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Raka's Profile

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MSP Prix Fixe Menus?

Yup, tasting menus are fine too -- I don't think I'm technically aware of the difference actually. Can someone please enlighten me?

Jul 26, 2008
Raka in General Midwest Archive

Late night delivery options?

Good point rubinow. I'm not sure where their headquarters are, but she'll be living near the intersection of Division and N State Street.

Jul 22, 2008
Raka in Chicago Area

MSP Chow-Worthy Summer Happy Hours?

We were there for a late lunch on a weekday, and sat outside. I love their outdoor seating, and generally love Barbette (oysters, live music on Mondays, and great wines! What's not to love???), so we'll still keep going.

Jul 22, 2008
Raka in General Midwest Archive

MSP Chow-Worthy Summer Happy Hours?

We walked out of Barbette for our first time ever, because of bad service a few weeks ago. We were seated for 15 minutes with nobody paying attention to us (even when the menus at the next table blew off in the wind, and my husband picked them off the ground and handed them to the server). We've never had a bad experience there before, so I worry that the service level is declining.

Jul 21, 2008
Raka in General Midwest Archive

MSP Chow-Worthy Summer Happy Hours?

Yesterday, we tried out the Origami happy hour in the warehouse district. Good sushi at good prices. I recommend the sushi bowl ($6.75), which has about 6 slices of raw fish over rice sprinkled with sesame seeds. Although the fresh cucumber slices in the Ichitini were a nice touch, I wasn't a fan of the drink, but I'm not a martini drinker.
Happy hour is Sun-Thurs 5-6:30 only in the upstairs bar area.

Jul 21, 2008
Raka in General Midwest Archive

Late night delivery options?

Hi Chowhounds,

I'm looking for late/all night food delivery suggestions in Chicago. My sister is moving to the Chicago area to work for Michelle Obama for a few months. I expect she'll be working from 7:30 AM until 11 PM or later, every day and living somewhere near the campaign headquarters. So, it would be helpful for her to have a list of food delivery options for her to use when she comes home at night to crash.

Does anybody have recommendations for this sort of thing?

Thank you!

Jul 20, 2008
Raka in Chicago Area

MSP Prix Fixe Menus?

Hi Chowhounds,

In a quest for outstanding food, I am looking for exceptional fixed price menus offered by local chefs. When we lived in the Bay Area, there were many options, and my personal favorite was Chez TJ in Mountain View.

In the Twin Cities, I have had a mind-blowing menu at La Belle Vie, and was somewhat underwhelmed by that at Alma.

Price is not an object, and well-selected wine pairings are a plus.

Thanks!

Jul 20, 2008
Raka in General Midwest Archive

MSP Chow-Worthy Summer Happy Hours?

Hi fellow Chowhounds,

I'm looking for recommendations for chow-worthy happy hours in the Twin Cities. I'm particularly interested in those with chowish/eclectic/well-prepared food, an interesting beer selection, or excellent wines by the glass. Thus far, I've come up with:

Nami: M-F; 5-7 PM
JP American Bistro: Every day 4-6 PM
Cafe Barbette: M-F 3-6 PM
Fuji Ya: Su 9-10 PM; M-F 5-7
Triple Rock Social Club: M-F 4-9 PM

Any other suggestions? Extra points to those that have roofdecks and/or outdoor entertainment (music, movies, etc....).

Thanks!

Jul 20, 2008
Raka in General Midwest Archive

good food in india

Ooh! We're heading to the same areas in a month. Can you report back on your experiences?

Nov 27, 2007
Raka in India & South Asia

Brioche in the Twin Cities

Rustica makes a Brioche Bun that is quite yummy. It is studded with chunks of sugar.

http://www.rusticabakery.com/menu.php

Nov 08, 2007
Raka in General Midwest Archive

MSP: Is the food at Little Szechuan going downhill?

We just had a lengthy discussion at lunch today about Little Szechuan (on University Ave in St. Paul). Several of my coworkers regularly eat there, and they all noted a general decline in the food quality. One guy told me that the food was unremarkable the last FOUR times he's eaten at Little Szechuan. He usually orders the Chung King Chili Shrimp, and noted the shrimp seems to be getting smaller, and the dry spicy sauce is now liquefied.

Has anyone been to Little Szechuan recently? Have you had a similar experience? Has the chef moved elsewhere?

Nov 08, 2007
Raka in General Midwest Archive

MSP & MN Lunch in Lake City/Lake Pepin

We took a drive down to Lake City/Pepin last weekend, and didn't have great luck with the MN side of the eateries.

We stopped for lunch/tea at the Chickadee Cottage Tea Room in Lake City (http://www.chickadeecottagetearoom.com/), which was fine, but nothing to write home about. Nice homemade scones, and good tea. In retrospect, we wish we had tried Nosh, which was written up in Minnesota Monthly as a restaurant worth the drive (http://noshrestaurant.com/). Looking at the website, I see it's closed Monday and Tuesday, though.

I got a pretty good latte at Lily's coffeehouse in Redwing, which was cute:
http://www.lilyscoffeehouse.com/
We also considered The Veranda on in the St. James Hotel on Main Street in Red Wing for their sturdiwheat pancakes. I'm not sure if they're served all day.

Also, we got great apples at the Pepin Heights Store on Highway 61 (http://www.pepinheights.com/). Yummy caramel apples!

On the other hand, dinner at the Harbor View Cafe on the Wisconsin side of Lake Pepin was fabulous! (http://www.harborviewpepin.com/) They have fresh fish, with serious sauces and a seasonally changing menu that's written up on the chalkboard.
I had some excellent pheasant with mashed potatoes and sauteed greens. They also have an extensive wine list. Unfortunately, they're also closed Mondays after Labor day (also don't take reservations or credit cards). I heard through the grapevine that they might be closing in the future -- can anyone confirm this?

Sorry I can't be more helpful!

Sep 09, 2007
Raka in General Midwest Archive

Minnesota State Fair foods?

Since the Minnesota state fair starts tomorrow, I thought I'd take a poll to find out:

1) What's the one thing you cannot leave the fair without eating?
2) Have you tried any of the "new" foods?
3) Do you have any tips for semi-healthy eating at the fair?

For me, the answers are:

1) Mini donuts, hot from the Tom Thumb stand and all the milk you can drink. Ooh, and cream puffs!
2) Not yet, but I'll report back after I've been there
3) Try the milk, corn on the cob in front of the grandstand, gyros from Dinos or the lamb shop, or grilled shrimp (at Old English Fish and Chips).

Aug 22, 2007
Raka in Minneapolis-St. Paul

MSP: Cafe Levain Opens Tuesday 6/12

We went the first week of opening, so I am a little hesitant to post, as they were likely still working out the kinks (ie: our youngish server didn't seem well prepared to answer our questions about the wine list or food preparation).

I'd never been to Levain when it was open before, and was pleasantly surprised by the dining room. They seem to have struck a nice chord between rustic country and modern. Also, they have a variety of tables, so that they can seat a large group (one table was set for fourteen!) as well as couples. There is an open kitchen across one side of the restaurant which adds to the liveliness. This was nice because it wasn't very crowded the first Friday it was open. When we were there, several groups brought young children, who were provided crayons to draw on the white paper covering the tablecloths. I thought this was a nice touch that allowed a diversity of clientele.

Foodwise, it was fine, but not highly memorable. Their menu hits a nice price point -- all of the entrees (many of which sounded very good) were priced under $20, and each comes with a side dish. The wine list has several good options by the glass, and they offer a carafe of house wine (red or white), which is a tradition I love. Like chanley said, they had great bread with little ramekins of toppings that were fun. I ordered the roasted chicken and got a side of brussel sprouts. The brussel sprouts were good, but not as wonderful as the bacon roasted gems I've sampled at 112 eatery. The roast chicken was executed well -- I like the skin to still be crispy, with a tender, juicy inside -- however it wasn't very flavorful, even with the sauce. I also ordered dessert, but cannot recall what it was. Like I said, it was fine, but not memorable.

But I am holding off on judgement yet, as it was the first week the place was open, and I really do like the dining room, price point, food selection and proximity to our home. I feel that Cafe Levain has a lot of potential, making it worth a second visit sometime in the future.

Jun 25, 2007
Raka in General Midwest Archive

MSP: Cafe Levain Opens Tuesday 6/12

I'm very excited about this, since I never got to eat at the old Levain!

Does anyone have the phone number for Cafe Levain? I can't seem to find any detailed reference on the web, and expect we'd need a reservation so soon after the opening.

Jun 14, 2007
Raka in General Midwest Archive

[MSP] Restaurant Week?

I've been eagerly waiting for Resturant Week in MSP, to try a few places : Chambers Kitchen, La Belle Vie and Vincent. My sister loves Restaurant Week in Washington DC, so I'm hoping out own one will measure up. They offer $30 fixed price dinners and $10 (or $20) fixed price lunches in a few places.

Feb 13, 2007
Raka in General Midwest Archive

Where have I not had sushi in MSP?

What a great thread! You've got my favorite sushi places covered.

If you haven't done so, I'd recommend checking out Tanpopo Noodle Shop in St. Paul. It's not a "sushi place", but they do have some sushi offerings, and lots of yummy noodles for those cold winter months (I crave sushi when it's blazing hot outside).

Feb 09, 2007
Raka in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Help finish off my French Laundry weekend

The best Sunday brunch, hands down, is at Brix. They have a infinite variety of brunch foods ranging from pancakes to fresh sushi. What I particularly like is that much of the food is miniaturized (ex: tiny madeline cookies), so that you can easily try a variety of foods.

http://www.brix.com/

I have had mixed experiences at Bistro Jeanty. I usually stop and slurp some oysters at Bouchon, when I am in Napa. My favorite homey feeling, good real food restaurant is Mustards Grill (http://www.mustardsgrill.com/).

Enjoy your French Laundry meal! We ate there a few years ago, and the meal surpassed our already high expectations.

Jan 27, 2007
Raka in San Francisco Bay Area

[MSP] Quiet, relaxed, modestly-priced dinner spot for small group

How about Luci Ancora?

They are located at Cleveland and Randolph in St. Paul, have fresh, good Italian-based food that is not exotic, but is focused on seasonal ingredients. They have a nice, and fairly quiet dining room that is well suited for groups (I think it even has a fireplace). The staff are friendly, and the entrees are priced in your range. Even better, they take reservations on Open Table for groups over 5.

(Note: It is easy to get confused between Luci Ancora and their sister restaurant "Ristorante Luci" -- I do NOT recommend "Ristorante Luci" for your group as the dining room is very small and more suited for couples).

Jan 18, 2007
Raka in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Quality Indian in MSP

Thanks for the tip KT! Now when I'm at work and have a craving for Indian food, I'll know where I can go for a quick fix.

Jan 06, 2007
Raka in General Midwest Archive

Quality Indian in MSP

I grew up in the Twin Cities and my mom and dad are Indian (moved here from Calcutta in the 70s). I usually abstain from Indian restaurants as they pale in comparison to home cooked Indian food. However, in rare cases I have found a place worth frequenting. There is one place in Minneapolis that I love, and it's kind of an Indian secret.

Near Central Ave and Highway 694, there is an Indian grocery store called "South Asian Foods". Usually they just sell groceries. But they have also set up a big stove and counter on one end of the store. I have never been there on weekdays, but on weekends, they serve lunch for limited hours (11 AM-2 PM?). This is the closest you're going to get to Indian home cooking in the Twin Cities. Grandma's and Aunties in saris cook up south Indian favorites.

You can get a dish called "halwa puri" with a balloon shaped puri the size of your head, and extremely yummy veggie curry accompaniments. One man I talked to told me he drove 45 minutes every weekend just to eat that dish. They also serve chaat, biryani and a variety of other Indian foods. Some are on the greasy side, but all are extremely good and authentic.

Be forewarned, this is not a "restaurant", but rather a sort of Indian food cafe. There is extremely limited seating (consider takeout in winter months), and nearly everyone in the store (including customers) will be Indian. Because their hours are limited, I would call ((763) 586-9800) before showing up, to find out if they are cooking.

They are friendly, speak good english and welcoming to non-Indians. Plus they food is really cheap -- definitely a great place for an adventurous chowhound!

Dec 10, 2006
Raka in General Midwest Archive

turning someone into a chowhound (MSP)

Punch is definitely a good place. Another reasonably priced Italian place (but so much better than the Olive Garden!) is Broders Pasta Bar on 50th and Penn in Minneapolis. If they're packed, you can try the takeout place across the street. It's casual and friendly. If he's a burger guy, Joe's garage is an interesting place to expand your burger horizons.

Dec 08, 2006
Raka in General Midwest Archive

Pumphouse Creamery in Minneapolis, MN open this winter!

Hi fellow chowhounds,

Just thought I'd drop a note to let you all know that for the first time, Pumphouse Creamery (near 48th and Chicago in Minneapolis) is open over the winter! (Usually they close the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and reopen in March). Their winter hours are limited -- I believe they are only open Thursday to Sunday, and until 9 PM.

I'm very excited since this is my very favorite Twin Cities ice cream place! If you haven't been there, I highly recommend it!

Dec 08, 2006
Raka in General Midwest Archive

How about an MSP area board?

I know we're not supposed to post anymore about this, but I totally agree with you soupkitten, and am looking forward to a MSP board in the future!

Nov 13, 2006
Raka in Site Talk

MSP - Anyone been to Grand Cafe? (formerly Bakery on Grand)

Since my original post, we checked out Grand Cafe for Sunday brunch. I am happy to report that it is still a great spot, and I look forward to dinner there.
The pastry case is indeed gone, but the bar that has replaced it is quite functional and opens up that space nicely. We got there at 10:30 AM, which was just ahead of the Sunday brunch rush.
The food was good -- kind of a rustic breakfast. I had poached eggs, thick sliced bacon and their roasted potatoes, which were wonderful. They are roasted with thyme and some onions that added a nice caramlized flavor. My only regret is that we forgot to order from their pastry section, and watched as steaming plates of twice-baked brioche passed us by. Next time, we will not make that mistake!

Nov 13, 2006
Raka in General Midwest Archive

Little Szechuan St. Paul: So Excited!

YUM. I went there for lunch a few days ago. They have an extensive lunch menu (although it didn't come with salad, as advertised). The chung king shrimp is to die for and the eggplant with spicy sauce was also great. The dish had the requisite sweetness that I associate with well-prepared eggplant.
I heard through the grapevine that a couple of the chefs from Tea House moved over to Little Szechuan.
For those of you who haven't been, make sure you know exactly where it is beforehand. We had a vague idea of where we were going, reasoning we could easily find the restaurant once we were in the right area. Unfortunately, the sign isn't great, and we drove past a few times.

Nov 10, 2006
Raka in General Midwest Archive

MSP - Anyone been to Grand Cafe? (formerly Bakery on Grand)

Hi fellow chowhounds,

Has anyone been to "Grand Cafe" which I hear has opened in the former "Bakery on Grand" space at 38th and Grand in Minneapolis? If so, how did you enjoy your meal? I am really hoping that Grand Cafe fills the niche that Bakery on Grand left when it closed.

Thanks!

- Raka

Nov 09, 2006
Raka in General Midwest Archive

[MSP] Places in Twin Cities for espresso?

Hey Josh!

Since my espresso machine broke a few days ago, I've started expanding my coffee search outside our home. No great new leads yet, but I'll keep you posted.

The Linden Hills coffee shop is indeed fantastic. Whatever they served me as the house espresso had an almost smoky chocolatey undertone.

Sep 14, 2006
Raka in General Midwest Archive