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.
because I love good food.
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.
Restaurant Week Minnesota is coming up on October 21st-26, 2012. Do you have your reservations yet?
If you don’t know what Restaurant Week is, you can read my earlier post HERE. It details what you need to do if you want to participate.
When deciding where I am going to go for restaurant week I take a look over all the menus and then decide what I think looks best. These are my own opinions and I am not paid for my endorsements or criticisms.
Here are my picks:
Bradstreet Crafthouse: Very good drinks and a delightful atmosphere. Plus, the lamb sliders are yummy.
Cafe and Bar Lurcat: AMAZING! If you have never been to Lurcat, you need to make this your pick. I reviewed this awhile ago HERE and loved my meal. My helpful hint: Ask your server what items they like on the menu. They have tried them and know what is best.
Capital Grill: This is the place you go if you like meat. They have fantastic steaks and it is the perfect place to have a fancy night out with complementary valet. Make sure you come dressed up.
Corner Table: I haven’t been here before but the menu excites me. This one might be a leap of faith. How can you go wrong with Pots du Creme with gingerbread?
FireLake Grill House: Chosen because they are using local ingredients. I like the idea of the lunch menu with a salad and a sandwich.
Haute Dish: What a great way to try some of their different menu items. People love the mac and cheese with king crab and the tator tot hot dish.
Heidi’s: If you haven’t had a chance to get here yet. You must. This is an excellent restaurant and I can’t believe they are even participating. I have had the lamb shank before and which is perfect. If I were to go here I would try the dungeness bisque.
Highland Grill: One of the only restaurants who figured out how to use the $15 dinner correctly. What a great way to try many of their menu items like the fundito dip.
The Oceanaire: The grilled swordfish, enough said.
Saffron: The whole menu looks delicious. I love how they offer add on’s of wine pairing and also supplements. I don’t know if I would be able to decide between the entrees.
Technique: This is at the chefs school which makes me excited. Not only are these chefs trying some new things, they are most likely being “graded” on their performance. Although this is new I think that the prices are great, 3 courses for 15 dollars. I wish they could have more spots open for reservations. The meatloaf sounds like bunches of fun.
Vincent A: This is one of my favorite places to go during restaurant week. They make really great food and the atmosphere is fancy. Go on a date and order both of the entrees, you will be impressed. I wish they would offer their Pots Du Creme for the dessert though.
Aji Japanese: $10 all you can eat sushi for lunch! This intrigues me. But, I am not sure of the grade of sushi being used or what types this includes. It looks promising.
Campiello: I have never been here but the menu looks promising. I think they would be better off trying a $15 dollar dinner and seeing if they can get some new customers trying their food.
Copper River Fish and Chop House: I might try this place sometime. The menu looks pretty good on their website and they have fresh fish. Hopefully, they can cook it well.
Cosmos at the Graves: I find it interesting that they put directly in the menu that tax and gratuity are not included. The menu looks promising and a few friends said they liked the restaurant week items here. I am just not sure about it yet. The lunch menu looks like a good deal to me.
Dakota: Why did you just put one option? The Dakota would have been one of my top picks if they would have given more options. They have some talented chefs there who are going outside the box. My suggestion is to give a few fun and exciting options and at least one safe option.
Fogo de Chao: I heard this is a great deal and my guy friends love this place. I have never been here since I am not a meat, meat and more meat kind of person. If I did go here I would go during a special like Restaurant Week.
Joe’s Garage: I haven’t been here and that is the only reason why it is not in the Good category. They have a great menu with lots of options and anyone who serves Poutine is cool in my book.
Longfellow Grill: Could be good. Not really sure on this one.
The Lowry: I have heard that people like this place but the menu doesn’t look all that great. Although, it might surprise me.
Masa: I always walk by this place and wonder why it isn’t busy. That makes me hesitant to go there. But the menu looks good and I think lunch here would be great. I love a good torta.
Parma 8200: The melon salad sounds good. I could give this place a try.
RedRossa Italian Grille: Gorgonzola sauce, I need to find out what this is. It sounds yummy.
Rosa Mexicano: I am a fan of flan. Yes, I may be the only one.
Scusi: The scallops sound really great. I haven’t been here before but this might be a good time to try it for the first time.
Sea Change: This restaurant is great and I wish they would have offered a special dinner along with the lunch. If you can make it here for lunch you will not be disappointed. I think this place is intimidating for some people and I would love to see a special that would get this place some new fans.
Stella’s: Wow that lunch special looks great. I like the options and think that it would be a fun place to catch lunch with a friend.
Twisted Fork: Lavender Creme Brulee, sounds great. I think they have a good menu and would consider going here on a relaxed night out.
Urban Eatery: I have heard this place is good. It was right on the edge of making it to my favorite places. The pumpkin dessert looks great!
Wildfire: I have not been here before, but I like how many options they gave on the menu.
I wouldn’t recommend:
Amore Victoria: I have had horrible service here and cannot recommend it even though the food is good. The choices of the Pumpkin, Osso Buco, and Chicken Parmesan sound delicious but coupled with the service I can’t do it. See my review HERE.
Blue Point Restaurant: Not that impressed with the menu. Give us the good items that you serve and I might think about stopping by.
Chez Daniel: The reviews are mixed. I have never been here but the menu seems over priced for being in a hotel and out of the city. They do groupon specials which makes me hesitant that the food cannot stand alone. I might try if the price was more reasonable.
Damico Kitchen: I am bummed about the horrible service that I got here last time. Read my review HERE. But, the food and the menu is good, so if you are willing to bet on the service you could give it a try.
Edina Grill: Why are you doing a $30 dinner. Try the $15 dollar dinner next time.
Forepaughs: A waldorf salad really? For 30 dollars. The other parts of the menu looked okay but, it makes me wonder how good it can be if they would actually serve a waldorf salad. Are we going to a funeral?
Jimmy’s Food and Cocktails: I wish they would have included what the exact choices would be. Could be good.
Kincaid’s: Not wow’ed by either locations menu.
The Lexington: Could be fun to go here. The desert looks good but I am not that excited about the rest of the menu. But, I think it would be fun to take my Grandma here.
The Melting Pot: It screams cheesy romantic valentines day date for high schoolers to me. I just can’t get on board with it. Plus, melted cheese freaks me out a little bit.
Sanctuary: It could be good. I am just not sure about it.
Seven: They have a decent menu with Jumbo Prawns on it. But, I feel like they already have the marketing budget and not sure why they are doing this.
Woolley’s Steakhouse: That Kielbasa Mac and Cheese does not sound appetizing.
Don’t go here:
3 Squares: They do not have anything over $15.00 on their regular menu. Why would you spend $30? My suggestion, please make your menu a $15 dollar dinner.
Chiang Mai Thai: They didn’t put their best item the Pad Thai on the menu. I haven’t been impressed with this place lately and it is not worth the price. I reviewed them recently HERE.
Crave: What a lousy menu. I think you could do better than that Crave.
Huberts: Why would you go here? It is bar food. Which I am sure is delicious but I am not sure why it is on the restaurant week menu. If you are looking for a greasy hang-over spot or a place to get a hang-over. Maybe you should try this place.
Indian Zayka: The menu is not posted, but there are pictures of people using a buffet. Not sure why this is on restaurant week. But, I love Indian food so I wish the menu was posted.
Loring Kitchen: Horrible service and a bad restaurant week menu as well. This place is not my favorite. See my review HERE.
Samba Taste of Brazil: heard this place was good. The menu does not reflect that.
Woodfire Grill: A burger is an entree that you can get for a $30 dinner? That is crazy. That burger must be unreal. Most likely it is just a rip off though. Please prove me wrong.
During restaurant week watch for my posts on the places that I go and my reviews.
Please also leave me comments or tell me about your experience at the different restaurants. I would especially like to hear about any that were rated lower on my scale but that you thought were really good.
because I love food.
It is that time again! Restaurant week for Fall 2012 is October 21-26. For those of you who have never participated I will answer your burning questions and get you ready to start attending Restaurant Week.
What is Restaurant Week?
It is a week where restaurants put on a special promotion and offer Lunches and Dinners at a “discounted” rate.
Does Restaurant Week only happen in Minnesota?
No, many large foodie cities like New York and Chicago do them as well. They may not line up at the same times as ours do. I know that some people even travel to those cities during restaurant weeks to try the food at restaurants that they normally would not be able to afford. Contact Open Table if you want to make a trip of it sometime.
How do you find out about Restaurant Week?
Follow my blog… right up there in the right corner and you will see my picks for each Restaurant Week. Otherwise follow me on my new facebook page Mplsgossipgirl by liking the page. It is NEW so be one of the first people to like it!
What the heck is Open Table?
It is great! It is an online service where you can make FREE reservations and earn points towards dining certificates.
They also offer special events and even more events when you are a V.I.P. You become a V.I.P when you help review the restaurants that you have visited. This week I received an email promotion about visiting a few restaurants Monday-Wednesday and receiving a gift card for your next visit (some of them were $25)
Plus, it is a great way to give direct feedback to the restaurant and help you remember the places that you liked or disliked.
They are a sponsor of restaurant week and usually most of the restaurants on the list are restaurants that you can make reservations for on Open Table.
I have been using Open Table for years and love being able to use this FREE service. They do send you emails every so often about different restaurants in the area and deals. But, you cannot beat getting free dining checks from them and the other offers when you become a V.I.P.
How do I pick the restaurant I want to go to?
Read REVIEWS. More importantly, read my blog all of my past reviews are posted. Some of the restaurant week promotions are not “deals” at all.
Look at the menus that are posted by MSPMAG. If they are offering a $30 dinner when their entrée’s are usually only $10 on their regular menu. That is usually a red flag.
Also, decide what type of food you want. Do you want a steak dinner? Choose Capital Grille. Want to try something new? Try Cafe Lurcat. Want to go to Uptown? Choose Heidi’s.
Unfortunately, it always takes FOREVER to get the menus on the website. So, I suggest taking a look at the normal menu at the restaurant to decide if you want to make a reservation. Some reservations go fast.
Okay I picked my restaurant, now how to I get a reservation?
All you need to do is click on the make a reservations link on left side of the website next to the restaurant you want. If you do not have an Open Table account you will need to create one.
There are some restaurants that do not require reservations.
This is awkward, what do I say at the restaurant so they know I am there for restaurant week?
First, you can put it in the reservation under the special requests. You can just type Restaurant Week and then the restaurant will get that note.
Also you can let them know when you sit down that you are here for restaurant week. Most places are good at offering both their restaurant week menu and their regular menu.
Is wine included in the meal?
No, any drinks are separate. Although, some restaurants offer wine pairings with their menu with an additional charge.
Do I need to tip?
Yes. Please tip your waiter or waitress. It is not included in the price of the meal.
What is fun about Restaurant Week?
It is a reason to go out and try a restaurant that you have never been to before.
Once I saw a group of friends who schedule a fancy dinner on the Wednesday of every Minneapolis Restaurant week. Each person gets a chance to pick the restaurant and they each order different menu items and share.
They love the excuse to get together, dress up, and enjoy a fancy meal.
Where is mplsgossipgirl going this Fall Restaurant Week?
Look for future postings on my “Best Bets” for this Restaurant Week and during the week of October 21-26th to see where I go.
Here are my past postings:
Check out the MSPMAG for Restaurant Listings: HERE
Get an Open Table Account: HERE
because I love food.
I was blessed with the perfect day yesterday to spend time by the lake. I have been to White Bear Lake many times and have never dined at this restaurant. It is truly a hidden gem, that people are now discovering. White Bear Lake is about 25 Minutes outside of the cites and is worth the drive.
Acqua in my opinion is an Italian Seafood place. Meaning, when you come here you need to try something that has come from the sea and also has pasta with it. It has charm because it is located in a small house on a one way road and has a wonderful patio. Although, you cannot make reservations for the patio which is often full on sunny days like yesterday, dining in the house is equally as nice.
The Restaurant Week menu had at least 3 choices for each course allowing diners many options to choose from. My suggestion would be to try the item on the menu that seems the most unique to you and that you would not normally try. Those are always the menu items that I enjoy the most. I started with the Cantaloupe and Honeydew Puree with Strawberry and Mint.
This was definitely one of those items that I was not sure if I would like or if I would normally pick at a restaurant. But, it was great and look at that design. With hints of Cayenne Pepper this cold sweet soup was just what was needed to start off a great meal. I also had a few bites of the field greens with the tomato vinaigrette, also good, but more on the safe side of things.
You also get bread with honey butter while dining here…. I literally could not stop eating it. The wait staff who were friendly and professional kept bringing me more. Thank goodness for them.
Then on to the main event. You cannot go wrong with any of the choices on the restaurant week menu and from what I was hearing from other diners you can’t go wrong with virtually anything on the menu. I was told I need to come back and try the braised shank.
I had the main picture of this post, a Spaghetti with Grilled Shrimp, Roasted Tomato and Lemon Butter Sauce. It was delicious and I finished every bite. I regretted afterwards not saving some for leftovers.
I also tried the Eggplant Parmesan which had a delightful sauce on it.
Last but certainly not least was the desserts. Choose which ever item sounds good to you and go for it. You cannot make a wrong choice here. I had both the Creme Brulee and the Chocolate Souffle with the amazing graham cracker ice cream. I also saw the Pistachio Semifreddo come out and regretted not trying it.
Overall, try this place out for Summer Restaurant Week today or tomorrow and hope that next Restaurant Week they will be back again. Make sure to get your reservations in here early, you will not be disappointed. Heck, come here anytime you can because their regular menu looks fabulous also.
because sitting by a lake eating good food is what I want to be doing in heaven
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.
All my #MNrestaurantweek recommendations have been glowing so far. Unfortunately, this one is not. I attended a lunch at D’Amico Kitchen at 12:00pm and was fairly disappointed. I tell you this because it is in the heart of downtown and there was barely anyone there for lunch. I would think with a deal like this, 10 dollar lunch, that they would be busy.
Most of my experience was foiled because of the service. Our server was not very good. He should maybe consider another career option since he had trouble talking to us and seemed nervous when attempting to explain the menu. He did not give any suggestions and only offered us wine to drink. Someone might want to tell him that most people cannot drink while at work or when going back to work. He brought us water but failed to keep it refilled and took awhile getting us our bill because he was folding napkins out on the floor and it looked like prepping for dinner service while chatting with other employees. My suggestion is that this should be done where customers cannot see. Although, I may not have noticed if I wasn’t looking for him.
Our food was fairly good. I ordered a salad that was a great lunch salad but it was on a small plate and I had trouble looking like I wasn’t struggling to keep it on the plate when I cut it. Someone in my group had a greens salad and it was bland. It should be kept off the restaurant week menu. I had the tomato soup and that was great. It had a little bit of heat to it and was great with house bread. The squash ravioli is definitely the way to go though. It was worth the 10 dollars, I wouldn’t have paid more for this experience.
I cannot say what the D’Amico Kitchen dinner experience is. But, I don’t think I will be back for Lunch anytime soon. If I did, I would get that tomato soup again. It was a perfect lunch soup.
Because lunch is a break from reality.
I was right! Cafe Lurcat is a must for #mnrestaurantweek. If you haven’t been yet you have until Friday to try their restaurant week menu.
If you don’t know what restaurant week is: check out www.mspmag.com. They have lists of the restaurants participating, the menus, and links to get a reservation. Most lunches are $10-15 while dinners are usually $30.
Thank you Cafe Lurcat for a great meal. Great food, good service, and a wonderful view.I even got some entertainment from the handsy couple next to us. There was nothing left on my plate for any of the courses. Thanks to the suggestion from our waiter Aaron I believe I ordered the best of the menu. The portions sizes were normal with enough to share with those at your table.
The hits were the Apple Chive and Cheese salad. It was fresh, clean, and so simple. The pot roast. It fell apart with a fork and had a wonderful red wine sauce. The best part of it for me was the carrots, if I knew how to cook them that way I would eat carrots for every meal. Other menu items I tried were the crab cake which was for the hearty and the barramundi which was light with a crunch with the added hazelnuts both were good but I was not in the mood for them.
On many restaurant week menus I have been disappointed with the desserts. That was not the case last night. I had a date cake with candied nuts. It was fantastic. One of the best desserts I have had in awhile. The hot sauce and nuts really put it over the edge. The chocolate cake was pretty good too. Not too rich or bitter.
The only thing that I would have changed was the weather. For those of you going there tonight. They do have valet parking for $8.00. It is a must for weather like this because the valets will meet you at the car with an umbrella.
Let me know what you think of Cafe Lurcat’s #mnrestaurantweek menu @mplsgossipgirl
Because a great meal can warm the heart.
If you don’t have anything to do this weekend yet and if you are not burnt out by Restaurant week join me at the Food and Wine weekend put on my Minnesota Monthly @mnmomag. You cannot go wrong with good wine, good food, and it benefits Minnesota Public Radio!
This will be my first time at this event and I am not exactly sure what I should expect. The website in not very descriptive but I watch Top Chef religiously and I think I will be able to pick it up. I will not be wearing a crazy Padma outfit though. I would love a suggestion for an outfit from someone who has been before. @mplsgossipgirl
You can buy your tickets online and make sure to note where you have to park to get into the event.
Can’t wait to see you there!
February 26th-March 2nd 2012
Restaurant week is a chance for you to get out of your box and try a new restaurant in mpls or St. Paul. I have participated in this food fest over and over again and I have never been disappointed. It is a great reason to get together friends that you haven’t seen for awhile to eat a 30 dollar dinner or 15 dollar lunch. A steal for most of the restaurants listed. They want you to enjoy your meal so that you come back.
Your best bet for this restaurant week is: Saffron. Order the Lamb “Cassoulet” 2.0. You can’t go wrong with slow cooked lamb. The curried potato soup looks great as well. Saffron is not skimping on the ingredients with lobster and lamb. Bring friends with and order all the dishes so you can try them all! There is not a dish on the restaurant week menu that I wouldn’t order. They also offer add on’s and wine pairings. If you have a little extra cash I would go for it.
Unfortunately, most of Saffron’s reservations are full at this point. But, there are other restaurants that always shine as well. I will be attending D’amico Kitchen for lunch sometime this week. Look forward to my posting.
Cafe and Bar Lurcat is a must. I have only heard the best from their restaurant weeks. The Capital Grill is a great place to have a fancy dinner if you like steak. This would be one to get your husband or boyfriend to go to who wouldn’t normally get caught dead in a fancy restaurant. I wouldn’t order the salmon there but as someone who does not order steak I tried the entire menu last restaurant week and loved them all. You cannot go wrong. They also put out the same menu for restaurant week so if you miss it this time, it will be the same menu next time. I liked it enough to go back again. Also, make sure you don’t order your steak well-done. The Capital Grill knows how to cook this quality meat correctly, he will never want to go to Applebees again. Dress to impress there.
Restaurant week can be a bust though. There are a few restaurants on the list that I would not pay 30 dollars for a dinner at. Their normal menu items are not above that price range so why would I go there to get a more expensive meal? I have discovered a few places that I liked but didn’t end up eating from the restaurant week menu because it seemed silly. Bradstreet Crafthouse was one of those places. I discovered an amazing drink menu and some great appetizers. But, spending the money for the menu was not worth it.
I make wishes every year to see La Belle Vie do Restaurant week again. I am always disappointed when the list comes out without them on it. I am sure they are NOT having a hard time filling tables. But, it would be nice of them to make it more accessible to those mpls residents who currently are not foodies. It would be fun to see a menu with drink pairings with it. Spill the Wine, Manny’s and Heidi’s would be nice to see on the list as well.
Get out there this week and eat some good food. Tell me about it!