I travelled a fair bit this summer—to Los Angeles and Hawaii with the family and then to Ireland with a colleague for work. But we still managed to eat out at our usual clip in the Twin Cities. Our restaurant outings covered the gamut from casual to fine dining, from new(er) to more established, from affordable to more expensive. At the more expensive end of the spectrum were two meals each at Alma and Tenant; all the way over at the affordable end was a meal put together from the counters at Mercado Central. We didn’t enjoy every meal we ate out equally—and one or two not very much—but since the pandemic began my practice with this series of quarterly roundups has been to only emphasize the positives at each meal. For my fuller critiques you can read the more detailed individual reviews that are linked from the list below.
For places we ate at only once I have two to three dishes listed. For places we ate at more than once, five. A couple of these are meals I haven’t yet written full reports on: all our Grand Szechuan meals will show up at the end of the year in a single round-up and the Mercado Central report will come in a couple of weeks.
Okay, let’s take them in chronological order of posting on the blog.
- Kalsada: We enjoyed most of our dinner at this modern Filipino restaurant in St. Paul in July. Particular favourites at the meal were the Kinilaw, the Lamb Shank Kaldereta, and the Ube Panna Cotta.
- Bar La Grassa: This was our younger son’s birthday dinner outing. Dishes everyone liked a lot included the Prosciutto, the Smoked Spaghetti alla Chitarra, and the Dark Chocolate Budino.
- Tenant: We ate at Tenant first right after our return from Hawaii and again in mid-August. Both meals were very good and it’s hard to pick just five highlights but I’ll note the Pork Sausage Ravioli and the Grilled New York Strip from the first dinner and the Vegetables in Tomato Water, Rigatoni alla Vodka, and Peach Custard from the second.
- Luci Ancora: I am sorry to say that neither our boys nor we had many positive things to say about our dinner at this St. Paul institution. We did enjoy the desserts more than anything else though: a Flourless Chocolate Torte and a Toasted Angel Food Cake.
- Restaurant Alma: We did, however, very much enjoy both our meals at Alma, with the second from just a week ago a particular highlight. Again, it’s hard to highlight only a few dishes from meals that were so good across the board but I’ll point to the Pacific Striped Bass and the Buttermilk Panna Cotta from the first meal and the Pac Choi Fritter, Chilled Corn Soup and the Seared Maine Scallops from the second.
- Dosa: This is a new(er) Indian place in Bloomington that we’d been planning to eat at for a while and I’m glad to say that, on the whole, this was a very nice meal. Particular favourites were the Mutton Ghee Roast, the Madurai Chicken Pepper Fry, and the Hyderabadi-Style Eggplant Stir-Fry.
- Los Ocampo: After years of eating at their counter service locations we finally made it to the flagship location of Los Ocampo on Suburban Ave. in St. Paul. We ate a lot of old favourites at this meal. Things I particularly enjoyed were tacos with Chicharron Prensado and Tripa and their Flan Napolitano.
- Terzo: This was another Italian outing with our boys. We thought it was more than a bit overpriced for what it is but did enjoy a number of dishes. Among them were the Chips & Aioli, the Bucatini all’Amatriciana, and the Panna Cotta.
- Mercado Central: I have not reported on this meal yet but the pupusa I got from Restaurante El Rincon was one of the best things I ate this summer. A fuller report will be posted in a week or two.
- Grand Szechuan: We went back to our family favourite only once in this period but ate a number of our favourite dishes: the Fish Fillet in Milky White Broth, the Chengdu Grilled Lamb and the Spicy Squid Roll (aka Triple Flavour Squid). The rest of this meal will be in my annual roundup of Grand Szechuan meals—probably in December.
The next quarter’s eating got to a great start yesterday with an excellent lunch at On’s Kitchen in St. Paul. I’ll have that full report on Tuesday. If you have any ideas for places I haven’t reviewed that you think we should check out between now and the end of December, please let me know below.