Finally tried this place last night. It's the restaurant in the new hotel in Block E on Hennepin Ave. in downtown Mpls. The hotel is so hidden away from the rest of the hubbub in this entertainment complex that it's difficult to find but persist, it's worth looking for. I expected to find a place that is heavy on decor and light on food. There's plenty of decor and it gets lots of raves on that score, though I'm getting a bit jaded about wood and glass (or lucite, as the case may be) and aqua lighting, but it's the food--and the reasonable pricing of the food--that was a standout IMO.
When the place first opened this Spring, there were lots of complaints about high prices. Since then they've cut out the $65 caviar appetizer, dumbed the menu down a bit and cut the prices substantially. I don't recall any entree over $28 and most appetizers and salads hovered around 10 or even less. What they've kept--or added, I never tried the place when it first opened--is flavor. I had a meat-heavy dinner that would have pleased a lumberjack for portion size and Patricia Wells for tastiness. Started with a special that the waitress said was being piloted for yet another menu change--egg roll of short ribs. Crispy egg roll skins were filled with short rib meat (some of the best beef you can get IMO), sweet dried tomatoes and smoky bacon. The egg rolls (2 or 3) were cut in half and perched atop a bed of more short rib meat and the whole thing was topped with baby rocket leaves. Flavors melded perfectly and the portion could have been an entree. I followed with veal cheeks on a bed of lentils with an unctious fois gras sauce--heaven. The cheeks were so tender as to feel almost silky as I bit through them. They could have been eaten by someone on a liquid diet. The lentils, on the other hand, were almost crisp. This dish was also garnished wth the baby rocket, repetitive but good. My dining companion and I had a nice bottle of sancerre with dinner and coffee and espresso after but no desserts. With tax and tip all of this goodness came to only $150, not at all what I was expecting and a very pleasant surprise. It appears to me that as the hype has subsided, Mpls has been left with a very good restaurant. Perhaps not a substitute for Aquavit but at least some consolation.