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Annual Visit to Minneapolis in November

  • TonyO Sep 27, 2010 01:57 PM
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We are coming back MINNESOTA !! Lat year we had a great visit which included stops at Sea Change (late lunch at the bar), Restaurant Alma (great !), 112 Eatery (foie gras meatballs were exceptional). We are staying at The Depot Hotel and would prefer to walk or a cab ride under 15 minutes. We will be there the weekend of 11/21 for the Viking game, Thanks is advance !

Restaurant Alma
528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

112 Eatery
112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

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

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  1. A few of my favorites.

    1) Bar La Grassa - Italian/pasta place, same owner as 112. Just awarded a '10 best new restaurant in America' by Bon Appetit. Big, raucous space with outstanding food. Reservations recommended. No more than a 5 minute cab ride.

    2) Saffron - Across the street from 112. Excellent middle eastern/north African inspired food. Reservations recommended here too.

    3) Black Sheep Pizza - I really like this place. Laid back vibe, great (if small) local beer selection, super friendly owner and excellent pizza.

    4) Brasa - Small, casual, southern/south american inspired food outpost run by Restaurant Alma's chef. Heavy focus on local ingredients.

    5) Solera - Great late night happy hour for tapas and drinks.

    All of these would be 5-10 minute cab rides and none are particularly stuffy. Saffron is probably the most formal of the bunch and you can feel fine wearing jeans there.

    Hope you have a good foodie trip!

    Restaurant Alma
    528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

    900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: BigE

      Thanks BigE ! BLG is a definite. Have to figure out the rest !

    2. On BigE's list jfood would confirm BLG as a must try and Saffron as a should try. Jfood loves Brasa as well and if you can do lunch there versus dinner jfood would confirm as well. Pizza in MSP is not something to go out of your way for (even with BSP the best option).

      Another idea and stretches the 15 minute cab is Travail up a little north and Corner Table a little south. Travail is using a new no-server concept (chef brings to table) and the food has been great (working on a 10-course review as we speak) and corner table does some neat things but check the web site to see if that style fits. Both use local grown items. V44 is also an idea but many of the chefs moved to Travail and jfood has not been since the exodus. Maybe by then the chef from Heidi's will be situated as well. Stay tuned, jfood cannot wait to see the new place as well.

      Corner Table
      4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

      5 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        Hey jFood, any updates ??? Thanks in advance.

        1. re: TonyO

          Jfood has eaten at Travail 3 times in the last three weeks. His treatice on his first two visits with photos is on this thread


          1. re: jfood

            Hey jfood, we should hit V44 sometime, I haven't been since Travail opened and am wondering what the state of the restaurant is.

            I've been to Travail 10 times since they opened, with only one ho-hum experience, the rest being excellent to ridiculously exceptional. Hope you got to try to wild mushroom risotto.

            1. re: semanticantics

              Any thoughts on Lucia's ????

              1. re: TonyO

                Lucia's is a stalwart (in a good way) of the MSP food scene. I work and live nearby, so I usually frequent the bakery or the wine bar. But meals in the main dining room are generally well executed, seasonal, local, and well thought out. You will not find dishes that are way out out there at Lucia's - it's not a trend-setting kitchen - but it's hard to be disappointed with the food. Atmosphere in the dining room is very staid, pleasant, and a little worn if you look closely. At lunch it attracts the "ladies who lunch" crowd. Dinner is a little more varied, but you'll still see a lot of folks who look like they're in from the country club.

      2. Saffron is a 'should go' - I agree.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Maggie19

          Looks like it is going to be Travail for a late lunch on Saturday, Bar La Grass for dinner Saturday night, 3 hours of beer at the Metrodome, and Piccolo for dinner Sunday night. Maybe a pit stop at Sea Change for some post game oysters and bubbly. Report to follow after our return....................

          900 S 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55415

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

          1. re: TonyO

            Wow - that's a stellar line-up. A TC foodie perfect storm, if you will.

            Anxious to hear your impressions.

            1. re: keithinmpls

              ditto! :)

            2. re: TonyO

              grab some pork sandwiches from Brasa for the flight back east

              1. re: jfood

                Great idea! Though me, I'd go for a pulled chicken sandwich, which has an amazing sauce.

                But if you run out of time, or need something else to go with those sandwiches, stop in at the MPS airport's new Flights wine bar/deli for other good options from Surdyk's (a local deli and booze fave).

                We checked it out on our last trip, and thought it looked really good - sandwiches, salads, charcuterie, pastries, and more (including teeny bottles of wine). Alas, we didn't buy anything - a decision we deeply regretted when searching for lunch in the Toronto airport. The options at Flights were much better than anything at YYZ.


                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  A quick recap as my more detailed notes are in our lost luggage (THANKS UNITED !!).

                  Upon arrival, we hopped a cab from The Depot (GREAT hotel !) and thravelled to Travail in Robbinsdale (about $30 fare each way). The blackboard menu is brief with a lot of one word listiings but our server Tyler was more than willing to describe the preparation of each item. We ordered the tartare ($6) , Blue Cheese Tots ($4), Figlets ($4), Foie Gras ($14), Agnolotti ($7), Scallop ($7), Beet Salad ($5), Oysters ($10) and a couple beverages from a very fairly priced wine/beer list. The highlights were the Blue Cheese Tots coupled with the Tartare (kind of a steak and potatoes thing), the Foie Gras (served raw w/ a brioche french toast crouton , grapefruit segmenst, cashews, and cashew butter (when eaten together, it was like a mindblowing PB & J sandwich....). The lowpoint was the oysters (very small with no liquor and an odd garnish of gelatine like olive and Mignonette that add little to the oysters, IMO). The service was friendly, informed, and upbeat. The tab for 8 plates, 2 glasses of wine, and 1 beer was a VERY reasonable $82 before tip.

                  That evening we went to Bar La Grassa (a much shorter and cheaper cab fare !). The place was very busy and has a TON of energy. We were sat shortly after arriving, glad that we had made a reservation (wait at 7:00 on a Saturday was being quoted at 2 hours). We were sat at a comfortable table and began reviewing the menu. We ordered a bottle of Mirabelle bubbly and placed our order which was comprised of a beet salad ($10), Pizzette ($6), Soft Eggs w/ Lobster ($16), Egglant and Proscuitto Bruschetta ($7), and three "small" pastas (samll be quoted as we thought the portions were quite generous). The pastas we choose were the Gnocchi with Cauliflower and Citrus, The Orrechiette with Braised Rabbit, and the Fussili. The Rabbit dish was absolutely FANTASTIC !!! Top 10 dishes of all time. The Soft Eggs and Lobster was aslo great, with the soft cooked eggs actually being the star over the lobster. A really great restaurant with great service (Nicki was our server and she did a great job). Our bill before tip was a bargain at $121.

                  After a disastrous Viking game (so long Chilly !!!), we made a quick stop a Sea Change. A couple glasses of wine along with Pot Stickers ($9, Fish and Chips ($10) and Grilled Octopus ($13). The octupus was the highlight here with the other two items being acceptable but fairly pedestrian.

                  Sunday night was another another failry long cab ride to Piccolo. We would have gladly travelled twice as far for this experience ! This is a very small space so do not expect to be seated without reservations (which we made well in advance). Our team of servers (Adam and I believe Linh with apologies if I am wrong) were very professional, informative, and friendly. We were greeted with a couple glasses of bubbly and wishes of Happy Anniversary, a very appreciated touch. We ordered the Golden Beet Terrine, the Agnolotti, Scrambled Eggs with Pickled Pigs Feet, Pork Cheeks, Indiana Goose, Tete de veau, and two desserts (The Cranberry Gingerbread Cake and the Ricotta Cake). The Top 10 list was once again shuffled after we tasted the Pork Cheeks AND the Tet de Veau. WOW ! Two simply incredible dishes ( I will not go into detail as the menu changes frequently and I don't have my notes). The wine list is excellent and markups are more than fair (we had a bottle of Williams Selyem Pinot Noir priced at $88, a very hard to find wine). We agreed that the portions were fine for sharing and allowed for both of us to have ample amounts to enjoy the amazing spectrum of flavors and textures. We had a total of 6 courses and two desserts. The bill including all food and the aforementioned $88 of wine was $186 before tip. Again, this tab was more than fair for the incredible food and superior service we experienced. This is a MUST try as far as I am concerned and expect this to be one of the toughest tables to get with 20 minutes of downtown Minneapolis.

                  Thanks again to all that posted and helped make our second visit to Minneapolis a great one !!

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

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

                  1. re: TonyO

                    Thanks for the write-up Tony! Sounds like a fun weekend (except for the Vilequeens).

                    1. re: TonyO

                      Thanks for this excellent report. You visited a couple places we have not been to as residents, so I appreciate your insights on them.

                      1. re: TonyO

                        You are a better man tan me TO. Travail and BLG are my 2 favorite restaurants in MSP and I am so glad you went, ate like I knew you could and enjoyed it.

                        And from a Dolphins fan to a Vikings fan...get used to it. :-))

                        1. re: jfood

                          jfood: My wife is lobbying for me to become a Dolphins fan so our November trips can be to a warmer climate ! Easy for a Boston native/ Patriots fan to say !
                          The rabbit dish at BLG was fantastic and a STEAL at $8 for a "small" portion (far from small). You really should try Piccolo. It is about a $20 cab ride ($17 +tip) if you don't have a car. Simply incredible. The place only seats about 24, so I would imagine it may be a tough reservation. If you are interested, it was featured on the "Heartland" episode of Bourdain's "No Reservations". This is labor intense food that is thought provoking and nourishing. If you are expecting science experiement/molecular gastronomy, this is not your place. The salted cranberry caramel that was served with the cranberry gingerbread was genius.

                          As far as being a better man, let's call it a tie !!!!! Happy Thanksgiving and much appreciation to all for your guidance. SKOL !

                          1. re: TonyO

                            The No Reservations episode featuring Piccolo is on tonight 11/29. Piccolo is in the last 15 minutes of the show.