Restaurants & Bars

A chow weekend in the Twin Cities (long)

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A chow weekend in the Twin Cities (long)

TubaDave | Jan 19, 2005 01:44 PM

A food travelogue. A good chow weekend.

Dinner at Manny’s at the Hyatt downtown Minneapolis. This restaurant really serves some large cuts of meat. It is interesting that the chop house style is synonymous with large huge unhealthy amounts of food. I had lamb chops, Mrs. TubaDave and SIL had 10 oz filets and SIL’s husband had a huge prime rib. All the meat was very large, including the prime rib which did not observe the rule of “never eat anything larger than your head.” We shared salads and hash browns. For dessert we shared Manny’s brownie, a towering mountain of brownie, ice-cream, whipped cream, nuts, and two sauces. Despite the fact that this was enough food to feed impoverished families for most of a week I must admit that it was really good. All the meat was very well prepared and the cuts were wonderfully butchered. I had to emit a couple of involuntary yum-yums as I ate the lamb chops. My companions all stated that the meat was excellent. Really, except form my astonishment with the amount of food there was very little to criticize. The servers were excellent, the food was excellent. The bill was astronomical, but I was not paying! I can really only have one fault with this meal, the establishment has only a limited selection of beer.

Lunch at the Barbary Fig on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. A little out-of-the-way establishment. Mrs. TubaDave and I each had soup and shared a sandwich. The soup was broth with garbanzo beans and some type of grain. Very tasty and warming on such a cold day. The sandwich was well prepared lamb and gorgonzola. A good and mercifully small meal. Notably the dining room is painted in a shocking combination of yellow orange and red.

Snack at Café Latte on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Café Latte is not new to anyone in the Twin Cities. It is often recommended. I had a slice of German Chocolate Cake; Mrs. Tuba Dave had a slice of Raspberry Torte. We each had a cup of cappuccino. The original plan was for us to share the cake. After the first bite I told my wife I was not interested in sharing, share shared the sentiment. The German chocolate was great. It is a large slice with thick chocolate frosting between the layers of cake and the usually thick combination of nuts, and coconut with sweet stuff on the top. I was amazed at the lightness of the cake and the chocolate frosting, not heavy. Mrs. TubaDave raved about the Raspberry Torte.

Dinner at Punch on Cleveland Ave. in St. Paul. This place has been highly recommended on this board in other posts. I had a white pizza with greens, balsamic vinegar, garlic and cheese, Mrs. TubaDave had a pizza with eggplant, cheese and tomato sauce. Someday I will have a physicist explain the operation of a wood fired pizza oven. It lends great ambiance to the place. The place was packed, but then it’s not too big so that’s not a problem. First off I have to admit that part of my opinion is skewed by our server, we were temporarily forgotten. This always bothers me, even though it happens, even with an apology (we didn’t get one) or something complementary (we got none) I am left with a feeling of dissatisfaction. Anyway my pizza was quite nice; the outer crust was a bit chewy. Mrs. TubaDave’s pizza was wet, very wet, in the center and in our opinion underdone. Of course the style of pizza revels in its underdoneness. Who are we to say, but I believe it could have been better.

Lunch from the Crescent Moon Bakery, Central Ave. Minneapolis. Very good. We shared a gyro sandwich and the eggplant platter. I think it may have been a personal record, lamb three times in three days! Quite a treat, the food was excellent. We choose to have this food as carry-out, so the ambiance was ruined by the Vikings losing the football game; however the food was un-beatable. The gyros was nicely done, and seasoned with just the right amount of sauce. The eggplant was well prepared. It’s just too bad that eggplant ends up being so ugly looking, visually not a treat.

Dinner at Boca Chica in St. Paul. Sort of like Chi-Chi’s without the worn-out chain feel. Good margaritas. I had a stew of pork and cactus. Mrs. TubaDave had a combination platter of an enchilada con mole, a sope and a pork tamale. Interestingly both dinners were served with tomato soup with some noodles. Since the temperatures were low the soup was welcome and quite good. Both meals were adequate, nothing outstanding or missing. The mole was on-par with what we create at home. The stew was flavorful but nothing to get excited about.

Lunch at IKEA at the Mall of America. An odd chowhound place. We shared the manager’s special, meatballs, potatoes sauce, soup and a drink. Of course there is very little ambiance at IKEA, unless you look forward to the feel of a ski lodge without the skis. The meatballs were a bit rubbery. The potatoes were definitely cooked. However the meal was saved by the gravy and small dollop of lingonberries. With a combination of the gravy and sauce the meatballs were rescued from culinary oblivion. We also shared a drink of lingonberry soda. Refreshing with a zing.

Other Notes. I recommend the Indian markets on Central Avenue in Minneapolis at about 18th street. It was nice to see all the possibilities at such low prices. We have already enjoyed half of the naan we bought.

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