Tilia in Linden Hills
I made the trek (from the NE burbs) to Tilia on Tuesday night. Arriving ~8:30, the place was full with 5 or more people mingling around the bar, without seats. It seemed like the popular waiting method was sitting on the sidewalk benches, so that's what I did. A few minutes later, I was shown to a seat at the kitchen bar, right where I wanted to be.
Before I get to food reviews, I must say that watching 3 chefs do what they did was pretty impressive. The amount of food that goes out of that kitchen is staggering. Chef Brown was manning the bar, FWIW.
Now, to the food. I decided to start with the potato soup, a super smooth puree served with tiny diced roasted veg and two pieces of grilled bread with a nice piece of bacon between. At first, I ate the second part like a sandwich, dipping in the soup. The soup was nice, but it was still just soup. Perfectly fine, for me.
As I was just starting my soup, my second dish arrived. The 'Potted Meat' for the day was duck, served in a mini (4 ounce?) Mason jar with a nice layer of fat on top, 4 pieces of grilled bread, carmelized shallot, and a swipe of mustard. This was outstanding. The meat was rich and perfectly seasoned and the additions of mustard and shallot made each bite perfect. I could eat this one again and again.
Unfortunately, I think the potted meat course is meant to be shared because it was quite filling. Combined with the soup, (free) grilled bread with mozz and prosciutto, and Deschutes stout (no idea why I ordered stout on a hot day), I couldn't manage another dish.
Overall, very good experience. The place was jam packed even when I left at 10, the food came out at an incredible pace, and the service was more than attentive. I will definitely return, although it might be at off hours next time...
I've been, and I thought it was just OK. Not bad, just unremarkable at dinner service. However I have a sister in law who went for lunch and raved about it. So maybe their calling is in dressed up simple breakfast and lunch food.
Also, the bartender was totally clueless as to the beer selections and even how to pronounce "Tripel" going so far as to correct me.
This is no Travail. I have always liked Steven Brown. I thought Rock Star was good and so was Levain. I am not as sold on this concept. First, there was no ac and it was over 90 degrees at dinner time. IT was almost too hot in the resto to even want to eat. After waiting over an hour (we went early) to sit, they put 4 of us at a table for 2. Really put a hamper on things. I then inquired about corkage. They told me crap wine was $17 a bottle but if you bring something good, you pour a glass for Steven and no charge.
We ordered a bunch of apps (beet salad, shrimp, fish tacos and escargot). I thought the fish taco and escargot were very good (be careful of the escargot, burned the roof of my mouth).
We then ordered the Duck, brisket, cod and tagliateli. I thought they all were somewhat unremarkable. Nothing really stood out to me.
For dessert I thought the toffee date cake was good.
I will not go back to this place for a long time. Very small space and does not take reservations. I will wait at Travail just because it is such a great experience not so for Tilia.
Also, isn't that the name of the Foodsaver?
Has Steven Brown ever done anything that AZ didn't rave about? As I recall, AZ couldn't say enough good things about Porter + Frye when that opened too. Because really, that was SUCH a great restaurant.
Listen, I love AZ. Think his passion for better food in the Twin Cities is fantastic. Enjoy his show when he visits places I've been or have been thinking about visiting. But he's a lousy reviewer of restaurants because he has ZERO objectivity. If you are on his favorite list (Doug, Steven, Lenny), you could serve a dump sandwich and he'd rave about it. If you are not part of his crowd, you could hire Thomas Keller and AZ would find a way to take cheap shots at your business.
I was there on Friday night, early, with a toddler and a baby in tow. I can attest to the family-friendliness--waitstaff was great to us, didn't seem fazed at all by having to deal with two little ones. It can be a little crowded, but the booth we were in was plenty big enough for two adults, kid in booster, and a bucket car seat. We weren't very adventurous eaters, but the turkey burgers we had were quite good. I was a little nervous that mine was undercooked, but I'm still alive so it couldn't have been too bad. Fries were pretty tasty, and the ketchup/mayo dip they came with was really good.
The kids menu is fantastic--I think they had a burger, grilled chicken, pasta with cream sauce, and something else I'm forgetting, and you can get them in big kid or little kid sizes (and prices). But the best part was the little menu of appetizers for kids--our 2 year old got crackers with honey butter for either $1 or $2. What a great idea.
The place is beautiful, and it has a great energy. Looks like a good beer list (though I'm not a beer drinker). I'm really excited they're in my neighborhood.