Restaurants & Bars

(MSP) The Front Cafe

greenidentity | Jul 26, 200904:59 PM     13

I wanted to post this review, because this NE place has not gotten much attention. I am also interested in others who have eaten there, and what theirexperience has been. Here is my review from my food blog.

My guest, Mr. H and I wandered around wondering where to eat on an early Tuesday evening. I am a longtime NE girl, and was bored with having been everywhere, and did not want to drop $20 on one entree alone. Suddenly, we remembered The Front, having walked past it a few time. We decided to go in.

The first glimpse of the place is the pretty front patio - decorated heavily with geraniums. Stepping inside, you are met with a spacious area, where you can sit either in the open,. hidden in the booths around the corner, or upstairs on their lovely half-moon couch, which faces out a large window. The ambience is dark, with red lamps over-seeing the length of the bar, and a fantastic red-lamp chandelier. I am quite picky about my atmospheric vibe in restaurants. The Front has something for everyone - sit at a table, in a booth, be hidden away, upstairs and upscale, or outside on the patio. I was pleased. I was not pleased, however, to see the place completely empty. It does not look good for the restaurant, but we forged ahead anyways.

The menu is versatile. You can anything from a burger, to a ceviche. It's main flavor/theme is food from Costa Rica. We are unfamiliar with Costa Rican food. I admit - plantains are not something that immediately appeal to me. I am not your average Applebee's person - I am between a chicken sandwich girl and aspiring foodie. So we decided to try it out.

We ordered the stuffed plantain for the appetizer. It is stuffed with feta cheese, and served with a cabbage salad and tomato, onion and cilantro. Let me tell you - it was FANTASTIC. We were surprised at how good it was. The sweet of the plantain, the salty of the feta, and the crunch and tart of the cabbage salad and it's accompanying sauce...lizano sauce, which we were told is a native Costa Rican sauce. Oh MY. Oh - did I mention the cilantro? It is front and center in the cabbage salad. I want to just order a bowl of that stuff next time I go there. YUM.

For the entree's, my boyfriend ordered the shrimp/rice dish. I do not remember the name, and it is not on the website menu - but it basically consists of-shrimp, yellow rice, stock (i think ham or chicken?) diced ham, tomato's, onion and that awesome cabbage salad again. For me, I decided on the Chicken Americano sandwich - with cheddar, bacon and herbed mayo.

The shrimp and rice: The rice was nicely spiced, with a hint of lemon? The shrimps are tail on, and not with that iodine taste you usually find on shrimp at many places. The cubed ham was appropriately salty, and the cabbage salad will forever be a winner in my book. Overall, I found it to be very tasty, and very well balanced.

My chicken sandwich was very good. The bread is grilled - and i think it was ciabatta? One thing I adored was the bits of the char in the inside of the bread mingling in with the chicken, reminding me of a well done breast off the grill. The breast of chicken inside was plump, juicy and flavorful - not thin, dry or tasteless at all. The bacon was almost prosciutto-like, which makes me wonder if it was not meant to be cooked to crispy, or was either very thinly sliced? The herb mayo - there was too much of it on there. It was good flavorwise, tangy and creamy. But it was literally dripping out. Overall, the sandwich was excellent. I DID eat it all. My only complaint was it was a bit salty and too much mayo. The french fries are standard - thin cut and potato-ey. Nothing special, good for what they are supposed to be. Keep in mind, I'm a tough fry-crowd. :-)

To top it all off - the chef (Rolando) came out and talked with us. This ALWAYS impresses me. If you don't care about customer service - go to Nick and Eddie's!

I was sad to see the place empty. I hope they get a lot more business and don't have to leave NE Mpls one day. We need more little gems such as this, Gardens Of Salonica, Emily's Lebanese Deli, Pizza Nea e.t.c.

PLEASE go and try the food here! I beg of you. Let's go together. Go alone. With a friend. JUST GO. I am not easy to impress, but I promise you this place is off the hook food and atmosphere-wise


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