Restaurant reviews: 2002 Archives

Conjosé Restaurant Guide (San José, CA)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The 60th World Science Fiction Convention
  • August 29, 2002 - September 2, 2002

Conjosé Restaurant Guide (Acrobat format)

Everest on Grand (St. Paul, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • Pulse of the Twin Cities
  • March 6, 2002

Nepali cooking is similar to Indian, but milder. The story we heard is that because spices grow in the valleys and the Nepalese live high in the mountains, they use them sparingly. That explanation sounds a little too pat for us, but who knows? We can tell you that the dishes at Everest on Grand are more subtle than you’d get in an Indian restaurant. If you want powerful Indian spices, this food will seem bland. But if you’re interested in trying something simple, subtle, and new, you’re likely to be very pleased. Even if you just eat the momos…

American Bistros (Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Rake
  • March 2002

Thanks to the rise of the neighborhood bistro in the Twin Cities, great eating and wonderful atmosphere may be right around the corner.

There’s a new dining movement in this country: the small, upscale, funky, limited-but-interesting menu, wine-friendly, neighborhood restaurant. Even though they’re generally called cafes, we think of them as American bistros. Minneapolis and St. Paul are lousy with them. And if you’re lucky, it’s a great meal within walking distance.

It may look like a basement rec room, but the kitchen at the 128 Cafe turns out dish after dish of fabulous food. The barbecued pork ribs have a spicy orange flavor which the roasted garlic mashed potatoes complement beautifully. The chicken breast comes with couscous and a lemon, garlic, and caper sauce. Start with an arugula salad or an appetizer of roasted garlic bulbs and apple-raisin chutney, and you’ve got yourself a great meal…

Singapore Chinese Cuisine (Maplewood, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • Pulse of the Twin Cities
  • February 27, 2002

Honestly, we can’t figure out why this restaurant is still in business. It’s not the food, which is very good. It’s not the service, which is friendly and efficient. It’s not even the clean restaurant. The problem is that whenever we go, it’s deserted. It’s hard to believe many people in Maplewood appreciate what they’ve got, and that many people in Minneapolis are willing to brave the fifteen-mile drive up Highway 36 to visit.

Pity, really, because the food is worth the drive.

Singapore Chinese Cuisine doesn’t look like much from the outside. It’s in a strip mall, looking like a perfectly standard below-average American-style Chinese restaurant. The large sign isn’t lit, looking like a perfectly standard below-average …

Beirut Restaurant (West St. Paul, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • Pulse of the Twin Cities
  • February 20, 2002

It’s easy to have a terrific meal at Beirut: order a side of their pureed garlic and smear it on everything. It’s deceptively called “garlic sauce” on the menu, but it has the consistency of butter and is made almost entirely out of garlic, with some olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt thrown in. Everything tastes better with garlic sauce; we’ve even taken to buying tubs to bring home to put on our toast in the morning.

Formerly called Port of Beirut, this restaurant has undergone a recent remodeling. The new restaurant is prettier, quieter, and better laid out with a clean, fresh look to everything. Beirut is very much a family restaurant, yours and theirs…

Vincent (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • Pulse of the Twin Cities
  • February 13, 2002

Even before it opened, Minneapolis foodies were buzzing about Vincent. Vincent Francoual left as chef at Café Un Deux Trois and would open his own restaurant. With a pedigree that includes sous chef at Le Bernardin in New York, he could have gone anywhere in the country. Instead, he chose to transform a former downtown chain-coffee and a chain-bagel place into his namesake restaurant. Is this a good deal or what?

As it turns out, it’s a very good deal. Vincent is just what downtown Minneapolis needs: excellent food at reasonable prices in a subdued yet lively atmosphere. There’s nothing we don’t like about this place…

First Course (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • Pulse of the Twin Cities
  • February 6, 2002

There must be a patron saint of new restaurants. To whom do we light our candle? What gods are listening to our plea? This little restaurant deserves to set its feet squarely into South Minneapolis and settle in for the long haul.

First Course is one of those cozy neighborhood restaurants: good food at affordable prices, not a whole lot of pretension, a friendly waitstaff, and an friendly wine list. There’s a new dining tradition we’re seeing in cities around the country — the American bistro — and this is a fine example of it. The fact that it’s within walking distance from our home is a bonus…

Cheng Heng (St. Paul, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • Pulse of the Twin Cities
  • January 9, 2002

Cambodian food is similar to other Southeast Asian cuisines; it’s less sweet than Thai and less salty than Vietnamese. It’s a subtle variant on those two traditions, with dishes that feature a rich interweaving of cultural influences and fresh, light flavors. Cilantro, its seed (called coriander), mint leaves, and lemongrass are all popular in Cambodian cuisine.

If you’re interested in trying Cambodian cooking, Cheng Heng is your only option in the Twin Cities. This is just the sort of restaurant we love: delicious, authentic ethnic food, costing next to nothing, and served by new immigrants in a family restaurant devoid of any atmosphere. The restaurant takes up a corner of a larger building where you can also buy jewelry and assorted Cambodian crafts. There are about a dozen bare tables in the place, the lights are too bright, and there are more Cambodians eating there than Westerners…

La Bodega (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • Pulse of the Twin Cities
  • January 2, 2002

It’s pronounced “TAH-pas” — please make the standard joke yourselves. Tapas are Spanish bar food: small plates of morsels meant for sharing. In Spain, no one eats dinner before ten, so tapas fill the gap in the day between siesta and supper; we’re happy to while away the late afternoon with friends, a glass of wine, and snacks. Here in the United States, tapas are a dinner option. Of course, American tapas bars serve alcohol, but the tapas are the star.

La Bodega serves 51 different tapas. There’s no easy way to tell which dishes are served hot and which cold, so putting together a good mix of tidbits is unreasonably risky. Clunkers arrive far too often to make the exercise as much fun as it ought to be. And for some reason, there are more Italian dishes on the menu than we expected…

Schumacher's (Minnesota State Fair)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • Pulse of the Twin Cities
  • 2002

When we go to the State Fair, more often than not, we eat our meals at Schumacher’s. The food is uniformly interesting and good, head and shoulders above the usual State Fair faire. The lines are rarely long, and there is covered seating inside.

Our favorite menu item is the stuffed cabbage rolls. You get one to an order: a flavorful chopped meat mixture cooked in a large cabbage leaf, with a sweet and tangy tomato sauce. This is Eastern European comfort food at its finest: flavorful, filling, and made with simple ingredients. Bruce’s mother used to make stuffed cabbage when he was growing up in New York, and these are just as good…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.