I had a pretty good weekend as far as chow goes. However, a couple of the places I DIDN'T eat might be equally as interesting.
First, as I mentioned in a previous thread today, A Rebours in St. Paul opens today. This looks like my kind of place. Every item on the menu sounded creatively put together -- I wish I could have copied it down, but I was a little uncomfortable standing in the middle of the place in shorts and a t-shirt. I REALLY hope this restaurant lives up to the expectations and the appearance. It could be something special.
Also, I stopped into Enjoy! in Apple Valley Sunday morning to check out the menu. For those unfamiliar, this is a new, mega-complex of a restaurant smack dab in the middle of a sea of shiny new townhomes being built. In the near future, it should end up situated in the middle of one of those Maple Grove-like fake "downtowns", but it's the first completed building in the area. It's very unusual -- billed as "upscale" non-chain in the suburbs. The setting is actually very nice. They have both indoor and outdoor fireplaces, a ton of outdoor patio seating, and a massive bar area with comfortable nooks to sit in. The dining rooms, a string of seating areas with varying feels and decor look nice and comfortable, and are well-decorated. The sheer size and decor of the place reminded me of Las Vegas -- neat, but you think "this is kind of over the top".
Unfortunately the menu is lacking in interesting items. There are about 10 sandwiches, 3 pasta dishes, a couple burgers, some pizzas and a half dozen salads that are almost identical to items you'd find at Champps or TGIF's. The entrees are the ubiquitous grilled salmon, steaks, pork chops, meat loaf, grilled chicken breast and the like. I literally scoured the menu for ANY unique ingredient or twist and found none. One positive is that they were serving a Sunday, buffet brunch which is lacking in the southern suburbs. It looked fairly extensive, with carving stations and a nice pour your own Bloody Mary station with an array of items.
I'm hoping they are just starting with the current menu as a foundation, which will be supplemented with a lot of more interesting specials. If not, it will be a shame that there will be about 500 seats full of typical suburban diners getting "De-chowified" at any given moment. Right now, this appears to be the Mall of America of restaurants.
One item of interesting gossip. While at La Belle Vie in Stillwater this weekend, my wife inquired with the hostess about the relocation to downtown Minneapolis. The hostess mentioned they are planning a restaurant, "diner-type" place and a night club(!) in the new location. My wife asked for clarification on "night club" and yes, it meant a night club. The hostess said the current plan is to keep the Stillwater location open through the holidays and maybe as far out as end of January, early February. (Last I had heard it was November, so that's good...I'm fond of it the way it is). Anyway, it's a place to consider for the holiday season if you're inclined.
By the way, if you go soon, I would strongly endorse the croustades for a starter (3 types: a grated ham hock with white pickled asparagus; an ahi tuna; and a goat cheese/salmon roe), the seared foie gras with rhubarb and orange or mussels/scallops first courses, the asparagus for the salad course and the beef entree. All were stellar. The potato salad and pork ribeye were excellent, but not quite to the level of the other dishes.