Restaurant Alma, Fall 2022 (Minneapolis)


We somehow managed to go four and a half years between  dinner at Alma in the fall of 2017 and our dinner there this past April; but now we’ve already eaten three dinners there this year and I think that makes us even. Yes, we went back this weekend for a second dinner in two months. And no, it wasn’t to eat once again the menu we’d liked so much in August. Social media is to blame. The restaurant posted a lovely picture on Instagram of locally foraged mushrooms that they said were on the current menu and I went to look at what else was on there and a few minutes later we had a reservation. What can I say? I am very impressionable. Anyway, I am very glad we did make the reservation because this was one of our best dinners there (I know I say this after every meal at Alma) and one of the best dinners we’ve eaten anywhere recently. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Tenant VIII (Minneapolis)


This is my second review this month of a meal at Tenant but it’s not my second review of a meal eaten at Tenant this month. Try saying that three times fast. No, my previous review was of an outing to Tenant in early July. This meal, on the other hand, is of a meal eaten this past Saturday and represents my attempt to become current with at least my Minnesota meal reviews. It took some doing to get to this meal. We were originally supposed to eat there on the Friday of the prior week. But it transpired that the menu had not yet turned over since our dinner in July and so they very kindly got us in a week later. And then the ongoing reconstruction of Bryant Ave. led to an issue with water mains and they had to close at short notice on Friday. Thankfully, they managed to squeeze us in the very next day and so here I am with a report on possibly the best meal we’ve had at Tenant in a year. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Restaurant Alma, Summer 2022 (Minneapolis)


Our last meal at Alma, in early April this year, had unaccountably come four and a half years after our previous dinner there. I noted then that it was unlikely to be more than four and a half months till we were back again and for a change I am not a liar. We went back for dinner this past weekend, just a little short of four and a half months since the last. And I’m very glad we did. Our dinner in April was very good, but this one was even better. This might be because Alma serves a seasonal prix fixe, and late summer in Minnesota offers chefs far more to work with than the early spring—keep in mind that Alma’s sourcing is local/regional. Even if that’s not the reason, I would highly recommend going to eat this menu before it shifts in the fall. We liked it so much that we’re almost tempted to go back and eat it again. Continue reading

Tenant VII (Minneapolis)


Turning a menu over every six weeks is no easy task for a restaurant. I suppose it’s easier if, like Tenant, the restaurant is small and serves only a set menu every night. Of course, Tenant doesn’t turn the whole menu over all at once: new dishes are introduced one or a few at a time till finally the whole is transformed. And it’s also true that this discipline would have been ingrained in the proprietors from their long tenure at Piccolo which also had a similarly restless menu. Nonetheless, it cannot be easy. Difficulty of conception and execution of new menus aside, it’s a canny move. This because it encourages those who particularly like their approach to come back often to try dishes that they might not otherwise encounter again. And so it is that we—who rarely go back to the same restaurant twice in the same year—find ourselves back at Tenant over and over again. We ate there in June before leaving for our travels; we ate this meal in July after coming back from our travels; and in less than two weeks we’ll be eating there again. If the next meal is as good as this one was we’ll be very happy indeed. Continue reading

Tenant VI (Minneapolis)


Tenant was the first restaurant we dined indoors at after the pandemic started. That was back in July of 2021. At the time things were threatening to look up on the pandemic front and we’d begun to think hopefully of a return to something approaching normalcy. Then the delta wave hit…and soon we were not eating in again. Just when we got started again there was omicron… When we finally got comfortable with the idea yet again at the start of the spring, Tenant was one of the first places we’d hoped to return to. But between the need to make reservations more than a month out and the need to cancel the first set of reservations I was able to make, it was not until the end of May that we got back there. It was both a happy return to a familiar space and a new experience of the restaurant for us. Details follow. Continue reading

112 Eatery II (Minneapolis)


After our lovely dinner at Alma in April we decided it was time to go back to our old favourites in the Twin Cities more often. And so I immediately made a reservation for dinner at 112 Eatery, a restaurant we like more than the number of times I have reviewed it would indicate. It was the first fine dining restaurant I ate at in Minnesota, having been taken there for dinner when I was interviewing for my job (at which point I think it was just over a year old). And when we arrived in Minnesota it was one of the places we ate at most frequently. But when I started reviewing restaurants on the blog the urge to chase novelty meant fewer visits to old favourites. Our Alma meal reminded me of the folly of this practice and I am very glad it did: we had a very good meal at 112 Eatery as well. Continue reading

Restaurant Alma, Spring 2022 (Minneapolis, MN)

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Sooki & Mimi (Minneapolis)


As you probably know, Sooki & Mimi is the new restaurant from Ann Kim of Young Joni fame (she won a Beard award for her food there). You probably also know that it is one of the buzziest restaurants to have opened recently in the Twin Cities. The buzz really picked up two months or so ago when the New York Times included it in a list of the most exciting restaurants in the country or some such. You see, here in Minnesota we are so confident in our identity that we manage to both tell the New York Times they know nothing when they say things about us we don’t like and to fall all over ourselves in excitement when they offer the slightest bit of praise. Well, we are famously a very emotional people here in the upper midwest and it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that we can be so volatile. Continue reading

Spoon and Stable III (Minneapolis)


I had not realized until just over a week ago that Spoon and Stable has outside seating. We’ve eaten there twice before but the last of those occasions was in the dead of winter and there was no question of anyone sitting outside. And I have no memory of seeing outdoor seating on our first visit in the late summer/early fall of 2015. This may, of course, be a more recent pandemic development but at least of late they have had a few tables set out on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant with heaters by every table. Or rather they did. It turns out this past weekend was the last weekend for their outdoor seating. Well, if we’d known about this earlier we would have eaten there quite a bit earlier this year but I’m very glad we found out before it went away for the winter. Our meal there this past Saturday evening was very good indeed, on par with our previous very good meals there (here and here). Continue reading

Tenant V (Minneapolis)


It took till mid-July but we finally ate a meal inside a restaurant for the first time since March 2020. Sakura was the last time I ate inside a restaurant. That was not planned. We could tell restrictions were looming but we didn’t know when they would come or how long it would be before in-person dining would again become viable. Of course, in-person indoor dining’s been back in Minnesota for a few months—but we didn’t start to get comfortable with the idea until the end of June. Once we were ready to take the plunge there was not much doubt where we would go first. Tenant has become our favourite fine dining restaurant in the Twin Cities—as their predecessor, Piccolo was before them—and it was only appropriate that our return to dining in happen there. (Grand Szechuan would have been even more appropriate for the whole family but it’s only on our recent outing to Kansas City that we’ve finally taken the boys indoors to eat.) I’m happy to report that our first fine dining meal since the pandemic began was a very good one. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Tenant IV (Minneapolis)


We went back to Tenant for dinner a week and a half ago. This was our fourth visit. Our previous meal there was just about 6 weeks prior to this one and the one before wasn’t too much longer before that one. Both those meals were very good indeed, catapulting Tenant to the top of our Twin Cities fine dining list. They also took place at the height and end of summer respectively. We were interested to see, going into this one, how the kitchen would deal with the relatively depleted produce options of Minnesota in the late fall/early winter. Well, our experience was a little mixed. This was probably the least of our meals there so far. But only some of this was likely down to the market offerings of the season (no more tomato water!). It’s more the case that going every six weeks or so, as we’ve been doing since mid-summer seems to have resulted in a bit of deja vu. While none of the courses were identical to those at our last meal there was some sameness. Now you might say that this is an odd criticism—most restaurants have far more static menus. But one of the things we enjoyed most about Tenant on our previous visits was surprise and there wasn’t much surprise at this meal. Which is not to say, of course, that it wasn’t a good dinner in its own right—for it was. And keep in mind that this is not a problem you would have on your first visit there or if your visits were spaced further apart. Continue reading

Crown Shy (New York, August 2019)


In my review of our dinner at Rezdora a few weeks ago I noted that we’d managed to a table for two at prime time on a Friday despite booking just a few weeks in advance. The same was true of Crown Shy, where we dined the next evening: we managed a table for two at 8.30 pm on a Saturday without very much fuss. Now, however, Crown Shy has picked up a star in the most recent Michelin list for New York and I’d guess tables are a much harder proposition at any time. I’d also guess that my other comment at the end of the Rezdora review—that dinner at Crown Shy was quite a bit cheaper—is probably also now not going to be true much longer. What has not changed at all, however, is our opinion of the meal: we thought it was very good indeed and a very good value—the latter of which is not something I would have expected to say of a tony restaurant in Manhattan’s financial district. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Joan’s in the Park (St. Paul, MN)


The first thing to know about Joan’s in the Park is that it is not in fact in a park. The only park-related space near them is their parking lot. One of the owners, who serves as the maitre d’, is named Joan but the second half of the name comes not from some bucolic setting—they’re across the street from a Domino’s—but from the fact that they’re in the Highland Park neighbourhood of St. Paul. They opened there in 2011, the proprietors having met while working in other restaurants in the Cities. Their food is in the general “New American” genre—which means you can expect to see a bit of everything. We’ve been meaning to eat there for a while but only got around to doing so a couple of weekends ago. We were joined at this meal by another couple who we’ve eaten with before. Between the four of us we ate a goodly portion of their current menu. Herewith my thoughts. Continue reading

In Bloom, Again (St. Paul, MN)


We really enjoyed our dinner at In Bloom this past March and had been talking about going back ever since. Well, it took six months but we finally kept our promise to ourselves. We had dinner there again this past Saturday with a few friends, two of whom had been with us at that first dinner. I was curious to see how the restaurant is doing. The current menu on their website is quite pared down from what we saw in March and I noticed there was absolutely no game on it. I had been under the impression that game was part of their signature—and I’ll admit that part of my strong desire to return was due to having missed out on the roasted leg of venison in March. I hoped therefore that it, and perhaps other game dishes, might make an appearance as specials. Well, it turned out that there were some deviations from the website menu at the restaurant but there was no game of any kind and indeed no specials. It was a fine meal anyway. Details follow. Continue reading

Tenant III (Minneapolis)

I said in my review of our second dinner at Tenant—in July—that we were already planning a return trip in September. And for a change I was not a liar. We made reservations for the first weekend of September as soon as spots were available, and so it came to pass that at 6 pm last Saturday we sat down at their counter once again. Our second dinner had surpassed the first and we were curious to see what we would make of our third. Sorry to kill the suspense so soon but we thought it was excellent and perhaps, top to bottom, an even better meal than the previous. Indeed, it’s becoming hard to see how we will give our fine dining dollars to any other Twin Cities establishment. Herewith the details.

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Tenant II (Minneapolis)


Tenant opened in the old Piccolo space, just a month or so after that great restaurant closed in the spring of 2017 (though in Minnesota it may still have been winter). We tried to go eat there a few times that first year but it wasn’t until the fall of 2018 that we finally managed it. We really liked that meal and wanted to go back a lot sooner than in another year and a half. Alas, between our schedules, travel and the difficulty of scoring seats at the tiny restaurant it was almost another year before we made it back for our second meal. That was last weekend. We liked this meal even more and I think we are both ready to say that it may in fact now be our favourite and quite likely the best fine dining restaurant in the Twin Cities metro. Depending on your view of fine dining in the Twin Cities you may think this faint or high praise but either way Tenant is very good indeed. And we are already plotting a return in September. Continue reading

In Bloom (St. Paul, MN)


The opening of Keg and Case, a high-end food hall and market in the old Schmidt Brewery premises in St. Paul was one of the big events in the Twin Cities food scene last year. And the excitement ramped up when the space’s anchor restaurant, In Bloom finally opened towards the end of the year. A new venture by the team behind Corner Table and Revival, In Bloom features local produce and game, almost all of the menu being cooked over giant wood fires. Indeed, I believe the kitchen has no other source of cooking heat. We’d heard good reports of it from colleagues and had been looking forward to eating there. And this past weekend we finally got around to it. We descended upon them late on Saturday in a large group and ate rather a lot of the menu. Here is how it went. Continue reading

Tenant (Minneapolis)


We have been trying to get to Tenant for a while now. They opened in the Spring of 2017, while we were in London for three months. When we got back we cut back on our eating out for a while on account of the reckless eating we’d engaged in for an extended period abroad. And because of their limited seating and their constrained reservation system we couldn’t find a date that worked later in 2017. We finally made reservations this April but just a few days before the weather took a turn for the worse, a blizzard was predicted and we had to cancel (the blizzard did come to pass).
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