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Mar 5, 2012 07:44 PM

Victory 44

I don't get to the NW quadrant of the metro very often. The other day we were visiting that part of town and decided to stop by Victory 44 for lunch. I'm so glad we did. It was terrific. The food, the beer, the atmosphere, the service. The only thing wrong with this place is that it's like 15 miles from my home.

I had the Korean BBQ Pork. It is really korean-influenced, not what you'd get in a Korean restaurant. And it's amazingly good. My wife had eggs benedict and they were terrific. We split a draft Domaine du Page from Two Brothers and it tastes really good on tap. I'd only ever had it in bottles before. The people who sat us, took our orders and brought our food were very good to us.

The menu is not huge, but it reminded of something Mitch C. wrote very recently about Sonora Grill and how he appreciates them for their focus. Victory 44 also deserves appreciation for its' focus.

If you live NW, go often. If you don't live NW, treat yourself and make the trek.

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  1. We are new to Minneapolis, and my husband was really excited to try this place. I hate to post a bad review of a little place that seems to be trying really hard, but it was honestly one of the worst meals in recent memory. given the hype and good press, did this place change owners recently?

    tasting menu is $15 more at the restuarant than is stated on their website, and other dishes also seem to have recently gotten more expensive, including their "famous" burger which is now celebrity chef-priced-- or the website is deliberately misleading.

    food was over-thought way past the point of even being interesting. 10 ideas that don't add up where 2 would have done. a "perfect" burger should not have bacon as 20% of its patty plus more bacon on top. my table said you couldn't taste the beef, which the server tells us is of the highest calibre; if true, what a waste, but we wouldn't know. bacon fries on the side is overkill, though i'd give it a 6/10 for being interesting on first taste. way too much going on with our appetizers; bold flavors, interesting flavors, had no business being on the same plate (and i usually like bold juxtapositions). A for effort, F for actually tasting the dish before you put it on the menu.

    F for execution. i haven't sent back food in years, but i did. pork belly was beyond dry-- i had my a partner taste it just to make sure, and he compared it to three day old thanksgiving turkey. asked the server whether something went wrong or if i was missing some new way of cooking (read: ruining) pork belly. he said he had no idea and would ask the kitchen.

    half an hour later, the table has finished its dinner and i'm eating leftover fries and the dregs off our appetizer plate. i'm starving and grumpy, the chef comes out. has no idea that i complained and is just checking on the table to see how we're doing. obviously gave me my choice of something else on the menu, was very nice about it.

    got the brisket. decently cooked, tasted pretty okay-- though by this point i was so hungry i could have eaten that bone-dry pork belly so it's hard to say whether anything would have tasted okay. this is telling of the execution: it was decently cooked, not meat falling off the bone but decent. before ten minutes are up, it's practically jerky. tells me that there are some real technique deficiencies in the kitchen, as well as that my inattentive server probably left my original dish sitting out for ten minutes before serving it to me.

    Hopefully this was an off night (it was a weeknight), but we're not going to take the chance again and risk it.

    7 Replies
    1. re: somethingsflesh

      Just an FYI, their current menu is never posted on their website. This is a direct quote-

      "Menu subject to change. Check our Facebook and Twitter pages for weekly menu updates."

      1. re: somethingsflesh

        Interesting the chefs are the servers so they should have known what was wrong. Sorry that you didn't't like the place. Of the 20+ times I have been there there have been a few misses. I still go back. How can Bacon fries be overkill? Othere please don't take this review as something that happens often because there are descriptions of events that don't happen.

        1. re: ibew292

          I went to V44 Saturday. I was in the area to visit a couple of friends. There is a new, slightly more formal feel to the proceedings. It appears as though there are dedicated servers along with the cheferver V44 is known for. They also appear to be taking reservations, when we showed up the place was only half full, but the only table available was on the patio (which worked out great).

          Our server was friendly and attentive, but seemed a bit nervous. He also didn't seem super keyed into all of the minutia of the menu / plates, which indicated to me he wasn't also putting the dish together. This is absolutely not a complaint, just an observation. All of the servers (as there can be a team aspect) were prone to over-explaining, again lending to the more formal feel.

          Anyways, the food was really good. The menu had more vegetarian options for me than typical (seems to have been 1 options for as long as I can remember, 4 viable options this weekend). I got the Beets and Tomato dish, my friends got Asparagus & Mushrooms and the Brisket. I had inquired about the mushrooms in the one dish, but was disappointed to hear the mushrooms were mundane, store bought varieties, nothing in season / wild. Both of my dishes were very good, one of the tomatoes was a hair underripe, and the beet dish overall was quite tart throughout, with nothing to really cut that tang. Both of my friends appeared happy with their food, the brisket was house smoked and then cooked for a very long time, looked super moist / tender. But as is usual with V44, their is a slight disconnect between the portion and price. I understand the concept of smaller, tastier dishes, but V44 is noticeably more expensive per dish than Travail (whom they will likely always be compared to, and vice versa) , for slightly less food. Maybe this is the cost of supporting a small business in an out of the way neighborhood. I decided against dessert, I wasn't really interested in what was on offer, but if they were slightly less expensive than $8 - 10 per, I might've taken a flyer on one.

          Overall, I'd rate this experience a 36 out of 44 (there was a comment card looking for a score of 1 - 44). Pretty good with some minor quibbles.

          1. re: semanticantics

            I went recently with my wife and it was fantastic. The issues with timing of the past...seem to be in the past. I see now they expanded, offer breakfast, and take reservations. While the portions aren't huge, its well priced for the creativity. I had the croquettes, pork shoulder, and smoked brisket and all were fantastic. I would give it a 9/10 with 10 being epic.

        2. re: somethingsflesh

          I'll agree they get too cute sometimes with the fattier proteins, but everything you hate about that burger and fries, I love about that burger and fries.

          1. re: somethingsflesh

            V-44 is my neighborhood restaurant. Twitter and Facebook are definately the place to go for the menu. They keep that up to date.

            The change in hours that happened recently was only kitchen hours. They now open the kitchen at 11AM during the week. The coffee shop still opens when it always did - so the reduction is to weekday breakfast.

            As for The Perfect Burger - it isn't celebrity chef priced, it's happy hour priced. From 5:00-5:44 it is half price. That's when you should get it - everyone in the restaurant will have one.

            1. re: Danny

              When was the last time you had The Perfect Burger at half price? Someone posted on FB on Sept 15 that the half price special was no longer being honored.

          2. It's probably worth updating the website menu, seeing as the tasting is now 50% more than advertised.

            I've always been a fan of this place, since the days of the Travail boys being in the kitchen. I still have dreams about the bone marrow dish they served last spring/summer (2011).

            1. My wife and I went Saturday night and ordered the tasting menu. Amuse, two of the "appetizer" courses, two of the "entree" courses, intermezzo, dessert. $55. The food was solid and experimental (in a good way). Portion sizes struck me as small, even though this was a tasting menu.

              This is why. Leaving the amuse and the intermezzo out of it (which were only one bite each), had I just ordered the tasting menu items a la carte, it would have come to $53. And the portion sizes would have been larger. I know this because I asked. Our server tried to rationalize by mentioning the amuse, etc. I told her I understood, but that this just seemed inconsistent with other tasting menu experiences I've had. I mentioned that the better value would have been ordering a la carte. I thought she would have said something to the manager or offered to say something to the manager. But when the manager came to our table, and saw my credit card on top of the bill, she asked if it was ready to go. They were busy; everyone was pitching in.

              So I took the opportunity to mention the same thing to her. She did acknowledge that it didn't seem right, and went away to talk to her chef/business partner. She came back to tell me she would adjust the bill accordingly. She reduced it to $40 per person, which was probably a bit too much. So I tipped well. She thanked me for saying something. And I said that in my business I'd rather have people tell me something that wasn't right and give me a chance to do something about it rather that just say nothing and never come back, but trash me on an internet discussion board.

              So props to handling the situation well and making it right.

              Food specifics. Loved the carrot and orange salad. And the scallops on a bed of mushroom oatmeal really worked.

              The plates are probably not the best to showcase the intricacies of the plating. Dark wood and dark metal (one plating was white). But, at the same time, they are made of materials that won't break. So there may be some intention to the choice in that regard.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Brad Ballinger

                Victory 44 is one of those places I consider a wonderful mess. Far more enthusiasm than sense. That vibe sometimes means you get outrageous values. And others you get... what you just experienced.

                On balance I kind of like it. But any single visit it can indeed be frustrating.

                I had one of my best meals of 2012 there in the summer and felt like I was practically stealing from the place when I got the bill. And then a few weeks ago I got corked wine (by the glass - so it should have been caught before it was served), nearly raw and clumsily seasoned risotto, and I left still feeling hungry. And yet, I will surely be back ... and looking forward to it when I go. Crazy.

                Still, I actually think I prefer an unpredictable experience with the potential for brilliance to some of the more consistent but less adventurous options at the same price point. Those who feel otherwise may not be well served by V44 at this time.

                1. re: Diana_mn

                  That may be fun for you, but for a restaurant to succeed, they can't hope for people liking a crapshoot, they have to deliver reasonable value for food and experience for the price.

                  My long standing issue with V44 is portion / consistency. I can understand a scallop dish for $10 only having two quarter-sized scallops, but when it's plated with risotto, the risotto shouldn't be a single tablespoon. I know all about food costs, and it irks me when corners are cut and an expensive ingredient can't be complimented with a decent portion of the cheap eats.

                  V44 is quite good, however. It's just not for everyone. It's especially not for those who are picky, want a full belly, or are frugal.

                  On my most recent visit, one of the dishes was served on a slate tile. I thought it actually worked for the dish in question (tons of colors). But again, similar to food costs, I become annoyed when it becomes overly obvious I'm paying for a bunch of ludicrous plate options for the struggling artiste' in the back.

              2. Have you been here lately? They apparently reduced their hours a couple of weeks ago but haven't bothered changing the website.

                I'm curious if anyone knows what's up.