Restaurants & Bars

Cosmos -- Minneapolis

Brad Ballinger | Dec 15, 200311:53 AM     3

Four of us descended upon (or should that be "ascended to"?) The Cosmos, in the Le Meridien Hotel, for dinner on Saturday night. It was the first time any of us had been.

Cosmos is located on the fourth floor of the hotel. At first, you notice the bar, which has a decor that is so UN-Midwestern. It's more like Manhattan than anything else. It's blond wood grains, clear and frosted glass, and black. The same style carries through to the dining room, with the addition of tan swivel chairs that look like something out of The Jetsons. The dining room is also immediately adjacent to the bar. Smoking is not allowed in either, but still a little separation would be nice. We had reservations, and the first table they showed us was the one closest to the bar. I said I'd prefer a table in the back, and would wait if I needed to. They showed us to a table more in the middle of the restaurant, which was fine.

The food. There was an attractive array of options for starters, salads, and entrees. Our server mentioned a special of Iranian beluga caviar on sashimi-grade tuna with other accoutrements ($40). We asked if it was enough to share for the table, and were told it was. Well, it was enough for three, so he was close. The tuna was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the caviar was delicate. It was a nice dish, but we felt we needed a little something more before going to the entree.

I orderd the argula salad ($10). Supposedly the greens for the salads, and some herbs in general, come from the chef's garden in Ohio. How, overnight shipping? The arugula was definitely from a well tended garden. Some may have found the stems too tough, but the euphemism is that they provided good texture. The salad also included four wafer-tin shavings of pear and a gorgonzola fritter that had a fig at the center. A nice touch. It was dressed with a 25-year old balsamic. Overall, it was nice but perhaps priced a dollar or two too high. My wife ordered a different salad, a Fuji apple salad on the menu. But there were four wafer thin slices of Fuji apple with a bunch of greens. Why the apple got top billing is beyond me. The other couple split the seared foie gras ($16). It was slightly overcooked.

For an entree, I wanted to try the lamb chops ($28) from Sunnyfield Farms in Virginia, supposedly the top place in the nation for lamb. The were served with a melange of lamb confit, preserved lemon, field grens, dried currants, and Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog chevre. Two frenched chops appeared to have been cut from a rack (the chops were not cooked individually). The first one was medium rare. The second, from the end of the rack, when I flipped it over, was light pink starting to go gray. I had to call the server over to send it back saying that this was not medium rare (and I had suggested they could be on the rare side of medium-rare). The dish was replaced with chops that were cooked individually and blessedly closer to rare than medium. When I finally got to try them, they were indeed quite good. The melange didn't need the Humboldt Fog (although it is one of my favorite cheeses), but the confit and lemon were very nice.

My wife ordered the monkfish, which was only okay. The other diners ordered the beef tenderloin (pretty good) and the venison (also overdone, but he didn't send it back).

The desserts were abyssmal. A squash risotto sounded intriguing, but was a flavorless mess. And the apple tart-like dessert lacked texture. They were out of the first two desserts we tried to order.

The service. This still needs some work. We had bottled water (San Pellegrino), and the servers seemed more intent on pouring as many bottles of these that they could rather than timing our courses. The entrees came out as the salad plates were being removed. It also took a long time before we got to order the caviar starter, and also quite long before we got to order the rest of the dinner. Also, went we first sat at the table, the top of it was so crowded. I place my martini on what I thought was a safe place on the table, but what I thought was a shadow was really part of a clear glass plate, and the drink spilled. No apologies, no asking if I want another, no offering to replace it.

The wine. The list is okay, although perhpas a bit more suited to a steakhouse (lots of California selections) than to its own cuisine. The prices are three times wholesale, but there are wines available in all budgets, and a large number of options by the glass.

I may go back after a year or so. This was for a double birthday celebration (the two women), and they wanted to dress up and try somewhere new. For my money, though, there are better values in town in terms of food and service.

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