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Sep 17, 2010 12:25 PM

Purple Sandpiper in Bloomington

I tried the new Purple Sandpiper in Bloomington today - in fact, I tried it twice. I stopped in this morning, after noticing the "OPEN" sign in the window as I drove by yesterday, to try the lemon ricotta hotcakes for breakfast. They were thin and buttery-crisp on the outside, and not really pancakey on the inside - not fluffy - I'd have to say the inside was _almost_ souffle-like - you could just kind of tear off pieces of the cake, instead of needing to cut it, like you would with a normal pancake. Tough to describe, but with just the right amount of lemon, and a little tangy-creaminess from the ricotta, they were incredible, and served with some fresh blue- and rasp-berries that really offset the creaminess and accented the lemon. Syrup was also served, but was not needed.

I was the only person in the restaurant for most of the time I was there. I talked to the waitress for awhile - she was just so excited about everything, but in a good way - truly taking an interest in it, not in the bubbly/obnoxious "everything's great" too-perky way. She really got excited when I ordered hot tea - got to try out the new tea-maker they had - fresh-brewed Tea Source loose-leaf tea. They had green, Assam, Oolong, and Earl Grey, if I remember right. They green tea was very good.

I took a look at the menu and decided I'd go back for lunch. I was happy to see that the place was a lot closer to full - probably 2/3-full by the time I left. I tried the pork belly panini - pork belly, roasted pepper, basil, and maple mascarpone on brioche. It was a good sandwich, but suffered structural integrity problems - the brioche just didn't stand up to the toasting/grilling process - but this was anticipated, and it was served with a knife and fork. I liked the sandwich, but I just kept thinking to myself, "I wish this were more smoky - like bacon". The pork belly was really thin-sliced, and I think it was crisped on the grill - it might have been better if it were a little thicker. The sandwich was served with hand-cut sweet potato fries that came with a cinnamon-orange aioli for dipping - I enjoyed these more than the sandwich.

For those of you in the know about the local restaurant scene, this is the new restaurant by Ryan Aberle. I'm not that familiar with him, but people seemed to like his tasting menus at NorthCoast, and it looks like he'll be doing that here, too, at least according to the menu. I've never had the pleasure, but I might just give this a try - five courses for $35, $45 with wine pairings.

The website is:

Includes full breakffast/lunch/dinner menus.

This is at least the 4th restaurant in this little strip mall (in the Cub parking lot on Lyndale south of 494) in the last 3-4 years - I kinda hope this one stays around, so everyone should go there, but not so much that I can't get a table myself... Work it out amongst yourselves.

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  1. I was excited to hear about this place. I work in east Bloomington (by MOA) and the restaurant options suck. Thanks for the info...hopefully I'll be able to add something soon.

    1. I went this morning for breakfast. At 8:00 am I was the only one there until I was ready to leave.

      It took about 15 minutes to get the tea. When I did get it, it was lukewarm. It was good tea though and I'm glad they chose Tea Source. The waiter/chef must have had difficulty with the new tea-maker because he came to me twice during those 15 minutes to tell me they were still working on the tea. He said if I had ordered the coffee, he could have given it to me right away. But this tea thing...I think once they get the procedure down pat, it'll be great. Not many places pay that much attention to their tea.

      I ordered the scotch eggs. They had a nice crisp coating, which I like. The sausage though was a little overcooked and not seasoned enough to my taste. The eggs were perfect - bright, orange yolks and slightly runny. The hash browns were nice. This is the first time I've ever ordered scotch eggs so I'm not an expert. I would probably order something different next time. I will go there again to try the other delectables you describe.

      Another issue with the place was the salt. It was French sea salt, which was in a cylindrical box on the table. It was very coarse and rolled off the food when I put it on the food. I had poured it into my hand - then pinched some with my other hand - then put it over the food. I ended up putting the pile of salt from my hand onto the corner of my plate. I then moved each bite of food to the salt area and picked up 2 or 3 grains of salt. I'm going to raise this issue on the General Chowhound board because I do not know what one should do here.

      2 Replies
      1. re: shoo bee doo

        Yeah - the waitress made my tea - it took about 5 minutes - about the time it takes tea to steep. It wasn't blazingly hot when it got to me, either, but was a good drinking temperature, and the little pot/pitcher thing seemed to keep it at that temperature throughout the meal. She was worried that they only had two machines, though - and what if more than two people wanted tea at the same time?

        I didn't use the salt, but I did notice that it was not what I'd consider "table" salt.

        1. re: greghoffman

          Green Tea is brewed at a much lower temp than black tea, around 150 degrees. So if you ordered green tea and it wasn't blazing hot, that means they are doing it right. Hooray for doing it right!

      2. I went there again last week for lunch and had the Angus butter burger. The beef was very flavorful - cooked medium, as requested, and the cheese and bacon truly added flavor to the burger, instead of just fat and calories, like some of the "bacon cheese" burgers out there.

        The sandwich once again suffered from fall-apart, but this was only due to how juicy the burger was, and how well the juices were sealed in. The first bite I took sprayed burger juice halfway up my arm, and drizzled it out onto the bottom half of the bun, which made it a lot less structurally viable. They need to use that trick where you put an indentation in the middle of the patty before you cook it to keep it from bulging into a meatball - the burger was more than an inch thick, but only about 3 inches across. But, once again, it was very tasty as a knife-and-fork sandwich.

        I did hear the waitress apologizing to the lady at the next table who'd ordered one of the brioche sandwiches, since she apparently had the same issue I did with the pork belly sandwich falling apart before. And actually, as far as I could tell, there really wasn't a "waitress/waiter" that day - people kept taking turns coming out of the kitchen to serve the food. It didn't look like it was supposed to be that way, though - they seemed a bit frazzled, like the waitress was out for the day or something.

        There still appears to be a few glitches with the service and a few of the menu items, but I plan on waiting it out and (hopefully) watching them mature. Has anybody been there for dinner, yet? How do things appear to be working in the evening?

        9 Replies
        1. re: greghoffman

          Have a reservation this weekend. Will report back. The prices are excellent and I was impressed with Ryan's tasting menu when he was at NorthCoast.

          1. re: kriminalrat

            First off, this restaurant has an incredible foodie menu. Unfortunately Chef Ryan was on vacation and I was dissapointed the tasting menu wasn't offered. Overall everything was good but the execution was lacking. Something I'm sure that could have been cleaned up if Chef Ryan was there. The scotch egg was great. The walleye bites seemed to lack something that made them come off a little bland. The Duck Confit was excellent but the pumpkin gnocchi was horrible...overcooked and rubbery. Props to the steak cassoulet as it was cooked perfectly but seemed a little grisly. The pork Belly had great taste but seemed a little overcooked. I look forward to trying the tasting menu and with a little polishing of the kitchen this restaraunt has alot of potential. Also props to Chef Ryan for making a foodie menu affordable...the prices are very reasonable. Also for Beer lovers his beer menu is top notch.

            1. re: kriminalrat

              What kind of beer?

              (This place is kind of near my mother's house and may be a new stop for us when I'm out there.)

              1. re: karykat

                Beer is all over the board. Alot from MN, WI, MI.

                  1. re: karykat

                    Ryan left. He sure moves around alot.

                    1. re: kriminalrat

                      So it looks like Eric Meyer is the chef. Anyone know where he came from?

                      1. re: kriminalrat

                        This place has a deal on Living Social today.

                        1. re: semanticantics

                          Anyone know if they have a new head chef...Was thinking about going back for the tasting menu.

        2. I went and tried this place after everyone said it was so great. I had a late lunch and they were servicing the brunch menu. I tried the pumpkin pancakes and they were delicious.For my beverage, I tried to order a Bloody Mary and they didn't have the mix. So, I changed to the tea (since people seemed to enjoy it). That was also good, piping hot and great flavors. Staff was attentive, nice and knowledgeable.

          I can't wait to try the dinner menu!!!!

          3 Replies
          1. re: sweetkim

            Heads up to anyone with a tasting menu coupon for this restaraunt...go soon, This place will not be in business long. I hate to say this after an incredible tasting menu Ryan did 4 months ago but alas he is gone. Recently went for the $50 for two ($100 value!) yeah right, tasting menu. It was four courses. They actually counted a date on a large plate as a course. The salad was so small I ate it in 3-4 bites. The short rib was good, it was on the menu served with Kale that magically turned into Broccoli. The Apple crisp was served on one plate. Are they too lazy to wash another dish or just to cheap to serve a larger portion? The highlight of this meal was an Edmund Fitzgerald Porter I had. I will never go back.

            1. re: kriminalrat

              I am not sure what you are talking about kriminalrat but I think this place will stay open for a while! I have eaten there four time so far, once with my wife, once with two friends and twice with people from work. And all of the people loved their food! I haven't tried the tasting menu as I wasn't aware of it, when they had the deal going but I see the menu on their website. If I had the chance, I would have liked to use such coupon to see what happened there. Because, from my experience, I can't believe they would be like that! I did use a coupon from the crowdcut that my wife bought (it was $30 food & drinks for $15 deal) and no problem there. In my opinion, since the previous chef left, (Ryan something) I think this place actually gone upwards as far as food quality, service and their selections of beer and wine. If I am not mistaken, the current chef came from Lucia's (in uptown) or at least, that's what I was told his last place was. I was told that they souce 80 percent of their products locally!! They even have a list of farmers that they buy from on their window. I don't know about you but I support ANY place that keeps the MN money in MN..................And speaking of the old chef, if it is the same Ryan that was at Ringo;s, well that place closed down last month:-( Anywho, that's my two bit................Being a part of the same community that the restaurant is in, I hope and wish that they stay open for a LONG time; for, we needed a place like this in Bloomington!!

              1. re: Jimbo68

                Props to them for buying local. I stand by my statement that the tasting menu "deal" wasn't much of a deal. I hope that any restaraunt that pushes local and unique food will make it.

          2. I went back to the Purple Sandpiper last week and it was great! I had the short ribs, mmmmm. The manager was great. Jason was so friendly and he told me about different wines. He made the experience even more pleasurable. Go and try this, I think you will be surprised.


            1 Reply
            1. re: sweetkim

              We just at there last night. It was really nice, and the service were great! Super friendly, but not in an obnoxious way at all. Memorably just plain really nice. I am not sure if "Jason" was chef'ing (was he also a worker at Sinful Wines & Spirits), but everything (Beer Beef & Sea Bass by us) was really good.

              I am sort of bummed their breakfast menu has been so reduced, but am still looking forward to going back.

              I also really like how much they promote local foods..subtle, but abundant - go check it out :)