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Omaha? Anyone?

As one who once lived in Prague, that is, unfortunately for those of us with different ideas, exactly what Czech dumplings are: "thick slices of doughy bread." To the uproarish mirth of my Czech compadres, I once ordered a lone order of dumplings, expecting that surely there must be a gravy or something to accompany them, but no.
As a fresh-off-the-interstate Omahan, as of four days ago, I'm looking for anything off this thread. Keep it alive, ye people of Nebraska!
Thus far we've had a great meal at the Boiler Room, and that's about it.
What else thrives in your fair city?
-parker

Nov 07, 2013
parkermsp in Great Plains

Seeking advice for the best of Minneapolis

Agree about Haute Dish. Ate here last night for the second time---best burger in the city right now; Tater Tot Haute Dish was fantastic, and the BBQ Pork x3 could feed three by itself. This to me is the most Minnesotan restaurant I've yet encountered, though with the heavier fare I'm not sure how they were quite as busy as they were last night, what with the 93 degrees out. Caloric-wise, it's basically Fair food served with high technique and panache: a great combo, in my opinion.

Aug 22, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

La Belle Vie tasting menu/wine flight

Well, how was it?

Aug 18, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Burch review

Last night, party of four. After a brief pop-in at Haute Dish wherein we were informed they were only serving the Restaurant Week menu, we downed our beers and booked it to Burch. Well, one party did. The other two got snagged in a maddening labyrinth of Aquatennial run-off, whereby even the cops were befuddled as to how to get from here to there with all the blockages, though it didn't stop them from cow-facing into every single car and, over the course of three or so minutes, telling you as much. Sometimes the east-coast blood takes over and one is left throwing a cellphone out the window in impatience. There is no shame like immediately retrieving a purposefully thrown object before a line of cars forty deep.
Thus harried we entered Burch.
The basement is loud. Like, loud loud. So is the whole place, really, but it's a nice space.
Margherita pizza: totally acceptable.
Pulpo pizza: a ply of the ferry waters one took from dubrovnik to bari--would order again.
Dungeness crab and sea bean salad: the fresh, delicious sort of cooking for 13 bucks that one wants more of in this town.
Wood roasted bone marrow: one of those things you know in the middle of it you'll look back on with a sort of shame, but want to do again. Sort of like when you were twelve.
Wood roasted mussels: delicious. Would order again.
Veal and pork dumpling: this was the real highlight, actually, because it made you realize that this place has something for everyone, and all of it is pretty damn good.
In the past two months we've eaten at Borough, Corner Table, and here, and this is the only place to which I want to return very soon. The others, though good, seem to meld into that nebulous world of, yes, that place is good, but are there any new restaurants out there we could go to instead?

A great addition to Minneapolis I think.

Jul 18, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul
1

If you could eat in one restaurant...

Please report back. If there's the smoked octopus terrine on the menu, get it.

Jul 12, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

If you could eat in one restaurant...

I enjoy Piccolo every time I go, and think it is a gem in Minneapolis. Cramped quarters, but the execution is great. If you're not a small plates person, however, this place is not for you.

Jul 11, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Heartland or Bachelor Farmer?

I was going to ask about this. Perusing the menu last week I saw upon it "Icelandic lamb chops." For a restaurant that had hitherto proclaimed not to use olive oil due to its non-production in the Midwest, I thought this odd.
Was this a recent choice of change by chef Russo, does anyone know?

Jul 11, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Hatch Green Chili Peppers

Sorry to belabor this topic, but the label on those seeds is not exactly accurate. You don't grow red chiles right off the bat--they are simply green chiles allowed or grown to ripen to a red color. In New Mexico, some of red chile production is simply on account of cooler temperatures and the natural ripening stage of the chile, and some of this is for the specific purpose of growing a chile to red in order that you can dry it and make a powder for sale.

Jul 02, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul
1

So I Walked Out of Ngon Last Night....

They're not in a good place right now, it has seemed to both me and my wife of late. While we've not had the heat you're talking about, we have had a string of less than desirable service treatments, all of which has led us to rethink it as our go-to.
I love the place, but they need to get their stuff together. They're not doing themselves any favors. Anyone else have recent issues? (Bear in mind--I want them to succeed more than any restaurant I can think of within fifteen minutes of my house. Well--maybe a tie with Brasa.)

Jun 28, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Hatch Green Chili Peppers

No, not the University of New Mexico. It was developed at New Mexico State University. And PaulJ above is right---"Hatch" chiles are simply grown in Hatch. They grow all sorts, inclusive of "Big Jims."
Hatch is not different in terroir than most of the southern New Mexican belt, and so any chiles from there will give you that taste. As you get north in the state, the climate grows cooler with the increased elevations, and the chiles ripen longer on the vine, often turning to red before they're ready for harvest. These red chiles are then dried, ground into powder, and then used as a base for red chile sauce.
When in New Mexico, much of your meal-time decisions will come down to your request for red or green chile, both of which are used to smother, coat, nurture, or baste anything you can put in your mouth. If you're undecided and in the know, you'll say you'd like it "Christmas," which means both colors, for obvious reasons.

Jun 28, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Hatch Green Chili Peppers

As someone who spent four recent great years in Las Cruces and north of there (and just returned from there a week ago), I would say you have a better chance of seeing a jackalope than seeing those chile (notice the spelling---to New Mexicans, this is a sticking point) peppers here.
They don't travel that far--I have heard of them in Chicago, but I sincerely doubt their authenticity; they were probably Mexican branded as Hatch. That being said, you can get great batches during harvest, which is usually mid-August to early September, from Ristramann's, as mail-order, in Mesilla, New Mexico. And for anyone headed that way, a few miles down the pecan-grove-laden road in La Mesa is Chope's, which just won best enchiladas in the whole state from New Mexico magazine, a large feat for such a tiny place.

Jun 26, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul
1

sourdough starter

If you're talking about the slightly darker liquid that after a while forms on the top, you can pour that off first into the sink, and then feed the starter with flour and some warm water.

Jun 21, 2013
parkermsp in Home Cooking

Birdhouse Closed?

It was also the atmosphere. It was like eating in your grandmother's basement, and the hospice-staff that changed her sheets were more often than not having their own meal in the corner. Also it just wasn't interesting food.

Jun 03, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Southern Vegetarian Indian?

Yes, yes, I admit I watched "Gordon Ramsay's Best Restaurant" on Netflix, and now, based on one of the finalist's cuisine, I want southern indian food. As in, food mainly from the Gujarat or Kerela region--as in vegetarian, as in no tikka this or rogan josh that. I had heard of a place in Columbia Heights called Nala Pak, but it seems it's closed. The closest I can find is Everest on Grand, which is not exactly hitting the mark.
Any gems anywhere in the Twin Cities?
Thanks,
Parker

May 21, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Wonderful French bread loaves at 7 am......

Inasmuch as they are both cylindrical bread products for the everyday purpose of oil, butter, cheese or cured meat conveyance, I do think it is fair to compare them; they do however seem to hail from different regions of France. The P. 46 is pure Paris, while the Salty Tart, your description of which is spot-on, is reminscent in almost every way of what we've enjoyed in the south--Languedoc/Provence. It is saltier, true to its name, but this enhances almost everything about it. I wish it were available elsewhere.
On the opposite end, New French has to be the worst baguette in the Twin Cities.

May 07, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Wonderful French bread loaves at 7 am......

Rustica does beat P. 46, but I would put the Salty Tart baguette above both of them.

May 04, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Italian Deli

My co-workers says his cousin's deli Brianno's Deli Italia in Eagan is the real deal. I haven't been yet but he's talked it up enough, and he's one of those old Italian St Paul Vulcan types. The bread recipe for their sandwiches is his mother's recipe, apparently.

Apr 26, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

St Paul's best

Have you had the Hu mi? Try the hu mi at Ngon. I'll try Los Paisanos.

Apr 22, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

St Paul's best

We love Ngon, but I think their hu tu/mi is actually better than their pho. (I think the tu is with rice noodles and the mi with egg; I get the egg.) The pho does have the delectable house-made meatballs (reportedly made weekly by the chef's father), but the Hu Mi's shrimp balls are the true business. For pho, the best in the Cities still seems to me Pho Tau Bay, if only for their near heavenly tendon. A squidge of beef scallop down the gullet? Check.

Apr 22, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Coming soon...Parka

I too went with the missus to Parka today. Got there right before they closed the kitchen for a daily 3-5 p.m. break. I'm betting this cessation goes kaputt once they find their groove; to my knowledge the dinner menu isn't different than the lunch, and so there's no need to prep anything more extravagant. I think it's probably just a beginning buffer to play catch-up.
The place did not have the business you guys saw around 'lunch' time, and service by two girls whom I assume as well are new to the service industry was friendly and speedy.
We got the wild rice soup, the ribs, and the smoked white fish.
I really enjoyed the soup, though I failed to see the wild rice component--perhaps it was the thickener, though my wife suspected corn starch and turned her nose up at it. It would have been nice to have the rustica bread that came with it toasted a little or at least warmed.
The spare ribs had decent cola-lined flavor, but they need to get the cook right on these---the gelatin was not dissolved and thus the meat clung to the bone. Not a Stallone in Cliffhanger grip---rather a Gabby Douglas on the bars grip--strong but not life-clenching. No smoke on here, which I didn't expect anyway, but with an oven cook you still need to achieve a lusciousness. These were not how I do my ribs (or anyone south of the mason, probably), and probably not how people want them in the end.
Cleverly the smoked white fish was served in what looked like a tuna can, though the noticeable lack of smoke in the fish meant the power of suggestion was strong---it was closer in spirit to canned tuna than a properly smoked whitefish should be. The accompaniments, however, were excellent--a yuzu confection of sorts, and little pops of what seemed to me a wasabi roe--the dish was good for less than ten bucks.
Like most people find about Prague, the food was not great but a desire to return most certainly is. The atmosphere was what I love most about the Twin Cities, open and cleanlined and rustic and a little spacey.
mouthcrimes.com I think it'll do well.

Jan 25, 2013
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Foie in a Can at Haute Dish?

Any one who's had the dish care to comment?
-Parker

Aug 17, 2012
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Heartland, Hiedi's, or Ngon's Entrees?

Update:
Went to Hiedi's on Tuesday. We arrived a half-hour early and sat out on the patio for a drink. My dad was a little non-plussed with the color of his ordered gin and tonic, which looked like a Manhattan on account of the house-made tonic, which he described as "weird." I thought it was good, and a pretty cool touch. Forty-five minutes later, and subsequent to the seatings of two parties who had arrived after us, I had to ask about our table, and was promptly seated. Didn't really care for that. The service thereafter, however, was clearly well-trained. Woodman was in the house, constantly referenced by our server as chef ("I love what Chef is doing with the halibut tonight...."), which struck me as a little cultish but oh well. The food was fantastic. Lamb shank, six-spiced, was a show of proper execution and flavoring. A dish to remind you why you might go to a restaurant---I can't cook lamb shanks like this, and I've tried. Duck breast with roasted fennel and cippolinis perfectly executed, as was the trio of appetizers we got: smokin' ravioli, which my dad proclaimed as "superb," the foie terrine and the pappardelle with truffles. The space is great, seating more than comfortably spaced (though I might prefer a little dimming somehow of the light shouting in from the open kitchen, which produced too stark a contrast with the dining room, it seemed to me), the wait-staff is very well-orchestrated in its delivery of things, though the times between dishes stretched to the slightly enervating. We declined dessert for this reason. It was about 9:30 by the time we finished entrees (7:30 reservation.). Overall: would go again in a heartbeat, hoping for a tad quicker pace.
Next night: Alma.
Our server here had the wide-eyed look of the soon-to-be tsunami victim, and seemed surprised by our even being there, requesting of her various things which we desired to eat or drink. It baffled in the way that everyone says it baffles who is not himself from Minnesota and is prepared for the state by a person whose origins are also not of the state but has heard tell of the Minnesota shell which, it is said, one must crack to get at the genuine person beneath. If it is said that one from this great state would love to tell you about their house but probably will not tell you where it is, for fear of you coming over, this woman seemed now to find herself in the position of people being in her house, with no idea how they got there. No small talk, no nonsense, a little passive-aggressive whose passivity is a sort of shield or spacer. But, we weren't there for her, we were there for the food, which did not disappoint. Outstanding: parmesan flan, bison carpaccio (best amalgamation of the night), slow-cooked trout, orrechiette with spicy lamb ragu; lemon shaker pie. Merely good: spring pea and asparagus soup (not very expressive of the season, in fact), the roasted duck with smoked mushrooms (Heidi's was superior). My wife and I went with the three courses, and my parents with two a'la carte; intuitively they gave us all our first dish, then skipped my parents for the second, and then delivered everyone's final dish. This was as it should be, of course, but with the waits between courses again stretching to the room-scanning, (as in, are those our dishes on the counter now?), it was a bit of a mis-step. This may have been caused by our server having, as I saw it, six full four-tops. With the average table getting about 12 dishes, that's 72 dishes she's responsible for, not to mention the wine orders. I see no reason why she has that many tables. Other mis-step, which was surprising given the pedigree of the place, was that the plates were not warmed, which made for quickly cooling entrees. My first bite of trout was room-temp.
But, outstanding, impressive food.
Between the two, I think I'd be more inclined to go back to Heidi's sooner. Maybe it's because it feels a bit more casual but the food is superb, at lower prices. Alma feels like a once every four months type place. The menu is more involved, but so is the pocketbook.
Anyways--both these places had us thankful to be in such a great food environment, and very happy to be a part of this community.

May 17, 2012
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Heartland, Hiedi's, or Ngon's Entrees?

Hello all,
My folks are coming into town from Portland, Maine, for two nights. Our second night we're going to Alma.
Question is: where to the first night?
I've narrowed it down to three:
1. Heartland. Never been, I'm intrigued by the "Midwestern-ness" of it, but I've heard the goods don't justify the price. True?
2. Heidi's (I realize I've spelled it wrong up top). Went here in the old manifestation, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but not the new building.
3. Ngon. A favorite stand-by for the wife and I, but my parents likely wouldn't get anything off the "traditional" menu, and we've never had the pricier entrees. They like steak and scallop dishes just as much as they like Alma-style cooking, and I like that we wouldn't have to make reservations here, and that it's a stand-by for us (to show them where we go), but, again, we've never had the entrees. Here, or one of the two above?
What say you kind folks?

May 02, 2012
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Purchasing Au Bon Canard foie

I know this is available at Surdyk's--is there anywhere in St. Paul that I can buy some Minnesota-grown foie gras, retail-wise?
Cheers,
Parker

Apr 21, 2012
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Saigon back again...

You went by today, or last weekend? (The reason I ask is that it's Thursday, which would throw the whole hours thing into another tailspin. It's been rather chaotic there, no?)

Nov 17, 2011
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Pho at Ngon

Not wanting to roll the dice with the moodiness of Saigon's front door, the lady and I went to Ngon for their pho last night. My past experiences have always been more along the lines of relishing the idea (of their meat and veg sourcing) more than the execution, but this was my first go at the pho. Pretty wonderful.
While I enjoy Pho Tau Bay's particular tendon inclusion to be dream-inducing, Ngon's version was enough to keep me on this side of the river, tendon or no (though, to note, the tendon at Tau Bay is a beefy scallop of sumptuousness whose deliciousness may (or not) overshadow the distant bleats one may hear from the factory slaughterhouse floor, whence this tendon came).

A follow-up: has anyone enjoyed Ngon's upper-scale entree offerings? They always sound great, but it doesn't seem to fit within the rubric of what they are, currently, as a restaurant. Or maybe I've just never been in a spendy mood when there.

-----
Pho Tau Bay
2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Oct 26, 2011
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Excellent Frozen Pizza

I think you may be ignoring economies of scale, but I see your point. Still, it is a good pizza, and $3.99.

Oct 19, 2011
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Excellent Frozen Pizza

The Trader Joe's line of frozen pizzas has always proved great---especially the Margherita. Made in Italy, no less.

Oct 19, 2011
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

In search of a really good chicken

I agree with the above, regarding Callister. They are grandly tasty. In the first few dishes I ever made with their chickens (available at Seward, where I purchase them if I'm feeling fat in the wallet) my wife and I agreed that there was some secret technique or inadvertent thing I was doing that neither of us could recognize or identify that made the dishes taste so much better than in the past, until after these few times we both realized it was the chicken itself.
Not often that a meat ingredient shines that much.
So, I vote for Callister.

Apr 28, 2011
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul

City Pages - Best of 2011

I would hardly call B'Wiched a deli. It's a lunch-time sandwich shop and no more, or less. The pastrami is pretty good, but it's not superb, and the whole place lends itself to a certain feeling of rip-offedness. I've never felt fully satisfied after going there. My initial idea of their sandwiches always strikes me as having been far better than the actual sandwiches.

Apr 20, 2011
parkermsp in Minneapolis-St. Paul