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Apr 22, 2010 10:45 AM

Twisted Fork Grille -St Paul

So can anyone tell me more about this? It is right next to Green Mill on Hamline/Grand. I knew that the Green Mill there had been talking about revamping their menu -but I think Twisted Fork is a separate venture. Is this owned by Green Mill?

I received an email and I am set to have dinner there (complimentary-one of those training dinners) at 6:45 next Thursday. Everything is free (meal and beverages) but not beer and wine .

This is what my email said:

At Twisted Fork Grille, we’re committed to being a great St. Paul neighbor.
We’re also committed to our planet and the local economy, always considering
how the food we serve is grown, processed and transported. We use locally
produced and fresh ingredients whenever possible – supporting your appetite for
healthy food as well as the dedicated farmers committed to sustaining natural
agricultural practices.

Any word?

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  1. Not sure. But I ordered from Green Mill last week and they reference Twisted Fork on their website. They don't claim ownership, but remind people they are open during construction and they welcome TF and hope it will add to the neighborhood. Feels like they are connected.

    1. Twisted Fork _is_ Green Mill. They split up the existing room so that the back offers the (take-out) pizza and the front will offer three (non-pizza) meals. There's also a nod to local food and the brewing they were doing there.

      1. mrs. sisp and I were hungry last night and were driving right by Twisted Fork Grille, so we decided to stop in. It was their second day since their "hard" opening Monday, so please keep that in mind as I review. Please also keep in mind it was just the two of us, so we tried only two dishes. :-) My thoughts:

        Service: When we arrived, the hostess opened the door for us. Everyone greeted us and said goodbye when we left and it didn't seem forced either time ("HelloIt'sagreatdayatTiresMinusMynameisTroyHowcanIhelpyou?"). Our waitress was personable and willing to share her interpretations of the menu (apparently the staff had tried a few bites of pretty much everything on the menu). The service could have been a bit more polished (the dinner plates were slid across the table), but it was attentive and I would not call it poor service.

        Regulars of the old Green Mill will notice some elements stayed -- the high tables in the front corner, the mottled blue pendant lights. Otherwise, they did a nice -- but dark -- update to the room.

        When we were seated we were handed five pieces of paper: two dinner menus, one half-sheet with the day's specials, a wine/beer list, and a non-alcoholic beverages list. IMHO, that's a lot of paper flying around. There also is a breakfast/lunch menu, though the lunch menu seems redundant to me since it offers the same dishes (at the same prices) as the dinner menu. Appetizers seemed to center around $7-8; entrees around $15.

        There were a variety of appetizers, several beef dishes, a couple of seafood dishes, at least one chicken dish, a pork chop, a braised lamb shank, several sandwiches, some salads, and three breakfast entrees which are available all day (two challah-based stuffed french toasts and I've already forgotten the third). A couple of the choices would be considered vegetarian, though vegan might be a stretch. There really aren't side dishes to speak of; the entrees (and some appetizers) come with vegetables and/or starches.

        The food:
        Shortly after we ordered, we received a plate of bread and butter. Tasty and above room temperature (both of them; a good thing in my view).

        I had the coffee-marinated flat iron steak, rare. *Real* rare features meat still cool in the middle, and this wasn't, but it was still rare enough for me. I did not discern much coffee flavor, but maybe that wasn't the point (the acid in the coffee is supposed to break down the fibers in the meat). The steak came on a bed of braised red cabbage (tasty, but rich) and was topped with a "mushroom vinaigrette" (which was okay, but I could have done without the vinaigrette). The meat was served with fingerling potatoes which were well-cooked but a bit salty to me.

        mrs. sisp had the Amish chicken appetizer: three drumsticks in a chile/orange-blossom honey glaze, served on end over a red-cabbage/carrot coleslaw (TFG loves their brassicas!). I didn't pick up much chile heat, but orange definitely was evident, and the combination worked without being cloying. mrs. sisp really liked the chicken and the cole slaw (I didn't try the cole slaw, but she made sure it was boxed up before we left).

        The bill was around $25 for both of us with no beverages or desserts and both of us took some dinner home.

        Would we go again? Certainly. TFG still is getting their sea legs. But there are inventive menu choices that don't cross the line to downright weird and they certainly seem to be trying (and I'll often reward *that* beyond reason).

        But I'm a bit confused by what TFG says they want to be and what they appear to be. For all the talk about local products and producers, there are several contradictions present.

        The only local producer name I saw anywhere was Nueske's (on the breakfast menu) (I consider "Amish chicken" almost a generic). Not that everything needs to have a name attached, but if you're proud of where the food came from, why not say so?

        When we asked, we were informed the bread was from Breadsmith down the street. Nice that they're using someone within walking distance, but a chain, when there's St. Agnes or P. J. Murphy's or A Toast to Bread or other local bakeries to work with? Are sea scallops of such overriding interest and locality that they deserve a place on the permanent menu? Should they be using orange-blossom honey in several dishes given that orange blossoms most certainly aren't found in any quantity in Minnesota?

        I'm not expecting Lenny Russo's Heartland in this price range, nor am I expecting complete fidelity to Minnesota-grown produce (pickings would get pretty slim for several months of the year). I certainly think TFG is a step or two above yet another pizza/pasta/salad joint. I just think TFG needs a little refinement in making the walk match the talk. We'll be back after a bit to see how they're doing.

        3939 W 50th St, Minneapolis, MN 55424

        1 Reply
        1. re: steve_in_stpaul

          Meant to write about our experience at the free evaluation meal we had. Much of what SISP had to say is exactly as I would describe our experience. Since we were there on the "soft" opening, there was definitely a bit more wait time between apps and meal (upwards of over 25 mins) but I won't count that against them.

          I agree that the amount of paper is too much. It's was like the Cheesecake Factory without the binder portion.

          We were encouraged to order an appetizer, a salad and a meal or two meals. We started with the ahi tuna appetizer. It was pretty to look at it- 3 won ton chips between the mound of sashimi grade tuna. As sushi/tuna lovers, the tuna passed - though it seemed more tartare-style than sliced style which it did not advertise. It was sprinkled with a few sesame seeds and a light soy-based glaze on top. I would've prefered that on the side. Would order again for comparison. It came on a bed of shredded seaweed.

          I ordered the ancho chile-rubbed chicken salad. For presentation, this actually got an A+, mainly for color. It had mixed greens, spinach, raddichio, and then a variety of texture with shredded carrot, diced green and red pepper, I believe jicama...etc., toasted pecans, etc. I would have prefered the chicken as a breast, sliced and laid across as opposed to small chunks (almost like bigger pieces of ground chicken) and definitely more heat. It was not spicy to me at all. The orange-soy vinaigrette dressing needs help. It needed more citrus and more kick and should be placed on the side (though they don't get negative pts, I didn't ASK for it on the side either).

          Hubby had exactly what Steve had-the coffee flat iron steak (only because they were OUT of the bison meatloaf, which went quick). Everything he said about the dish was true.

          In terms of its focus, I think it hopefully will come together a little more but the servers couldnt' STOP talking about the local commitment, chef talking with the farmers/vendors, etc. and therefore, yes, don't just say Amish - if it is from Kadejan (say Ngon does), afterall, they said Nueske....and bummer, I didn't get a pre-dinner carb fix. The bread and butter thing must be new.

          We sat at the bar and we enjoyed our experience and they are pretty knowledgable (at least the guy we had Andrew/Rocky) about the beers on tap.

          Cheesecake Factory
          2715 Southdale Ctr, Minneapolis, MN 55435

        2. "Green Mill broadened its horizons by opening Twisted Fork Grill in the Grand Avenue location. With food created by heavy hitting chefs Keven Kvalsten (formerly of Green Room) and Steven Trojahn (formerly of Cosmos), the menu focuses on fresh and local, while serving comfort dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. "
          --says the Foodie Newsletter/e-mail by MSP Mag

          Green Room
          140 W Main St, Waconia, MN 55387

          1. We went to Twisted Fork last Saturday night. It probably wouldn't have been my first choice, but my mother was treating my husband and I, so hey.

            For starters we ordered the tuna poke and a shrimp scampi special. The poke portion was ENORMOUS - enough tuna for eight people. Unfortunately, it was drowned in soy sauce and the tuna had no taste except for the soy. The shrimp scamp was very nice - four large shrimp in a very tasty garlic and tomato sauce.

            My husband ordered the scallops with polenta. No complaints from him and the scallops weren't overcooked. My mother had the lamp shank with citrus lentils. The shank was positively Flinstonian. There was probably enough lamb there for four. The lamb was very good and she liked the lentils, too.

            I ordered the roast chicken with mushroom risotto. I normally don't order chicken in restaurants (it's usually so blah) but I just wanted to get my grubby hands on the risotto. The risotto looked overcooked (and it was a bit soupy) but it was really delicious, especially with the tomato-garlic broth that came with it. The chicken, on the other hand, was as dry as the Sahara. Dry and bland. Now I really know better than to order chicken out. We didn't order dessert since none of it sounded good to us at the time.

            The decor was really late-90s and kind of high-end chain restaurantesque (no surprise since Twisted Fork is part of a chain, really). Service was a little bumbling but well-meaning. In the end, I'm not sure I'd go back. Maybe after the kitchen has had more of a chance to settle in (although it's been a couple of months - how much longer do they need?).