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Restaurants & Bars 3

Signature Cafe -- Minneapolis

Brad Ballinger | Nov 18, 200311:26 AM

This is another one of those restaurants whose loss would be a devastation. It was busy enough this past Saturday night. I don't know how they do on the weeknights. I would guess lunch business is pretty good.

This is in a residential neighborhood in Prospect Park. And Prospect Park is a labyrinth of streets, so finding the restaurant is a bit like finding a treasure. They supposedly finally got their beer and wine license this past Monday. So Saturday, it was still BYO for wine, which worked for me.

The menu was surpisingly larger than I thought it would be givent the size of the restaurant. There were six starters, plus salads, plus soup. There were about eight pasta dishes, and ten entrees. And there were four specials. That's plenty of options for a 24-seat joint.

There were four of us, and we split two starters. One was a simple insalata caprese that was good enough. The other was a trio of spreads -- tapenade, artichoke, and chopped tomatoes with basil and garlic. The spreads were served with crostini and pita wedges. We needed more breads to finish it all. The tapenade was the best of the three.

For entrees, two people opted for the tuna special, served over black rice and topped with a mango salsa. Another ordered the pasta specialty, which was toasted four-cheese ravioli in a garlicky pesto. I ordered the slow roasted pork loin with a walnut crust and stuffed with sour cherries, served on whipped sweet potatoes and accompanied by the tiniest brussels sprouts you've ever seen, which to me said organic.

The tuna was perfectly cooked to the medium rare order of those who had it. The pork was wonderful, and all the flavors of the dish worked well togetehr. The ravioli was very nice.

I know Nathalie is known for her desserts, but we didn't get a chance to try them on this visit because we were pressed for time for a show at Northrup. But there were five offerings on the menu plus four other specials.

Service was attentive and professional. A small complaint here is that our female server was wearing too much perfume, and that interefered with the food from time to time.

The room is small, but not overly crowded. There are tables in the front and a couple of booths in the back. There is a buffet, but that's going away. Perhaps another table will take its place. Most entrees were in the teens. One or two in the 20s, the most expensive was the steak of the day, a 16-ounce NY Strip for $26. Maybe U of M football players eat here, I don't know.

Definitely worth more return visits.

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