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MSP: Quiet weekend dinner for group of 9 in south Minneapolis?

Hail, fellow hounds. Coming from Los Angeles, I'll be hosting dinner on Saturday, June 12th, for a group of 8 driving up from Northfield (yes, it's graduation season...). I'm seeking recommendations of a moderately priced (ca. $40/head, before wine) restaurant, preferably south of Downtown, possibly with a private-dining space. Two of our group are hearing-impaired, so low music/ambient noise is ESSENTIAL. Cuisine-wise, we'd steer toward Mediterranean and away from Asian, but I'm open to all suggestions.

After a week of research on the Cities dining scene, I'm intrigued by Corner Table and Grand Cafe. Piccolo also caught my eye, but some of our group get confused by the many-small-plates approach. I'm also considering Sea Change, at the Guthrie Theater, after the 7:30pm curtain.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Interesting that you mention Corner Table. It was coming to mind first before reaching the end of your post. We have had excellent food there. It's a small menu, as you know, but well-balanced so everyone should be able to find something. It's quality local food (mostly), very well-executed with some creative flair. And it's quiet. I pay attention to that because my dinner companion has hearing problems. We don't have hearing problems there. The room is small with mostly small tables. But I've been there with a larger group and they were able to put tables together for us and that worked well. It would be essential to make reservations early to be sure they can accommodate you.

    The other place I think of right away is Restaurant Alma. Excellent seasonal food. It might be just a bit more than you'd like to spend. $45 for a three course tasting menu. I think of Alma as pretty quiet but would mention that concern when making the reservation to get seating that takes that into account.

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    Restaurant Alma
    528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

    Corner Table
    4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

    2 Replies
    1. re: karykat

      Thanks; your feedback is spot-on with my concerns. I had presumed that Restaurant Alma would be beyond my budget, and while the 3-course tasting menu is a good fit, I suspect my group is likely to veer into the pricier, a la carte selections. Also, the wine mark-up at Alma seems to border between "oh my" and "ouch". Are wine prices at Corner Table (not on their web site) comparable, or scaled closer to their food prices?

      1. re: glasshousejmb

        Wine prices vary- there's a small but good selection, and you can find a @28 bottle as well as a $50 one. Since they are a neighborhood place, they really do make sure that there's a price point for people who visit regularly. Scott, the owner, is extremely personable and loves to talk food and wine so if you go, hopefully he'll be there.
        My husband and I usually spend around $70-80 with a bottle of wine.

    2. Corner Table is a great neighborhood restaurant. They have a large table in the front room that can probably seat 9, just make sure you reserve it. As karykat noted, the chef has a real passion for local and in-season food, and it's always good.
      Grand Cafe is excellent also- a little more limited in menu choices than Corner Table, but not much. They always have a version of the same chicken and beef dish, usually rotating what they cook it with, and both are delicious. They have a back room that's much more private than the front of the house- you can probably just call to reserve it. They also have a side patio space that they used to use- not sure if they still do- and the outside front area is also really nice, especially for a group.

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      Corner Table
      4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

      1. I do not have any hearing issues but have found Alma to be very loud/noisy the few times I have been there.

        1. throwing lucia's and craftsman into the mix. i like sea change but think it's way too easy to spend upward of your budget there--you'd be better off with alma. though, sea change is a striking space, & your party can go enjoy views of the riverfront from there.

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          Lucia's Restaurant
          1432 W 31st St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

          Craftsman Restaurant
          4300 Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406

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

          1. I asked my significant other about noise in the places we've been. He said that Corner Table is, from his standpoint, as quiet as it gets. He said he thought that upstairs at Alma was pretty quiet.

            He thought it was hard for him to hear in Craftsman. But said that he's only been there twice and not for a good while. The main room there is large, compared for example, to Corner Table which is very small. I've liked the food at Craftsman very much but it might not be the best choice if noise is also a criterion.

            I'm sure there are lots other places that meet all your criteria that we haven't thought of yet.

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            Corner Table
            4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

            1. One small caveat about CT; the portions tend to be smallish (especially pasta dishes) so if you have people in your group that dislike that sort of thing, it's something to take into consideration.

              1. IMO, your best bet is Grand Cafe. Another poster referenced the back room, and that is what first popped into my mind. I've eaten in that room a number of times.

                Corner Table has just never impressed me, and I think 9 of you would be crowded in that front room, with people seated at the bar and all. It would be my mention in the thread on this board about places everyone loves except you.

                Craftsmand and Alma will be too noisy for your group. Especially Craftsman.

                Trattoria Tosca has a table in the front room that is quite set apart from all other tables, and is probably quiet enough.

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                Corner Table
                4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

                3 Replies
                1. re: Brad Ballinger

                  I haven't been to Grand Cafe for dinner so I won't comment on that.

                  But I can say we've had great food at Corner Table every time we've been there. And I have been there with a group, at least 7 of us, and we were accommodated well. They had a nice table for us. Certainly not at the bar.

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                  Corner Table
                  4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

                  1. re: karykat

                    Brad -- Now I see what you are saying about the bar at Corner Table. I think you're saying that it might be crowded if your table is near the bar and there are people seated there.

                    I don't think I've seen people at the bar when I've been there.

                    But when I was there with a group, they had put tables together near the "back" wall. Away from the bar.

                    So they can do that. (If you have a reservation early enough.)

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                    Corner Table
                    4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

                    1. re: karykat

                      Yes, that's what I was thinking. I've never NOT seen people seated at the bar when I've been there. Just luck, I guess.

                2. Have you considered Caf'e 28 in South Mpls? A bit below your price point, but quite nice and offering high quality/high value. Nice local beer selection, solid wine selection.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Maggie19

                    I think Cafe 28 is a cut below the other places that have been mentioned - at least the ones I've eaten at. While Cafe 28 is perfectly pleasant and an addition to Linden Hills, there's little there that would cause me to recommend it as a destination for those traveling from afar. (That being said, they have a connection to Surly, a local brewery, so they do have good local beer. They had Surly 4 on tap for a while - so they'll forever have a warm spot in my heart for that single act.)

                  2. You might want to consider Al Vento which is an Italian restaurant located in the Nokomis neighborhood of south Minneapolis. I don't think its quite in the same class as restaurants like Alma or the Craftsman but still quite nice with good service and normally a pretty quiet spot in my experience. Prices are pretty reasonable as well.

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

                    1. Big thanks to everyone for weighing in with their advice & recommendations! I decided to go with Corner Table, and was able to secure a reservation for our group with plenty of notice. I'll report on our experience afterward. In the meantime -- thanks again.

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                      Corner Table
                      4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409