious thing. The same sort of "lamb composee" look. a mound of lamb, noodle, cress-like veggie and that's about it. Some very hum-ho bread (hello! isn't this Vietnam here!?) and butter arrived, and I could not help thinking "so how could I have applied butter to bread WITHOUT a knife anyhow?")

                                                                                                                                    The lamb was OK. As I say the flovors throughout were not horrible. But this is not the sort of food I warm to. I would (in truth) have been better off with the big bowl of noodles.

                                                                                                                                    There was some interesting people watching: the next table had interest. The bartender and his (quite attractive!) wife or girlfriend. He seemed like a shoe-in for the asian villain in the next James Bond film set in Saigon. .

                                                                                                                                    We had interchangeable waitress/waiter syndrome. Very disheartening. And again (I am going to start rating restaurants purely on this criterion) there was clear "disdain" from the waiters and waitresses towards their customers, whose tips make them a living! You can't MAKE IT UP!

                                                                                                                                    I might actually come back here for a bowl of noodles but I must say $30 as the entry point for a bottle of wine is crazy. Proximity to Summit Avenue must make their pricing model "ambitious."

                                                                                                                                    There was taste in this food but as a "dining experience" I can't enthuse. The dimness after a while becomes oppressive. I never thought I would find myself agreeing with my mother (may she rest in peace) but she had a point about never eating in a place where you can't see the food. I don't know if it's the memory of her discomfort it evokes, or that she was100% right on the money, but I think the latter.

                                                                                                                                    Thanks for reading but Ngon Ngon Gone.

                                                                                                                                    bb

                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                    Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
                                                                                                                                    799 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                      I meant to add last night: on the way home the siren song of 6 White Castles (this was not :filling: fayre) at Rice and University was extremely strong, but I resisted.

                                                                                                                                      Today I have scribbled fried "Walleye" on a piece of paper. But am a little shell-shocked after last night. I am going to review the writeups of neighborhood taverns and hope for the best.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                        I forgot to mention the "braised lamb" and the cured salmon were essentially identical in presentation (which was not pleasing aesthetically). The lamb was like a stir fry really (and I did eat it with chopsticks in the end, but I still find it hard to butter bread with chopsticks, call me klutzy if you will) with slivers of meat (plenty of meat) combined with the noodles and such. I must say I had been expecting a piece of braised lamb on a plate not a stir-fry composed mound.

                                                                                                                                        Anyway, you can't win 'em all. Thanks for reading.

                                                                                                                                        bb

                                                                                                                                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                          I liked the duck confit when I went to Ngon, though you are right that their bread is "hum-ho". Your experience with their presentation sounds odd, as my experience with Ngon gave me the feeling it is a place that strives to have impressive presentation of their dishes, especially considering they use high quality ingredients throughout the menu. A lot of the pork-based dishes sounded oustanding too.

                                                                                                                                          Also, did you order any beer? I recall feeling pretty pleased (and figured you would too) about the variety of local beers offered.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: air

                                                                                                                                            I enjoy beer by itself, but not often with food. So went with the wine which was a drinkable Luberon.

                                                                                                                                        2. Have you gone to the Lexington yet? I've skimmed the recent posts and haven't seen it mentioned. It will be much better than Kincaids. (which isn't a challenge)

                                                                                                                                          Sorry to hear about your troubles at Mertiage.

                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                                                                            Funny you should say that. That was of course there in my day [early 80's] living in town (and from the outside, it hasn't changed one bit). I happened to drive past it yesterday and thought I would try it some time soon. And likewise I thought "hmmm that wasn't mentioned by anyone I don't think" which may intimate bad news about it or just it's a place easy to take for granted as included. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                              I mentioned the Lex in the context of high end dining places in St. Paul that no one's recommending because they aren't particular board favorites... (the others I mentioned in the same in the same breath were St. Paul Hotel and Forepaugh's.) I've never been to the Lex, so can't comment, except to say that it seems to be me that bb is leaning more towards the traditional places than the shiny new ones.

                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                In 1982 this place looked intimidatingly expensive and I never ventured there in those days.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                  Give it a shot. They have no issues with special orders/instructions and have a bar with tables. Nothing earth shattering - but solid steaks and service.
                                                                                                                                                  Menu should be online.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                                                                                    Having never been to the Lexington, I have the feeling that it will be exactly the kind of place that bb would like, based on what he's liked so far. :).

                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                          2. I have not 'ceased from mental fight' nor has my sword slept in my hand, but checking out the next on the list has been put on hold for a horrible cold and sore throat that would render all ventures a pointless excercise. come to think of it maybe that's why Little Szechuan's pork innards tasted so darned good last night: no they really were tasty and squeaky clean and good. I'll be back at the dark satanic mills soon enough, in the meantime its Gordon's and McDonald's in the hotel room. If I can rally it's Strip Club tomorrow night.

                                                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                wow! this is cool. I wish I lived in their delivery area! Course, I live in the delivery area for Teahouse 2 so I guess I can't complain...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: turtlebella

                                                                                                                                                  Let's trade! I'd much rather be in the delivery range for Teahouse II. Oh well.

                                                                                                                                                  Kim Huoy Chor is hit or miss, but if you're home sick and aren't in a hurry to get anywhere, KHC isn't a bad choice. It's not the best pho you've ever had, but it might be the best delivery pho you've ever had. :).

                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                    Oh, I'm *so* not trading!!! :) It does sound nice to have pho delivered when you are not feeling so well though. That's exactly was I was thinking. Maybe cos I'm feeling under the weather at the moment.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                For the love of God...McD's and garbage?!?! If you have a cold, head a few blocks over to Tanpopo and have a bowl of Nabeyaki Udon. Only 10 bucks for crissakes and it'll make you feel a hell of a lot better than that fast food crap, which is probably just as far to get to.

                                                                                                                                                You just might need a whack upside the head with that "sword" man.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MSPD

                                                                                                                                                    Clearly a pho pas on my part. Ordering some in tonight and hoping for miracle cure. Throat and palate completely inoperational for all intents & purposes. Also spotted a Vietnamese BBQ and roast duck place (left work early sick) in the daylight I had not spotted on University. A freshly hacked duck = happiness for me.
                                                                                                                                                    bb

                                                                                                                                                1. Apologies to all for a truly lackluster week of chowing thanks to a chest cold from hell which has had me confined to the hotel room 4 out of 5 mights this week watching Netflix on the laptop, accompanied by an assortment of unedifying delivery. Now the pho from Kim Huoy Chor did effect some temporary relief and was quite nice. But apart from that, nothing outstanding otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                  I hope to be back to fighting fitness when I return to the TC's in a couple of days and hope next week's reports will have something TO bloody REPORT!

                                                                                                                                                  At least I saved some dosh this week, but missed having new experiences to chow about.

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks again for all recommendations (and on the tavern spawned thread). All much appreciated I assure you.

                                                                                                                                                  1. A second breakfast here this morning. This time tried (at waitress's suggestion, although I was contemplating it anyhow) the walleye and shrimp "fish cakes" (can remember what they called them exactly) topped with poached eggs.

                                                                                                                                                    Fish for breakfast I have always enjoyed. These came and were quite nice looking, I had hollandaise on the side although I guess it usually comes with it applied over) and not bad tasting. I did find the fish mixture needed salt badly though. Just a touch more of seasoning would have helped the fish flavor come through. the poached eggs were quite well cooked, if just a tad hard. But still a bit of runny yolk happening.

                                                                                                                                                    Clearly they are trying to drum up breakfast (weekday breakfast) business with a buy 4 get a 5th free Breakfast Club. I suppose the food is such that it's not an in and out type of place so business was quite slow.

                                                                                                                                                    I really like the eager-to-please attitude everyone has. It does appear that they care if you come back again or no. I like that.

                                                                                                                                                    I still don't like the face flannel napkins, but can live with them.

                                                                                                                                                    I actually preferred my first choice (breakfast burrito) over the walleye and shrimp fish cakes. But the cakes were not horrible by any means.

                                                                                                                                                    bb

                                                                                                                                                    Longfellow Grill - 2990 W River Pkwy Minneapolis, MN

                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                    Longfellow Grill
                                                                                                                                                    2990 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                                                                                                                                                    1. Visited Moscow On the Hill - 371 Selby Ave Saint Paul, MN

                                                                                                                                                      At first I thought the place was closed but they have an entire wing that was dark, but were indeed open.

                                                                                                                                                      I started off with the blini and (salmon: times are hard) caviar.

                                                                                                                                                      I really liked it. The blini were delicate and perfectly done. The caviar nice and savory to the tongue. Wish I had a lass with which to share a bottles of champers, but there we go.

                                                                                                                                                      Not so much success with the lamb kebabs. Not their fault. Lamb as dished up on the Steppes bears no relationship to American lamb., I would personally like to strangle the American Lamb Industry for forwarding a product which is bred to remove the distateful "lamb" taste from lamb. I love that taste, and so do Russian I am sure. A real shame. If the proprietor were to replace american with New Zealand Lamb this dish would be magical and wonderful.
                                                                                                                                                      The service was OK from young Cossacks. I quite liked it and the price was OK but the entry-level red wine was pretty forgettable, but then many of them are.
                                                                                                                                                      I loved the bar with its stupendous selection of wodkas.
                                                                                                                                                      Shame about the lamb. Nice salmon roe.
                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for reading.
                                                                                                                                                      bb

                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                      Moscow On the Hill
                                                                                                                                                      371 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                                                                                                                      1. The Strip Club - 378 Maria Ave Saint Paul, MN

                                                                                                                                                        I have been laid up for almost a week with bronchial cold from hell, but tonight's dinner at this place really wowed me in a way not in any way related to eating (but not tasting) plastic food for a week or so.

                                                                                                                                                        It all comes back to manias. Where else have I found a place with its own in-house "tonic" for gin & tonic? Answer: nowhere. I tried this concoction. At first I thought "bloody hell" it's flat and horrible. But then came an incredibly aromatic hit from their secret elixir. I felt I was drinking (this was aided by the thick glass receptacle) some 1909 drug store concoction destined to make me leap with joy, and so it was the case. This drink grew on me. Like a very alcoholic lemonade stand drink, with huge herbal overtones.

                                                                                                                                                        So I ordered. The foie gras and duck rillettes. It came in a ramekin with a (rather peculiar (and sadly warm) piece of bread. But to hell with the bread, the rillettes were fan-bloody-tastic. And nicely seasoned too.

                                                                                                                                                        Then on to venison osso buco. This came very prettily presented, and tasted goo-oo-ood. There was a bit of a hint of cinnamon I could have lived without but otherwise this little piece of meat was really tasty.

                                                                                                                                                        All the while I was being attended in a most efficient and friendly fashion by a waiter who remembered when I had come on an abortive mission a few weeks ago.

                                                                                                                                                        I had some wine (a Syrah from Washington State) which was good. To end with I opted for an espresso and grappa. The grappa was truly excellent. I left feeling as though i had just staggered out of my favorite restaurant in the Toulouse area having been pressed by the restaurants Madame to have a "petit digestif pour le monsieur."

                                                                                                                                                        I have to say that I enjoyed this meal.

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for reading.

                                                                                                                                                        bb

                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                        The Strip Club
                                                                                                                                                        378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                          I am glad to hear you enjoyed Strip Club Meat and Fish. It is one of my favorite places in the Twin Cities for a combined experience of food, drink and service. I think their braised meats are among their best dishes. I have not had the venison osso buco, but it sounds awesome. It is on the actual menu right now or was it a nightly special?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LauraB

                                                                                                                                                            It was on the menu. And you are right this was expertly cooked and just to the right degree as were the accompanying beans and bits & pieces.

                                                                                                                                                            The rillettes with some good bread (sorry but what hot-n-steamy-sqwooshy variety they provided was not great) could have been a total masterpiece. It was very good.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Takeout from here was delivered quickly but was only fair I thought. The "volcanic" spicing was sort of only vaguely moderate and everything was OK which is better than not. Would not chase it down again but wasn't horrible either.

                                                                                                                                                          I have temporarily decamped to D/T Minneapolis for this coming week owing to lack of hotel in St Paul. So may have the other side of the fence reports to pen.

                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                          Sawatdee
                                                                                                                                                          486 Robert St N, Saint Paul, MN 55101

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                            Somehow, it seemed inevitable that you would wind up at Sawatdee. I think "vaguely moderate" sums up that chain rather nicely.

                                                                                                                                                          2. I think the most impressive thing I found about this place was the prices on their menu: they were definitely impressive. A porterhouse steak, no matter how well-aged, or well-cooked at $50 (or close enough) just seems a step too far.

                                                                                                                                                            As a single diner I sat at the bar, with an assortment of couples all of whom seemed far more interested in the people they were texting on their individual pda's than their 'dates.' If anyone I am having a dinner date with (chance would be a fine thing) used a pda in my presence I would at best leave, and at worst clock them. the world really has changed for the worse, but I digress.

                                                                                                                                                            Again, considering the vast prices, and commensurate tip in the offing, the bartender seemed about as interested in earning said tip as he was in an alternative career as a Bolivian unicyclist.

                                                                                                                                                            I started with a dozen oysters which were rather sorry but one or two of the dozen had an occasional oyster orgasm lurking but most were rather bland and again at $20 not unheard of but tippy price.

                                                                                                                                                            So the steak arrives. It certainly does. On a plate bu itself. The bartender has neglected to inform me that it comes with no accompaniment at all. so it looks rather (and I feel rather) stupid. "Oh I shoulda probably told you . . " "yep, probably shoulda". So a few chips are ordered.

                                                                                                                                                            Steak is good, no doubt about it. Properly cooked to the letter. Great quality meat.

                                                                                                                                                            I was washing it down with g&t's which were strong and no complaint.

                                                                                                                                                            I had been here once before and remembered (this at a table and with a larger group) that the balance between service, food and perceived value seemed much more in the acceptable column. I remember a really good waiter and feeling at the end like it had been a worthwhile splurge. Last night I felt it wasn't.

                                                                                                                                                            I had also waited 1 hour waiting for seating at Ruth's Chris (a chain yes, but not one I have ever frequented and it happened to be next door to the hotel) but the perils of the solo diner, I had to leave unseated, although there was quite good people watching (especially a nice selection of ladies dress shoes) in the lobby. My only complaint was that I had asked the Maitre'd that if wait would be significant I'd come back another time. He said "I'll see what I can do" but upon a revisit with him 50 minutes later he only said "it didn't work out."

                                                                                                                                                            I felt Minneapolis a bit alien. I guess at heart I am a St Paulite even after all these years.

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for reading.

                                                                                                                                                            bb

                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                            Manny's Steakhouse
                                                                                                                                                            825 Marquette Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                              FWIW - you can also order off the Manny's menu in the Living Room bar at the W hotel (thru the big green doors) which gives you a less steakhouse vibe, and sometimes better bar service.....or maybe just a different room

                                                                                                                                                              Manny's lost their head bartender to BLG when they opened.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                                                                                                I could not work out the "green door" :-) Lost their bartender to BLG? BLG being?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                                  BLG = Bar a Grassa...probably another place you won't like though. Just a head's up.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I was attracted driving by by the fetching "eat here!" sign-age. Hmmmm. This place should come with health warning: "Do not enter here unless you want to write your own order ticket,schlepp said ticket up front and pay, PRE-TIP!!! for service NOT received, pump your own coffee and wait for geological amounts of time (typically mountain ranges erupt and erode and ice ages come and go faster!) for your food.

                                                                                                                                                              What a nightmare. The pre-paying is a wise idea otherwise the punters would leave in droves as I was not the only one who waited 30 minutes PLUS for a humble short order of eggs and bacon. It's always a bad sign when you can skim read three give-away periodicals prior to any food showing up.

                                                                                                                                                              I really really REALLY did not like this place. The food which looked quite good from afar, also was not good once you got your choppers around it. The coffee was good though.

                                                                                                                                                              I am not a "rush rush rush" person but for breakfast and given the amount of clients the kitchen were like some sort of parody of a short-order operation. Come on! Eggs and bacon just ain't a 45 minute production!!!

                                                                                                                                                              And yet one senses a clientele who roll with it even like it. No understandez.

                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for reading,

                                                                                                                                                              bb

                                                                                                                                                              p.s. at least true to the name and concept, but surely that was meant to be a pun on reality of the experience?

                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                              Bad Waitress Coffee Shop
                                                                                                                                                              2 E 26th St, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                                                                                                                                                              1. Got some food to go from here. As has been observed elsewhere the food is not bad here but the general service seems a bit 'strange.' I asked for a gin and tonic after placing the take-out and there ensued quite a discussion as though I had ordered Peruvian Aardvark liqueur mixed with cranapple jelly. When I tried to explain that gin and tonic was not obscure but actually probably one of the most common mixed drinks in the world another guy was consulted and a g&t (not terrible) was eventually produced. But "slick" and "relaxing" the process was not.

                                                                                                                                                                Eventually I got my order, walked home and discovered zero rice or naan. I called and they sent a guy with some but again, unwanted: unrelaxing.

                                                                                                                                                                A positive thing is that they took you at your word. Spicy means spicy here: a refreshing change to feel sweat on the top of my head.

                                                                                                                                                                Their lamb vindaloo was otherwise only fair as the potatoes were way underdone. Their samosas are huge, and quite nice.

                                                                                                                                                                All in all though the entire experience was not such that one wants to leap back in for more.

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for reading.

                                                                                                                                                                bb

                                                                                                                                                                Bombay Bistro Marquette Ave Minneapolis

                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                Bombay Bistro
                                                                                                                                                                820 Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                                                                                                                                                1. This thread is not dead as I am still in St Paul thru June and still have plenty of good recommendations to try. I have been on hiatus brought about by fiscal reality but have been sniping at a few places here and there.

                                                                                                                                                                  Temporarily in Minneapolis again I escaped St Patrick's mayhem at Solera. Price was quite good, but I found their cava a bit too basic. One notch up would have been nicer. The Spanish salami and cheese tapas were quite 'ok' but actually seemed a bit lacking in vibrant taste (the meat) and rather frugally portioned (the cheese).

                                                                                                                                                                  Can't say I'll rush back, but wasn't awful either.

                                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                                  Solera
                                                                                                                                                                  900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Village Wok (SE Washington Ave) continues to impress. They can make a humble pork fried rice that reminds one how good this simple concoction can be. I always like their squid too.
                                                                                                                                                                    The service (especially for take-out) is smooth on the ordering but chaotic on the pickup. It may be the time (5pm) when students are all ordering or some such. That's a shame as otherwise I'd be here more often for take-out.

                                                                                                                                                                    I liked this place 15 years ago, and I still like it. I have their deep-fried walleye in ginger sauce on my radar.

                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                    Village Wok
                                                                                                                                                                    610 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                                                                                                                                                    1. This thread will not die :-)

                                                                                                                                                                      I am still commuting between Texas and MSP.

                                                                                                                                                                      to wit: on a recent flight I sat next to an interesting gent (I thought to myself) and when he asked me about time difference between MSP and IAH I determined he was French. The Monday following we bumped into each other again and conversation ensued and it turned out he was Vincent, owner of Vincent A Restaurant. A Frenchman originally from Cahors.

                                                                                                                                                                      I decided to check out his place.

                                                                                                                                                                      I must say it started off quite funnily. Embarrassed at having a very early reservation (6:30) we walked around the block to kill time thinking we'd be the first there. When we did arrive the place was stonking full of folks so no worries there(!!)

                                                                                                                                                                      Nice room, and comfortable (something sometimes forgotten) in all the higher end places. Clearly an ultra well-heeled crowd.

                                                                                                                                                                      Menu seemed svelte and tasty. the tasting menu ($72) was tempting but decided on a la carte.

                                                                                                                                                                      Appetizers of escargots and scallops. The former, really good although perhaps a little short on salt. Nice though. My scallops good although the sauce was not 100% to my personal taste, although very nice.

                                                                                                                                                                      We had spotted and ordered the (white and green) asparagus as a breather course. this was a weird one. The sliveriest slivers of asparagus plus other greens was all it was. I have to say it was a bit of a misleading dish that. We even asked the waitress who rolled her eyes and said 'I get this all the time' which begs the question why don't they rename it something suggestive of what it actually is. I was envisioning white spears and getting quite excited at the thought.

                                                                                                                                                                      Mains were the lamb and the beef tenderloin. The lamb was OK but (this seems to be a trend these days) it was slivered up as well. I always prefer to cut my own meat. My beef was OK in this regard and very tasty. clearly prime stuff. The lamb I wish had been New Zealand or European style. The American lamb seems to have zero taste, relatively speaking.

                                                                                                                                                                      All was going well. The Cahors wine (Cuvee Vincent) was excellent and pretty good price too. We ordered cheese and asked them to hold the orange marmalade (!), nuts, Lego bricks, Toyota gas pedals, and whatever else came with it. this is not Monsieur Vincent's fault. American tastes will have forced his hand , , , but the cheese itself was absolutely standout superlative boffo holy ****! great! Lovely lovely LOVELY cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                      Dessert was ordered the '3 Creams'. Little portions of brulee and chocolate creme and so on. Lovely. Then (although he had not been spotted by me) a second dessert of gelato showed up courtesy of M Vincent. Very nice. A couple of grappas . . .. and call it a meal. also call it $275 (somehow costs mounted up!) plus a $50 tip. So it was not a budget meal.

                                                                                                                                                                      I had read that it was 4 star for a 3 star price but I think 4 for 4 is my review.

                                                                                                                                                                      I liked M Vincent and I liked his restaurant. there are several 'on a budget' / money-saving things they do there so it might be possible to enjoy the great food without breaking the bank quite as much as we did for two.

                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for reading and this was a pleasure.

                                                                                                                                                                      bb

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                                                                                                                                                                      Vincent A Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                      1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Made it to Day by Day for breakfast today. I didn't think it was going to be my cuppa (upon entering no-one pointed me to where I needed to go, or pointed out the various options like the very nice patio) but in the end it wasn't a horrible breakfast experience. I guess I must have been here sometime in the dim and distant as the book collection seemed familiar "Best Short Plays of 1970" and other classics. There is a case for a toast wallah as it seems crisp toast is just a distant memory in the US these days. I would kill to dip CRISPY toast into a fried egg yolk sometime again before I die.

                                                                                                                                                                        I wasn't expecting to enjoy the (lowercase) bradstreet crafthouse but I did. I will be returning for another fresh fruit gimlet some time soon. They are truly delicious. I was less successful with the "customized' Negroni which was just a bad choice for my taste. I think for what they serve their prices are VERY reasonable not sure if I was there Happy Hour or no. Very dim surrounds are questionable as you cant appreciate the beautiful color element of the cocktails. Only downside, well, along with the combination of young and beautiful people and old, rich, and not-so-beautiful alcoholic crowd demographic. Warmed to the older bartender who had that streak of mania essential to the food service industry.

                                                                                                                                                                        Dinner at the Radisson Plaza was not great Their lamb BBQ were tolerable, but little more. I mentioned to them the delights of Owensboro Kentucky (compare and contrast). The walleye which was sworn to be from far northern MN waters was blah at best. A real disappointment both in terms of portion, presentation and taste. That said, prices not too terrible and (drinks at least) service not too horrible.

                                                                                                                                                                        bradstreet craftshouse restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                        601 1st Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55403
                                                                                                                                                                        Tel: 612.312.1821

                                                                                                                                                                        The Day by Day Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                        477 W. 7th St.
                                                                                                                                                                        St. Paul, MN 55102
                                                                                                                                                                        651-227-0654

                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.firelakerestaurant.com/

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. I would be remiss in these annals to not mention Kowloon Restaurant (935 Washington Ave SE) which has supplied me quite acceptable and sometimes exceptional offerings. They deliver quickly and when the delights (overrated after 6 months) of solitary restaurant dining pale they have meant I can relax with not hideous food in my room. They do have a semi-authentic menu section (not getting into maws and tripe and things but duck feet hot pot is there) as well. Their actual location has hellacious parking so I suggest delivery is money well spent (the tip I mean). Seriously Kowloon have greatly improved the quality of life for me during my sojourn which is likely to continue some while longer.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Just a brief update.

                                                                                                                                                                            Staying over in town decided to breakfast at Fat Nat's in New Hope over the weekend. Sat & Sun.

                                                                                                                                                                            Just shows you one should always visit a place twice before a writeup. On Saturday it was great. Really excellently cooked eggs (over easy not meaning over uncooked as so often these days) and great corned beef hash. Just really good. And good bacon plus toast which almost (almost!) had an edge of crispiness to it: almost. But at least there was real butter to use on it.

                                                                                                                                                                            Good people-watching Saturday and the price was as cheap as I remember a breakfast being in the TC's lately (about $12 + tip). Coffee was also good quality.

                                                                                                                                                                            So good that I revisited early today (Sunday) and what a disappointment. Over easy eggs WERE over uncooked. The toast was limp and pre-slathered with goop-o-pretendo-butt. The bacon sad for itself. The tomato juice truly untasty. And worst of all ghastly ghastly highlly inappropriate young-folks' rock station from hell blaring. Presumably for the staffs' pleasure is all I can fathom as I am sure the 60-70 year old guys who stumbled in after me were not enjoying it either. The complete stellar opposite. life is 'zo' often deezappointing, the Cabaret Emcee was so right.

                                                                                                                                                                            I told the young lady taking the money that the food was Ok but the music 'rather avant garde for my tastes' but said young person either didn't know what the hell I was going on about . . . or (more likely) didn't care.

                                                                                                                                                                            At 6:15 on a Sunday morning I could not risk more exposure to the hell guitars from hell Boyz and yet had I written this on Saturday I would have been urging you to get thee thither to Fat Nat's.


                                                                                                                                                                            Fat Nat's
                                                                                                                                                                            3540 Winnetka Ave N
                                                                                                                                                                            New Hope, MN 55427
                                                                                                                                                                            Phone: (763) 540-0234

                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                                              Among the newcomers, I would add Geordies 454 Bistro at 454 Fairview, just north of Randolph. It's in the old Blondies space and they have reconfigured the small space very nicely. The menu is balanced nicely between seafood and meat. All of the ingredients tasted very fresh and well-prepared - which isn't easy when it comes to crabcakes in the Midwest in my experience. Those who ate the bleu cheese raved about it and I thought my steak was one of the better ones I've had in the last year or so anywhere. Portions are not overwhelming, so you can enjoy the sorbets or the flourless chocolate cake (not innovative, but well done).

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: teamkitty

                                                                                                                                                                                Is it lunch and dinner or just dinner? Kind of formal?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                  Lunch and dinner, though I haven't had lunch there yet. Not hyperformal, but not a cut-offs place, either. There is a patio open in the summer, and it might be more informal. Note that they close between 3:00 and 5:00 for dinner prep, so if you want a late lunch, you might be out of luck.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: teamkitty

                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks,
                                                                                                                                                                                  I had spotted a Geordies Bistro (I thought on Snelling) but it must be an expansion or move I suppose.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes - Snelling.... (haven't been, just a location PSA)

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Snelling Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                    638 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Finally made it to the St. Paul legend.

                                                                                                                                                                                I liked the interior although (as has been noted) parking is not too swift.

                                                                                                                                                                                Anyway, ordered a regular 'special' and the thing took a long while to cook. (This was take out.) At least 30 minutes. So it's definitely a case of call ahead I think. That said, the bartender was congenial company and apart from some flat Schweppes, a nice strong g&t (or three) helped pass the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                I noted others' pies and I must say the rustic almost primeval look of it was appetizing and refreshing. Charred edges with an upthrust of cheese less cooked towards the center. My own pie was just like that and I ahve to say that I really enjoyed it. Quality ingredients show and everything was cooked through and 'just so.'

                                                                                                                                                                                On balance (by a short head) i still prefer Mama's offering over on Rice but this I can certainly see is pizza done well for the long haul. I also heard that Red himself (aged 85) still mans his post daily at least during the daytime. Always a good sign.

                                                                                                                                                                                Red's Savoy Pizza - 421 7th St E Saint Paul, MN

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                                                                                                                                                                                Red's Savoy Pizza
                                                                                                                                                                                421 7th St E, Saint Paul, MN 55101

                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                                                  just wanted to say thanks for continuing to update us on all the food/places you're getting to. outside perspective on the local pizza is always good to have :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Interestingly the bartender was from the Detroit general area and we talked Detroit pie quite a bit. I love Detroit pizza: the rectangular brick but large, not small bitey-size as per here.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I am slowly (very slowly) working my way through the places people pointed me towards, as well as discovering new ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I will revisit Red's for sure. His pie had an 'afterglow' rare with pizza. IN other words I could eat it again today, whereas usually I fancy something else.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Just a word of warning: this place is dire. Hot and sour soup from hell (like something you'd find in the bottom of a broken dishwasher, in both appearance AND taste (there was no taste).
                                                                                                                                                                                  The other dish . . . just awful. I dipped my finger in the soup (even that a rash health hazard) and one finger lick and the whole lot got thrown away. There's bad and then there's inedible. This was the latter. And besides the H7S soup was a total ripoff in price for the portion, not that I exactly wanted more.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Someone posted they thought they might have possibly contracted an STD here (quite how from food I am not sure) but I tell you avoid avoid avoid AVOID at all costs. Ghastly place.
                                                                                                                                                                                  bb

                                                                                                                                                                                  Gold Fountain Chinese Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                  2575 Fairview Ave N Ste 1, Saint Paul, MN 55113

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Gold Fountain Chinese Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                  2575 Fairview Ave N Ste 1, Saint Paul, MN 55113

                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                                                    hey BB, still in town! i've uh, never heard of this place-- are they for real on that name? wow. the "suite" makes it sound like a saint paul skyway restaurant though, which i *do* try to avoid unless it's been strongly rec-ed, because of the high probability of suckiness. thanks for the heads up on the inedible ghastly food of this golden showers place, though ;-P

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, still here for "Year 2".
                                                                                                                                                                                      No this just happens to be right next door to the hotel I am in this week. I tell ya, when I saw that STD comment (before I went) I nearly blew it off. Wish I had.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for taking one for the team and reporting back. Next time, head to Big Bowl or another Rosedale chain monstrosity - they're not great, but at least the food is edible. Better yet, brave the cold and drive down to On's Thai Kitchen at Snelling and University - only 15 minutes away and infinitely better food.

                                                                                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/754654

                                                                                                                                                                                      Best wishes for good eating,
                                                                                                                                                                                      Anne

                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                      Big Bowl
                                                                                                                                                                                      3669 Galleria, Minneapolis, MN 55435

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Had the lunch buffet. Really quite nice. The space with the music nook and all is relaxing. The buffet price (I think 10.99) was easy to bear and even with an Indian beer and tip $20 covered a very good (value and quality) meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I tend to agree with those who say each dish seems to be individually and characteristically unique in its spicing which is refreshing as sometimes buffets do seem to be spawned from the same master sauce at some stage.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I enjoyed the "spicy apple chat" and especially with pakoras and the coriander/onion and tamarind sauces. (As is so often the case the impact of these flavors makes one crave a continuation of them in main courses which rarely happens). Naan was fine, if unexpectional and with the characteristic buffet naan problem of being cut into too small portions to be used as nature intended to eat with the curry, instead it has to be treated like a biscuit. But of course the wastage if they handed out whole breads would be colossal.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Moving down the line I tried the tandoori chicken which I found "ok" but not exceptional. Ditto a quite spicy chicken curry. I liked the "beef aloo" as the sauce there was very flavorful and dark. The dal . . . nice. The rices I did not try nor the desserts.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Service (even in so far as topped off water INCLUDING ice) was pretty spotty at the tables but I noticed the buffet was constantly preened and tended to be in good order for the next customer. I like to see that at buffets.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Once again I observed the phenomenon which drives me crazy (just for personal and poutish reasons) of young men with 20" waists piling more rice and naan and carbs in general onto a plate than seems possible and polishing it off, then going back with a new plate to repeat the process with another teetering mound of it. HOW DO THEY WEIGH 120lbs??!! It's Sooooooooooooo unfair. If I look at a scoop of rice I gain 800lbs. I see this at indian buffets all the time. Oh well, we'll have to leave that to the philosophers and metabolic experts.

                                                                                                                                                                                      My overall feeling here: excellent food (variety, quality and taste) for the price. Service, not great but in a buffet what do you expect? Surrounds: nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, I'd go back. even the parking doesn't seem too much of a problem but perhaps that's only on the cusp of the Memorial Weekend evacuation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Gandhi Mahal
                                                                                                                                                                                      3009 27th Ave South, Minneapolis, MN