Restaurants in St Paul or Minneapolis

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Brady Daniels
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Restaurants in St Paul or Minneapolis

#1 Post by Brady Daniels » June 10th, 2015, 1:19 am

I'll be in St Paul for ten days in August. Hanging with non-wine geeks that like food and wine, preferably high QPR. (They'll pay up - but only for something special). Last year I brought them to Pearl and Ash and the Peking Duck House in NYC, which were big hits. They also love authentic ethnic food.

Any restaurant reccos?

Any good wine bars? Any good wine shops? Is natural wine too much to hope for?

Any fun bars/clubs for folks 28-48?

TIA
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#2 Post by ybarselah » June 10th, 2015, 5:22 am

marvel bar is a spectacular cocktail establishment, but not sure if it's okay for a large group like that.

i'd also look at buying out picollo restaurant for the night. that would be killer.
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#3 Post by Daniel McIntosh » June 10th, 2015, 5:32 am

I can't wait to hear what other locals have to say. I favor Punch Pizza, Surdyk's (only sale days) and Sunfish Cellars. My daughter (22 years old) recommends Bar La Grassa. Sorry I can't be of more help.

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#4 Post by Chris Blum » June 10th, 2015, 5:54 am

I'll think of more, but off the top of my head:
Khyber Pass,
Punch pizza (the highland park one is the only one I recommend)
Cecil's deli for lunch
Trung Nam French bakery (holy crap the croissants are amazing)
There has to be a good Vietnamese, Cambodian or Thai place along university ave
Strip club (never been, but friends love it)
WA Frost on a nice night
Heartland (not QPR)

Happy gnome for beer (Cozy so get there early)
Amsterdam Bar has a bit of a hipster vibe, but I had fun. They serve food late
Wa frost again if you just want drinks
Sweeny's


Bar la grassa is good...their lobster bruschetta is pretty killer with a (gasp) big Cali Chardonnay. It's not far from St. Paul .
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#5 Post by Ncmussell » June 10th, 2015, 6:13 am

The list of great southeast asian restaurants is endless and really just pick a type of cuisine - Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai and there are a handful of very good places. You won't fine good wine at any of those restaurants however.

Other restaurants to check out:
If you like Italian Terzo wine bar is great. Very good Italian and a great wine bar too.
Corner Table is great and they have a fun wine list. Their new place Revival is making some cool southern food. Brasserie Zentral is great if you want Eastern European style food - and the wine list there matches the food well. foreign legion is a fun bar up on the roof there. Parlor and marvel bar are both cool cocktail bars. lyn 65 is putting out some really good food at good prices and they have fun cocktails too.

If you want unfancy quick lunch food I would absolutely go to World Street Kitchen.

If could keep going for a while. Might want to check out the minneapolis eater.com page as that always has good info on it in my opinion.
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#6 Post by NicholasP » June 10th, 2015, 6:33 am

I second Marvel Bar for a great cocktail experience (be forewarned, it can be a PITA to find if their bouncer isn't outside when you get there). Also Bar La Grassa is very good, as well as its sister restaurant 112 Eatery (probably my favorite meal last time I was in Minneapolis).
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#7 Post by Brady Daniels » June 10th, 2015, 7:52 am

Thanks, all. This is a great start! But don't feel the need to stop. :)
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#8 Post by Chris Blum » June 10th, 2015, 8:26 am

Bat signal for Brad Ballinger
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#9 Post by Chris Blum » June 10th, 2015, 8:28 am

Has anybody tried a rib joint called something like "big daddy's"? In the midway area

Vincent in mpls would be worth the hike as well. Again, not QPR, but I really like the place for solid French cuisine and a nice enough wine list.
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#10 Post by Sean Malloy » June 10th, 2015, 9:01 am

112 Eatery is my favorite.

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#11 Post by SheilaAdams » June 10th, 2015, 10:12 am

Alma is the best restaurant I have been to in Mpls. No competition. If you want a restaurant centered around "farm to table" and respect for food wines, make a reservation.

I agree with the folks who are noting Punch for a casual dinner/lunch with friends!!!

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#12 Post by Ncmussell » June 10th, 2015, 10:29 am

Alma is fantastic! I am a big Punch fan as well and think they do some of the best neapolitan pizza around. Big Daddy's is one of the better BBQ places around but if you want good BBQ and good beer I would check out the new Surly tap room.
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#13 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » June 10th, 2015, 11:42 am

Starting with St. Paul restaurants...

First recommendation is Ward 6 on Payne Avenue. Reservations not accepted, however, so you will want to arrive on the early side. Fantastic gastropub fare and excellent cocktails.

Further north along Payne is Tongue in Cheek. Again, very good with the cocktails, and the food is creative and comforting.

Rounding out the east side of St. Paul is The Strip Club. Cocktails, check (order the Boxwood). Excellent job with meats. After all, the URL is domeats.com.

Moving to downtown St. Paul...

Heartland should be experienced -- when Lenny Russo is in the kitchen. Heartland was a pioneer of farm to table here in Minnesota. They have just opened up a wine bar, but you can order off the dining room menu there. They've added excellent and creative burgers to attract the crowd from the new stadium (Northwoods League) across the street. Very good wine list.

Also downtown, I recommend Meritage. It's a brasserie-themed place. Good wine and spirits. Excellent food. They have an oyster bar as well. Both heartland and Meritage will be on the high end, but downtown St. Paul doesn't have much in the way of great restaurants. If you are looking for a breakfast or lunch spot, be sure to go to The Buttered Tin.

Heading west of downtown on University Avenue...

Ngon Vietnamese Bistro should not be missed. The menu is split between traditional Vietnamese and modern/fusion. Good wine list. Excellent local beer list.

On's Thai Kitchen has, IMO, the best Thai food in town. Beer and wine selections are okay.

In the Grand Avenue and Selby Avenue area of St. Paul...

Brasa is excellent for QPR casual dining, although the beverage options kinda suck.

Nextdoor to Brasa is Punch Pizza, mentioned above.

Happy Gnome is a very good gastropub, where it's all about the beer (70 on tap), but they also have okay cocktails and okay wine selections.

If your numbers are small enough, in the something special category, my favorite place in St. Paul is Joan's in the Park. Beer and wine only, and the glass options are just fine. Food is outstanding.

Most every other place mentioned upthread is Minneapolis, and I'll chime in starting with North Loop...

Cocktails: Marvel Bar and Parlour. You can sit outside at Parlour. Marvel Bar is indoor seating only and quite dark. But hard to find better cocktails. If you go to Parlour DO NOT SKIP THE BURGER.

Wine Bar: Toast Wine Bar. The owner is very accommodating. Wine selection is good and the food is good enough.

Restaurants: 112 Eater as a gastropub experience, Bar la Grassa for pasta, Black Sheep for pizza.. Higher end is Spoon and Stable (the latest "hot spot") and The Bachelor Farmer (nouveau Scandinavian and Continental European with an excellent food-friendly wine list).

Northeast...

Restaurant Alma has been a standout for a very long time, and deservedly so. It will be on the high end price-wise, but worth it.

The Sample Room for cocktails and small plates.

Vic's for the best QPR wine list and a great view of downtown Minneapolis.

Uptown and surrounding area...

Icehouse really wowed me recently. Great cocktails, killer ploughman's platter, gastropub themed. Ask for Chris Greenfield, if he is working, and tell him you know me. It's under the radar right now, but I can't imagine it staying there.

Further south...

Rincon 38 for Spanish tapas and a good Mediterranean wine selection.

Terzo for an all-Italian wine bar with very good snacks/small plates.

Tilia is one of the best food QPR places going, and a favorite of our local wine group. Nothing bad on the menu. Decent wine selection, better tap beer selection. If the wait is too long, go next door to Harriet Brasserie. You won't be disappointed.

Let me know if you are 1) looking for something specific or 2) looking for company.
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#14 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » June 10th, 2015, 11:50 am

Forgot wine shops...

St. Paul: Number one spot is Thomas Liquors. Many like Solo Vino, but that shop has never done it for me, and they have never solved their southern exposure problem. Just south of St. Paul, Sunfish Cellars is very good, and they have a wine bar attached.

Minneapolis: Number one spot is South Lyndale Liquors. Surdyk's is also good.
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#15 Post by dave kammerer » June 10th, 2015, 2:44 pm

+1 on Meritage, we dined there last fall and had excellent food and also a very good wine selection.

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#16 Post by Thomas Keim » June 10th, 2015, 3:06 pm

Brad pretty much nailed it there- hard to argue with any of them-

The Happy Gnome and WA Frost are in a very historic neighborhood in St Paul, so if you are heading in that direction, take a few minutes to check out the neighborhood - especially Summit Avenue up on the hill - gorgeous, gorgeous homes -
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#17 Post by Brady Daniels » June 10th, 2015, 3:51 pm

Still loving the contributions. Brad, you are awesome.

I used to work several weeks a year in St Paul. But I'm guessing I'll eat better than ever before. Thanks.
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#18 Post by Karr!ng M o a n » June 10th, 2015, 7:13 pm

A lot of good recommendations, so I will just add some along the edges and second my favorites.

* Favorites: Alma, Bachelor Farmer, 112, Bar La Grassa, Picolo, Tilia, and Meritage.
* New Ones I have liked: Brasserie Zentral, Tongue in Cheek, and Third Bird.
* Lunch/Outside: I love going to Fika if it is nice out and you can sit in the courtyard. It's Scandinavian fare. And since it will be August, hanging out at Sea Salt at Minnehaha park is nice too if the weather permits. Tiny Diner in the Powderhorn area also has a nice seating area.

Odds and Ends:

* If you go to Happy Gnome, the Solo Vino wine shop is nearby. I also like Sunfish which is walking distance from my house.

* Ward 6 is good, but make sure you don't go on quiz night.

* If you are downtown, the Loews Hotel just opened The Apothecary that looks interesting.

* If you are eating late, The Butcher and the Boar's kitchen is among one of the last to close. Good sausage and whiskey.

* At 112 Eatery, I love their tagliatelle with foie gras meatballs. One of my favorite dishes in MSP.

* I just went to Spoon and Stable a couple of weeks ago. You'll probably have to sit at the bar as reservations are still tough to get, but the space is amazing. I'd recommend the bison tartare and the sautued foie gras. They comp your corkage if you buy one of their bottles. Just FYI, Marvel/Bachelor Farmer is right across the street, so you can always pop in at Marvel afterwards. 2nd FYI, Pip the head bartender just went on sabbatical, but all the bar keeps are very good.

* I just ate at Piccolo a few days ago. Still very good, and they have a nice chef's tasting menu for $54. They comp corkage 1 for 1 if you buy one of their bottles.

* A unique spot that I have been really wanting to try is the Gyst Fermentation Bar. The ex-sommelier from Bachelor Farmer, Jill Mott, was one of the people who helped start it. It is an intriguing concept with an interesting menu. I imagine the staff is fairly competent with wine, but I think they tend more towards organic, naturally made wines -- though I have heard different thoughts on this.

And FWIW at both Spoon & Stable and Piccolo, I had to turn back bottles that were corked. Two dinners in a row for me.

k.
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#19 Post by Vinni Capra » June 10th, 2015, 9:28 pm

Minneapolis - 112 Eatery

St. Paul - Meritage

Tops for me I've been to nearly every place mentioned previously. Great recommendations all throughout. 10 years ago twin cities was meh now it's hitting on all cylinders for food.

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#20 Post by Joseph MR » June 11th, 2015, 11:56 am

I ranked Piccolo for its more complex dishes above 112 Eatery, but both are good.
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#21 Post by John Osburn » June 11th, 2015, 1:04 pm

Good to know Meritage is still doing well, I practically lived there for a month a few years ago. Is that great cheese shop up on Summit still going?

Recently in Mpls I had decent beverages and charcuterie at Butcher & Boar, and some nice old-school cocktails at Murray's (man what a classic steakhouse).

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#22 Post by Thomas Keim » June 11th, 2015, 2:40 pm

AND FOR ROCK AND ROLL-

Check out the TURF CLUB - on University Avenue. A fabulous old school rock and roll club - good beer selection - always an interesting lineup - http://turfclub.net/shows/
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#23 Post by John Glas » June 11th, 2015, 2:51 pm

What hotel are you staying at? If St. Paul Hotel their restaurant would be worth a few meals.

I Nonni is excellent for Italian
http://www.inonnirestaurant.com/
Sunfish Cellars is right down the road.

Sunfish has some decant appetizers/small plates and would be the best wine bar option as they don't over price their wines. I think you can buy it in the shop and bring it into the wine bar portion with no corkage.

http://sunfishcellars.com/info/wine-bar/

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#24 Post by Karr!ng M o a n » June 11th, 2015, 3:34 pm

Thomas Keim wrote:AND FOR ROCK AND ROLL-

Check out the TURF CLUB - on University Avenue. A fabulous old school rock and roll club - good beer selection - always an interesting lineup - http://turfclub.net/shows/
And didn't they just remodel? Someone recommended the restaurant, but it had never occurred to me to eat there. I just associated it with off-beat shows and punk rock. At least that is why I went there. I'm going to a Jessica Hernandez concert there in July, maybe I will try the food this time.

k.

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#25 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » June 11th, 2015, 3:38 pm

How about favorite lunch spots for a real meal? Many places don't seem to do lunch. I'll be in town just for the day and would like to do better than a sandwich before heading to the airport.

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#26 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » June 11th, 2015, 4:24 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:How about favorite lunch spots for a real meal? Many places don't seem to do lunch. I'll be in town just for the day and would like to do better than a sandwich before heading to the airport.
What part of town, Sarah?

Tilia, mentioned more than once above, has a lunch menu same as the dinner menu. Meritage, also mentioned, has a good lunch menu. Cafe Maude is also a good lunch choice. I can think of other places, if you can tell me the part of town. PM if that's easier.
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#27 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » June 11th, 2015, 4:25 pm

Karring made some excellent additions, and I should also add Heyday to Minneapolis Uptown. Must order the chicken liver tart.
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#28 Post by Jim V a n P e l t » June 11th, 2015, 4:34 pm

If you're around for 10 days, check the weather and if favorable treat yourself to a day out of the city. Short drive to Stillwater on the St. Croix River:
- Stillwater Boat Club - rent a pontoon and explore the St. Croix River
- Lolo or Lion's Main - grab a pre-dinner specialty cocktail at either of these places. Both specialize in creative concoctions
- Domacin - great wine list paired with good food
- PD Pappy's - a riverside roadhouse with music Thursday - Sunday and an interesting mix of boaters, bikers and locals. Indoor and outdoor service
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#29 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » June 11th, 2015, 4:35 pm

Brad B a l l i n g e r wrote:
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:How about favorite lunch spots for a real meal? Many places don't seem to do lunch. I'll be in town just for the day and would like to do better than a sandwich before heading to the airport.
What part of town, Sarah?

Tilia, mentioned more than once above, has a lunch menu same as the dinner menu. Meritage, also mentioned, has a good lunch menu. Cafe Maude is also a good lunch choice. I can think of other places, if you can tell me the part of town. PM if that's easier.
Thanks Brad - I'll take a look at those. Neighborhood doesn't matter - I will have a car and can get anywhere. My meeting is in Minneapolis, close to downtown, and I have a flight at 4.

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#30 Post by craig v » June 12th, 2015, 3:47 pm

For me I love all of these. They're all super wine friendly and great execution of food, service and ambience. You can walk around Lake Harriet or Lake of The Isles after you dine at Tilia and The Kenwood.
1. Tilia My all round favorite.
2. Tilia

3. La Belle Vie - The Lounge - great if you want to hear a conversation too. Feel like you're in Europe room is really cool.
4. The Kenwood
5. Meritage
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#31 Post by Brady Daniels » June 12th, 2015, 11:33 pm

Again, thanks all. Clearly we shall eat well, drink well, and be entertained this August!
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#32 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » June 15th, 2015, 1:00 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
Brad B a l l i n g e r wrote:
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:How about favorite lunch spots for a real meal? Many places don't seem to do lunch. I'll be in town just for the day and would like to do better than a sandwich before heading to the airport.
What part of town, Sarah?

Tilia, mentioned more than once above, has a lunch menu same as the dinner menu. Meritage, also mentioned, has a good lunch menu. Cafe Maude is also a good lunch choice. I can think of other places, if you can tell me the part of town. PM if that's easier.
Thanks Brad - I'll take a look at those. Neighborhood doesn't matter - I will have a car and can get anywhere. My meeting is in Minneapolis, close to downtown, and I have a flight at 4.
Tilia and Cafe Maude are both south of Minneapolis. So is the airport--although the airport is SE and these places are SW. Cafe Maude closer than Tilia. Vincent in downtown Minneapolis does a good lunch.
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#33 Post by Lonny Isenberg » June 15th, 2015, 6:36 pm

craig v wrote:For me I love all of these. They're all super wine friendly and great execution of food, service and ambience. You can walk around Lake Harriet or Lake of The Isles after you dine at Tilia and The Kenwood.
1. Tilia My all round favorite.
2. Tilia

3. La Belle Vie - The Lounge - great if you want to hear a conversation too. Feel like you're in Europe room is really cool.
4. The Kenwood
5. Meritage
What Craig said, plus Corner Table (they're nailing it), Rincon 38 and Terzo (fantastic all Italian wine list)

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#34 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » June 26th, 2015, 11:53 am

Had a very pleasant lunch at Tilia yesterday. Steven (or Stephen) behind the bar took good care of me.

Thanks very much for the recommendation!

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#35 Post by craig v » June 27th, 2015, 3:12 am

Cool, if he was a skinny gray haired guy in a t-shirt that was the owner and great guy. Look us up if you have more time thru.
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:Had a very pleasant lunch at Tilia yesterday. Steven (or Stephen) behind the bar took good care of me.

Thanks very much for the recommendation!
c vanderah

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#36 Post by Diane Kessler » August 23rd, 2015, 12:11 pm

I will be going to Bar La Grassa next weekend. The menu has some great sounding dishes, especially pastas. Is there anything I shouldn't miss? It looks like a Barolo would be perfect with many of them, so I am planning to bring that.

A few days later, it will be Ward 6 for cocktails and an early dinner.

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#37 Post by craig v » August 23rd, 2015, 12:43 pm

Diane, here is an alternative to Bar La Grasa http://www.il-foro.com/

I like it a lot better myself. And much much more BYOB friendly. If not, a carefully chosen list. The Somm seems to be a really good guy. Its run and managed by great people. The food is imaginative and extremely well executed. Its kind of noisy like La Grasa so ask for a quieter spot, if it matters.
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#38 Post by Diane Kessler » August 23rd, 2015, 12:51 pm

Craig, thank you for the recommendation. My daughter has already made reservations, so, right now, I'm looking for menu suggestions for Bar La Grassa. Have you byo'd to BLG?

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#39 Post by craig v » August 23rd, 2015, 4:27 pm

La Grassa has a steep corkage ( think its $30) that they don't waive and they limit you to one or two btls. Its kind of run like corporation. The owner, good chef, is mostly removed from the day to day. Rarely cooks there.
Diane Kessler wrote:Craig, thank you for the recommendation. My daughter has already made reservations, so, right now, I'm looking for menu suggestions for Bar La Grassa. Have you byo'd to BLG?
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#40 Post by Scott Brunson » August 23rd, 2015, 6:24 pm

Isn't there a travel forum?
And an offline forum?
And an Epicurean exploits forum?
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#41 Post by Chris Geurkink » August 24th, 2015, 10:22 am

You have to love how nice and helpful us Minnesotans are to anyone that would want to come and visit us.

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Jake Rubash
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Restaurants in St Paul or Minneapolis

#42 Post by Jake Rubash » August 24th, 2015, 10:58 am

I'll second Alma and Café Maude. I live a couple blocks from Maude its usually a solid choice. Alma... is an experience. It's amazing and has always produced memorable nights.

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Restaurants in St Paul or Minneapolis

#43 Post by T. Schaffler » August 24th, 2015, 5:05 pm

Currently Tosca has a pretty tasty menu. Corkage is $15.

The scallop bruschetta and stozzapretii were outstanding.
T=Trent

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Brad B a l l i n g e r
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Restaurants in St Paul or Minneapolis

#44 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » August 25th, 2015, 5:31 pm

Diane Kessler wrote:I will be going to Bar La Grassa next weekend. The menu has some great sounding dishes, especially pastas. Is there anything I shouldn't miss? It looks like a Barolo would be perfect with many of them, so I am planning to bring that.

A few days later, it will be Ward 6 for cocktails and an early dinner.
Diane,

Corkage was $25 on my last visit, no exceptions. The cocktail menu is nice. The glass list has improved.

As far as what to order...
The eggs and lobster bruschetta is an extremely popular item. I also like the charred red onion and goat cheese bruschetta.
I've loved the blue marlin crudo, but I see it is now a sole crudo with watermelon. I'd definitely try it.
For dry pasta the calamarata with raw tuna is a must.
For fresh pasta, the carbonara and the gnocchi with cauliflower and orange.
Contorni -- roasted mushrooms.

You will like the cocktails at Ward 6. The charcuterie plate there is good. And, since you are in Minnesota, order the cheese curds. It is hard to go wrong at W6. And if you are there for an early dinner, you shouldn't have much of a wait. If the wait seems too long, head north on Payne Avenue to Tongue in Cheek.
"We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink." - Cicero

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Restaurants in St Paul or Minneapolis

#45 Post by Diane Kessler » August 25th, 2015, 7:32 pm

Thanks, Brad, and just what I am looking for. Have you had the veal ragu or pasta with braised rabbit? I wonder if the Gnocchi and cauliflower will work with red wine. Skip the secondi?

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#46 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » August 26th, 2015, 4:54 am

Diane,

The rabbit dish is a good one. Will go well with Barolo. The gnocchi might work with Barolo, but is better with white/orange wine. I can't comment on the secondi. I've always stuck to the pasta. I've heard the chicken is good, however. And I'd be tempted by the blood sausage.
"We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink." - Cicero

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#47 Post by Diane Kessler » August 31st, 2015, 6:32 am

We had a terrific dinner at Bar La Grassa. Started with cocktails and shared the egg and lobster bruschetta 4 ways and it was rich and delicious and more than enough. We ordered 4 different 1/2 orders of pastas - braised rabbit, fresh tuna, veal ragu, and gnocchi with cauliflower. I was stuffed but we had ordered the pork ribs and Chanterelle mushrooms to be served after the pasta. Too much food but everything was good, I loved the spice in the tuna dish, and we brought home leftovers of everything. I switched a Pinot for the Barolo I intended to bring and the wine worked with all the dishes, including the gnocchi. Noise level was up there, but food and service made up for it.

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#48 Post by craig v » August 31st, 2015, 6:51 am

Good to hear. Always special to hook up with the kids. I can never figure out the wine thing as its usually isn't that important to them. Tend not to bring my best stuff but almost always something I admire and want to share.
c vanderah

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Restaurants in St Paul or Minneapolis

#49 Post by J0seph S c h e n c k » November 25th, 2016, 10:19 pm

Any current recommendations for a last minute dinner tonight in MSP? I have made a booking at Bar La Grassa based upon the above recos toting an older Brunello and Barbaresco along. But at $30/apiece for corkage, I'm a bit tentative.


(A search led me here..not sure why this is in 'wine talk')

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#50 Post by Diane Kessler » November 26th, 2016, 4:16 am

We went to a Handsome Hog Wednesday night. Brisket, pork shank, and ribs were great. Didn't bring wine because their cocktails are very good. They don't take reservations. Spoon and Stable this past August was very good, but corkage is also $30 and the place needs a reservation well in advance. Wine service there was top notch.

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