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a 96% guarantee [Tilia]

Now that I've eaten at Tilia several times, I feel I can, without reservation (nope, they don't take them, one strike against them, but a small strike), recommend this restaurant. Every dish, except for one, has been worth every red cent I spent. I love a place I know I will get great food. I know it won't be spotty. Where in the Twin Cities can you get a great appetizer for $3? At Tilia, it's called grilled flat bread with dukka. Dukka is an African spice and nut mixture. You dip the flat bread (some of the best I've ever had) in olive oil and then into the dukka mixture. Excellent. Did I mention it's only $3? I hope they never, ever change this price. There are some really great hamburgers in these cities. I'm a big fan of The Blue Door Pub's burgers (I'm about to earn one of their t-shirts for my efforts there). But Tilia's burger? Outstanding. The brioche bun doesn't hurt matters at all. The fish taco torta is fabulous and you can order it grilled which is what I prefer.

The clunker? My slight complaints? I had breakfast there and ordered their omelet special. It was filled with avocado, bacon and tomato and had a roasted chili sauce. Great idea. Problem was, it wasn't hot. When I eat eggs, anywhere, they have to be hot. Not even a little bit warm. The other problem with their breakfast is they serve eggs with nothing else. Not a little smidgen of toast maybe? At $8-9 a pop for the breakfasts, I think they need to throw in some toast. The other complaint I have is that it's crazy loud in there. They need to consider some extensive sound treatment options. It's been hot in the Twin Cities and I've been to Tilia on some warm evenings. Their air conditioning isn't keeping up. Just a little tweaking on the noise and heat problems and they'll be fine.

Besides those minor complaints, I whole-heartedly recommend Tilia. It's a small restaurant and a busy restaurant. Get there early.

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The Blue Door Pub
1811 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55104

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  1. Spot on review. I had the same egg dish, and was surprised there was no bread. Love the dinner menu, especially the sprouts. Do agree on noise. I'd be more of a regular if I knew it was easier to carry on a conversation without shouting.

    1. As nice as the food sounds at this place, no reservations, long waits for a table, crowded, loud, hot, you are describing restaurant hell for me.

      Are the tables 2" apart as well?

      5 Replies
      1. re: galewskj

        And a note: some of us enjoy that energy. We've met many neighbors and had terrific conversations waiting for tables at MPLS Brasa, which is all of the things you mention...I get that some people want a quick, quite dinner, but it's nice to know there are more places out there like this that are for the rest of us....

        Great review.

        1. re: galewskj

          But, it's ALL about the food. You can wait at Wise Acres or Town Hall Tap in Southwest Mpls. too. They have the atmosphere and they're trying really hard to put out a certain "vibe". Their food, however, is either sub par and/or expensive. Nothing worse than waiting for and then paying a lot for sub par food. If you're gonna wait, wait for some gosh darn good food. Go to Tilias. Or Pizzeria Lola's. But that's another post.

          1. re: aliburris

            Is it better than Picollo, Heidi's, Saffron, Meritage, V-44, Cosmos, Alma, Heartland or LBV? If it's all about the food, I want a food-related reason to invest 2 sticky hours waiting in a tiny bar area.

            1. re: kevin47

              Go during off hours or wait until the weather is cooler. The food is excellent, but not worth standing around 2 hours sweating for. I can't think of a meal I've had that was.

        2. I have enjoyed the meals at Tilia. I wish they had some more veggie options, but I guess I can't have everything. In regards to the wait, I think that is just something you know about a restaurant and plan for. It doesn't bother me. If I'm in a hurry, I don't go to Tilia. Also, they are very flexible when it comes to the wait. Usually, we tell them what local businesses we will be at and the host will come get us when our table is ready.
          And, if you're really not up for the wait, Cafe Twenty Eight next door is also excellent and never seems to have a wait when we go...

          1. I love the vibe, personally, though I've only eaten there by myself. It certainly wasn't too loud to hold a conversation. I'd compare it to BLG, minus the ear splitting music.

            Food wise, I've been more than happy. The duck version of 'potted meat' is one of the best dishes I've had in MSP this year. To get food of that quality in a vibrant, super laid back neighborhood joint...pretty hard to beat.

            2 Replies
            1. re: BigE

              Is potted meat the same as rillettes, or is there a difference?

              1. re: LiaM

                It looks the same to me. It all comes in a little (~4 oz) mason jar with a few toasts, some mustard, and pickled veg.

                Simple, but outstanding.

            2. We FINALLY made it to Tilia this morning for breakfast. I'm a St. Paulite (and Bon Vie lover), so we've got to be in the right mood to cross the river.

              First off, the neighborhood is really cute and I love, love, love the space! The bar is so old and cool. Love the pew-like benches, the openess and quaintness of it all. Really fun!

              Now on to the food. Hubster lurves himself some biscuits and gravy so he ordered the smoked soft hardboiled eggs with biscuits and sausage gravy. I love waffles, so I ordered the cornbread waffles lobster eggs benedict. Going by some reviews I've seen, we also got a side of the hashbrowns to share and Hubby got an extra side of the sausage (I think he was worried the sausage gravy would be more gravy than sausage). I'm not a huge lover of biscuits and gravy, but Hubster said it was some of the best he's ever had. And it was LOADED with sausage - the extra sausage patties weren't needed at all. My lobster eggs bennie was really tasty, but there were a couple minor problems. 1) The waffle was cold in parts. 2) The hollandaise, while very flavorful - I got the lemon notes and the bacon notes immediately, was just... too much. Way too rich. I sort of felt my arteries clogging as I was eating it. That said, those poached eggs were done to perfection. Just the right consistency of runny yolk - loved that; and, the lobster was divine! I think if the waffle had been warm/hot and there had been about a quarter to half the hollandaise it would have been perfect. The hashbrowns, as someone else said, were nothing fancy but oh so good.

              I saw at least 2 other tables get the pancakes with strawberries with ginger cream. I am SO ordering those when we go back. You know when you're coveting other people's food, it's a pretty good place.

              We also had coffee and I'd say it wasn't up either of our alleys. A little too bitter, but I adored the cute sugar bowl and the little milk jug of cream it came with. Super adorable little touches!

              So all in all, it was good and we'll definitely be back for breakfast. And hopefully dinner sometime - we'll just have to pack a couple protein bars for that to get us through the wait. :)

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              Bon Vie
              518 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

              3 Replies
                1. re: kriminalrat

                  Their beer cheese soup recipe is in Amy Thielen's cookbook the New Midwestern Table

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: kriminalrat

                    I had their white bean chili this week. I sure hope it's around for a good long while. Just one thing to know- pork belly "croutons."

                2. aliburris the flatbread is $4.... now what?!