Tag Archive | Minneapolis Restaurants

Gather Minneapolis


Gather Winter 2012

Seriously, Gather what were you thinking? After sharing my previous post you changed what I praised you for a great selection of 5 dollar plates for happy hour.

Not smart.

You can read my previous review HERE.

I really hate having to tell my readers about a change in a restaurant that I recently gave glowing reviews. I dread it. But, alas it has to be done. What I said then, now is not true.

I praised you for you happy hour of 5 dollar small plates. But, when I went there this thursday the menu was different and there were not the 5 dollar plates available (only the bahn mi and the peas and bread). It was disappointing. Especially since I had suggested this restaurant as a great meeting space where we could get happy hour appetizers to share. Please update your website with your current menu.

The British fare should have been done in addition to the regular menu. “My favorite restaurant serves only British food,” said no one, ever.

Thank goodness I was in the presence of fellow fantastic, fashionable, foodies who were able to find some other interesting menu items.

When we ordered I was asked if I wanted salmon on my salad. I said sure and the server had to check to see if they even had salmon. Why offer it if you don’t know if you have it? I did not feel well afterwards. The server could have told me that you did not have any fresh salmon and I would have been fine with that.

I was then charged for the salad and the salmon separately. Which ended up being more expensive than anything else on the entire menu. What? yeah. I know.  12 dollars for over salted salmon served on a small side plate. If I would have known this I would have never said okay to the salmon which came on the side and not on top of the salad.   A good rule of thumb is to only offer up-charges that are half of the price of the main order. My salad also did not have asparagus on it which is the second item listed with the salad on the menu. The salad was well dressed and the beets were tasty, it was just too bad there wasn’t asparagus on it.

The cocktail I had was poorly mixed. Not sure why you would do a vodka cranberry with a mint syrup. Also, when you have the holiday grog on your menu it should be available.  Do not act suprised when someone orders it and respond with a snide comment of, “it is not ready yet, it has to sit for a while” Honestly maybe you should have thought about that before you put it on the menu. College students plan better when making wops or jungle juice.

In one single night of a poor $40 dollar dinner you have disappointed me and embarassed me. Gather was one of my favorite spots in the city. I would love to hear what you have to say about my recent experience please leave me a message or email me. Bring back the good 5 dollar happy hour menu!

because if you have a good thing, don’t change it.

@mplsgossipgirl

Gather on Urbanspoon

Secrets of the City – Left Handed Cook


The Left Handed Cook is one of the best new restaurants in Minneapolis and is one of the secrets of the city. I cannot believe that this place does not have a line out the door every Friday and Saturday night. It is hip and they are making some great and unexpected food here in Minneapolis.

Located in the Midtown Global Market The Left Handed Cook brings a casual dinner to new heights.

It is a little intimidating for non-foodies. But, if you knew what was actually in the dishes I think you would like it. I watched many people look at the menu and shake their heads. A bip bowl and sandwiches with all of these fancy ingredients were too much for them to think about. I say give it a try you might like it.

I am sure that the owners and cooks would love to explain to you everything that goes into their dishes. It is just sad that one Yelp reviewer said they put a “raw egg” on their bip bowl, I think this person may want to learn how eggs can be cooked different ways; actually it was poached. If you never have had a poached egg before, you must try it. It is my favorite way to eat an egg.

The limited menu boils down to starters, sandwiches, and rice bowls.  I would suggest to order at least one sandwich with a rice bowl.  To start you off they give you a small snack of popcorn with hand mixed spices.

I ordered the soft shell crab sandwich.  The bun is likely from the Salty Tart.  For those with a sweet tooth the Salty Tart is a cramped bakery in the Global Market that creates some of the best baked goods in the city.  In between the bun is sauce,  fried crab pieces, and fresh greens.  The sweetness of the soft shell crab comes through the light crunch of the breading.  Oozing between the meat and lettuce is a brightly spiced sauce that provides some heat. The best part of the sandwich was truly the sauce that I wish I could have to put on everything in my own home.

On the side is a fresh roasted beet salad. My favorite part of the meal. There is something about a perfectly dressed salad with flavors that meld well that really makes me happy. This particular salad had cheese and a roasted nut with little bit of crunch that paired well with the greens and the dressing. I would eat that salad for lunch everyday.

I also ordered the pork belly rice bowl .  Steamed white rice topped with fresh lemon grass, kimchee, asian spiced vegetables, a poached egg, and a perfectly cooked portion of pork belly is what makes up a Bip Bowl. They have many choices for what meat you would like on top.

Overall, this is a great place to go if you are looking for something a bit off the grid. It really filled my need for really good food in a relaxed atmosphere. You don’t need to get dressed up to grab a bite here, come as you are and chow down on a bowl or a sandwich. I also must mention that you can park in the lot across the street for free when you buy something. Bring in your parking ticket and get it stamped by the business that you purchase your food from. It is easy to get in and out of the parking lot.

because good food does not require a fancy outfit.

xoxo

@mplsgossipgirl

Left Handed Cook on Urbanspoon

Secrets of Minneapolis- One of the Best Happy Hours no one knows about – Gather at The Walker


Looking for a secret spot for happy hour on a Thursday night? Try Gather at The Walker.

It is one of the best happy hours in the city that no one knows about.

  • 5 dollar small plates
  • 5 dollar special drinks and wines (this past week it was a mango martini)
  • 3-5 dollar beers

It only happens on Thursday night, when The Walker opens its doors for free Thursday nights. That is right, you do not have to pay to get into The Walker on Thursdays. So, after you eat you can go explore all the wonderful modern art that The Walker has to offer.

Why I call this one of the secrets of the city is because when I was there last Thursday only about half of the tables were full. Normally, I equate this to either bad service or overpriced foods. That is not the case with Gather. My best guess is that people think you have to pay to get into the Walker to eat in the restaurant. Not true.  Plus, it is a bit hard to find in the building but if you get lost ask one of the Walker staff.

You need to try this place because the service is excellent. The staff is always trying to make this the best experience for their guests. I even overheard a staff member trying to make a childs nonalcoholic drink fancier and extra special.  They go the extra mile. Plus, you can tell the staff enjoys working with each other.

Another reason this place is wonderful is that you can watch the chefs work. When I looked over at them they were smiling and having a great time.  Good food comes from happy chefs.

This would be a great place to take a date; the ambiance and low lighting create a romantic atmosphere.  This space in the Walker has really nice views. My advice: when making a reservation ask for a spot near the window.  It is also a great place for a birthday, they have room for a group of about 8. I suggest sharing a bunch of the small plates.

My favorite small plates are the grilled cheese, fish tacos, bahn mi, and the fries with the aioli.  Also, each week they usually feature two dishes from a local chef. Those usually are wonderful as well. They are a great way to try something that you might never try otherwise, such as frog legs. Plus, if you go on the first Thursday of the month the dishes from the local chef are free to try.

The trio of grilled cheeses differ with what cheeses are served. The ones that I had this week were a cheddar, brie with fig jam, and another one with herbs and mushrooms. All of them were different and fun.

I also had the fish tacos, a little bit spicy but very fresh. I liked the lime flavor of the slaw that tops the fish.

All of the food at Gather is locally sourced with much from family farms. Which makes the menu smaller but it only contains dishes that are necessary. Two items on the menu that I want to try next time are the Buttermilk marinated chicken and the beet dish with asparagus, pistachio, and orange.

Gather came out with a new menu, so the menu on their website may not be reflective of what is really on the menu now. I am very excited about some of the drinks on the new menu. They are flavors of fall and winter. The Harvest Grog with red wine, cider, whiskey, and maple syrup will warm the heart. Yum! Who comes up with these drinks?

I heard a rumor that in December, Gather will be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and will be serving British fare to celebrate the British Ad Awards. I also heard a rumor that the next guest chef has a restaurant near The Walker.

Take a look at Gather’s website HERE.

because I like secrets.

@mplsgossipgirl

Restaurant Week MN 2012 – Saffron


It is that time again. It is Restaurant week.

My pick for Fall Restaurant Week 2012 was Saffron. I picked Saffron because of the menu. They had starters that sounded fresh, entrees that were adventurous (more so than the steak, chicken, and fish options), and dessert that sounded delectable. I also liked the option of the add on wine pairing and the suppliments. I would suggest the wine pairing because it is worth the cost and the tables around me all ordered it.

I am glad that I chose Saffron because I had never been there before and it was an excellent meal. Saffron serves contemporary mediterranean and middle eastern cuisine. Every dish  is full of spices and made with quality ingredients.

The night started out with a bit of a mess. Saffron is not the easiest place to get to. We pulled into the parking lot that was closest to Saffron and it was 10 dollars to park there with no valet. Holy Crap. So, my first bit of advice is to take public transportation there.

That made me a bit cranky, but when I walked into Saffron I was quickly greeted and seated. The atmosphere of Saffron is romantic, dimly lit (as you can tell by my pictures) and plush. This restaurant has a calming nature to it. None of the servers were rushing around and they let you take your time.

The first course was the salad course. I had both selections on the restaurant week menu; the blood orange salad, and the greens salad with figs and blue cheese.  Both were very different and good.

The blood orange salad was fresh and bright. I liked the salty feta with the sweet orange and then the bite that comes with the olive. I almost thought it was going to be too summery but suprisingly the olives added a deeper tone.  It was a really great start to the meal.

The green salad was also fresh and had spiced almonds on it. Whatever those almonds had on it, I wanted a plate of them. It was dressed perfectly and had blue cheese and figs.

As a supplement I had the additional plate of assorted traditional spreads. Supplements are add ons that can be purchased for 10 extra dollars,  I would suggest getting this. My favorites included hummus and the spicy goat cheese. But, do not discount the other spreads such as the baba ganoush which was smokey and deep and the lentil spread with spices.

Then came the entrees of Arni Youvetsi (lamb) and Bouillabaisse. They were full size.

The lamb dish was heavy and savory. It was spiced and was served with orzo and reminded me of a fancy Minnesota hot dish. It was a little salty for me but I believe it was because of the combination of the bread crumbs and the cheese that was over salted.

The Bouillabaisse was excellent and had the taste of the sea. I was impressed by the ingredients that were used in the dish; Harissa shrimp, clams, mussels, and a few types of fish. They also added a toasted piece of bread with a sauce on it which was excellent when dipped in the broth.

The only low point of the meal came during dessert when the pear tart came. Although, this picture makes it look beautiful, it had clearly been made awhile beforehand and sat in a fridge until served. This caused the pastry part of the dessert to be hard and stale. The pear could have used a bit more spice. I liked the ice cream that topped it and the sauce on the plate but it couldn’t make up for the hard pastry.

The other dessert was great. It was a salted caramel trifle. It was rich and creamy. It was cold and had a crunch to it with the cookie on the bottom and the brittle on top. It was the highlight of the meal. Even when I was full, I kept eating this.

My suggestion for next restaurant week is that the chef does a trio of trifles. I would love to see what kinds Saffron would come up with.

The service at Saffron was great. I appreciated the calmness of the staff and the quiet of this restaurant.

If you have not made reservations yet, try Saffron. It was delicious. I would order either salad, the suppliment of spreads, the lamb entree, and the trifle for dessert.

You can read my eariler post about how to participate in restaurant week HERE and see my picks for fall restaurant week 2012 HERE.

because I love good food.

@mplsgossipgirl

disclosure: I have not been paid to provide endorsement for either the restaurant or promoters of restaurant week. These opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation for posting them.

Chiang Mai Thai


Chiang Mai Thai is one of those restaurants that I really want to like. But, unfortunately don’t. It has the potential to be great, in a good location, ambiance created by the theme, and a busy foodie scene, but it doesn’t measure up. The food just is not very good and either is the service. I haven’t given up on it and I will be back at some point. But, right now I don’t think the cost of the food is worth it.

As you can see above they do Pad Thai well. Mine was fairly good and tasted better the next day. What was lacking was everything else. I literally have disliked everything else that I have tried on the menu. I have had salads, several of the fried rice combinations, and the basil fish, all of them not very good.  I did get a suggestion to try the Massaman Curry the next time I go there from an employee at the Kitchen Window. I trust her opinion and will be trying this dish.

I had by far the worst Spring Roll that I have eaten in a while. Presentation was great with the wrapping of it but, the taste was not good and the wrapper was really hard to bite into. The dipping sauce was off. I think they were trying to do a spin on the normal by adding some mint extract to it. But, it was overpowering and did not compliment the dish. I couldn’t tell if it was a mistake or if it was intentional.

The service we had was strange. Our server came to our table only 4 times during the meal but he did a lot of standing around. Many of the servers looked like they had nothing to do and were doing the same. It should have been busy because it was a weekend night during peak hours but, there was no one there. I felt bad for our bored server.

If you are looking for Thai food, I would head to Sam Thai in White Bear Lake. It is half the price and twice as good. If you are looking for ambiance you should go to Chiang Mai Thai. It is really beautiful, order the Pad Thai and that is it.

because you may have all the tools just find a new way to use them.

@mplsgossipgirl
Chiang Mai Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week MN Summer 2012


If you don’t have plans tonight. Do what I am doing. Go out and eat at a fabulous restaurant for MSPMAG’s Restaurant Week. Check out my post later this week to find out where I went for Summer Restaurant Week.

If you have not participated in Restaurant Week yet, try one of the restaurants on the list from July 8th-13th. This list will have the name of the Restaurant the menu they will have for Restaurant Week and a place to click on to make reservations on Open Table.

Quick Hint: If you have not signed up for Open Table, do it, now. It is a free and easy way to make reservations at many restaurants in Minnesota. They also do a point thing and keep track of places that you like. If you travel, especially to places with a great foodie scene, Open Table can be a great place to make reservations (a little more in advance then we do in Minnesota)

When you get to the restaurant, all you need to do is let them know you will be ordering off the restaurant week menu. It is that simple.

Check out one of my favorite Restaurant Week places: Cafe Lurcat (you can’t go wrong), Vincent (get the surf and turf), HauteDish is new on the list this time around and they have a lot of items to choose from, and last but not least Saffron (the blue prawns). The Capital Grille is good for those who like meat, meat, and more meat

Lunch: Vincent (best ambiance for a quiet lunch) go for the poached eggs. 

You can see my previous posts on past Restaurant Weeks HERE. They will be a good indication of what places do Restaurant Week right.

I don’t think all the restaurants on the Restaurant Week list are a “good deal” take a look at their normal menu and see their prices and also check reviews from people like me. Restaurant Week is a chance to try those restaurants that you normally could not afford to go to. I think that places that also do fun and unique items are worth it as well.

I am still bummed not to see La Belle Vie on the list. One place in the Twin Cities I have not been to because of the cost, even though I am sure it is worth every penny.

Follow me on Twitter @mplsgossipgirl  to guess where I am tonight.

Because I am Hungry.

@mplsgossipgirl

Eat Street Social


After trying to go to the new restaurant in town “The Icehouse” and being rudely turned away by the hostess (I don’t think she will last long), some friends and I ended up at Eat Street Social on 26th and Nicollet.

It was a blessing. I can’t believe I had not been there yet. After looking over the handcrafted drink menu, I was amazed by the choices. The names were clever and made with quality ingredients. My favorite was the Yamato Sling. I was able to try almost all the drinks on the menu and even got a little tutorial from one of the bartenders.

If you go there I suggest sitting at the bar because you will get a show along with your drink or dinner. The bartender that we were sitting by struck up a conversation with us and even showed us how he was making the drinks. They have several bartenders on hand so you are guaranteed a really well made drink.

All I can say is that the service was overwhelmingly great, it was a friendly atmosphere and the hostess did her best to accommodate our large group. The server we had did a great job of explaining the menu and even though we didn’t have dinner there and he explained some of the items that we would have had no idea what they were. Such as “A Round for the Boys”  where you can buy the kitchen a drink for $12.00. What a great idea! I am going to be using that next time I come and eat dinner.

The reason I will be going back is because the dinner menu looked delicious and was reasonable. Their soups sounded wonderful, and I haven’t met an asparagus soup that I haven’t liked at least a little bit. Also, the braised lamb sandwich is something I have to try. The bacon gnocchi with ramps and the fish special entree are also at the top of my list.

So, if you haven’t given it a try yet, do not overlook the Eat Street Social.

Because never underestimate the power of a good drink.

@mplsgossipgirl

Eat Street Social on Urbanspoon

My recent restaurant experiences…


After re-reading several of my recent posts about restaurants, I clearly have not been happy with my experience at several of the places I have been.

This is horribly sad for me. I don’t mean to be a crank. But, I figure if I tell the truth and the restaurant reads it maybe they will make some changes. I also want to make diners aware of what kind of experience they could get if they go there. No fake Amazings!!! here. I love food and love to appreciate the food in Minneapolis and surrounding areas. If I say something was AMAZING, I feel that way wholeheartedly.

Most of my rank comments have been about the service and I have been pondering why I have gotten some not so great service these last few weeks. Is it because I am younger than most of the servers, my lack of fashion, or because I do a lot of happy hours? I don’t know what exactly it is. I always tip over 20%.

I should also mention that none of the restaurants know that I write a blog. I try not to be too descriptive in my posts to let them know who I am. That way my experience is not skewed by what they want my experience to be that might be different than a normal customer.

Come on restaurants! I am just like any other person who wants to have a reason to come back again. My wish right now is that I could write more complementary posts about the restaurants to get more patrons in them.

 

My challenge to you:

I am ready to be redeemed by a restaurant… Please let me know if you know of any restaurants with great service. I will go there and let you know about it.

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