after careful review of these boards, had 2 dinners, 1 lunch, in Rochester, MN, a few days ago. Here are the notes, should others find themselves in seach or eats while at Mayo or in town for a Honkers baseball game (a highly recommended activity for $6). All these places have been previuosly discussed on these boards....
Redwood Room (dinner, Wed):
dark, bar like ambiance with homemade croutons in rustic shallow wooden bowls on the bar and folk acoustic covers on the guitar.....shared a mixed greens for starters along with an uninspired but passable bread basket and olive oil. Split a pizza w/portabellos and a pork loin.
Pizza was tasty, needed salt and IMO, too much cheese, but that is a pet peeve of mine that everyone may not share. Sesms like given the attention given to other ingredients, cheese should have been higher quality and more adeptly meted out. Pork was dry and lacked any marination or deep flavor.
Tab, with 3 glasses of zin, about $80 for 2 w/tax/tip. a comfortable place where food is definitely passable-if i went again, i'd ask the server for their faves.
City Cafe (lunch, Thurs)
great on ambiance, food (ahi tuna tacos and the chicken enchiladas) short. as cheap as the next door sandwiches, though, so if weather isn't good and you want to sit for a bit, it'll pass but not inspire.
Jaspers (dinner, Thurs)
We have this rule: don't eat in a restaurant where you are the only 2 people present. When we walked in at 8:30 (after 1/2 of the aforementioned Honkers baseball game), this was the case and thankfully, we stood our ground and perservered. This meal was really yummy and the best of our trip, just like other chowhounders said it would be. After debating various apps that sounded good but challenged our limited appetite (too many peanuts at the ballpark), the waitress told us all entrees came w/a salad, so we stuck w/that option. We had the veal and the grapeleaves, along w/a few glasses of various pinot and syrah, all nice but served much too warm (strange for a place that bills itself as a wine bar).
The veal came with a nice pile of amazing spaelzte in the center, and was topped with capers and a creamy peppercorn sauce. Fantastic balance, acid offsetting creamyness and perfectly cooked meat you could cut with a fork.
The quiona filled grapeleaf was served with a chunky tomato sauce and had a wonderful texture that again, was a study in harmonious contrast. The broccoli that served as an accompaniment to both dishes did more than just bring color to the plate: it was cooked perfectly al dente and was nicely seasoned - so it was actually nice to eat as well as serving the visual purpose.
The staff here kindly packaged up the apple tatin to go - we were too full to enjoy it later on but did raise our eyebrows in total amazement at the 2 perfect and huge strawberries tucked inside the styrofoam.
And, they told us that their rush is typically 6-7:30, thus explaining the total emptiness upon our arrival.
Tab: $80 for 2 w/tax/tip
All in all, we were really content w/the food offerings in Rochester. Maybe our expectations were set low, maybe we are easy to please (but we are from San Fran, so maybe not??) - but we found everyone so nice that we wanted to walk away as happy - so we did :)
ps-avoid the mccormacks at the raddison.