At the end of my review of Tea House in Minneapolis I noted that I was considering finally trying Szechuan in Roseville. It opened at about the same time as Grand Szechuan but early reports had made me wary and somehow we never went. A friend who shares my view of Tea House, recommended it as worth a try after reading that review and so off we went. Once again, my visiting parents (who are always willing to eat Chinese food, and Sichuan food in particular) rounded out our party, which meant we could once again try a bunch of things without the risk of being stranded with lots of leftovers of food we didn’t care for.
As it happens, we liked the food quite a lot. Their menu is not quite as large as Grand Szechuan’s on the Sichuan front but nothing disappointed and some things were quite good indeed.
First, a note on the space. The restaurant is located in a nondescript strip off the 36 and while not unattractive is also itself a somewhat nondescript space.We were there for late lunch on a weekday, and it wasn’t terribly busy, and this didn’t do the atmosphere too many favours. It’s a long narrow room, and if you’re not seated near the windows up front (as we were not) the lighting becomes a mix of gloomy and harsh (on which I pin partial fault for the crappy pictures below). Still, while the ambience at Tea House is superior, I have to agree that the food at Szechuan is better.
We once again ordered a mix of familiar dishes to compare against Grand Szechuan’s renditions and some dishes that Grand Szechuan does not have on their menu. Highlights came from both categories. For descriptions and notes on what we ate, click on a picture below to launch a slideshow.
Everything was good but of the things we ate I’d particularly recommend the stir-fried chicken with roasted chillies and the preserved pork with garlic shoots.The default spice level is not particularly hot here, by the way (which is par for the course for the area). We hadn’t signaled that we wanted the things that should be hot to be really hot and they weren’t; on the other hand, they were far from mild as well.
All of this plus tax and tip came to $129. I have to note here that they’d automatically added a 20% gratuity. As there were only six of us (two of whom were small children) I asked why this was and our server said that it was their policy for all groups seated at the larger round tables. I felt it was a bit presumptuous, especially as the service was not particularly attentive and as the kitchen was rather slow—especially with the fish which only came out when we’d finished almost everything else and had begun to give up on it.
Still, these issues aside, we enjoyed the food enough to want to go back. It won’t replace Grand Szechuan in our rotation, as it’s not as good, on the whole, and is further away. But as it turns out, it’s not so very out of the way from our usual haunts for Korean and Indian grocery shopping or from Como Park, which we visit from time to time with the kids in the non-freezing months, and so we’ll be back to explore more of their menu.