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Restaurants everyone loves--except you

Fans of the Manhattan board will recognize this right away. I've enjoyed reading THAT thread for about two years now and it still attracts posts. What say we have a go in MSP? I don't mean for this to be a thread to skewer well meaning restauranteurs, just to draw attention to my own taste befuddlement. Or yours..

For me it's La Grolla. A few years ago I thought it was THE answer. I really enjoyed it. Now? Cant stand it. Yet it's packed every weekend, especially in the summer. It just seems to have gone flat for me and I can no longer develop an interest.

Love to know your hang-ups.

HuaGung

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  1. Easy answer for me: Alma. I realize that many here swoon at the mere sound of Alex Roberts's name, but my experiences there have been perfectly adequate. Nothing bad, but also nothing that makes me go running back there. I can name several other places where I've had meals as good if not better.

    There are also a few other board faves that I've found to fall flat (at least for me): The cocktails at my one meal at the Strip Club were good, but the food didn't do much for me. I've also had perfectly adequate (but not extraordinary) meals at Meritage but I give them the benefit of the doubt because I've only eaten lunch there. I'd be game for going back for dinner.

    5 Replies
    1. re: bob s

      Alma is mine as well. My meals there were just OK, but were priced as if they were going to be outstanding.

      1. re: Jordan

        I have to agree with the two assessments above. Maybe I haven't gone enough but my experiences were "perfectly adequate" as well. I actually enjoy eating at Brasa more.

      2. re: bob s

        I can say ditto. Alma was outstanding 4 years ago... Now its good.

        1. re: bob s

          Agree wholeheartedly on the Alma selection. Went with another couple and found both the food and service to be insipid. Given the reviews, I thought we'd be treated to an extraordinary meal and found that it was fare that was unmemorable in the preparation and service that was haphazard at best. In fact, I distinctly remember we were so disappointed with our meal that we opted to skip dessert there and head out somewhere else.

          1. re: spahkee

            Interesting take on Alma. I enjoyed my experience there and had some stellar food but there are definitely other places in town I'd go to first given the option.

        2. I'll jump in with Meritage. I've had dinner there three times. One was outstanding, one was OK and one was dreadful. This is not a condemnation of the restaurant though, the dreadful meal I had was cassoulet which has had rave reviews on this board. My palet is just not well suited for cassoulet and maybe even the cooking style there.

          4 Replies
          1. re: qajohn

            Several come to mind.

            Hell's Kitchen. Now, in HK's defense, I've only been there for lunch and 1 breakfast ... I thought their pear/ham sandwich was fine, not great...their other sandwiches seem like sandwiches I can get anywhere and their breakfast choices (except for a few items) are not noteworthy to me...on a weekend, I never think to go there for breakfast/brunch - I'm thinking Bon Vie, etc.

            I seem to like Mirror of Korea over King's. Most people disagree with this. Even a co-worker (we're both Korean) disagree on it. So, I guess, to each of us, it's a matter of taste. I thought King's was overpriced, we only got end pieces of squid that were really tough, and I don't think the variety of ban chan are near as many or tasty as MOK.

            1. re: snoboardbabe77

              Red stag - would not eat there again even if it were free, sorry

                1. re: cookkevin

                  +1

                  I agree.

                  Horrible dining experience there last spring. Food OK. Service was atrocious.

            2. Al Vento. People seem to love this place, even if only as a treasured neighborhood place. I've only been once and cannot bring myself to try it again (and as it's no where near my house it's not like there's three million other places I could go instead). Good appetizers. Terrible pasta dish, the tomato-based sauce somehow managed to be over-salted and insipid at the same time. Possibly the worst tiramisu I've ever had- it was grainy. ick! Have heard that the secundi piatti are very good but unfortunately we didn't know that before we went.

              I generally dislike most TC Italian places, including La Grolla, Al Vento, etc, as being half a step above the Olive Garden. Half a step is not enough for me!

              2 Replies
              1. re: turtlebella

                I didn't like Al Vento either-too salty. I have been to Craftsman three times, and have not had a good experience there at all-although others say it is the best restaurant EVER.

                1. re: turtlebella

                  I have to agree on Al Vento. All my co-workers love it and I've gone 2 - 3 times. It's edible, but not a place I would take my wife voluntarily.

                  -----
                  Al Vento
                  5001 34th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                  1. re: Foureyes137

                    Citizen Cafe - I only live a block away and have been there more than 6 times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; have never had a note-worthy meal.

                    1. re: Foureyes137

                      Agree. Strip Club small plates were good and inventive. The steaks? A slab of grisly meat and some unpeeled, dirty tasting carrots? Not even good, much less great.

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

                    2. Fun!

                      Cecil's Deli. I would give a month's salary to press the button that blows that place to a cloud of vapor.

                      Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club. Maybe just a week's salary.

                      Murray's and Mancini's.

                      Oceanaire.

                      21 Replies
                      1. re: MSPD

                        WOW - MSPD, I just hope Im not in any of them on the wrong day.

                        1. re: cookkevin

                          Yikes...guess that didn't come out right.

                          I was thinking in the style of how they have contests or raffle the job of pushing the button to destroy Vegas casinos and old stadiums, not some sort of terrorist act.

                          While I'm at it, I'll also throw in Smashburger and Tavern on Grand. (BOOM! Dust. Applause.)

                          1. re: MSPD

                            Ditto Smashburger. (Does it count if I'm so unimpressed I won't even try it once?)

                            1. re: Enso

                              Smashburger is pretty nasty....I can't believe people pay for it.

                            2. re: MSPD

                              Thank you...I absolutely can't stand Tavern on Grand. Horrible service.

                              What's with the Cecil's hate? I think it's worth going in just for the fresh bread smell.

                              1. re: gryffindor249

                                Anyone who is familiar with the typical New York deli just doesn't see Cecil's the same way Midwesterners do.

                                1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                                  I think that's an excellent way to put it.

                                  1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                                    It's all about perspective, though. We don't have the Mexican food scene that LA or Chicago do, but we can still enjoy what we have.

                                    I'm not expert on the subject...my NY deli experience is limited to Carnegie deli. While I agree that we don't have anything on that level, Cecil's is our best alternative.

                                  2. re: gryffindor249

                                    Having now been to a real NYC deli (Katz's - amazing!), I get why people looking for that might be disappointed. It's definitely not the same thing. That said, for what it is in MSP - I still think it's pretty darn good. In fact, I got my Monte Cohen on just the other day. :)

                                    1. re: Seige

                                      And while it may not be a real NYC deli, it's closer than anything in my new location of ABQ. I had someone try and argue that the deli counter at the supermarket counted when I commented on the lack of delis here.

                                      1. re: Terrieltr

                                        I would trade the NYC deli experience for the rest of my life if I lived in ABQ and could regularly eat at La Hacienda in Old Town again. ;)

                              2. re: MSPD

                                The 5-8 Tavern in Maplewood... thumbs down.

                                The Blue Door Pub had way better food and a much better staff than either 5-8 or Matt's. While those two keep feuding over who made the original or who has the best "Juicy Lucy," I'll be eating Jucy Blucys.

                                1. re: MSPD

                                  ROFL-What has created that level of disdain for Cecil's. I've never been there.

                                  1. re: MayrMN

                                    Well, first off, the food sucks and even visually, the front grocery area/glass cases are a sob-inducing disgrace. Enhanced by my intense passion for appetizing, and the foods of my youth (Jewish and eastern European), their bastardization/half-assed approach to that entire genre of cuisine infuriates me. So much potential, absolutely zero capitalizing on it. Whenever someone asks if we have a Jewish deli in MSP, the first place people mention is Cecil's (and then they dive into raves about the reuben....barf). It makes me want to scream and smash my head through my computer monitor.

                                    Google or do a Flickr search for, or better yet VISIT (if you want a life-changing experience) Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Or Barney Greengrass. Look at the photos.

                                    Cecil's. UGH. I drove by there last night and all I could do was open the car window, scowl, and shake my fist.

                                    1. re: MSPD

                                      I have to agree MSPD on the food sucking at Cecil's. I have had two of the worst breakfasts there. Their corned beef hash is dry and tasteless. Their bagels have a strange chemical flavor and the coffee tasted burnt on the day I was there, even from a fresh pot.

                                      That said their caraway rye bread is very good and I do go there for corned beef, pastrami, and smoked brisket (which they haven't had for a while), sliced at the deli counter. Granted their display case is totally uninspired.

                                      1. re: MSPD

                                        Awww... this makes me sad. I thought after our mutual adoration of Puffy Cream we'd have more in common, MSPD. ;)

                                        I really like Cecil's (and Tavern on Grand for that matter - only for the walleye though, everything else is sort of meh to me) - the Monte Cohen, krinkle fries, and chocolate shake can't be beat. For instance, my parents/family live in rural ND and when they come to visit they LOVE to go to Cecil's for yes - a reuben. So much so, that when we visit my parents, we have to stop at Cecil's before we leave for corned beef and russian rye to bring to them. That said, I've not frequented a lot of delis in my lifetime (and neither have they) and I've never been to NYC, so it's all about perspective, right? Cecil's may be a bastardiation to you, but it's still better than what my parents can get at home. I'd be interested in knowing what you think is the best deli - Jewish or otherwise - in MSP, since Cecil's clearly isn't it for you.

                                        Oh and I will caveat this to say that it's not like my parents are easily impressed by food here just because they're from rural ND and being in MSP is the "big city." My dad is German Russian and I've tried for years to find borscht here somewhere that will make him happy. I've been completely unsuccessful in that venture so far whether it be Cecil's, Moscow on the Hill, or wherever. No one does it "right" - which for him means there's nothing as good as my Grandmother made.

                                        1. re: Seige

                                          Don't fret Seige...I'm using over-the-top hyperbole. Don't take me literally. ;-)

                                          Plus, your last sentence speaks volumes. I'll never admit to a place getting matzo ball soup "right" because I grew up on my Grandmother's version. When I became an adult, I asked her what the secret was...her response: "Buy a box of Manischewitz and follow the instructions". Different lenses.

                                          You ask about the best deli -- honestly, nothing in MSP satisfies me in the least. That's why I'll drive to Milwaukee when I want a great corned beef sandwich:

                                          http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/Milwau...

                                          If I want smoked/cured fishes or other appetizing foods, I'll wait until a special occasion and order from Barney Greengrass or Russ & Daughters in NYC.

                                          I'll satisfy my jones with a Common Roots bagel with lox, cream cheese and capers. Or I'll cook stuff at home. After years of trips to Cecil's, Fishman's, Mort's, Pastrami Jack's, Louie's Habit, Brothers and any other place that claims to have anything to do with Jewish deli, I gave up.

                                          As for borscht (which my mom made for me last night), next time they're in town, take them to Russian Tea Room on University. Maybe the borscht won't be perfect, but the atmosphere will score points, and the couple that run it are so incredibly gracious and earnest in their desire to share their heritage (both foods and otherwise), I would think it would be a hit. I once got into a long conversation with them about pysanky (the fancy Easter eggs which I sometimes like to attempt) and I ended up going, on their recommendation, clear up to Roseville to a great Ukrainian store that had all kinds of supplies.

                                        2. re: MSPD

                                          The only two items I *really* like form Cecils are the cole slaw and the potato salad. I'll take those to go thank you (on my way over to Big Daddy's for some BBQ).

                                          I'll eat there once in a great while, but I agree, not the best food or presentation there of. On the other hand, I can't complain since know what I'm getting (in as much as price, quality, quantity) so I can't get upset - I go in with eyes wide open.

                                      2. re: MSPD

                                        MSPD, Do you really dislike the food at Matt's and 5-8 or do you just dislike people's obsession with them?

                                        I've been to Cecil's once and enjoyed my Pastrami sandwich, but I don't think I've ever had Pastrami I don't like and I've never experienced a "real" deli.

                                        Mancini's is not exciting (do you want steak or steak?), but that grilled bread is damn good.

                                        1. re: fdizzle

                                          I don't like the food at Matt's. It's not that I dislike people's obsession with them, I just can't relate to it. Beyond that, if I was from out-of-town and asked for recommendations for a "unique experience", I would be sorely disappointed if someone sent me there. I tend to hear that recommendation a lot (both here and offline).

                                          But that's just my opinion. To each their own.

                                          1. re: MSPD

                                            I get your point about it not being a great place to send an out of towner, but what specifically do you dislike about the food? I went to Val's in St Cloud (loved it, btw) based on your recommendation and Matt's and Val's are not the same thing but I would think most people who like Val's would like Matt's. I get that Val's is all about the experience with the ordering and the closet size and everything. Is it because the Nook is just that much better? Not trying to debate, just trying to understand your viewpoint since your recommendations on chowhound are usually good.

                                          1. I've soured on Punch Pizza (at least the Cleveland Avenue location) lately. Toppings are criminally shy of the outer edge by an average of 2-3 inches (and I've eaten Neapolitan style pizza in Naples).

                                            I'll also add Corner Table. Merely average.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Brad Ballinger

                                              Punch Pizza
                                              Keys Cafe
                                              Barrio
                                              Sea Salt

                                              1. re: Brad Ballinger

                                                Punch Pizza
                                                We had huge expectations from recommendations and reviews. Give me a Minnesota style pie any day.

                                                1. re: Hankdad1

                                                  Ditto Punch Pizza. Blech!

                                                  -----
                                                  Punch Pizza
                                                  3226 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55416

                                              2. Masa. For me contemporary mexican can be a revalation. However, this place leaves me sorrowly disappointed.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: KyleThomas

                                                  Masa is a waste of time/money. No offense but its bland "mexican" food for güeros :)

                                                2. The Strip Club. I've been told I just don't get it. *shrug*

                                                  1. The Strip Club. Although I had a really grrrrreat Caesar salad there once, everything else has left me underwhelmed.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: diesel

                                                      Back in March of "09 I wrote about my less than stellar experience at The Strip Club. I am happy to see that others feel the same way about the place. Once was enough. Also in that catagory for me are Cheeky Monkey, Ikes and Burger Jones.

                                                      1. re: leeniebeanie

                                                        I think the MAJORITY sentiment on Burger Jone's is that people hate it.

                                                        1. re: Foureyes137

                                                          Hate would be too strong a word for me regarding Burger Jones. It was OK, but it didn't WOW me, so I won't go out of my way to go back there. There are other much better burger options closer to my standard territory.

                                                          1. re: qajohn

                                                            Again, too underwhelmed by reports and reviews to even go there once myself.

                                                    2. Agree on La Grolla, cute space with a great patio. Extremely mediocre food and terrible service. There are enough great patios and fantastic Italian places in town, how do they stay in business?
                                                      Stella's, again prime Uptown location with a great rooftop deck, but terrible seafood quaility and service, yet it is packed to the gills all the time. Maybe if you build a nice patio the customers just show up?

                                                      1. 112
                                                        Craftsman
                                                        Strip Club

                                                        I should try Craftsman and Strip Club again - Its been awhile. But this will be their last chance!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                          Craftsman. Always merely okay, one time really a bummer. But I want to like it because of their philosophy, drat.

                                                          1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                            My 4th is Lucrat. We refer to it as LuCrap in our house. Food lousy etc etc

                                                            I cringe when people mention it.

                                                          2. I have to go with Shuang Cheng in Dinkytown. Lived in the area for 4 years, and never really understood why it was so popular.

                                                            I'd also like to add any place that is a chain restaurant in Dinkytown/Stadium Village. It's criminal to watch Chipotle/Qdoba get swamped for lunch when Burrito Loco is just steps away and much better in my opinion. Same goes for any of the chain pizza places when Duffy's and Mesa are right there.

                                                            This one is probably only because I'm still in my 20's, but Chino-Latino's popularity blows my mind. A good portion of people in their early 20's do their birthdays there for some reason. It is over-priced, both food and drinks, and I've never had anything there that really impressed me. Evidently if you serve a drink in a pineapple, it doesn't really matter what else you do.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: diearzte2

                                                              That Chino-Latino's menu includes cuisine from all 4 corners of the globe. I was there one time--just had drinks. I didn't eat anything because I never ever trust a place with that big of a menu. How far can we spread the mediocrity? And also, I wasn't hungry. That's a place to be seen though. A lot of hot chicks.

                                                            2. Azia - Terrible location for an over priced asian place (Quang, Pings, Jasmine 26, Pho Tao Bay, ect). The food is fine, but I always leave thinking about the menagerie of delicious left overs I could be bringing home from Quang. Prices are way too high for me for what you get.

                                                              Solera, love the rooftop movies, again, too expensive. Spent 50 dollars plus tip here for dinner for two with no drinks and left hungry. That should not happen. Almost swung by Wendy´s on the way home.

                                                              I don`t have any problems with expenisve, by the way, if there's a good reason for it.

                                                              Buca
                                                              Chino Latino
                                                              Culvers.

                                                              1. I'll add another vote for Craftsman. I want to love it, but I've had two very disappointing dinners there. I keep thinking maybe the brunch is better, but I haven't made my way over there for it.

                                                                  1. Oh, forgot, Common Roots. Ugh.

                                                                    1. Any Darden restaurant (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Capital Grille). There's so much better for so much less almost anywhere there's a Darden resto. I. Don't. Get. It.

                                                                      And no love here for Mancini's, either. OK, it's a nice piece of meat. But the perfunctory baked potato and soggy salad completely undo the experience for me. Reminds me of any Best Steak House you can name, but with more of a club/lounge atmosphere.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                                                                        Mancini's is a steak place. The other stuff is there to appease people who think you need other stuff next to the meat. And half the point of Mancini's is that you half expect Al Capone to saunter in for a ribeye.

                                                                        1. re: shadowfax

                                                                          Agreed. Mancinis is all about the steak and the surroundings. I'll take a Mancini's steak over one from the Strip Club, and at least Mancini's comes with a potato and at half the price!

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

                                                                      2. I have to agree with Shuang Cheng. I'm always too worried about a chunk of the ceiling falling down and bopping me on the head to enjoy my meal. Oh, and I will throw in Turtle Bread too. I bought an apple pie there once that was awful and I was also disappointed with the quiche.

                                                                        1. The whole Parasole family (Chino Latino, Salut, et al) although have yet to check out Il Gatto. But in general, Parasole's food leaves me underwhelmed and over spent.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: mplsean

                                                                            Salut has the worst service unless you look rich. My friends and I are willing to pay for our food and tip at least 20%, but not when we are ignored in favor of the rich folk. Snobbiest servers ever.

                                                                            1. re: sheepy

                                                                              This may depend on location because I wouldn't say that's true of Salut in St. Paul at all. Never eaten at the Edina location, so I wouldn't know about that one.

                                                                              1. re: Seige

                                                                                Nope, doesn't depend on location - I just went to Salut in St Paul on Saturday night. Bad service, bad table, overpriced food, bad cocktails. No more second chances from me.

                                                                          2. Il Gatto was completely ordinary. And a total agree on Italian places in the Twin Cities being barely a cut above Olive Garden.

                                                                            1. This was an interesting thread until basically every MSP restaurant got mentioned. Anyone care to share any they DO love?

                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                              1. re: pinecone

                                                                                pinecone, huh??? Maybe try looking at the billion other threads where people are constantly talking about what restaurants they love. Start with the recent one titled "Howdy" where people were listing their "top three" (trying to not repeat previous posters).

                                                                                1. re: MSPD

                                                                                  It *is* interesting to note how much experiences and tastes vary amongst us, though. Because, yes, my very favorite MSP restaurants have been mentioned in this thread. And I will admit that it's hard to read about someone's dislike of my favorite place or two and not get all defensive. My husband and I were talking about this thread and wondering if there was *anywhere* that everyone truly does like. It's probably not possible though.

                                                                                  1. re: turtlebella

                                                                                    Very similar/a kin to my thoughts. This is like a reverse thread. Indian contrary.

                                                                                    Though, since I have not the restaurant xperience as the majority here, I am enjoying the contrary opines and the reasons whyfore.

                                                                                    Food for thought, if you will xcuse the pun...

                                                                                    1. re: green56

                                                                                      Seems to me that there are quite a few restaurants that nobody has mentioned not liking. Ones that are generally well recommended too. I don't know, I think it's more interesting if it's not just Alma, Alma, Strip Club, Alma, Strip Club, Craftsman.

                                                                                      1. re: larssten

                                                                                        Which are you thinking of? I guess no one's mentioned La Belle Vie... But here's what I nominate:

                                                                                        Mañana. Has anyone who's been there not loved it?

                                                                                        Or the Dari-ette? I dare you not to like THAT....

                                                                                        1. re: mtullius

                                                                                          Okay, I'll slink out of the woodwork and admit it: La Belle Vie. (I can just feel my Chow ID being revoked as I type this...) I keep thinking I should give them a new try, given the feedback I keep hearing, but can't bear to part with the $ for fear of being disappointed again. Maybe this is why I never dated an ex?

                                                                                          1. re: latte4me

                                                                                            I suppose I'm talking about places like Quang. Places that I say when people ask me where to eat in Minneapolis. I probably wouldn't say Alma.

                                                                                            Yeah, exactly, like Manana. Although I'm sure there's people waiting to leap out and say them, above there aren't a lot of condemnations for those types of places, which are the restaurants that make me like Minneapolis for food so much.

                                                                                            1. re: latte4me

                                                                                              I've only been to LBV one and for the price I'd rather go to Alma three times (I like alma a whole bunch)

                                                                                              We can keep our chowhound ids... No worries

                                                                                            2. re: mtullius

                                                                                              You beat me to Manana. I was just getting ready to post about it. I found the pupusas tasteless. Too much bread/dough. And I didn't like the slaw either. I don't get what the raving is all about. I did find the beans to be xceptional and the best I've ever had. Service was off the chart great. But not a restaueant I'm hurrying to get back to if their speciality is that boring.

                                                                                              1. re: green56

                                                                                                I should clarify: I was nominating Mañana as a place that everybody likes and no one dislikes. So I'll cross it off that list, though I still adore it....

                                                                                                1. re: mtullius

                                                                                                  I love Manana, but I think the pupusas in the Mercado Central in Mpls are the best in MN.

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  Mercado Central
                                                                                                  1515 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                                                                                  2. French Meadow Bakery. I want to like it. I've tried several times. Everything looks good but I've had too many stale and mediocre baked goods.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Bobannon

                                                                                      i'm also not a fan of french meadow (grudging respect for their carrot cake and vegan pastries, but you'd have to pay me to eat there). also corner table. also gandhi mahal.

                                                                                      1. Hands down, Turtle Bread. There's nothing wrong with their bread, but eating there as a restaurant experience is terrible. The food is not great, it's overpriced, and there's a black hole of ambience. It's not quite as bad on a weekend when crowds fill the space but if you're there on a weekday and it's not very busy, it's depressing.

                                                                                        1. And when I say "everyone loves" I'm not necessarily talking about chowhounds, because I think chowhounds have better taste than to recommend some of these places.
                                                                                          Chipotle
                                                                                          It's Greek to Me
                                                                                          Key's
                                                                                          Hell's Kitchen
                                                                                          Dakota Jazz Club
                                                                                          Dixie's
                                                                                          Chatterbox Pub (like the beer, food is terrible)
                                                                                          Herkimer (ditto)
                                                                                          Joe's Garage
                                                                                          any of the Highland Grill/Edina Grill/Longfellow Grill triumverate
                                                                                          Cheesecake Factory--With probably a hundred menu items, I have never been able to find something I like, other than the amazing banana cheesecake. Yet, this always seems to be where my friends want to meet for lunch. Why isn't there better dining near Southdale?

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: drew13000

                                                                                            i don't want to be contentious-- i have more of a "gosh really!" reaction (rather than an "ouch-WAH!") to seeing some of my favorites listed by some folks here-- but i think lumping hells kitchen in with chains like cheesecake factory, or even local ones like keys is a bit much. many chowhounds do like hells, it's (uncommon) chef-driven breakfast and it's a frequent rec for out-of-towners staying in the downtown hotels. sure, i won't be going there for a meal other than breakfast, but i just don't think hells belongs with the rest of your list, which did make me chuckle. i could not agree more with your assessment of the "kitchen manager" food at dixie's, or the overpriced underwhelming options of chatterbox, herk, joe's. i think these are just bars trying to be (overpriced) bars, though. the dakota's food has always been disappointing, but i think that it's partly the dakota's fault to try to bill their establishment as a dining destination when there are so many better restaurants. . .folks should realize that it's all about going to see a show at the dakota, not the cuisine.

                                                                                            1. re: drew13000

                                                                                              Thank you on Cheesecake factory & Chipotle I could not agree with you more!

                                                                                            2. La Chaya Bistro - never again
                                                                                              Isle Bun and Coffee - not on the weekends
                                                                                              5-8 Club - I've been a dozen or so times, and have YET to enjoy a JL.
                                                                                              Chino Latino - why are you still open?

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: gooey middle

                                                                                                I'll be the first to say this one: Bar La Grassa. Extremely underwhelmed, and we tried nine dishes.

                                                                                              2. I'll add to this topic, with the caveat that those who love the places they love have consistently experienced great food, while I have only been to such places once or twice. I think that's an important distinction.

                                                                                                I'll also add that, whatever you think of the Italian places in this town, the notion that they are only a notch above Olive Garden is absurd. I know it's an easy go-to insult, but it simply reveals your ignorance. If you can't tell the difference between Al Vento pasta (and there is certainly room for criticism) and Olive Garden, I feel bad for you.

                                                                                                *off soapbox*

                                                                                                My picks would trend toward those restaurants that try overly hard to do the right things.

                                                                                                Ngon Bistro blends our adopted cuisine with a focus on sustainable foods. A noble goal, but I feel the food gets too much credit. The duck confit comes across as provincial, which is perhaps the point, but the taste reflects the presentation. The kitchen was out of a couple choice items, and my impression was that they were riding the quality of the fisher farms pork.

                                                                                                Matt's Bar is a Minnesota tradition, I guess. But the style of burger it originated has been reproduced elsewhere with superior results. It seems silly to suggest that Matt's Bar burgers are superior to those at Blue Door or Busters. Frankly, the 5-8 rivalry seems entirely apropos.

                                                                                                Beyond that, it's a burger. On numerous occasions, people here have referred out-of-towners to Matt's Bar. Come on.

                                                                                                Origami/True Thai. Neither does anything particularly wrong. They are both Minneapolis stalwarts for their respective cuisines. The problem is that I would never want to spend money to eat at any place content to exist as a "stalwart". Call them victims of their own success.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: kevin47

                                                                                                  Of all the Juicy Lucy places Matt's Bar was the most disappointing. When you dissect this whole Juicy Lucy phenomenon you realize almost all the burgers are really run of the mill standard bar fare found anywhere but with the unique stuffing of cheese that's simply called a stuffed burger in most of the rest of the country. There doesn't seem to be anything that distinguishes them, size wise, meat wise, bun wise, gourmet wise, etc. I've worked my way through the most notable of them so I can just say, been there done that. The Nook is the only one I would desire to return to for the sociability and ambiance, not the food.

                                                                                                2. Hold on. I have to defend the plebeian grade food of Matt's Bar. I think it's a place to recommend to non-natives, not because it's a minnesota tradition. But more so because it's a place to get a good burger. Unless you don't like ground meat, cheese, bread, and bars.....you're going to love Matts. Overrated as the "minnesota thing"--maybe. But it's really hard to mess up a burger. That's one thing I wish we had more of here in the TC---street food--easy fast food (the good stuff). Like that thing in LA--Kogis

                                                                                                  Okay, now all you patrician haute cuisine lovers can continue on with your paliminos, oceanaire, or whatever else is in nowadays. I just had to stick up for the poor man's grub.

                                                                                                  1. I don't know why I didn't mention this earlier, but the Colossal Cafe comes to mind. Last year, I came to CHOW to find a great place to get breakfast. Everyone recommended Colossal Cafe. So I went there with really high expectations mainly because it's a take-out joint, not too expensive, and supposedly great food. That place was my kind of joint. I got some omelet and a take home chicken pot pie. Really? This is what everyone here was raving about. No worries though. Someone mentioned Fat nats and eggs and Chowhound redeemed itself for me.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: alpa chino

                                                                                                      Really? I've been to both breakfast places several times and IMHO Colossal Cafe is head and shoulders above Fat Nat's. What didn't/did you like about them respectively? Nat's is ok but a pretty "Perkinsized" breakfast whereas Colossal has fresh baked bread, homemade Jams, and great eggs. Plus Nat's doesn't have good ventilation so you reek after you leave like stale grease. Nat's is good for a large hangover breakfast but again IMHO I think that is all.

                                                                                                      1. re: MNkateo

                                                                                                        You're right about the stale grease smell from Fat nat's. Despite that, I thought the food was good...not great but pretty good. To be honest, Colossal Cafe didn't meet the grand expectations that I found on here. It wasn't horrible, but I didn't taste what the fuss was all about. I'll give it another try and order something else.

                                                                                                    2. The Strip Club. However, I have only been there for lunch. Gave it three tries - had clients with on two (since it was getting such raves). Tough meat, burnt fried fish, poor service. Maybe that's why they just discontinued lunch service??? Many friends have said they love the place - but they have all been there for dinner. I may go back someday.

                                                                                                      1. Broder's. I get takeout from the deli on a semi-regular basis, and it's fine, but I can't stand the restaurant. I have to admit that a big part of it for me is the no-reservations policy, which I think is completely obnoxious, particularly for a restaurant that has *nowhere* for anyone to sit during what can be an extremely long wait. (In nice weather of course you can go out on the patio to cool your heels, but in the winter, you're just jammed into a hallway. Ridiculous.) I have had several "discussions" with them where I have expressed my disappointment in their lack of reservations, and I have been met with disdain (at best) and rudeness. I also hate their wine glasses/juice glasses.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: baa

                                                                                                          I agree with both sentiments re: Broders. They are the one place that gets away with the no-resos nonsense in my world, but only because I will only eat there at 5 on weekdays. The pasta is great for the price, but they have lost to Al Vento more than once because of their policies.

                                                                                                          1. re: kevin47

                                                                                                            Ya'll know you can call ahead and be placed on the "list" to save waiting time......

                                                                                                        2. I've got a few of these

                                                                                                          -Grand Cafe: Two visits, one Ok meal and one awful meal. Incredibly long waits and inattentive service. I know it is considered an institution in this town, but I don't get it.

                                                                                                          -Barbette: I keep hearing about the value of this place. Every time I go, two entrees and a bottle of wine costs $125 wth tip. Am I ordering wrong?

                                                                                                          -Anything David Fhima has ever done. David is one heck of a marketing agent for himself. I wish his culinary skills matched that ability.

                                                                                                          -Obviously, the chains. I refer to the Applebee's, Friday's, Chilies combo as the Bermuda Armpit of Restaurants. You can always find the three within a mile radius of each other and any restaurants inside that triangle are usually just as awful (Olive Garden, etc.)

                                                                                                          -Matt's Bar: It's the worst of the Jucy Lucy's and it isn't even close. The Nook blows away all other Hamburger challenges in this town no matter what the Travel Channel might say. BTW, they've spent two shows now profiling Matt's and 5/8 and never mentioned the Nook. Remember that when you take their advice when traveling.

                                                                                                          Great topic, interesting thread. I'd like to see one started about Restaurant You LOVE that no one seems to talk about. Cafe Biaggio would be my first round draft pick.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Db Cooper

                                                                                                            You should start it up - I hope that it generates as much enthusiasm as this one has. After all, we're all uber-nice Minnesotans, right?

                                                                                                            1. re: keithinmpls

                                                                                                              Done... Feel free to post your thoughts...

                                                                                                              1. re: Db Cooper

                                                                                                                Manny's
                                                                                                                Origami
                                                                                                                Masa

                                                                                                                Everything i've had at all three places has been average at best

                                                                                                            2. re: Db Cooper

                                                                                                              Guy Fieri did an episode of DDD that featured the Nook to which he exclaimed "The Nook is off the hook".

                                                                                                            3. Definitely Mancini's. Went there once. Never again. The salad was iceberg lettuce (despise) with nothing special and the steak was like shoe leather. Plus we were put in the middle of some bizarre back room. I felt like we were relegated to the kid's table. Blech.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Seige

                                                                                                                I've had this exact experience. Don't get the mystique.

                                                                                                                1. re: Seige

                                                                                                                  Ditto. I don't get it either. When I first moved here, I asked around where a good place to get steak was. Mancini's was high up on the list. Maybe it's more a place of nostalgia for some than food. Or maybe I just had a bad experience. Not a fan.

                                                                                                                2. I love this thread, it is fascinating.

                                                                                                                  Town Talk Diner. I have had OK food there, not great. The place is so loud you cannot hear the person next to you. It is always packed and I know they are reaching out for unique, but I would call some of their efforts bizarre. I don't drink much, so maybe it is the cocktails everyone raves about.

                                                                                                                  I second Hell's Kitchen as a place I just don't get waiting an hour for.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: rockyd

                                                                                                                    Agree on both. You would think that a restaurant called Hell's Kitchen would have a decent hot sauce.

                                                                                                                    1. re: rockyd

                                                                                                                      What's really amazing to me The Thread Nazis have allowed it to remain. A little less than a year ago I posted in a thread about The Cheeky Monkey how they'd not get my business as when I called them regarding time open/whatever, and the noise in the background was deafning.

                                                                                                                      When I asked if the noise level was like that all the time and how did older patrons deal with it/feel about it, I was told an older couple had just left and raved to the server (or whomever) about the place.

                                                                                                                      I said - in the post - I'd never go there as I cant't stand loud noise like that. Blah, blah, blah. And that I was a bit miffed at the conversation with whomever I talked with.

                                                                                                                      That post got pulled. I was amazed. I'm glad this thread han't been pulled. I want to hear the gripes as well as the good. I want to take in everyone's xperience/opinions and make my decision then.

                                                                                                                    2. Il Nonni. Can't say I've been there more than once, because I can't afford it.

                                                                                                                      Azia - overpriced, and the worst sushi I've had.

                                                                                                                      I'll chime in on the Matt's, 5-8 bandwagon. Every tim I've had a Jucy Lucy, the cheese in the middle just...liquifies. I've never gotten that ooey goey thing that others seeem to get, or boast about. I go to Taco Bell for that sensation!

                                                                                                                      Town Talk Diner. Just overall not impressed.

                                                                                                                      It's Greek to Me. I used to like this place, years ago before I developed a palette. Went there a year ago, and it was just terrible in many ways.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: greenidentity

                                                                                                                        Oh yea - and Black Sheep. Always too crowded for dinner, with mediocore pizza.

                                                                                                                      2. First of all, I'm not even going to mention chains...not really worth the time.

                                                                                                                        Anyways, here goes:

                                                                                                                        1) 5-8 - I try to like the Lucy's, but the meat is just not good. I thought they were OK until I went to the Nook.

                                                                                                                        2) Craftsman - Aside from the wonderful charcuterie plate, my experience was very disappointing. Will give them another try, however.

                                                                                                                        3) Solera - Maybe I'm too much of a meat and potatoes guy and I'm overlooking the concept. For the record, I LOVE the place for their late night happy hour. Looked at as a small plate place, it's good, but don't go expecting a full meal (unless you order paella).

                                                                                                                        4) Punch - Maybe I haven't been to the 'good one', but this place has never really wowed me.

                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: BigE

                                                                                                                          Salut!

                                                                                                                          I still don't get why my friends are raving about this place. I've had nothing but greasy, poorly cooked food here.

                                                                                                                          1. re: 3foodies

                                                                                                                            Brasa...

                                                                                                                            Food good...expensive for what you get...but good because most is a la carte.
                                                                                                                            Service...The worst service I can remember having at a restaurant.

                                                                                                                            Also for a party of 9 with a 2 toddlers and an 8 year old an hour and a half time limit? After an hour and 10 minuets passed we were told of this time limit. Why not mention it at the beginning? OR!!!! Get the food out in a somewhat timely manner and it would not have been an issue.
                                                                                                                            Who likes grilled cheese? You, and you...ok so most of you. Well skip it at Brassa. Unless you like it burnt/toasted on one side and bread on the other. (My kid ordered it and it came out of the kitchen 2nd to last and cooked like that...) Same for my brothers kids grilled cheese so it's not like it was just one mistake.

                                                                                                                            Oh and they have like 8 tables so even if the place is packed, there is no excuse for service like this.

                                                                                                                            I consider myself very flexible with service also...like I take into account how busy a place is, staff count, and other things. But this was an 11 on a 1 to 10 scale 10 being worst for service.

                                                                                                                            Sorry Brasa...but you wont be "roasting" me again. Get it? Roasting...ahh keep on truckin.

                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                            Brasa Rotisserie
                                                                                                                            600 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                                                                                                            1. re: fathappydaddy

                                                                                                                              It's hard to respond to the service issues since the only one mentioned is the bad grilled cheese and if burnt on one side and not toasted on the other was what was delivered jfood agrees with you.

                                                                                                                              But...

                                                                                                                              - 90 minutes at a table at brasa is totally reasonable. It's not Alma, it's a BBQ place. You should be in and out in 60, 90 max. How much time do you want? How long did the food take when you were there? Normal outbound of food is probably 20-30 minutes at Brasa. So 10 to order, 20-30 to deliver, 20 to eat. 90 minutes sounds extremely reasonable even with another 20 for dessert.
                                                                                                                              - There are probably twice the "8 tables" comment. Maybe that's why they do not want people there for 2-hours, it's a busy restaurant.
                                                                                                                              - Value - Jfood considers Brasa one of the BEST values in MSP. ~$11 for a great sandwich and side, or a meat and 2 sides for $15. Awesome deal.

                                                                                                                              The last time jfood was there, two tables were filled with 20's each with a couple of <1yo's. They were happy, having a blast and enjoying themselves.

                                                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                I commented up above initially and MY how this thread has grown!

                                                                                                                                I'd be curious to hear more specifics. Because restaurants can get people to go and not go based on reviews - in fairness, I'd like to hear what specifically people don't like.

                                                                                                                                For example, I try and go a restaurant (that I didn't really like all that much) at least twice. Sometimes 3. For the expensive ones, I definitely look at the menu beforehand-decide on what I want and stick to it. And it depends-at pricey places, I normally don't like to order say, just chicken-because I want to venture outside of what I feel I can make at home. And yet, if a place does chicken really really well - and you close your eyes and enjoy ever bite - then it's worth it. Even if it's $15.

                                                                                                                                I don't get the hype of Hell's Kitchen. I really don't. The place is fine, the service is ok, and the food to me, is just ok. However, like I said in its defense-it seems the porridge, the homemade peanut butter, and the sausage bread are big highlights. NONE of which I have tried. Therefore, I probably haven't given it the proper chance (even tho I've been like 6 times).

                                                                                                                                Some places are considered greasy spoons and the food needs to be defined within that context - if you're going there knowing that, it's probably good. If it's not, it was overrated, smelled, too greasy, etc.

                                                                                                                                Some places like Mancini's - I like the ambience and for the amount of times I've been there, my service has always been good. It's reasonably priced steaks and that's about it. It's not Strip Club steak, it's not Manny's steak - it's a steak "joint" - a supper clubbish atmosphere. I totally despise the ice berg lettuce and bottled-style tasting dressing - but for me, the charred bread and little pickle accents make up for it. It's not sour cream mixed with fresh herbs for your potato - it's a cheesey squeeze thing-all in context.

                                                                                                                                I love Brasa (been to the Mpls and St Paul one) - I love the sandwiches hands down. I commented once about this. Big E and I discussion about it. BUT, their grits? To me, are terrible. Bland, with a distinct cheese and salty note and too smooth for my the Southern style I've had before.

                                                                                                                                And Big Daddy's - I finally tried them (before they moved). Everyone raved about them. For me? I don't like the real dry dry rubbed ribs..I preferred Market BBQs...but if you did like the spicy dry ribs, it's probably your favorite.

                                                                                                                                THIS is why we have the boards...but if people could clarify, it would help make a decision about places I want to check out, or how restaurants have been faring with food if I haven't been in awhile. So, really, I'm curious if my chowbuddies have been to their restaurants more than once, ordered the same or different, etc.

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

                                                                                                                                Hell's Kitchen
                                                                                                                                89 S 10th St, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                  I've never been hit with the time limit, but I will agree that for a place that moves as slowly as Brasa, that's a little rough. I love the food, which is why I keep going back (and back and back) but their service has pretty much always been terrible. We've gotten dessert comped 4 times (without complaining or anything, it's just so ridiculously long between when we come in and when the food finally appears. I'm talking it routinely taking 45 mins to an hour for food to appear, both at peak and off peak times, different days of the week) I can only really speak for the Grand Ave one, since that's where I go the most, but it's a lot. If the food wasn't so excellent (cheesy grits, chicken, and fried plantains!) I would not go back.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: i_love_luhanka

                                                                                                                                    Interesting. We only go to the Grand Ave. Brasa as well and have never had an issue with slow service.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: i_love_luhanka

                                                                                                                                      I think the time limit applies to the Minneapolis location, which is tiny. We've never heard of any such thing at the Grand location, and we've also always had exceptional service there.... friendly, helpful, etc... It seems that what the previous poster is actually complaining about is not service, but the kitchen, right? We have experienced occasional backlogs in terms of wait time. But the service? Never had a problem..

                                                                                                                            2. Luckys 13 in Mendota. Happy Gnome (food usually not good, love the beer selection though). There's a bunch of other places I really don't get, but they are mostly easy targets.

                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                              Happy Gnome
                                                                                                                              498 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                                                                                              Luckys 13
                                                                                                                              1352 Sibley Memorial Hwy, Saint Paul, MN 55150

                                                                                                                              1. It's been mentioned a few times, but if there's any restaurant I've been to that I can safely say I hated, it's Chino Latino. I've been there 3 times and every time the food was such a bummer! I honestly don't understand why so many people "love" that place! The fact that it's always crowded is baffling and annoying to me at the same time.

                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                Chino Latino
                                                                                                                                2916 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: dani_dark

                                                                                                                                  I agree with this general sentiment. Most of the food at Chino borders on awful, especially taking their prices into account.

                                                                                                                                  Although I will give them this - good or bad, dinner at Chino is a fairly unique experience, if nothing else. I would never EVER bring an out of town friend there that had any appreciation of good food. On the other hand, it can be a fun place to take those out of town friends of yours (and you know you have them) that don't really appreciate the finer things the TC's have to offer. You know, the ones that want their first MSP experience to be a trip to the Mall of America?

                                                                                                                                  I know, I know. part of my responsibility as a Minneapolitan is to steer these people away from such drivel, to try and open up their eyes to the great food and culture we have at our disposal. But I have some friends and family that just aren't going to appreciate it, no matter what I do. And for those people, at least a trip to Chino offers something new and fun. We aren't going for the food, just the over the top atmosphere there. You've got to give them credit for that, at least.

                                                                                                                                2. Most over-rated places in town:
                                                                                                                                  1. Matt's Bar - Hands down.
                                                                                                                                  2. Barbette.
                                                                                                                                  3. Pizza Luce

                                                                                                                                  1. Well, I moved here from a very big city with great food and so far most of the places I've been to have been sort of horrible:
                                                                                                                                    Azia
                                                                                                                                    Bad Waitress
                                                                                                                                    Shuang Cheng (basically anything in dinkytown)
                                                                                                                                    Jasmine 26
                                                                                                                                    Hell's Kitchen
                                                                                                                                    French Meadow
                                                                                                                                    Common Roots (that place is disgusting for anything other than coffee.)
                                                                                                                                    Hard Times (how can people eat the food there? seriously.)
                                                                                                                                    Victor's (seriously overrated. the only thing they do really well is the cortadito.)

                                                                                                                                    The places I DO like:
                                                                                                                                    Quang
                                                                                                                                    Alma
                                                                                                                                    Grand Cafe
                                                                                                                                    Caspian Bistro

                                                                                                                                    I'm looking forward to trying more places in St. Paul. I keep hearing about the great food there.

                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                    Common Roots Cafe
                                                                                                                                    2558 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                                                                                                                                    Caspian Bistro
                                                                                                                                    2418 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                                                                                                                    Hard Times Cafe
                                                                                                                                    1821 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN

                                                                                                                                    Jasmine 26 Restaurant & Bar
                                                                                                                                    , Minneapolis, MN 55401

                                                                                                                                    Shuang Cheng Restaurant
                                                                                                                                    1320 4th St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                                                                                                                    Hell's Kitchen
                                                                                                                                    89 S 10th St, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                                                                                                                    Azia Restaurant and Bar
                                                                                                                                    2550 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: pistachio peas

                                                                                                                                      Yeah, I had a really bad experience at Bad Waitress too....

                                                                                                                                    2. I'm not sure "everybody" loves it, but after multiple trips I can honestly say that I can't stand Sunsets. The only thing I like there is the Chicken and Wild Rice soup, which is very good, nothing else agrees with me.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: qajohn

                                                                                                                                        Sunsets is horrible. Bad food, bad service, great view of the lake.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: discus

                                                                                                                                          Great view of the lake? You're looking across railroad tracks, criminitly. There are better restaurants if you want a view. Food is neither bad or good. It is just average food at an average price. I never thought they were trying to be a gourmet or chef driven restaurant. Don't blame it for something it isn't or even trying to be. Service has always been good when I ate there. If you want better, go across the street.

                                                                                                                                      2. I'll dive in on this.

                                                                                                                                        Keys Cafe. I don't get why people think this is a good restaurant. I've tried 3 locations (dragged to 2 by friends) and they never get it right. The southwest omelet was the worst. They poured beans inside it, which is fine, but then they poured what I could only guess was about a quarter cup of water in there for some reason. The result was that the egg burst, and mushy, runny brown beans spilled out and flooded the plate. To be perhaps overly graphic, it was visually like eating a diaper.

                                                                                                                                        Then they stuck giant chunks of raw bell pepper and tasteless tomato in it ("Southwest." Dice it. And saute it! Don't rip 3 inch chunks off and toss it in the brown soup). The final insult was that the salsa came in a little plastic cup, and the sour cream came in one of those wedge-shaped paper things, and had obviously been out of the fridge for quite some time.

                                                                                                                                        I don't get the love affair with Lion's Tap either. Every time friends who have moved away come to visit, they always want to go there. The food isn't bad, but it's pretty ordinary. Somewhere between Champps and McDonalds.

                                                                                                                                        I can understand the pricey joints downtown - lots of people who haven't experienced truly great food think that food quality is indicated by the price on the menu. So they go there and think it's great.

                                                                                                                                        Happened in Maple Grove for me a few weeks back when we went to Pittsburgh Blue. I'm not saying the steak was bad - it wasn't, though it was a bit tough, but I grill a better one when I can get decent meat, and I don't spend $100 to feed two when I do it.

                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                        Pittsburgh Blue
                                                                                                                                        11900 Main Street North, Maple Grove, MN 55369

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: shadowfax

                                                                                                                                          "...it was visually like eating a diaper." Ha! Love it. I do like the original Keys. I usually get the turkey dinner. Few places roast it themselves. I did eat at the Larpenteur location once and did not like it.

                                                                                                                                        2. The sandwich thread brought about a new answer for me.

                                                                                                                                          Mayslack's. I had the garlic roast beef sandwich a few weeks ago, ate about 3 bites and left the rest. It was absolutely horrible. My dining companion wolfed his down and ate most of what I left behind like it was heaven. I've never understood the hype.

                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: BigE

                                                                                                                                            Mayslacks' namesake and recipe has changed ownership a couple of times over the years and Moe's in Moundsview is apparently now the proud owner of the "original recipe." I haven't actually tried it at either Moe's or at the place that currently calls itself Mayslacks, but I can say that Mayslacks roast beef sandwich (made available at the stadium by arrangement with Moe's) was the best thing I ate all season at the Gophers' new stadium. But that's not really saying much, unfortunately. For stadium food, it was actually pretty good.

                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                              I definitely prefer the version at Moe's, though I've only had it once.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: BigE

                                                                                                                                                I've only had the Moe's version at the stadium. I wonder how that compares to the Moe's in Moundsview? Not as good, I'm sure.

                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                            2. re: BigE

                                                                                                                                              When Stan Mayslack was alive it was an experience to get the garlic roast beef sandwich. Taste or whether you liked it was secondary. Stan would personally serve you and would give you a withering glare and refuse to serve you unless you had both hands holding the plate. The Seinfeld soup Nazi was a pale comparison to that experience.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Davydd

                                                                                                                                                well. . . it's because if you didn't have *both* hands under that flimsy paper plate, the overflowing mounds of delicious molten garlic beef he plonked down on it would create one heck of an unholy mess! stan just didn't want to clean it up, have to ask one of his employees to clean it up, or see his masterpiece unceremoniously dumped on the barroom floor and wasted! :)
                                                                                                                                                rip stan mayslack.

                                                                                                                                            3. 1. Had my first Jucy Lucy at Matt's last night. Thought it was terrible.
                                                                                                                                              2. It's been a while but was very disappointed in the Walleye at Tavern on Grand.
                                                                                                                                              3. The pizza at Broders was awful.

                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: stymie

                                                                                                                                                Usually the 'consistently' poor service is really a downer for me, especially having been a server. Gardens of Salonica has the best food, and consequently will fill up at prime eating times. But every time I see another table walk in, I know my time there has just increased, and the service never shows any urgency, just keep ambling on. Still like their food, just try to limit lunch to like 2:30, when nobody is around.
                                                                                                                                                Ginger Hop has bad service, and bad food. Don't feel like giving a second chance there.
                                                                                                                                                Ditto Keys Cafe, food is horrible, greasy, not even comforting greasy. Pancakes are chewy and tasteless, omelets are bad. I don't get it.
                                                                                                                                                Barbette
                                                                                                                                                Seven
                                                                                                                                                Victor's

                                                                                                                                                Ahh, feels good to vent, huh?

                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                Gardens of Salonica
                                                                                                                                                19 5th St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

                                                                                                                                                Ginger Hop
                                                                                                                                                201 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                                                                                                                                1. re: daniellempls

                                                                                                                                                  danielle, I find there's a fair amount of variation on Keys (I think they are owned and managed by different parts of the family)--have you had bad experiences at all of the them or just at one in particular? I've pretty much sworn off the one on Raymond in St. Paul. Some of the others are better, and still hit that comfort-food in a workingperson's greasy spoon breakfast sort of way (edit: although, none of them is Al's!).

                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                    TDQ- I've tried three of the Keys- the one on Raymond, the old one on Nicollet that got moved as well as the one in DT St Paul- across from the capitol. None struck me as better than the other. And actually, fairly pricey from what I remember. I agree- none of them is Al's!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: daniellempls

                                                                                                                                                      Well, with visits to three different locations, you've certainly given it a fair shake! (Not that you owe them, or any place even that.) I've never been to the one on Nicollet (I think I tried to go there once and ended up at Manny's for breakfast instead. Now, talk about "fairly pricey"! HA!) but I do seem partial to the one in DT S.P. I don't think it's the be all/end all, but I think it's heads and shoulders above Raymond, which I just refuse to go to. I think the cafeteria look appeals to me somehow, weirdly. Also, I never get anything other than eggs...

                                                                                                                                                      Then again, it's probably been 3-4 years since I've been to even the downtown St. Paul one... This time of year, though, if I'm i DT SP for breakfast, I'd hold out until 10:00-10:30 and go to Meritage. :).

                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                      Meritage
                                                                                                                                                      410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                        I'm finding myself agreeing with Daniel wrt swearing off the keys restaurants in minneapolis/st. paul. there are just too many other good options around, & they seem overpriced for inconsistent or boring or just plain bad food. otoh i think the wbl keys' food is pretty good compared to the rest of the chain, and there aren't so many good food options around there, so i'll go to that one if i'm in the area, especially when i'm with older members of the fam.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: daniellempls

                                                                                                                                                        So, since this thread has popped back up, I'm going to add in here that I had a surprisingly (I was shocked, actually) delicious roast beef hash at Key's on Nicollet recently, after never having been to that location before. The Nicollet location is now at the W Hotel and I think has had to up its game to be acceptable to W clientele. (I'm guess it's also "upped its prices" a little.) Key's on Nicollet also apparently does cocktails (which I didn't try.) Also, randomly, I noticed Boston Cream Pie in their pastry case. 75 cents extra for the homemade toast, which came with homemade strawberry jelly (I was bummed it wasn't rhubarb, but the strawberry was still a nice touch.)

                                                                                                                                                        Going even farther astray from the topic of this thread (but I wanted to mention it before I forgot), I recently had an amazing (though slightly salty, I'm guessing due to reduction) Kobe Beef Short Rib Benedict at Manny's, also at the W Hotel.

                                                                                                                                                        Both larger portions than I could (or should) finish.

                                                                                                                                                        Now, why one would go to Manny's or Key's for breakfast when there are just a block away from Hell's Kitchen, I can't answer. Change of pace, I suppose, which is why I did it.

                                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                        Hell's Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                        80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: stymie

                                                                                                                                                    I used to like Broders quite a lot. But the last two times I ate there, it was lousy. I suspect they started cheaping out on their ingredients. Either that or they got a new chef who isn't up to par. Either way, I've not been back for a few years now.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: shadowfax

                                                                                                                                                      Haven't they had the same chef for decades? I'm pretty certain they are not cheaping out on ingredients. The menu is pretty specific about the dishes, which is a sign this is not the case, plus they sell directly to consumers.

                                                                                                                                                      Of course, none of this means you liked your meal any better.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: stymie

                                                                                                                                                      I would agree with all of those-except I haven't tried Broder's yet. Didn't ike Mayslack's either. I feel like I'm missing something...The Nook doesn't do it for me either.

                                                                                                                                                    3. Barrio
                                                                                                                                                      Crave
                                                                                                                                                      Chino Latino
                                                                                                                                                      Zelo
                                                                                                                                                      Burger Jones

                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                      Zelo
                                                                                                                                                      831 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                                                                                                                                      Chino Latino
                                                                                                                                                      2916 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                                                                                                      Burger Jones
                                                                                                                                                      3200 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55416

                                                                                                                                                      1. Keys - over-priced, greasy, disgusting bathrooms, blech

                                                                                                                                                        I know it's not in the cities, but everyone raves about The New Scenic in Duluth, and I had the single worst dining experience of my life there and won't ever return.

                                                                                                                                                        If you're not into dinner at The Strip Club, give their brunch a try - I've always liked it and it's a good value.

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

                                                                                                                                                        1. Ngon. I don't get it. I'd rather eat at quite a few other places within 1 mile.

                                                                                                                                                          As for Cheesecake factory (and by extension all the other corporate chains from Red Lobster to Tony Roma's to Famous Dave's to Perkin's to Macaroni Grill to Olive Garden), they suck. They all suck. They have always all sucked and they always all will continue sucking. Because it's a factory. Industrial cuisine. It's horrible. And we are what we eat, so if we eat poo, we are poo.

                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                          Tony Roma's
                                                                                                                                                          Mall of America, Minneapolis, MN 55420

                                                                                                                                                          1. La Belle Vie - Mediocre, overpriced and pretentious. Much better, creative, and fresher fish at the old Cafe Brenda (sigh) and current Spoon River. Appetizers more interesting than the menu items. Great drinks from the bar. With a wait staff that never shuts up.

                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                            La Belle Vie
                                                                                                                                                            510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                                                                                                                                                            1. Heartland - went for my birthday. Good, but not great. Expected more. I tried all the dishes that my companions had, they ran the spectrum from okay-->good.

                                                                                                                                                              Parasole restuarants - won't they release their death grip on Uptown and allow some good restaurants to move in? They've turned Hennepin/Lake into a black hole of restaurants that run by the idea that if you make the surroundings shiny and distracting enough, people won't notice they're paying exorbitant sums for mediocre food. (one exemption - Stella's rooftop patio is my favorite in the Twin Cities, purely for the view of the downtown skyline. I only drink there, never eat.)

                                                                                                                                                              Ringo - established test kitchens at U.S. Foods and Sysco while developing their menu. Concept is a higher-end Cheesecake Factory. Antithesis to everything I love about food. Barf. (Forum would have this response as well, but I refuse to go there.)

                                                                                                                                                              Masa - underwhelming in a big way.

                                                                                                                                                              Cosmos

                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                              Masa
                                                                                                                                                              1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                                                                                                                                              Cheesecake Factory
                                                                                                                                                              2715 Southdale Ctr, Minneapolis, MN 55435

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: amgarrison

                                                                                                                                                                I don't know that Ringo and Forum are so universally loved. Maybe they will be, but it's way too early to tell. I think Mr. Ringo has given himself an interesting challenge. Personally, I don't think he'll make it. But there's an old saying about financial reward and underestimating the American public.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Pho Tau Bay - completely inexplicable to me that people can rave about this place.

                                                                                                                                                                I'm glad I live in a large enough city to offer us so many choices. We all have such varied tastes!

                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                Pho Tau Bay
                                                                                                                                                                2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                                                                                                                1. I only visited Minneapolis for a week in September, and 112 was the one place that annoyed me above all others. The food was dull, tasteless, uninteresting, while trying too hard to be creative. I honestly can't remember anything i ate there except for a duck and cabbage salad that had been sprinkled (i hope accidently) with pieces of something like stucco or broken plates, and an ill conceived dish of nori crusted beef with yuzu that just sent me into a tirade. Did I catch it on a bad night or?

                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: steamer

                                                                                                                                                                    I was at 112 a couple of times earlier this spring and think they have slipped compared to visits from prior years. Too many distractions, I think. I had hoped that they'd pull it together but, based on your report, maybe they haven't.

                                                                                                                                                                    Sorry it didn't work out for you.

                                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                      It's OK, I fell in love with the Twin Cities and the state fair more than made up for any disappointment at 112.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                        I like 112 too but I think they're highly over rated.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: steamer

                                                                                                                                                                        Ponzu. Yuzu would have been even odder.

                                                                                                                                                                      3. Sea Salt! They have so much potential and yet... they make their customers wait in long lines which is inexpicable when the food they serve can be prepared very quickly. By the time you wait in line for 40 minutes and then another 30 to get the food well, there is no excuse. Tables are always dirty, trash cans often overflowing because absolutely everything they serve on is plastic and disposable which offends my ecological minded self. There are inconsistencies in the quality of the food too, for example, several times, the fried items like the fried fish tacos or calamari were overdone. Tacos are served with nothing more than a sprig of cilantro and raw onion and, if they remember, a mediocre salsa. Where is the cabbage, tomato, avocado? I could forgive a lot of this but the dirty tables and that ridculous way of taking orders and serving patrons is unacceptable (even if there is a waterfall nearby). The ambience of the park setting is not good enough.

                                                                                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mINNDEM

                                                                                                                                                                          I'll have to respectfully disagree with the assessment of Sea Salt. It's not meant to be a sit down restaurant. It's a glorified food stand in a city park that serves very good seafood - something that is exceedingly difficulty to pull off.

                                                                                                                                                                          Line wait - their food is all cooked fresh to order. Could they move faster? Sure - by pre-cooking items. But quality will suffer. Given the large crowds to Minnehaha Falls on summer weekends, and given the limited space they have to work in, long lines are to be expected. I eat there often - but not on Saturday or Sunday afternoons.

                                                                                                                                                                          Tables - if customers were a bit more respectful and took care of their own trash, it wouldn't be as big an issue. Again - it's outdoor seating in a park, not a 3 star restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                          Your ecologically-mindedness - They have to work within the limits of the facilities they have. They don't have the facilities to wash hundreds of plates, silverware, and glasses per day. That's the reality. On a more important ecological note, they get most (if not all) of their seafood from Coastal, which is one of the most ecological seafood purveyors in the area. All of Sea Salt's ingredients are sustainable. That's more important, IMO, than plastic forks.

                                                                                                                                                                          Consistency - I've never had an issue with the food, it's always been perfectly cooked. Then again, I've never gone during peak times, so maybe during those times consistency is an issue.

                                                                                                                                                                          Tacos - personally, I like the way they serve them. It's more of a California style fish taco, meaning you get grilled fish and dressing, and not much else. If I want cabbage and tomatoes on my tacos, I'll go to Taco Bell.

                                                                                                                                                                          A lot of people get down on Sea Salt. Sure, Sea Change it ain't. But when Sea Salt disappears, the only option at Minnehaha Park becomes....the DQ across the street. Rather than beat up on it, appreciate it for what it is - a stand in the middle of a city park that offers quality food at a reasonable price. It doesn't pretend to be a sit-down seafood restaurant, so it shouldn't be held to those standards. IMO, given the food, beer, and wine they serve, they've far exceeded anything I would have expected for city park food. Good luck finding a similar option in any other city park in the US.

                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                          Sea Change
                                                                                                                                                                          806 Second Street S., Minneapolis, MN 55415

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HuaGung

                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, I'd probably agree that foreverhungry put it well and moreover agree or I would if I went to Sea Salt ever (which is more of a I live in St Paul and my husband doesn't eat fish or anything that lives/grows in water kind of thing than anything else).

                                                                                                                                                                            But I can't help but think that foreverhungry's response is not *quite* in the spirit of the thread (which I know you started, HuaGung, so perhaps I'm out of line), which is about places that you hate that everyone else loves. I've seen some of my favorite places trashed on this there as I know everyone else has too (I mean, it has to be that way, given the concept) and have very purposefully NOT jumped in to defend my favorites ...... So maybe I misunderstood the point? Maybe I'm just too polite to tell someone why they are wrong when they already know that most people disagree with them... do you see what I mean? Or am I talking in circles?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: turtlebella

                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, I think a spirited defense is fine. I haven't jumped in to correct any of my WTF's either but that doesn't mean others shouldn't.

                                                                                                                                                                              I think the range of opinion expressed throughout the thread is far more interesting (at least to me) than the actual "I'm right, this is why you're wrong" tone of some of the posts.

                                                                                                                                                                              In one of my very first posts on this chowhound thingy I excoriated a board darling (Ngon Bistro) and I was wrong on just about every point I made. Probably why others' blathering on doesn't curl my hair too much. I don't recall if anyone stepped up to point out the errors of my post. Seems to me they may have just left me to wallow in it and read on and on about the lovely time "they" were all having.

                                                                                                                                                                              Anything that gets people talking is a good thing I guess.

                                                                                                                                                                              Cheers,

                                                                                                                                                                              Huagung

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HuaGung

                                                                                                                                                                                gah! i remember that thread, and i totally remember getting unduly upset and writing an over-the top response to yours! i was promptly deleted by the mods, who were quite right to do so. i still remember saying something defending the chef's vision and his local restaurant owning/running family's roots here, which was on point, but i then wrapped the whole thing up with something something something. . . "crucifying this little restaurant"-- i mean, typical soupkitten freakout ranting bombast. really, thank goodness it was deleted promptly, as i've certainly gone on to very much enjoy your posts and opinions on local restaurants. certainly did not want to come off as personal-attack-y, though i'm quite sure that's how my response read.

                                                                                                                                                                                i'd actually wondered if you ever revisited ngon and if your early opinion still held up. sounds like you may have changed your mind about ngon? if so, interesting! someone reversing an early opinion on a place (for good or ill) is actually much more interesting to me than getting an echo-chamber consensus of everybody liking or disliking a place-- and some of my favorite places are those that "grew on" me over a series of visits, and i had to "get" something about the establishment, the chef's pov, and the food--not just enjoy the whole experience, to really begin loving the place. it does seem that the more extra-ordinary the restaurant, the greater the chance for a range of opinions on it. not everyone is going to love our faves, and often for good tangible reasons. i agree that it's important to hear from folks who don't dig the "board darling" restaurants, as they often have fair points that others may overlook in their zeal. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                anyway, fun thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                  I had similar thoughts re: "to defend or not to defend" on this thread. It's been hard to just leave some things dangling out there!

                                                                                                                                                                                  soup, as for your 2nd paragraph, I think I've mentioned it on here but my first time at Brasa was horrendous (just the food). I was shocked, but I've returned many, many times and love it. The first visit was such an anomaly.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                    Wish I could have read that post before it got pulled. Maybe I would have straightened up a little sooner ;-/

                                                                                                                                                                                    I've been back to Ngon... for the beer! (little joke there). I've mentioned once or twice over the couple years since the original rant that I admired the guy for pulling off what I clearly thought he could never do, and that I was completely wrong about him and his knowledge of the market and what he wants to accomplish. I've noticed that outcome a number of times around town both for good and bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                    As for the food there, it still leaves me wanting. But I realize that has more to do with me than Ngon and what it offers. I understand much better now that my preference in most SE Asian cuisines is toward traditional and not fusion(y) offerings. I am unbelievably spoiled in being able to live in Bangkok for two to three months every year. It is an exhausting process to to try and get to the bottom of all the variety on offer there. We have nothing here to compare it to, so, when I eat a fusion-oriented SE Asian preparation of something, my tiny little mind feels like I'm getting gypped. At least I understand that about myself now and have stopped blaming nice restauranteurs for my shortcomings.

                                                                                                                                                                                    So, yeah, I'm alright with Ngon.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HuaGung

                                                                                                                                                                                      thanks for the thoughtful reply! that's wonderful that you went back to this restaurant after early negative impressions and found something to enjoy. some of the compositions at ngon don't always soar, but i think it's a solid effort, and an honest one, from the chef there.

                                                                                                                                                                                      fwiw i understand being a traditionalist about certain things-- please don't put exotic spices in my mom's fruit pies, veganize my gumbo, or otherwise eff with perfectly good food, eh? i do find that ngon does a few straight executions which i like very much. the bun salads are basic, & un-messed with other than maybe the yummy glaze on the grilled pork-- very good. i also really like the meatball pho, and i understand the chef's father comes in once a week to make the meatballs by hand, very traditionally, for this.

                                                                                                                                                                                      to other posters re brasa: have had great meals there, including a memorable recent large family gathering at the NE location-- but we've also had absolutely abysmal experiences w takeout from there & heard same from others, after our rec!-- very frustrating!

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: turtlebella

                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree with you about the spirit of the thread. And I've seen some restaurants that I truly enjoy being skewered on this thread. The reason I defended Sea Salt here is not because a poster didn't like the food there (which is fine), but because Sea Salt tends to be held up to a much higher standard than it deserves to. To me, it would be like someone saying they don't like the Chef Shack because they serve your food on disposable plates, they don't provide seating, you don't have a server, and they have a limited menu. That would make no sense, but that parallels some of the arguments made against Sea Salt. I don't argue with anyone saying they don't like the food there. But I do defend SS when someone compares them to a permanent restaurant that is not limited by the logistics provided to them by the Minneapolis Park Board.

                                                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                                                  Chef Shack
                                                                                                                                                                                  No formal address, Minneapolis, MN

                                                                                                                                                                            2. So this might elicit a little fur-flying, but MSPD just mentioned Brasa....And I have to say, I don't get the hub-bub around Brasa. I've been there twice (St. Paul). Both times have been ....meh. I really like the concept. But I'm just not sure they really pull it off. I've had the rotisserie chicken and the slow roasted pork. Both were OK. Nothing great. The sides were OK. None of it was as flavorful as I expected. It's an OK place for me. I wouldn't avoid it, but I certainly wouldn't beat a path to it either. I don't get why so many people rave about it.

                                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps someone can help me out?

                                                                                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                Which sides have you tried?

                                                                                                                                                                                We go to Brasa more than any other place and just love it. One reason is that our 2-year-old daughter eats more at Brasa than she does anywhere else, including at home. She loves the spinach, the grits, the sweet plantains, and the rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                I love the slow roasted pork, the cheese grits, and the creamed spinach. That's my usual order. I also enjoy the beef sandwich (and the pork sandwich). I've had the collard greens, which I also think are outstanding.

                                                                                                                                                                                Other things we love about it: local sourcing (it's one of a relatively few 'lunchy' places where I can eat meat, since I don't eat factory farmed meat), good beer list, friendly staff (many of them know our daughter by name, some of them even know my wife's and my names too).

                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, and some of the desserts are to die for. Specifically, the butterscotch pudding (not on the menu right now). And I forgot to mention the new dinner specials: the ribs were marvelous. The hot links are very good. The roast beef was ok.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mtullius

                                                                                                                                                                                  I've had the spinach, sweet plantains, and the collards. Really liked the collards. Others were OK.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I too like that much of it is locally sourced, their beer list, and the friendly staff. I give it points for all of those. But for some reason, I find that the food just falls flat. I want to like it, because I really like the concepts behind Brasa. I was very excited when I first heard about it. And maybe I went on off days. I'll give it another shot. I am looking forward to the ribs.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                    I will say that there's a fair amount of variation from visit to visit in the food-- some of it certainly has to do with freshness. If the plantains are hot out of the fryer, they're much much better than if they've been sitting around for even a few minutes (I don't think anything sits around for very long). The pork is sometimes juicier than other times, same with the chicken.... it might pay to ask your server what's freshest when you're there, since you've apparently had some not so great experiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mtullius

                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah, good idea mtullius! Years ago I tended to rely on servers much more for guiding me towards the must-order and must-not-order dishes. But since moving to the Twin Cities, I haven't done that as much. I'll be sure to ask next time I go - unless it's the night they have ribs, in which case, that's likely what I'll order!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                        I am also meh on Sea Salt. When you brag that you are sourcing your fish from somewhere great like Coastal, you immediately take yourself out of the realm of 'a glorified food stand in a park'.................I have had charred fish in their tacos as well...and again, what's the point of getting good fish if it's burned? Also, most of their fish is deep fried which to me also drowns out the subtle taste of good fish- deep frying is a great use for cheap frozen fish. So that's why I opted for the 'grilled' fish tacos...to avoid deep fried...and got charred. I love me some good fish but this place doesn't do it for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: faith

                                                                                                                                                                                          I am also unimpressed with SeaSalt. I am likely prejudiced as I am from New Orleans, and have had a plethora of wonderful seafood, baked, grilled and fried. I was ecstatic when I saw there were oyster po-boys on the menu and eagerly ordered. What a disappointment , soft roll, over cooked oysters, they did not meet my memories of a good sea food po-boy. I know, I will have to go back to New Orleans or vicinity for this. I like the concept fo sea salt, but for the money, not so much.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: docfood

                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm thinking people who haven't experienced good seafood on or near a coast might be more easily satisfied with the sea salt kind of fare.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: faith

                                                                                                                                                                                              My perspective on Sea Salt isn't from lack of knowledge about seafood - I grew up 30 minutes from the Atlantic. I've been on a commercial fishing boat out of Rhode Island and have eaten what they caught that day; have regularly caught trout, salmon, and harvested my own oysters, mussels, conch, and lobster, and have had cerviche in several Latin American countries. I've caught mahi and tuna, and have eaten it hours later. I have a pretty good idea of what good seafood tastes like.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The reason I like Sea Salt is not because I consider it great seafood. It's not. It clearly doesn't compare with Sea Change, or with seafood offerings at the area's better restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I like Sea Salt because it offers a good seafood option, along with a good beer and wine list, in a city park. For me, the benchmark against which Sea Salt should be compared is the kind of food typically offered in or adjacent to city parks - DQ's, hot dog stands, etc. IMO, Sea Salt rises above that.

                                                                                                                                                                                              If Sea Salt was a standard brick-n-mortar establishment on Central or Grand Aves, and ran the exact same business, I'd give them low marks. But for a place to get a decent (no, not NOLA or CA quality) po' boy or taco when in a city park, well, for me they hit that mark. Again, what's the option? DQ across the street. We should be lucky Minnehaha park has a relatively healthy and different food option, which is very rare in most city/county parks across the US.

                                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                                              Sea Change
                                                                                                                                                                                              806 Second Street S., Minneapolis, MN 55415

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: mtullius

                                                                                                                                                                                    News flash -- the butterscotch pudding was on the menu last night. (I didn't order it because I'm making my own butterscotch banana pie over the weekend.)

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the heads up! Might need to head over and see if I can score some.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                    jfood totally agrees with the roated chicken is worse than bleh at Brasa, tasteless and overcooked, but the three sandwiches are over the top good.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                      I've had good experiences with the rotisseried chicken. Moist and flavorful.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Last night, we went to the Brasa in St. Paul and had sandwiches -- the pulled chicken and the pork. Both were great, we thought.

                                                                                                                                                                                  4. Osteria I Nonni. I've only been there three times, the most recent this past weekend for a birthday celebration. Never been as fabulous as I keep expecting it to be, based on the lovin i Nonni gets. Not terrible, but nowhere near as good as reported, nor as their prices would warrant.

                                                                                                                                                                                    It's the inconsistency that bothers me most. I.e., the lamb chops were fabulous, but the gnocci was sullen. The lentils delicious; the romesco soffritto way too salty. A gummy saffron risotto alongside a deliciously dark osso buco. Excellent service in a totally blah decor. But what to do?? Go back and keep hoping? It's like continuing to date someone who's a really good lover but a lousy conversationalist.

                                                                                                                                                                                    One thing is consistent though: great wine pairings. Absolutely no complaint there. But I think this third try may be my last.

                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                    I Nonni
                                                                                                                                                                                    981 sibley memorial hwy, Lilydale, MN 55118

                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: clepro

                                                                                                                                                                                      Our first trip to I Nonni was about the best meal I've had in Mn. Second trip was this summer and a big disappointment.. Subsequently learned that head chep Fillipo had left and now runs the kichen at The Butcherblock in N.E. MPLS. Filippo is from Rome where he was a master butcher. Had a great meal, grilled octopus appetizer was amazing, bread was about the best I've had in MN. They sell loaves. We are going back, Filippos said he would make our favorite from Rome trip, Cacio e pepe, off the menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                      I Nonni
                                                                                                                                                                                      981 sibley memorial hwy, Lilydale, MN 55118

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: stymie

                                                                                                                                                                                        You might want to take him up on that offer sooner than later. We visited a couple of weeks ago, and they are hurting for business.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: stymie

                                                                                                                                                                                          I haven't been to Butcherblock yet, because, quite honestly, I can't figure out what it is. Is it an Italian restaurant? A restaurant that specializes in meats and does it's own home-curing and charcuterrie (which is what I would expect from the name)? Or a place that serves chicken wings to the late-night drunk crowd in NE MPLS?

                                                                                                                                                                                          It seems Butcherblock is #s 1 and 3. Which is an odd pairing, and honestly, is what has put me off from going. The dinner menu looks great, and Caffari is clearly talented and respected. But what gives with the late night wings for the bar crowd?

                                                                                                                                                                                          That, and you can walk past the place a dozen times before knowing there's a restaurant there. If their goal was to design it as to eliminate the chance of random passersbys from dropping in, they succeeded. At least that was the impression a few months ago. Maybe they remodeled their front.

                                                                                                                                                                                          If they are hurting for business, it's not because the area isn't hurting for very good Italian restaurants, because you could count them on an ungulate's foot. Nor is it because of lack of talent in the kitchen. Nor because of location. But they're not helping themselves in being taken seriously when they serve volcano wings at 1 AM, nor by being so well camouflaged that the US military could take lessons.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a place I'll never go because I don't eat meat, but I was amused to hear they don't serve their wings (in like a few dozen flavors, right?) until after 9pm or something. What an odd rule...

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: semanticantics

                                                                                                                                                                                              Right, on Friday and Saturday wings (12 flavors) are served only after 9, and according to their website, they close at 11 those days. So the wings are available for 2 hours those nights. Odd indeed. I thought that when they first opened, they were open until something like 1 AM to serve wings. Perhaps I am wrong in that, or else they recently changed their hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. La Belle Vie. Yup I said it. I've been there twice and spent hundreds of dollars to be really underwhelmed. I can't even remember what I ate, which I always say is a bad sign.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Sea Salt is always a disappointment besides the beautiful venue.

                                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                                        La Belle Vie
                                                                                                                                                                                        510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gancia24

                                                                                                                                                                                          I second the disappointment with La Belle Vie. Lazy, bored chef and staff - hard to say. $80 for the lackluster tasting menu with $60.00 wine flight. At that price point, we should expect great things. Here is a challenge: drop the price by half, go seasonal and change the menu rather often - oh wait, there are already several places like that already. Sorry Vie!

                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                          La Belle Vie
                                                                                                                                                                                          510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PhilESL

                                                                                                                                                                                            I wouldn't say you should expect "great" things from $80 (although that's readily available some places, like Piccolo) but the biggest shame on La Belle Vie is that I've lived here for 3 years and their menu is basically identical

                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                            La Belle Vie
                                                                                                                                                                                            510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Five Guys Burgers for me. Not impressed with the burgers, Kind of bland and the fries were soggy. At least Smashburgers have more flavor and their fries are much better.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. For me, it is Mango Thai, La Cucaracha, and to an extent Chino Latino for the places everyone loves. Mango Thai is really overrated, especially for what they charge for fairly low quality food. La Cucaracha to me is a money pit. No free chips, no free refills, margaritas that taste like there's no alcohol in them and only mixer, and overly salted, too oily, and overly priced. I guess come to think of it, I've never had a good meal at Dixie's either. I used to love Chino Latino, but then I explored the other options MSP and St. Paul have to offer, and find the place to be underwhelming. I'll also throw in Boca Chica. Maybe I have non foodie friends or something, but none of these places ever do it for me, yet everyone I know LOVES them. I don't get it!

                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                            Chino Latino
                                                                                                                                                                                            2916 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                                                                                                                                            Mango Thai Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                            610 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Anything related to Thom Pham.... Why does everyone love this guy? Thanhdo hasnt been good in years. Azia was always overpriced, Temple closed rightfully so and I really think its only a matter of time before Thom Pham's Wondrous (Awful) Kitchen closes. He is not a qualified chef. Its insulting to the art.

                                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                                              Azia Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                              2550 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanhdo
                                                                                                                                                                                              3716 7th Ave, Anoka, MN 55303

                                                                                                                                                                                              20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bgeldof6

                                                                                                                                                                                                !!!!!!!!!!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                omg yes
                                                                                                                                                                                                !!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                thom pham has reached epic, cartoon-villain level horribleness. i honestly can't even talk about him or any of his restaurants without swearing a visible blue streak and elevating my blood pressure 30 points. needless to say i can't patronize his restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                when i heard ol' thom got a year and a half lease, for *free,* for the "wondrous" place i about puked on my own shoe. why do people keep handing this guy more opportunities to (try to) dazzle an unsuspecting public with shoddy bling while serving crap food and treating his employees like they are mannequins, not people? gah!!! now i'm thinking about it and my head's gonna explode!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, but, is their dim sum any good?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The thread / post was modded, but did you see that picture Zimmern tweeted of some form of fish covered in what looked like green melted Play-Doh?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    $19 for Pad Thai. The nerve of this guy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pham and Fhima are to restaurants what Jennifer Aniston is to box office receipts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: semanticantics

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Pad Thai is $16. I would guess it is priced to match King and I. Of course, King and I is ridiculous all the way around. It's only $11 at Thanh Do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I love his cranberry curry, but I can't necessarily defend that position, and it's also available at Gangchen (which I will defend, 'cause it's just plain tasty).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      But, given the location, I think Thanh Do does a pretty nice job.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanh Do
                                                                                                                                                                                                      3005 Utah Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55426

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gangchen Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1833 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kevin47

                                                                                                                                                                                                        wow just checked King & I website, you're right, $16 for pad thai! I will say for them that they give a very large portion for that money. And I love one of the typos on there, #63- Indian Curry Friend Rice............now that's worth some money!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kevin47

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanh Do is no longer in business, Wok in the Park took it place. Since this thread is about places one doesn't love I will say nothing further.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanh Do
                                                                                                                                                                                                          3005 Utah Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55426

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wok in the Park
                                                                                                                                                                                                          3005 Utah Ave S, St Louis Park, MN 55426

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ibew292

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually, Thanh Do moved across Minnetonka Boulevard into the Texa-Tonka strip. Their Anoka branch closed, but I believe that the SLP location is still up and running.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanh Do
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anoka, MN, Anoka, MN

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bob s

                                                                                                                                                                                                              We tried to eat at the new Thando location. . . but never got our entrees. We got our appetizers, and waited bout an hour for food. By the time we gave up, the restaurant almost empty and the customers had already turned over. We were just comped the cheapest appetizer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: semanticantics

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I totally saw that pic and it looked NASTY!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Had the dim sum two weeks ago (kind of by accident). Was not impresses. Selection was average, most things were too doughy or greasy and atmosphere was...just not dim summy (you know, when there's that hum of "what's coming next?").

                                                                                                                                                                                                          There was also a similarity of taste to the 4 or 5 things we tried that was off putting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                            question: is this the same guy who runs Pham's deli in Midtown Global Mkt? I love their veggie spring rolls, a nice combo of lightly stirfried and raw vegetables with a good dipping sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: faith

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pham's Deli's website indicates the owner is not named David. Also, it's scream "independent mom and pop with help from a young relative" web design, so not likely associated with Mr. Pham.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: semanticantics

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's Thom (not David) Pham who is the subject of soupkitten's remarks...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  erm, isn't david pham quite a poker champion? i believe that we may be talking about completely different dudes, & i have nothing against david pham. pham's deli is a mom & pop owned by trung and katie pham, who afaik have no relation to either david or thom. otoh, they may be all part of the same phamily! yukyukyuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  thom pham. . . now i wouldn't want to be alone in an elevator with me, if i was thom pham. . . i might just say something quite unkind to him, in close quarters. or make the "phamily" pun. or fart ;-P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have no idea who David Pham is or why semanticantics decided to bring him into the conversation. Maybe she was being true to her handle. All I was pointing out is that the conversation to that point had been about Thom Pham. ;-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    RE: Pham's deli, I recently read somewhere there are only 20 something Vietnamese surnames. So, many people may be named Pham who are not "related."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      thanks for that info. i'd noticed that pham seemed to be a popular vietnamese surname but didn't realize it was so very common. bad pun aside, i don't actually think any of the phams mentioned are related in any way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      the reason thom pham's restaurants are in the permanent no-fly zone for me, as i've mentioned in other threads. . . i just think the guy is a terrible restaurateur who is way too self-involved and tied up in image. he uses low quality food ingredients and over-presents them. i don't mean to be annoying in my going on about it, but a guy who is more concerned about his shoes than his sushi ingredients. . . i got nothing nice to say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      don't get me started on him yelling at his servers for having the audacity to perspire, on a 100 degree day when his restaurant's air conditioning went out. oh no, there are sweat spots on your servers' uniforms, thom, while they are doing their best to continue to work for you and serve your customers. i am so sorry that they turned out to be human beings and not the blade runner replicants you ordered. you must be having a tough time, poor thom pham. here, let me get you a cold cocktail, don't mind the emt's, while they are carrying out your broiler cook on a gurney because he passed out from heat stroke, you're still making obscene amounts of money, and your shoes look great with that suit. :-/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I confuse David Fhima with Pham (for many of the reasons soupkitten mentions above), thus the combo platter on the name goof. I'm not terribly privy to the behinds the scenes drama at eithers eateries, but I don't understand how Fhima keeps getting leases and how anyone would eat at a Pham location.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I assumed Lenny Russo's rant in his blog about a local restauranteur who was better at closing than opening restaurants was about one of these two fellows.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm also a he, for what it's worth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: semanticantics

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ha! that explains it! david pham *is* a famous poker player though, perhaps it was subliminal. fwiw david fhima's name is just above thom pham's on my list of twin cities restaurateurs i'm least likely to patronize.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I once had the most incredible moroccan lamb at Fhima's. I could eat that once a week. If it were on his new menu, I might actually go over there.I I've never eaten at Pham's so can't offer an opinion. Someone in some thread said the dim sum at his new place isn't good, so, I probably won't be rushing to Wondrous Kitchen (or whatever it's called) any time soon. Plenty of wondrous kitchens on my side of the river. The business stuff makes me sad, though, as a consumer, it's hard to know the real story behind this stuff. I hope these cats make something of their new lives (and that the people that support them get appropriately rewarded.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: semanticantics

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sorry, I must have confused you with someone else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Russo is a great chef. I Iove his cooking and his complete dedication to his vision. In Heartland's former location, his started his work days in the wee hours of the morning--you could see him working in there if you ever drove past. He seems incredibly committed to his craft. However, his hints and innuendo are unbecoming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. This is easy. The King and I. Worst. Thai food. Ever. Okay, maybe not ever, but for the price they're trying to charge it certainly is. It's like what, $17 for a plate of Pad Thai that is hardly worthy of the name. Rice noodles in peanut sauce does not a Pad Thai make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I think Black Sheep Pizza is vastly overrated. Nice people, good service and not dominated by 20 something hipsters at least - but face it, the room is tiny and a dump. Pizza is below average -- crust is like paper, toppings are good quality, but there is no sauce. Seems like their goal is to make the crust as thin and flavorless as possible. I think the new domino's recipe is better. Wait is ridiculous in the tiny dumpy space...if this place were as big as Pizza Luce no one would be talking about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: depres08

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Craftsman. Palomino. Kincaid's. Keys. Barbette. Town Talk. Punch. Lion's Tap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think the worst restaurant crime award on my list has to be shared by Keys and Kincaid's. Keys is just filthy, greasy, and poor quality. Kincaid's is so overpriced and so mediocre - the emperor has no clothes, people!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Not all of the Keys are filthy. I won't step foot in the one on Raymond, but the one in downtown Minneapolis shines like a polished copper penny.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wholeheartedly agree with you on Kincaids. It seems like it is the restaurant for people who don't like restaurants to go to in order to show that they know 'good' food. I've eaten there a few times and have always been disappointed, but perhaps I just don't get it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chino Latino is also on my list of restaurants that others like but I think is awful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chino Latino
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2916 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tamarack

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      With Chino, I think it all depends on what you're after. I agree - the food there isn't anything to go out of your way for. But Chino has a pretty fun scene going, so if it's a large group, with diverse palates, Chino Latino is a pretty good way to go. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of it, but I see its place. I'd never go there for dinner for 2. But I'd go with a group of 10 wanting to nosh on appetizers and get fun drinks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chino Latino
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2916 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chino is great for happy hour, but a well-earned lament besides.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Lunch at Manny's was horrible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The waiter sucked. Looked like he had slept in his uniform and not for very long. Unshaven and smelly to boot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am in the right Manny's? Is there another Foshay Tower in Minneapolis? You see I'm from out of town and might have gone to the wrong W. I don't know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My friend and I order lunch..and when it finally comes it arrives cold. Nothing like a cold steak, cold fries, cold hasbrowns. Do you think I might want another drink? At least refill my water. Boy oh Boy you people at Manny's sure do know how to make a good impression. The food was marginally better than the service. I say this because our 'waiter' never returned to see if we were satisfied. He didn't return untill we had both been finished, and pushed out plates to the edge of the table after at least ten minutes. Did I mention that Knorr 'bernaise' is better than whatever I was served?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I excuse myself to use the restroom. I should have waited. It smelled so bad I skipped dessert, paid the ransom for my time in this crap pit of a restaurant and left.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What a dissapointment. HORRIBLE. DISGUSTING. VILE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Later that same evening I had dinner at Bar La Grassa...AMAZING!!!

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: misterodell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've never understood why people love the fancy steakhouses like Manny's, Morton's or Murray's or Ruth's Chris.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And this week, I was underwhelmed at Bar La Grassa. The wine was good, the service mediocre, the scene was hopping. I tried the eggs and lobster that everyone raves about, the carbonara, and the bolognese. Didn't think any of it was bad, but nothing was terrific either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bar La Grassa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Agree with you on the eggs and lobster...maybe I got a bad batch or something, the lobster was overcooked and chewy and the portion size is too large.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cfretty

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Amen. Keep in mind that dish is called SOFT eggs and lobster.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. It's so nice to have the opportunity to vent! I have read most of these posts and find myself agreeing with some of them, disagreeing with others, and finding out where I might not want to drop a lot of cash. In fact reading this discussion caused me to sign up at Chowhound. Some of my disappointments include:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Salut Bar American, St. Paul: Had a nice lunch there once in spite of an error re my order. When I took my partner there for his b'day, the food and service were not good. My steak was raw and cold, not a good rare (which can be heavenly).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Al Vento: The first experience was great except for the fact that it was winter and we were seated at a table that attracted any cold air that decided to come in through the door. At the second visit, one of us at our table got the wrong entree; the rest of us were finished when her correct order finally came. The service was indifferent. There was no offer of comping us for the inconvenience, even when we ordered dessert. I might try once more but my partner never will.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3.Buca: I have friends who insist on going there whenever a certain mutual friend comes to town. OK, it fills you up and you don't get food poisoning, but this is on a par with the Olive Garden. The same group of friends reserved the Pope's Table for a celebration; I appreciated the irreverence, but we had to scream at each other to be heard. I love my friends and will probably find myself eating there again, but then ... there is so much better food out there to spend one's hard-earned cash on. I am really focusing on really good quality for every dollar I spend these days.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. Bar La Grassa: We went for my b'day b/c of mag & net reviews and on the recommendation of a friend whose taste I respect. Indifferent service and too much noise to talk; well, let me put it this way, the acoustics were such that I could have had a perfectly intimate conversion with one of the men several tables down, but was unable to hear what my partner had to say (something one tends to look forward to on a special occasion and may not want people two tables over to hear). Because of all this, I hardly remember the food, and the wine came after our entrees arrived. For all I know, the food could be better than I thought it was, but the other things I noted above sadly distracted me from the food (which is what I really came for).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Al Vento
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5001 34th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bar La Grassa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Oceanaire - Always a huge letdown - maybe I don't order right...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Good Earth - I want to love it, am always dissappointed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Good Earth Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3460 Galleria, Edina, MN 55435

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Strip Club - I've been there 3 times and believe it or not the most memorable dish was an oyster appy. I am new to St.Paul from NYC and have just started to explore my options. The best experience so far was at a rest. I haven't seen mentioned on this thread. W. A. Frost. By far my best meal since my westward migration. Tanpopo seems consistently good but off topic.

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. my list in no particular order

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - Lions tap: Burgers are just ok, fries are horrible
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - Broders: Not bad by any stretch, just really dont understand the hype
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - Mannys: This place would be out of business in three months in Chicago, New York or any major restaurant city
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - Good Day Cafe: Two issues-- one very bad service, also had several friends who have seen some questionable health issues in their kitchen (produce left out for extended periods)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - Good Earth: Incredibly Bad service, menu is ok, but dont understand all the hype

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Good Day Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5410 Wayzata Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55416

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Good Earth Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3460 Galleria, Edina, MN 55435

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. The top of my list is Mannys. The food is levels below the Capital Grill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Latinpig

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's sad to see how far Manny's has fallen. They really were wonderful at one time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Latinpig

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I really don't get why people go for the fancy steak-house experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I can get a piece of beef that's just as good at Whole Foods on Grand for 1/3rd the price ($16-$20 / lb for dry-aged rib eye, $9.99-$15.99 for regular prime-grade ribeye) and I can easily and quickly cook it as well or better than the steak house in my home and enjoy a bottle of wine that's better than most of the $100+ stuff on their wine lists for $10-$20.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Best steak I ever had was at Capital Grille (one in New Jersey). Hands down. I can grill a good steak, and I've had good ones at friend's houses, but that Capital Grille steak was simply superb. I was in your camp for a while, but when I had that steak, I understood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Capital Grille
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    801 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "I can get a piece of beef that's just as good at Whole Foods on Grand for 1/3rd the price ($16-$20 / lb for dry-aged rib eye, $9.99-$15.99 for regular prime-grade ribeye) and I can easily and quickly cook it as well or better than the steak house in my home..."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I would disagree with this. While great beef is becoming available to the masses, a proper steak-house has access to and dibs on the the first wave of prime cuts coming out of the slaughterhouses. As well, their cooking devices are (or, should be) capable of heat far greater than what you could produce at home, which in turn produces (or, should produce) greater carbonization, carmelization, a.k.a., Maillard reaction, a.k.a., sear, which in turn produces (or, should produce) a more complex and satisfying piece of beef.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now, whether this is true in MSP is another question. I lived in Chicago for some time, and it was certainly true there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      -Parker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: parkermsp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes they get the first choice of meats and they"may" be able to cook it right. I have seldom seen or tasted it done right. Most of the time I can do better with a inferior cut of meat than a steakhouse can do it with a superior cut. Nothing beats a HOT charcoal fire for almost any meat. Capital Grill is one of the few that I would pay their asking prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ibew292

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Minneapolis used to have great steaks. Now Manny's no longer says "prime" on their menu. I've observed that beef in general has gone down in quality in the last decade or more. No doubt due to increased interest in "low-fat" garbage and also to the diet of the cows becoming more and more poor (but cheap!) Prices going up doesn't help, either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: parkermsp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Prime is as prime does...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Have you tried the rib eye steaks, aged or not, from Whole Foods in St. Paul? If you're going to compare to the beef available at many grocers, I'd grant you that the fancy steakhouse steaks are likely better. We are not really in disagreement, you say great beef is becoming available to the masses and so do I.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As for greater heat, real charcoal, used in copious quantities, produces some serious heat. I have two of the larger sized chimney starters and I use them both to make lots of hot coals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And as for cooking techniques, take a look at some of the articles on-line at places like... chow hound or other sites I won't name here. There are some easy ways to get a good outer crust without overcooking. Some of them are quite clever, like cooking the meat in a very slow oven (200F) to an internal temp of 100F then searing it over a very high heat, either on a skillet or a grill. The key is to get the crust just right while the whole interior is cooked to the desired state (124F). If we are careless it is easy to end up with an interior that's 2/3rds overcooked and 1/3rd properly cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I agree with many of the other posts. Some additions:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Pizza Luce - bready crust, too sweet sauce, served with a hefty price tag and an attitude
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Birchwood Cafe - I want to like this place, but their vegetarian dishes are always heavy on the refined starches and low on vegetables and fruit. One Mexican breakfast had 4 different starches, and not one of them was healthy or whole grain
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Sen Yai Sen Lek - I want to like this place, too, but the food is too salty and lacking authentic flavoring
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Jasmine Deli - Americanized Vietnamese food. You never see Vietnamese families in there. I much prefer their more authentic neighbors on Eat Street

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Birchwood Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3311 E 25th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jasmine Deli
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2532 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sen Yai Sen Lek
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2422 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Kincaid's - overpriced mediocre steaks, snooty waiters (2 visits)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Punch Pizza - I thought "you're kidding" when I saw the pizza. it was so nothing. (1 visit)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Smashburger - soggy, bad tasting fries, average burger (1 visit)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Crave - everything I've gotten there has been bad. never going back. (3 visits)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lion's Tap - it's a hamburger, so what? I can get a hamburger anywhere. (2 visits)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Matt's Bar - Jucy Lucy was so underwhelming among the fanfare. 5-8 Club is better (1 visit)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Revisiting Meritage for a 2nd chance after a very blah experience the first time.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Meritage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: clamchowder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Agree except about Smash. Their fries (at least the ones we've had in Woodbury) are very crispy. Lion's Tap was especially disappointing to me as we drove to the other end of the world for burgers without a plate. They couldn't even serve it on a plate? Good luck with Meritage. Our first experience was blah, it was horrid from the food to the service.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Meritage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Woodbury Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          803 Bielenberg Dr, Saint Paul, MN 55125

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: vls

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The fries at Smash have never done anything for me either. I think the burgers are good, but the Twin Cities burger in particular is a nightmare to eat. You better have a beach towel ready to handle the mess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: vls

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm curious how recent your experiences at Meritage were. Recent? The first 6 months or so after they opened (a few years ago) they were really inconsistent and a lot of chowhounds reported negative experiences, but they seemed to tighten things up after that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I personally have been a couple of times in the last few months and had great experiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If your bad experiences were in the early days, I would encourage you to go now. If your bad experiences were recent, I'd like to hear more of the specifics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Meritage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've done my research this time and will be ordering the cassoulet and pomme frites with bearnaise sauce. My last visit was a year ago for a brunch of mostly breakfast offerings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: clamchowder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, a year ago certainly should have been recent enough that you should have gotten the "good" Meritage experience, so I'm sorry to hear that your experience was blah. I haven't been there for brunch recently, though, so I'm hoping you just caught them on a bad day and that it's not some kind of trend. I love love love their breakfast potatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good luck this time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Meritage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: clamchowder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, when I lived in E.P. I never got the love for Lion's Tap, either. But now that I think about it, the place reminds me a lot of Mancini's in that it's a lot more fun if you're a regular with lots of fun memories of the place or if you're there celebrating with a bunch of people. At that point, if the drinks are what you want to drink and the food is not bad, it's a great place. But if you're new or not there to drink a bunch or you're thinking hard about the food, it's easy to miss what people like about such places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You make a great point. The best places are often the ones where we're most comfortable and feel welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter in Stillwater. Lovely building and location. Atrocious food. People treat this place as a destination. Save your gas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Has anybody mentioned the St. Paul Grill yet? Maybe I need to give it another try, but on my one visit there the food was abominable and overpriced and the waitstaff snooty. When my dinner partner (rightfully) hardly touched his beef tenderloin with weird fig sauce and then had the gall to say he didn't want a doggie bag, the waitress acted like it was a personal affront.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And lest someone think I'm the snooty type myself for not liking their hoity-toity food and 'tude, I will also cast my vote for Keys. What a mediocre breakfast! What a ridiculously high price!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Hell's Kitchen. But specifically, only the peanut butter. I've been twice and liked the hash, loved the huevos and was surprised that I liked the sausage bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't understand how people lose their minds over that PB. I found it way too sweet, but I prefer mine "old fashioned" with just a bit of salt. And seriously...it's just peanut butter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hell's Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: aletheia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I love HK. The peanut butter is excellent--as a dessert. They serve it on a brownie with ice cream and whipped cream and it is great. Otherwise it is too sweet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: aletheia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm right with you on the PB being too sweet. I'm an absolute junkie for peanut butter and given what I'd heard about it, I expected to be bringing a case home. Instead, I tried one swipe worth at the restaurant and didn't take any home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Sen Yai Sen Lek. All kinds of people rave about it..I would say beyond rave, they adore it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The first (and only) time we ate there I was literally stunned by the fact that so many people urged us to go there. Everything we had (and there were 4 of us and we tried lots of things) was awful; or ranging from completely flavorless to awful. One person in our party compared his cashew chicken to canned La Choy chow mein. It didn't even taste like thai food. On top of that it's SOO expensive! the only thing I can think is that they're very kid-friendly and a lot of the people who recommend it have small kids. That and I've heard the owners are very nice. I'm still mystified though....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sen Yai Sen Lek
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2422 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cherrylime

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sadly, I would agree with you cherrylime. It has a cute storefront, and the folks were nice, but if I can call up what we had, I think I had the Tom Sum (papaya salad) and Laab (spicy ground beef with accompaniments). The papayay salad was.. sad mostly liquid on a bed of sogged iceberg. Ditto with the Laab- spicy yuck. I know we found a few good chunks of grissle in it. And the server/owner folks were very nice. But.. I think the food is an important part of a good restaurant, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Crave. I'm just not a fan, I've been there a few times and every time the food has been mediocre. But people seem to love it there!