Minneapolis Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations
Posted 23 August 2006 - 09:06 AM
Town Talk Diner is another, more funky, option.
Posted 26 August 2006 - 04:15 PM
Posted 26 August 2006 - 05:35 PM
My main experience in the MSP area is with solo dining. 112 Eatery and Vincent were certainly high points, but they're quite different.
112 Eatery and Vincent were both fabulous
112 Eatery fits the "funky" bit - I felt quite at home there eating at the bar. Kind of reminded me of Lolita back home in Cleveland. It's noisy - parallel naked brick walls. So not the place for quiet conversation. It's not very big, so you'd need to reserve well in advance.
Vincent is a more traditional French restaurant. Good food, attentive and unobtrusive service. (The service scores big time in my book). If you give enough notice I'm sure they can accomodate a large party. Definitely a "dress-up" place.
Posted 12 October 2011 - 09:49 AM
Saturday night: Travail Kitchen and Amusements
This restaurant has been getting some good press lately and their food looked interesting. Saturday night was the only night they were opened during my stay so it I quickly decided to eat here our first night. This was especially easy considering their 10 course meal is just $70 per couple. Travail opens at 5pm and don't take reservations so we got their for an early dinner at 5. There was a line waiting to get seated. We just missed the first seating by 5 tables, so we got our name on the list and sat outside drinking, chatting and watching the kitchen work through the front window. It took about 2 hours to get seated. I think it is important to note that there is no host and waiters are sparse too. It seemed like the bartenders and cooks take care of everything from running food to taking names. This wasn't a problem with getting any food, but some patrons had trouble getting their name on the board.
The table ordered the 10 course meal, rather than going al a carte. Each course is served on a platter shared between two people, so there is no option for a 10 course for one. By my count we got 14 dishes by the end of the meal (we were stuffed). On to specifics, after the meal I tried to write down all the courses we had in order, but was a little fuzzy on the exact order of everything. No list was given, instead each dish was described as it was brought out. I think this is close, but won't have the exact descriptions offered by the people bringing our food:
Amuse Bouche: Chicken consomme with potato gnocchi
Course 1: Composed beet salad
Course 2: Tuna carpacio with XO sauce
Course 3: Duck liver mouse with radishes
Course 4: Pork Tartar - interesting and delicious. The pork was pink, but not raw. Instead, I think they cooked pork loin low temp to pasteurize it and then over did the low temp cooking to give it a softer texture, more like a raw meat. The meat was tossed with mozzarella and topped with fried capers. Other dressings surrounded the tartar.
Course 5: Brown butter cotton candy pumpkin soup - this was the best pumpkin dish I have ever had. The cotton candy was a fun touch. The bowls were filled with it and soup was poured over top table side to melt the cotton candy.
Course 6: Foie pierogi with radish and lemon foam
Course 7: Mushroom Agnoletti with truffle sauce and foam
Course 8: Corned beef tongue
Course 9: Scallop with beet and cauliflower puree
Palette Cleanser: Grapefruit and basil chill
Course 10: Hanger steak (I can't remember the components).
Course 11: Chocolate chip cookie, orange cream soda and pineapple meringue - the orange cream soda was intensely creamy and delicious.
Course 12: Pumpkin pie and fried ice cream
Everything ranged from good to great. I don't think there was a single dish that failed or came close. A couple times I thought some of the pickles were a little to potent relative to the other items on the plate, but this was a minor quibble. Service was very good, and the wine and beer list was short but well suited to the meal. I would gladly go back to this restaurant and would encourage others to go too. For the money this place is a steal. Inventive modernist cooking with Midwest flare. For the most part, they don't play up the use of modernist techniques as gimmicks, which is nice, they do it for quality.
As a side note, the kitchen is small. It is very impressive to see this level of food from such a small space. They had such little room, one of their circulators was running in the back of the bar.
After Travails we went to Bradstreet for some cocktails. A modern atmosphere that was very comfortable. Knowledgeable bartenders who know how to mix a great drink. They aren't cheap with the average drink running about $12, but it was a very good time. If you take mixology seriously, this is a fun time to spend some time.
Sunday night: 112 Eatery
I made reservations for 112 Eaters about two weeks before the trip based on some recommendations I saw on eG. Two of the people at the table made a meal out of sides and apps. So we had quite a bit of food at the table. Service was very good, as was their wine list.
Sautéed sweetbreads in porcini & clam sauce: This was supposed to be an appetizer, but didn't come out until just after my main. The sweet bread was prepared very well, and the sauce was delicious. My only problem was I didn't get any clam flavor, it tasted more like a porcini tomato sauce.
Pan-fried gnocchi w/ parmesan reggiano: light and fluffy as gnocchi should be. A few had was felt like a thing film around them, as if they were unevenly dried. I think the gnocchi should have been crisped up a little more in the pan. I thought these were just okay.
Butternut squash with blue cheese and maple: This was great. The maple brought out the squash flavors and was tamed by the funky blue. Everyone at the table enjoyed this dish.
French Fries: They were very good. Nice and crispy and well flavored. The tarragon aioli was phenomenal and paired wonderfully with the salty crispy fries.
Tagliatelle w/ foie gras meatballs - another very successful dish. The foie meatballs were tender and lightly flavored. The pasta was perfectly cooked and sauced in a way that didn't overpower the meatballs.
Bacon egg & harrisa sandwich - a really great breakfast sandwich. Very well balanced with some nice spice and a perfectly cooked egg.
Gougère & fried mortadella sandwich - again a great job here. Well cooked gougère (I hate when they aren't properly/fully browned) and delicious fillings.
Nancy silverton's butterscotch budino - perfectly cooked and great flavor. I loved that the custard was a salted butterscotch, but they sprinkled some salt on the top of the dish which occasionally overpowered everything else.
Raspberry brioche tart w/ vanilla meringue - This was a top notch dessert.
Overall we were happy with our experience at 112 Eatery. A few missteps, but that happens occasionally.
Monday night: Saffron
We were leaving Tuesday morning and the rest of the family left, so it was just my and my wife for an early night out Monday. We weren't too hungry, but wanted to grab something and maybe a couple cocktails. I can't remember how I heard about Saffron, but it is right across from 112 Eatery.
We made it in right before happy hour ended. While there we each got a couple cocktails and a few small plates. The cocktails were very good. I let the bartender make me whatever he felt like, so he was making drinks up on the spot, which was very fun. The cocktails weren't on the same level as Bradstreet, but were a different beast. On to the food.
Lamb Bacon BLT: Lightly charred brioche style bread with a arugula, and tomato jam that nicely balanced. The bacon was great, well cured and had an intense lamb flavor which I like.
Lamb Brain: Poached, then fried. Served with stewed tomatoes and roasted garlic. Very good and balanced flavors. A great way to get someone to try brain for the first time.
Crispy Potato Chips: Slightly thick and very crispy with well balanced dipping sauces.
Bastirma: Their house cured beef. A fairly fatty beef cut that was cured. Great flavor, but I thought it needed a bit more salt to really get it going.
Overall we had a great time and very good food at Saffron.