Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dinner on Joe's Patio

I recently took advantage of a beautiful Sunday evening and grabbed dinner with friends on the Joe's Garage patio - one of the best patios in all of MSP (as evidenced by the view of the Basilica in downtown Minneapolis below).
The ambiance on this breezy and lazy Sunday was carefree and relaxed. Nearly every table was filled with leisurely diners enjoying every last second before the weekend came to an end.
I ordered the Homemade Chicken Fingers basket, served with chipotle ranch and shoestring fries. It was well-priced at $8 and almost surprisingly delicious. I don't know why I didn't have much in terms of expectations (since I've always found the food at Joe's to be very good), but I was quite pleasantly pleased with the tasty chicken fingers and their zesty sauce.
After dinner, we took a stroll through the loveliest alley in the city. Not the greatest picture quality, but you get the idea :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dinner at Il Gatto

On my way to work one morning last week, I heard Minnesota Monthly food critic Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, offer her take on Il Gatto during a segment on The Current, which reminded me that I had a recent visit to report on.

She was talking about Italian options in MSP, and the news that respected chef and James Beard Award winner Tim McKee was recently put at the helm of Il Gatto (which is very exciting news indeed). She also offered her assessment of Il Gatto in its current state - a less than favorable critique.

What I caught of Dara's review focused mostly on the seafood-driven items on the menu, which I'm admittedly not very well-versed in. But I have to say that the couple of times I've been to Il Gatto since its introduction last year (locals will remember that it replaced Figlio), I've actually been quite impressed by the menu.
On this most recent visit, my friend and I shared a few plates. The first of which was a prosciutto and fig bruschetta. It was phenomenal. My friend and I both agreed that the prosciutto was well-paired with the fig and brie. It was a little difficult to eat with so much piled on top, but the struggle was well worth every bite.
We also ordered the calamari, which comes with spicy peppers and lemon mayo. The peppers were an interesting addition, and the calamari was very good. Not really a key differentiator though.
Lastly, we ordered the meatball pizza. Wowza. This was fantastic. Fresh out of the wood oven, it had large, delicious meatballs. Again, a little difficult to eat (especially with your hands), but totally worth the extra effort.

In revisiting Il Gatto's menu online, it looks as though some of my favorites have already been replaced with the new direction. However, I will note the Tortellini Baronessa (prosciutto, peas and mushrooms in alfredo sauce), which is still listed. I had this during a previous visit, and I think it might still hold the title of my favorite pasta dish in Minneapolis-Saint Paul...for now anyway.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer Brunch and an Afternoon Treat

During a friend's visit to MSP this summer, we spent a couple days dining at some old favorites and trying out some new hot spots. One particularly beautiful day, we went to French Meadow on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis, which falls into the old favorites category.
The atmosphere at French Meadow is relaxed and welcoming. During the day you place your order at the counter, choosing from delicious dishes made with fresh, local and organic ingredients. At night the ambiance is more intimate, with candlelight and many tables for two.
I ordered the breakfast burrito - an organic tortilla filled with organic eggs, black bean chili, cheddar, scallions and hash browns. It was served with chipotle sour cream and French Meadow's homemade salsa, as well as organic toast.

The burrito was very good. It was fresh and filling and had just a bit of a zip.
Later that afternoon, we tried out Patisserie 46, a new bakery in the Kingfield neighborhood in Minneapolis. The space was darling and busy. So busy, in fact, that the bakery case was running low on goodies by the time we arrived.
I was, however, very excited to see there was still one eclair left. I'd heard good things about the eclair from The Heavy Table, so I knew immediately that it would be my selection.

And, it was amazing. Crunchy and textured on the outside, rich and creamy on the inside. I really loved it. Paired with my bottle of root beer, it was a wonderful afternoon treat. I'm looking forward to my next visit to the tasty bakery.