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Minneapolis Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations

277 posts in this topic

Glad to hear that you are in Mix every issue now.

Does Mix have a web site? Can you copy your Mix reviews and post here?


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Hi Bruce--

I saw your Mix review--great job! Inspired, I went to Midori's Friday night with my sister and really enjoyed it. What friendly staff. The agedashi tofu was delicious--very delicate. Have you been to Tanpopo in St. Paul? Their version is so much heartier. It was interesting to contrast their styles--equally good.

I don't always get a chance to read Mix, so please do start posting your reviews for it here too - somehow I'm always lurking on EGullet :biggrin: even if I'm too shy to post a lot.

Thanks--


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I will see if the Mix reviews are online anywhere.

We've only written three so far.

Bruce

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This (sadly) is our last review. It looks like the union rules that prohibit us from continuing to write for the newspaper are immutable.

Bruce

*****

Dining South: Italian Pie Shoppe offers a welcome break from national chains

Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier, Special to the Star Tribune

March 17, 2004

We don't want to mention any names, but we're sick and tired of national chain pizza restaurants.

Focus-group tested, centrally controlled menu items are average by design. Sure, the food looks fun on television, and even on the plate. But it's bland. It's mediocre.

For national chains, the name of the game is to eschew any sense of place and to entice every consumer. A pizza chain might not offend anybody, but it won't delight anybody either.

The Italian Pie Shoppe is not a national chain. It's local, with four restaurants in the Twin Cities. Two are owned by the same person, and two are franchises. We dined at the Yankee Doodle Square location in Eagan.

You'll find some clunkers on the menu, but there are real delights as well. And you're guaranteed to get a meal that's more interesting than a pizza commercial.

They serve pizzas, of course. You can order them thin crust, deep dish, or double crust and with a variety of toppings. One of our favorites was the vegetarian deep dish. Filled with lots of fresh broccoli, tomato, mushrooms, onions and zucchini, it was wonderful.

We also liked the white pizza, one of the thin-crust options. This is a delicious cheese pizza with no tomato sauce, only the lightest taste of olive oil. This really shows off how good their pizza dough is.

The other pizzas are good, too. But, we found the double-crust stuffed pizza a little undercooked, so be careful about that.

The Italian Pie Shoppe also serves sandwiches. The calzone is a folded-over pizza crust stuffed with cheese, sauce and two pizza toppings of your choice. We thought this very tasty, although we're used to the sauce on the outside of the calzone.

Similar is the stromboli, another pizza-crust sandwich with ham, salami, Swiss cheese, onions and olives. It's a great hot sandwich and much better than the Chicago torpedo sandwich. The ingredients are similar, but the torpedo comes with lettuce and tomato. We don't think lettuce is a good idea on a hot sandwich, and didn't care for the result.

Look for the table card listing more sandwiches. We really liked the meatball sandwich, which comes with marinara sauce and cheese.

The pasta dishes are all good and sometimes just delicious. We can recommend the baked pasta dishes, which come covered in sauce and cheese and then baked in a casserole pan. You'll get lots of garlic bread with these.

The small dinner salad is uninspiring but fresh. The salad entré is better, with meat, cheese, green pepper and olives.

Don't even bother with dessert; the two meager options were handed to us wrapped in cellophane. How about adding some ice cream to the menu? We know you've got a freezer back there.

One last thing: If you go with a group, order Mr. B's Anti Vampire Buffalo Wings as an appetizer. These are not your standard hot wings. The sauce is heavily vinegary and seasoned with garlic and oregano. Zippy, but not too hot. Delicious.

While not all the old-time decor in the dining room is authentically old stuff, quite a lot of it is. Look for the panoramic photograph of St. Paul. That's authentic Minnesota, just like the Italian Pie Shoppe.

Location: 1438 Yankee Doodle Rd. in Yankee Doodle Square in Eagan. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 1 to 10 p.m. Sunday. 651-452-4525.

Atmosphere: Family-friendly, old-timey.

Service: No problems.

Sound level: Not too noisy.

Alcohol: Beer and wine.

Prices: $6 to $9 per person.

Smoking: Allowed in the secondary room until 4 p.m.; evenings are no-smoking.

Children: Special menu available.

Handicapped access: No ramps, but entry doesn't require steps.

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This (sadly) is our last review.  It looks like the union rules that prohibit us from continuing to write for the newspaper are immutable.

Bruce

Sorry to hear that man. :sad:

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Sorry to hear that man. :sad:

Thanks. Us, too.

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For the record, we're definitely out of a job. Union rules. No exceptions.

Bruce

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Are you saying that not even another paper can pick your reviews or hire you?

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Are you saying that not even another paper can pick your reviews or hire you?

Different publications will have different rules, of course. We're still writing our bimonthly columns for Mix, the free newspaper for Twin-Cities-area co-ops, for example.

But getting restaurant review jobs is hard. There are very few jobs in any city, and they are open very rarely. Until someone dies of cholesterol poisioning, we're stuck waiting.

That's why the "South" job was so good. It was a new postion, an entry job; one that let us regularly write reviews while waiting for something better to come along.

Bruce

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Karen (mnfoodie) and I are back doing reviews for the Star-Tribune. They have a new section called "West," for Western suburbs. We have a once-a-month column (the frequency is low enough not to get us in trouble with the union.

"West" includes St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Eden Prairie, Plymouth, Chanhassen, Chaska, and on out to Western Hennepin County line.

I'll take restaurant suggestions.

Bruce

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Looks like we'll once again be doing reviews for South, but not soon and only once a month.

For now, we're reviewing restaurants West of the city.

Bruce

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Glad to hear you are back in the game. I'm not at all familiar with that area, but will make some inquiries, and perhaps Betts has some suggestions?

Assume this precludes Suzette which is on 169 just south of Jordan on the east side of 169?

I have missed your reviews. Still doing MIX? Anything online with MIX? If not, and if you are still doing MIX, can you copy from your copy and post here?


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Yup - that's my neighborhood.

When I need comfort, I go to the Crossroads Deli on Cedar Lake Road and Co Rd 73. Apart from the Jewish deli - there is an evening steakhouse menu. This restaurant is full breakfast, lunch and dinner and is a real neighborhood place. It has been reviewed multiple times.

I'll try to find out about the Russian deli for you. It is distinctly unfriendly to non Russians by all reports.

Let me give this some thought and I'll try to give you and Karen a heads up.

We went to Istanbul a couple of times last month ( Minnetonka, just west of Ridgedale on the 394 service drive) and they really make their own stuffed grape leaves - big fat fingers not like the Greek ones. Most middle eastern places say they are house made but not so. I'd go back frequently.

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Ooh! I was just taken out to lunch at Applebees in Shakopee!

My generous guests were too squeamish for sushi. :raz:

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Bruce,

My favorite places out that way are Biella in Excelsior and Ravello in Long Lake. I believe Jean Brislance has posted about Biella in this forum. I've posted about Mojito, which I was fairly non-plussed with.

I happy for you that you've landed the gig. But I don't envy you for the places you'll have to suffer through to write a review. :laugh:


We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I believe Jean Brislance has posted about Biella in this forum.

Indeed I did. Mmmm...Biella! I really enjoyed Biella.

Bruce, I am glad to see you are back. I enjoyed reading some of your past reviews, and look forward to reading about some places in my neck of the woods!

Jean

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Sea fare that tantalizes

Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier

Special to Star Tribune West

May 26, 2004

Blue Point is one of Wayzata's nicest restaurants. It offers a spare, attractive dining room with smooth walls and rippled glass accents. It has white-jacketed waiters who bustle about attentively. It's got fresh oysters.

In the jet age, maybe it's not so impressive to serve oysters a thousand miles from an ocean. After all, one could dine on fresh oysters in towns along the railroad tracks more than 100 years ago. James J. Hill himself probably brought oysters to Wayzata in the 1870s. Nevertheless, good fresh fish is always, still, a treat.

The chalkboard inside the door gives a preview of the menu, so look there for the day's choices. The entrees change depending on what's fresh, so you may find different choices. We started with the fresh Dungeness crab cakes, fine by themselves, but lost in the strongly flavored red pepper sauce. The smoked shrimp and pineapple pizza, about eight inches across, will be enjoyed by those who like pizza with pineapple. No red sauce was involved, and the cheese was a bit much for the shrimp.

Better was the chicken gumbo, which was rich and nicely flavorful. The New England clam chowder had a good helping of clams, and lacked that smokiness we don't like anyway.

As an entree, the New Zealand blue nose sea bass en papillote was fabulous: a whole fish and julienned vegetables steamed in a parchment paper wrapper. The waiter opened this fragrant, perfect packet and set the plate before us, carrying wafts of aroma across the table. It was sublime. We ordered the grilled Hawaiian yellowfin tuna "as rare as possible," and the kitchen complied. The fish was lovely, cool in the center and hot outside. The vegetables alongside, a mix of carrots and zucchini, were doused with a too-salty soy sauce, but the swath of wasabi sauce brushed across the fish was pungent and hot.

Our table loved the side of sweet potato fries, served with cumin aioli. These thin sticks of sweet potato are at their best when very hot, but they're so good that they won't have time to cool off before they vanish. The asparagus with blue cheese butter was nice, too.

Our one serious complaint with Blue Point, in fact, was about the hot food. A tray carrying some of our meals came out from the kitchen, each plate covered with silver plate covers, which is fine. A couple of minutes later another tray with the rest of our dishes arrived. Our meals weren't served until both trays were at hand. Here's our advice to the kitchen, the waiters, the entire food service industry: don't let dinners sit cooling off where we can see them. Leave 'em in the kitchen if you must, or serve some of us while you finish the last few plates.

All this doesn't come cheap. Entrees are $19-$24 (more for lobster dishes); appetizers cost half that. And at those prices, you're entitled to expect a lot. We wish the menu were more exceptional more often. Some dishes are marvelous; others don't live up to the good service and attractive dining room the Blue Point offers.

Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier write a monthly restaurant column for Star Tribune West. If you have a favorite restaurant in the western suburbs, please write and tell us at diningwest@startribune.com.May 26, 2004

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The New England clam chowder had a good helping of clams, and lacked that smokiness we don't like anyway.

I just love this. It's oh-so-Minnesota. Gotta know your audience.


Edited by LOS (log)

--- Lee

Seattle

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The New England clam chowder had a good helping of clams, and lacked that smokiness we don't like anyway.

I just love this. It's oh-so-Minnesota. Gotta know your audience.

Karen's good; she really is.

B

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Bruce, you've been silent lately! Don't think you've posted your review of Singapore! in a recent copy of Mix.

I'd be happy to post for you...

When will we see th next Strib review?


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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One was supposed to run today, but I can't find it on the website.

B

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It's up today. I'd be happy to post it if you'd like...


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Here's our review of Taste of India in St. Louis Park.

*****************

Indian fare fit for the uninitiated

Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier, Special to the Star Tribune

July 14, 2004

Indian menus can be formidable, especially to Minnesotans timid about spicy food. The different dishes start to sound alike, and dire warnings about spiciness echo in our heads. But there's no reason to fear. Indian food can be flavorful and delicious, and much of it is traditionally not spicy.

Taste of India, in St. Louis Park, is an excellent place for an education in Indian food. Its menu gives hot-food haters a chance to try complex and interesting spices that won't burn the palate.

Skip the appetizers and head for the entrees. These are standards: northern Indian fare that can be found in Indian restaurants everywhere. We suggest any dish called korma; this is a creamy yogurt sauce spiced with coconut, cardamom, cinnamon and garlic. Our favorite is chicken shahi korma. This version is so lightly spiced, it's the perfect dish for suspicious skeptics.

Any of the masala dishes are just a bit further on the spice scale. Masala just means a combination of spices, so this dish can be based on chicken, shrimp, even cheese. For example, the boti ka masala is lamb cooked in a curry sauce with carrots, cauliflower and potatoes -- delicious.

A bit further towards hot food is the rogan josh -- it doesn't have as much sauce as a masala dish and has some chili peppers. The lamb version was wonderful, as was the fish. Hotter yet is a vindaloo. We've had vindaloos that were too hot to eat in other restaurants, but the shrimp version here wasn't overwhelming. We'll ask for it hotter next time.

Taste of India serves many vegetarian dishes. Bagan bharta is a particularly nice eggplant and potato dish, served in a tasty tomato-based sauce. And don't forget the biryani choices. These dishes are made with saffron-flavored rice and make a nice variation from the more saucy choices. Our favorites are the chicken or the lamb.

All dishes come with rice,and can be ordered mild, medium or hot. Ordering a normally hot dish as mild won't be authentic, but it'll still be tasty. Heat levels are toned down for Minnesota palates; if you want something authentically Indian hot, you have to make a special request and convince the waiter that you understand what you're requesting.

Don't forget to order nan, the baked flat bread that's perfect for sopping up the sauces that come with your entrees. You can order it plain, but we like garlic or onion nan. The deep-fried puri bread is also tasty.

The perfect drink with Indian food is a lassi, plain and a little salty (think buttermilk) or sweet with mango. It's a creamy yogurt drink that cools the palate. We also liked the hot spiced tea.

Taste of India has an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet seven days a week: $8 on weekdays and $10 on weekends. It's widely considered one of the better lunch choices in this part of town, with a selection of appetizers, main dishes and desserts. Sample everything.

Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier write a monthly restaurant column for Star Tribune West. If you have a favorite restaurant in the western suburbs, please write and tell us at diningwest@startribune.com.

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Well, I live in Shoreview.

The best two restaurants I ever ate in were Chouette in Wayzata, and Abdul's Afandy on Nicollet and 26th. Alas, neither is operating anymore. But Abdul (Mohammed Ahmed) took me back in the kitchen and taught me how to make virtually everything on his menu. Thanks Abdul.

China Taste on University and 81st was my most favorite Chinese restaurant for the Kung Pao beef dish. I am still suffering withdrawal symptoms for Chock Huie's wonderful dish. Alas, they retired and he never got around to showing me how to re-create it!

I loved 128 the first time I ate there. The 2nd and 3rd times was enough for me never ever to go back again.

20 years ago, 510 was OK, a bit haughty.

Right now, let's see, I like the Holyland buffet on Central. Majdi does a pretty good job at keeping the quality up.

Haven't been to the Lowell Inn since they revamped it a bit ago.

Yup, guess I just kind of got tired of eating out. Now we pretty much eat in all the time. I just love to cook it myself.

So youse guys still getting together, I know this thread was a year old or so?

doc

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