Enjoy! (Apple Valley, MN)
By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
Enjoy! is a destination restaurant. The fanciest dining spot south of the downtowns would be. It's locally owned, and built from the ground up to be an attractive, friendly, gathering place.
The dining areas are big, but given the clever design of the rooms you don't feel crowded, even when nearly every seat is filled. But Enjoy! occupies a weird niche that we don't quite understand. It's as if they're trying to compete with both the great downtown restaurants and the ubiquitous family dining chains at the same time. The dining areas are nicely decorated, with stone finishes, some not-bad art, and trompe l'oiel wall paintings. The only television sets are in the bar. There are white tablecloths, but no fresh flowers or candles.
On the other hand, you'll see advertising on the table when you sit down. The customers don't necessarily dress up. It's noisy. The servers are friendly and chatty in ways you just don't expect when eating at a fine restaurant.
But they're certainly competing with the high end when it comes to price.
Unfortunately, the food doesn't live up to these expectations. Nothing we had tasted actively bad, but most of it didn't taste much like anything at all.
Take the pork chop, for example. It was served with mashed sweet potatoes, apple chutney, and mustard sauce. Despite these interesting flavors, this dish fell completely flat. And the two chops were together and served standing up, making eating it difficult.
The lamb shank was no better. It was a huge piece of meat, served with seasoned couscous and baby carrots. The meat was nearly tasteless, and the garnish didn't help.
Better were the grilled prawns, but just barely. We liked the jumbo prawns and the fruit relish, but found the red curry sauce too strong for the seafood and the mashed purple potatoes watery and dull.
Dishes at Enjoy! have a hodge-podge quality. Ingredients seem thrown together on a plate without much thought about how well they go together. One appetizer we ordered was the chicken and vegetable satays. This is marinated chicken and vegetables grilled on a stick -- and who in Minnesota doesn't appreciate food on a stick? Again, nothing tasted bad, but the basil sauce, plum sauce, and pickled ginger accompaniments clashed with each other.
It was like this throughout our meals. Nothing was terrible, but everything disappointed. And with the cost of an appetizer, entree, dessert, and glass of wine at around $70 with tax and tip, we have to ask ourselves whether it's worth it.
On top of that, service can be sloppy. More than once we received our entrees when we were still eating our appetizers.
Enjoy! is crowded. Every time we've visited, the place is filled with people: couples on dates, families with children, groups of friends enjoying a meal, large parties sharing a special occasion. On weekends, we recommend making a reservation. If you're going out for a special dinner and you want good food, make the extra effort and drive closer to Minneapolis. But if you're just going out for a fun evening, Enjoy! will provide.
Atmosphere: feels fancy
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