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2 dinners MSP: Alma + ?

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Heading to MSP in a few weeks for the annual visit and am already hungry. Love your town. As with the last visits, will book Alma for the second of our two dinners. It's always a homerun and makes this vegematarian very happy.

Would love input on the other dinner. Perusing the boards, Saffron seems to be at the top of many lists currently. We'll be at the Graves, so that's an easy destination. We've liked 122. Have not been to Bar La Grassa (have been to Meritage so don't want to do that this trip.)

Less concerned with type of cuisine and looking for the knockout food. One of us lives in Asia, travels a lot, and gets a varied dining experience as a matter of course.

Any votes? And of course I will report back : )

tia

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Meritage
410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

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

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  1. Saffron is deservedly at the top of many lists, and would be a great choice. Heidi's would be an excellent option as well. Both offer the complete package in terms of drinks, service and food you can't get elsewhere.

    Also, since it's in the hotel, do grab a drink at Bradstreet.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kevin47

      Thank you so much. We've had drinks at the Graves, but not 'in' the Bradstreet bar. Will do so this time. We've also had a handful of breakfasts and lunches at the hotel, and the food is perfection and the service sublime every time. Simple but elegantly prepared and presented.

      A good option for us might be to add in Heidi's for brunch on Sunday, and dine at Saffron Saturday night.

      1. re: holdthecow

        As a fellow vegematarian, I recently investigated the menu of Saffron and didn't really see much for me. I keep an eye on Piccolo, but their small menu doesn't really feel inclusive either, and I fear it's one of those places where a substitution / subtraction is difficult to provide. I also don't know anyone into fancy pants food that would go with me.

        My favorite restaurant is Travail. Their menu is roughly 35% veg friendly, or easily made so. I don't know if it's something they usually do, but I've had a meat-plate with all the fixins, but with tofu (house made) substituted for the meat. Soup, Tofu, Agnolotti are almost always vegetarian. The micro green salad isn't vegetarian by default, so be careful. Just let them know before ordering and they can take care of you.

        WA Frost is actually fairly veg friendly. The Heartland always has a veg prix fix. Dosa King is a South Indian restaurant that is all vegetarian that I recently visited and really liked. India Palace in Plymouth wasn't all veg, but it was easy to order around and very good.

        There is the Wise Acre Eatery which is farm to table, although I have misgivings about many aspects of the restaurant, in the end the food was tasty.

        I haven't been to Heidi's and was recently turned off from the idea by his anti-Yelp rant.

        The Sample Room and Senor Wong were also easy for me to eat at, but not on par with most names mentioned here.

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        Sample Room
        2124 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

        Senor Wong
        111 East Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55101

    2. A few other hot spots (though a bit of a drive) are Piccolo and Tilia. FYI Tilia doesn't take reservations, so going at off hours is recommended.

      2 Replies
      1. re: BigE

        Unfortunately, Tilia's menu shows almost nothing specifically vegetarian. The choices appear to be salad or a bowl of pasta. I've sent an email to Piccolo requesting input on options, I've always been curious myself.

        1. re: semanticantics

          piccolo would be my rec, though chef flicker's response to the email re veg options would factor in. since it;'s a small-plates place, the op could also conceivably have a few courses and move to another place

      2. Thank you for everyone's thoughtful responses. Hmmm.

        What's the word on 112 these days? We did very much enjoy a dinner there, would love to know the feeling at present.

        Piccolo does look pretty great, maybe a bit spare on the vegetarian options for moi. As a note, I prefer to go to 'better' restaurants, and hope that there are options, and don't shoot for the restaurants that are known for being specifically vegetarian.

        We won't be able to drag ourselves out to Travail - one of us will be arriving Sat afternoon after making the trip from Asia. So, much happier to find a place closer to 'home'.

        i'm so hungry already, just booked Alma...! thanks, again.

        7 Replies
        1. re: holdthecow

          It has been a little while since I have been to 112, but there was a favorable article on eating vegetarian food at 112 eatery today in a local food blog www.heavytable.com

          1. re: holdthecow

            i've been to 112 in the pastcouple months and it was great, although unfortunately the stand-out dishes for me were not veg so i can't make specific recs. bar la grassa is 112's sister restaurant, and she's more belle of the ball right now, than her older sister, fwiw.

            re: "better" restaurants & as a note on piccolo, the prices per plate are low because it's a small plates place, not because it's a dive. i know folks who have eaten the entire menu, shared between 2 people! but 3-5 plates pp is manageable imo.

            in the alma-type vein of things, maybe check out lucia's (menu changes weekly) and spoonriver. in season could also be a contender. some folks swear by corner table, but the menu is sometimes pig-heavy and there has been a big chef change there recently.

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            Lucia's Restaurant
            1432 W 31st St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

            Spoonriver
            750 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

            Corner Table
            4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

            In Season
            5416 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419

            1. re: holdthecow

              A friend recently had a stellar meal at Cafe Levain, but I have never been, and they don't appear to post a menu.

              Piccolo replied to my email today!

              "Besides anything on the menu that is vegetarian, we can put together options on the fly depending on how many courses you order. Generally our policy has been that for however many courses others (non-vegetarians) order we'll match each one with a vegetarian option. Let me know if you have any other questions and hopefully we'll see you in the restaurant!"

              I like the tone of inclusion, there is no "oh, you're one of THOSE" feeling.

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              Cafe Levain
              4762 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407

              1. re: semanticantics

                does piccolo still have the deep fried fig on the menu? damn that's good!

                1. re: semanticantics

                  I agree, that's terrifically encouraging. Will check the location and logistics and may book that with some fair warning for me : ) Am I correct from google maps that it's about 7 miles/15 min ride from the Graves?

                  deep fried figs sounds sublime. maybe will be too late in the season?

                  1. re: holdthecow

                    The 15 minutes is probably about right, but it's more like 3 or 4 miles.

                2. re: holdthecow

                  Oh, and Haute Dish has a vegetarian tasting menu on Sundays, although I've never been.

                3. have booked Piccolo. mentioned being a vegetarian on the phone, and was told that would be a non-issue, she made a note in the rez, and we called it good : ) will report back on both, and whatever surprise mystery brunch i add.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: holdthecow

                    Enjoy. It's without a doubt the best restaurant in MN.

                    1. re: SpursDynasty

                      You really scared me here, Spurs! There is a restaurant called Enjoy! that, shall we say, struggles.

                  2. Reporting back.

                    First night at Piccolo was yum. Looking at the menu to try to recall everything that was had. Father had the mackerel, and I think maybe something that was a special, and can't remember (being the vegetarian.) I had three courses to match. Had requested no beets, tho, because I do that all the time at home, and the third dish was beets. Everything was flavorful, and I think we even ordered a dupe of one of my dishes, I think a pasta, because it was outstanding.

                    Unfortunately, I awoke the next morning after developing a cold overnight (nothing like travel to kill the palate.) Brunch was at Haute Dish and we really enjoyed that. A great job w/ a deceptive menu - everything sounds good. I had the one egg dish that was vegetarian, dad had the dish with braised beef and sweet potato hash browns and cleaned the plate, even tho he reported to the waitress that something was "briney" or over-salted, and he kept trying to figure out which component it was.

                    By dinner at Alma, I'd completely drugged myself so that I could hopefully fully experience the flavors (it didn't work, and that's not a reflection of the food.) I had the celery root souffle, fried egg over greens, and the orechiette. Dad had the kale with chicken, bruschetta, and the orechiette non-vegetarian. We shared the quince crepe as it was the #1 choice of our waitress. Despite my dead taste-buds, it was still yummy, and I'm glad we did that.

                    Leisurely breakfast at Cosmo's the last day, we always have at least one meal while at the Graves, and the service and food is always outstanding. I don't know if restaurant week is still in swing, but y'all should get over there. I sense it's a resto that locals don't get to as much, but we've now stayed at the Graves 3x, have had breakfasts and lunches, and I've availed myself of room service a few times, and can highly recommend the vegetarian pad thai.

                    Incidentally, I spent some time Saturday (eek!) at the Mall, and had a sublime almond croissant at Pardon My French, and a nice cup of coffee. Waited interminably long for gelato for lunch and gave up.

                    The staff at Piccolo were so friendly and helpful. Adam (I guess his role is maitre d') wrote out a list of his faves for brunch for me, and also a fave dinner location where he used to work, Strip Club.

                    So once again, cooties not withstanding, a worthwhile visit and looking forward to the next one in not too long.

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                    Pardon My French
                    1565 Cliff Rd Ste 1A, Saint Paul, MN 55122

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: holdthecow

                      Thanks for the report back!. You hit all my faves, except Piccolo and that's not a fave only because I haven't been there yet. And yes, I love Cosmos, et. al. One note about the list Adam gave you though - I adore the Strip Club, it's one of my faves too, but it is not vegetarian friendly. I think you'd struggle to find something to eat there. If you go back to being an omnivore though, check it out. :)

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                      The Strip Club
                      378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

                      1. re: Seige

                        Brunch is not too bad, though? Their pancakes are excellent.

                        1. re: KTFoley

                          True - brunch is doable. I love the logger's tower, but of course that's stacked with ham. The french toast would be good for a vegetarian though.

                        2. re: Seige

                          Friends of ours who are vegetarians would disagree- The Strip Club is one of their favorites. Despite their tongue-in-cheek statements to the contrary on the menu and such, they are very vegetarian-accommodating and make something tasty. Or so I've been told.

                          -----
                          The Strip Club
                          378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

                          1. re: mtullius

                            Thanks for the veg-tip on Strip Club. My mom lives in that neck of the woods so we ought to try that sometime. The haul to Travail can be a bit daunting, especially with winter coming.

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                            The Strip Club
                            378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

                            1. re: mtullius

                              That is good to know! We have a friend who became veggie about a year ago and we've written TSC off as an option because the menu is so meat focused... and the menu comments. We used to go there pre-veggism. Glad to know we can put it back on the list!

                          2. re: holdthecow

                            So sorry about your cold, but thanks for the great trip report. Is there really an outpost of Pardon My French at the Maul of America? Maybe I'll have to actually buy something when I'm there. (I recently broke my vow to never go to the MOA. Now it's "don't spend any money there", but I feel that revised vow weakening...).

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                            Pardon My French
                            1565 Cliff Rd Ste 1A, Saint Paul, MN 55122

                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                              Yes, there's now a Pardon My French at the MOA. Anne, have you not been following the MOA's blog??? http://www.mallofamerica.com/blog/pic...

                              ;-).

                              ~TDQ

                              -----
                              Pardon My French
                              1565 Cliff Rd Ste 1A, Saint Paul, MN 55122

                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                I didn't know about PMF at MOA either. Interesting! And I find it hilarious that you called it the MAUL of America. LOL

                                1. re: Seige

                                  I think PMF is pretty new: City Pages mentioned it in their weekly dining newsletter/email about 2 weeks ago.

                                  HA! I missed the Maul comment.

                                  ~TDQ