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Quick Minneapolis report: Sea Salt Eatery, Tilia, Blackbird, Pumphouse Creamery

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Just returned from a great trip to Minneapolis. This was my second visit to the Twin Cities, and I once again really enjoyed my time (and the food). Much of my time was spent at a wedding, but I also had some very good meals.

Sea Salt Eatery: Friday lunch. I had a very nice crab-cake sandwich, which came with an unwieldy piece of melon (too big to bite, and no knife in sight). Nice that there's good seafood in the middle of a park in Minnesota!

Tilia: Friday dinner. I really liked this place. We got there around 6:30 on Friday, and there was a 45 minute wait for two of us. We put down our name, then got a beer at Famous Dave's across the street as we waited. Once our table was ready, we got a call on my cell phone, and we were seated. Spinach salad with bacon dressing and soft boiled egg was fantastic...since we were splitting the salad, they plated it on two plates for us, which meant we each got a soft-boiled egg. We really appreciated this touch, since the eggs were soft and added great creaminess to the salad. Flatbread with olive oil and dukka was great as well - simple, nice presentation, very nicely priced at $4. Faux gras (chicken liver custard) was my least favorite of the things we ordered...I thought it had an off-putting flavor from all of the brandy in the pate mix, but the texture was good. Served with a sweet eggplant preserves and bacon, and excellent grilled bread. Basil pappardelle with bottarga was good and very buttery...the bottarga flavor wasn't as strong as I wished, but I enjoyed the homemade green pasta. My favorite dish of the night was a side of slow cooked leeks, which I think also involved truffle oil. It tasted like the leeks had been simmered in wine and butter for hours, and they were tender and full of flavor. We decdied not to order dessert or alcohol, which meant the meal was really a steal at about $23 per person (pre-tip) for a lot of food. I thought service was fantastic, the overall vibe was great, and I left feeling really positive about the Minneapolis food scene.

Blackbird - Sunday brunch: Shared the sourdough pancakes (with fruit compote and whipped butter) and a frittata with rabbit sausage and cheese. Both were great. Sat at the bar, which is first-come-first-serve. The Sunday morning vibe was nice - bright and cheery, attentive service, reasonably priced brunch options.

Pumphouse Creamery - The banana ice cream here rivals my favorites (Herrell's in Northampton MA and Marianne's in Santa Cruz CA), but I only had a small taste, instead opting for a small sundae w/ chocolate ice cream and sour cherry compote. The mango-passionfruit sorbet was also excellent - this seems like the kind of place where you can't really go wrong.

I sadly didn't make it to St. Paul for any Thai food this time, but next time I'm in the Twin Cities, I'll definitely head back to Bangkok Thai Deli.

I had a great visit, and enjoyed the hot weather....I hope to return sometime soon!

Dave MP

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  1. Glad your visit was delicious - Tilia's one of the brightest stars in the local firmament, but it does (happily) represent a booming trend of neighborhood restaurants doing thoughtful but not overly complicated dishes using quality (often local) ingredients. Blackbird's another great choice for this sort of food. The more completely the Twin Cities can shake off its coastal/Paris envy and embrace the bounty of the Upper Midwest, the better the scene will be for all involved, and it's nice to see that that's the direction we're going.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jrnorton23

      Ditto - great choices! These are definitely some of the highlights of the current TC dining scene. One suggestion I would make for future visits (or visitors) is to have your beer at Tilia. They always have a remarkable selection on tap, and treat beer with the same serious consideration as is usually reserved for wine and fine whiskeys.

    2. Dave, thanks for the rundown...always appreciate a thoughtful post like this.