Admittedly, not planning ahead was our first mistake and me posting our evening is probably going to be my second mistake since I will now tell you the best ending option which will become all of your first options. But that's ok. I'm a helper that way. :)
It's 5:30 on a Saturday (tonight as a matter of fact) and the hubster and I couldn't decide where to eat. The Nook has re-opened and I was jonesing for a a Jucy Nookie in a big way. Headed over there by 6:00 to find a 45 minute wait. Love the Nook, but with the cold and rain we weren't willing to wait the 45 minutes outside.
We decide to try Salut on Grand, by this time it's almost 6:30. It's a huge space, there were parking spots available in the lot - clearly a winner, right? Wrong! Waiting area jam packed full of people. People standing outside, in front of the door mind you, making it nearly impossible to even get in and out of the restaurant. Some other crazy lady trying to take a picture of the door?! Trainwreck. Didn't even wait to see how long a wait that would've been.
We decide to venture up to University. With all the construction, our odds have to be better here. By this time it's almost 7 and we drive by Ngon. We see empty tables through the windows. Score! Ample parking - yes! We get into the restaurant and are greeted by the hostess. "Just two, " I say. "I don't believe I have anything," she says, "but I'll take a look." She comes back and says nope - she's got nothing available. I say, "so these 8 empty tables aren't available?!?" Seriously - there were at least 8 empty tables. "No, they're all for reservations at 7:30 - sorry," the hostess says. No, I don't have anything available right now, but it'll be an XX minute wait. Nothing. Just an I'm sorry and pretty much don't let the door hit you in the a$$ on the way out. VERY disappointing Ngon! Very. When one of your reservations no-shows and there isn't anyone else waiting at the door, just remember the $100+ you could have had from us had you made more of an attempt to keep our business. Not saying she should have bumped the reservations for us, but to not even try to keep us there with a wait time suggestion? Not cool. Not sure when or if we'll be returning after that.
7:15, we decide to swing by Little Szechuan, but the parking lot is jampacked and we're pretty sure they were just as busy as everywhere else so we aborted.
By this time we were literally contemplating frozen pizza at home or Houlihan's in Eagan when it suddenly dawned on me... what about Cheeky Monkey Deli? We hadn't been there in ages. We decided to try it and if didn't work out it would be frozen pizza. Pull up to Cheeky Monkey and discover that not only is there seating, but the Cheeky Monkey Deli is no longer a deli at night. It's now a bistro where you can sit down and be waited on and everything. Awesome! Many of the bistro options were appealing, but I tried the pork tenderloin served on soft polenta with sauteed mushrooms, mushroom jus and asparagus. Hubster had the cedar plank salmon served with mashed potatoes, jicama slaw and mango butter. Both entrees were excellent. We topped it off with lemon/blueberry bread pudding and key lime pie for dessert. Desserts were good, but not as good as the entrees. We used to frequent Cheeky Monkey quite a bit when it first opened and then it just sort of fell off our radar for no particular reason. We were glad we rediscovered it tonight, not only because we were starving, but also because the food is great and we love how they're reinventing themselves in the evenings (it's still a deli during the day). If you haven't been to the Cheeky Monkey in a while - check it out! Don't waste time driving all over the city like we did just to find something great close to home.
Little Szechuan - West End
5377 16th Street, St. Louis Park, MN 55416
Cheeky Monkey Deli
525 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102