Bachelor Farmer Soft Opening Now
I went to The Bachelor Farmer tonight. It's a good thing they have a picture on their website of the blue checked awnings on their building, as there was no signage whatsoever visible from the road.
The food was good, but pricey. I would rank it in a tier of restaurants below places like Alma, Piccolo, Bar La Grassa, and Heartland, while costing about the same as those in the upper eschelon. The website menu was a bit misleading...the range of prices supplied made it seem more reasonable than it actually was.
We got the salmon and herring toasts, which at $14 for four 2"x2" pieces of toast and just enough toppings to cover them was not a good value, even if everything was made in house and the cucumber was grown on the roof. The rabbit came with just vegetables, no starch, and the portion of rabbit was exceedingly modest: 4 or 5 pieces, with the largest about an inch and a quarter across. The popover was tasty, but in an ideal world, it should come with your meal instead of costing $3. The Swedish pancakes were silver dollar sized, and I couldn't help but think that it wouldn't be too much lost profit to pour out a little more batter so they were 4-5" in diameter.
I liked the flavors of caraway, dill, and cardamom that were present to give it that Scandinavian edge, but it's not high on my list for a return visit unless I hear they have changed either their prices or their portion sizes. Some dishes were a bit too salty. I would choose Piccolo over The Bachelor Farmer because the food at Piccolo is more interesting and well-executed, and I was honestly surprised that it was about the same amount of money at both places to reach satiety.
The service was efficient, if a bit rough around the edges. I had read Dara's short review warning about the slow service so I was worried, but thankfully it was fine.
Bar La Grassa
800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
As a regular at Bradstreet I would have to say this is better. We arrived at 11pm on friday night and they said they had about a 45min wait but, put us on a list and sent a text message 45min later letting us know that our table was available. The drink I had was an Olivetto it was delicious, unfortunately I was driving so that was all I had. Our drinks were made by the guy in charge Pip Hanson, he created the drink menu and seemed knowledgable, I was able to pick his brain for a few minutes and confirmed my suspicion that they employed Town Talk refugees.
I've been to The Varnish in LA and while I wouldn't put it all the way up there it is definitely good with room for improvement. They do sound like they plan on expanding some of their stuff and were really just getting prepared with 8 or 10 specialty drinks. The only other friend in our group who knows anything about mixology ordered "Something with whiskey, thats sweet and spicy. Too which he was told they didn't have any Tabasco sauce but planned on adding more stuff like that once they had things under control." so we were left maybe a tiny bit disappointed as we mostly like to order off menu drinks.
I have only had drinks at Saffron a couple of times and not recently. I do remember we were more impressed with the Chamomile Infused Gin than the drink itself. I also remember the bartender there being a dick.
We will see if it survives they are definitely going for the semi-hidden prohibition type mixology bar that is commonly found on the coasts I like it a lot. It will be interesting to see if they add a happy hour similar to Bradstreet's 601 hour. I really want this place to survive if only to have options, but I fear for the location and being semi-hidden exclusive whatever you want to call it in Minneapolis probably means it will die a quick death.
We tried Marvel Bar last night. It was quite busy for being a) tricky to find - it is back around the corner from the Bachelor Farmer entrance, through an unmarked door that opens into a somewhat utilitarian space with a purple door in the back which is the actual entrance and b) a Monday. Overall, I would put it in the same league for cocktails as Bradstreet/La Belle Vie/Strip Club Meat and Fish. It is currently in the middle of the pack with La Belle Vie and the Strip Club still winning, but very much worth worth returning to try Marvel again and see if it moves up in the standings. :-)
I like the space quite a lot (better than Bradstreet, not quite as awesome as La Belle Vie lounge). They have a nice, long bar and whimsical touches. The two cocktails I had were about average for the places I mentioned above (they were not the best I have ever had, but were tasty and well done). I had one with gin, maraschino liquor, lemon, oregano, and selzter and one with all sorts of stuff including tequila, horseradish, coconut and grapefruit - sounds weird, actually quite balanced. My husband tried one of their specialty drinks with two kinds of vermouth, campari and rye and a Sazerac. The Sazerac was especially well made.
La Belle Vie
510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405
The Strip Club
378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106