Its still time to search for the best new restaurants of 2004, so last night we went to The Crafstman, a new place in east Minneapolis (4300 E. Lake St), after reading Rick Nelson's note on the Startrib. We had a very good meal - there were little hiccups but very small stuff that will probably be ironed out as some time goes by (i understand they just opened a week ago).
We arrived at 7:15 and the place was 70% full, so we got a table by the window right away. The other tables had some large groups (some with children) and various couples. Atmosphere was nice - the place has an arts & crafts architecture with nice woodwork and light decorations. Our server was nice and helpful and answered all my questions about the menu, the place and the chef thoroughly and with a smile.
Lets cut to the food nothing better than starting the meal with a nice bread basket with 4 varieties of breads from Rustica, plus some fantastic green and thick olive oil (and sea salt to sprinkle on top)!
We started with the beet & lemongrass soup and the tuna poke (tartare) I loved the soup, it was light and tangy, although it could have been a little warmer (it was -5F outside, i needed a really warm starter!). The tartare was very well prepared and the tamarind sauce was a great combination. For main course my husband had the mirin-marinated ribs, which tasted absolutely great, although my husband complained about the lack of a bone in his plate (he was jealous that people at other tables were sucking bones ). I ordered the mongchong, per the waitress another name for opah, which is not true (thanks google), but it was very similar and a great fish anyway, firm flesh, salmon colored and moderate in flavor. It was prepared with seaweed broth and served with seaweed, edamame and mushroom tagliatelli, a subtle and surprising combination. To finish, we shared the intriguing and decadent chocolate & acho-chile pot-au-chocolat, served with delicious flaky wafers. We drank a half-bottle of pinot noir and the total bill was $97. I really liked our meal there and will definitely go back - the menu is planned to change every month, so i'm eager to see what's next. I think we can add this one to the top new restaurants of the year list!