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Restaurants & Bars

Fabulous meals at Rainbow Cafe (Pine Island, MN) and Pescara (Rochester, MN)

tigerswims | May 2, 201007:22 PM     1

Recently visited my parents in Rochester, MN. We got takeout one night from Roscoe's - absolutely delicious ribs, though I haven't tried Hardy's yet.

We biked the Douglas Trail to Pine Island another day and ate at Rainbow Cafe for lunch for an early Mother's Day celebration. It was excellent. The atmosphere was casual, small-town, but chic and knowledgeable about good food. It was deserted on Saturday at lunchtime, which is a shame, and part of my reason for posting is to drive up business, because this is a gem that must be preserved!

All the menu options come with a choice of soup or salad (what a deal for $9.95!) - the soup of the day was cream of root vegetable, and it was flavorful and creamy and a great start. Three of us got the walleye sandwich, which is battered and fried and served on a homemade toasted bun. The fish melts in your mouth, like butter, and the fry job is amazing. One of us got the mac and cheese, which came with some bacon scattered in, and it was pretty good, though we prefer the cheesy kind of mac and cheese (think stringy melted cheese) versus the creamy kind, and this was the creamy kind.

Dessert options were abundant - they have a dedicated pastry chef there. We got the ginger-lemon olive oil cake, which came with a scoop of olive oil ice cream. The cake was awesome, a huge slice, very moist, and the flavor was heavily influenced by cardamom, which I love. They should make a full-out cardamom cake instead, or in addition! The olive oil ice cream wasn't super flavorful compared to other versions I've had. We also got the "hot chocolate ice cream" with a truffle - the ice cream was perfect, with a nice chile kick at the end, but I wish the scoop had been bigger. The truffle was fine, nothing to write home about, but smooth and chocolatey and rolled in pecans and spices. We also got the maple bread pudding, which was on the dry side (which my husband prefers) with beautiful caramelization - a steal for $3.95.

The waiter was incredibly friendly (love the Midwest) and if you sit at the bar (we didn't), you can watch the chef at work in the kitchen.

All in all, Rainbow Cafe is one of those places you discover and can't wait to get back to. It's amazing that it survives in such a small town, and I'm hoping more people from Rochester and MSP discover it and support it! It's my favorite restaurant in Minnesota, and it's my ultimate Chowhound find...chefs who really know good, artful, nourishing, delicious, creative, food, and prices that make it possible to keep coming back.

We also went to Pescara for the first time. I was skeptical - a hotel restaurant with sleek sophisticated furniture and changing-colored lights? But the bread took away some of that skepticism - warm, airy dough with whipped butter. Two of us got the cioppino - the best deal on the menu at $21 - served in a super-flavorful tomato broth. It came with 6 mussels, 3 scallops, 2-3 shrimp, and huge chunks of white fish. Yum. My husband had the NY strip steak, which would have been better if they had grilled it to medium rare (as he had ordered) instead of rare, but it was still pretty good. Mom had the lobster bisque and the wild mushroom risotto - risotto was delicious, with pungent cheese and mushroom flavors. The meal overall was a little too salty, though...even after we got home we had to down glasses of water because of the lingering salt. My dad definitely plans to go back and order the fresh fish.

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