Restaurant Reviews: 2003 Archives
Search the Internet for information on Korean cuisine and you invariably stumble across the proverb that you can eat as much Korean food as you want and not gain weight. We doubt that but we can report that Korean food is nutritious, balanced and low in calories.
Traditional Korean cooking includes a lot of fish and vegetables. Common seasonings are soy sauce, red pepper paste, soybean paste, ginger, garlic and sesame oil.
There's this thing about pizza: People will eat it no matter how bad it is. Whether it's cardboard-bottomed frozen pizza or delivered pies floating in grease, when's the last time you looked at that slice in your hand and said, "This isn't very good. I don't want to eat it"?
We suppose it's because pizza is easy.
We're fond of charming little neighborhood restaurants that serve interesting food and have an interesting wine list as well as a nice dessert selection. We call them American bistros, after the similar French-style restaurants.
And there is something disarmingly appealing about finding an American bistro in a picturesque country town that, taken together, hardly matches the size of most city neighborhoods. In Rice County in the little town of Dundas, population just about 550, Fermentations is an oasis.
The most familiar Chinese food across America is actually Cantonese cuisine, from the Canton province in southern China. These dishes are characterized by their mild flavors and fresh ingredients cooked with very little oil. Common Cantonese seasonings are ginger, onion, sugar, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, and corn starch. Sometimes you'll see garlic and the peppery mixture called 'five spice powder.' Cantonese dishes include meat, fowl, or seafood, and most dishes are either steamed or stir-fried -- cooking techniques designed to bring out the flavors inherent in the ingredients.
Middle Eastern cuisine is at its best when you try a little bit of everything. And there's no better introduction to the foods and flavors of Middle Eastern hospitality than the mazza table, a sort of Arab smorgasbord of lots of little dishes, where everyone helps themselves.
The Mediterranean Cruise Cafe makes this easy. The menu is a one-stop shop for all sorts of eastern Mediterranean cuisines, from Greek gyros to Lebanese kibbe to Moroccan couscous.
Diners used to be the most important restaurants in America.
For infrequent celebrations you went to a supper club, but for a basic hamburger, chicken dinner, or two eggs sunny side up, the diner was where you ate. Diners were once everywhere, offering homemade meals because there was no other option.
Nowadays, family diners are being exterminated by chain restaurants.
There's truth to the oft-repeated stories about timid Minnesotans disliking spicy food. Perhaps it stems from the collective Scandinavian consciousness, but many of us lacking a drop of Nordic blood in our veins recoil from hot and spicy foods. Trying the food from some remote land whose national dish is made with handfuls of spices might, therefore, seem like a dangerous idea.
We're not alone.
The name means tasty, and take their word for it; Sabroso in Shakopee might very well be the best Mexican restaurant in the Twin Cities.
Sabroso serves both standard Mexican favorites and less common authentic dishes. Most of the food is not hot and spicy, although home- made hot sauces are available.
Tacos and burritos come with chicken, pork or beef.
La Belle Vie is a destination. Not only is it all the way out in Stillwater, with its antiquey weekender charm, but Executive Chef Jack Riebel heads a kitchen that makes dinner the star. The French-Mediterranean menu changes twice per season, and highlights both fresh ingredients and Riebel's current inspirations. With muses like seafood, local produce or farm-raised game, dinner at La Belle Vie is a creative delight.
Vietnamese food is lighter than Chinese. The cuisine stresses fresh ingredients and lots of herbs such as cilantro, mint and basil. And because the French occupied the country, interesting French influences crept into the cooking. While flavorsome and delicious, Vietnamese is not inherently spicy.
The idea of a supper club feels dated in this era of ethnic restaurants, celebrity chefs, and neighborhood bistros.
Back in the day, guys wearing skinny ties visited supper clubs to drink manhattans and order the "surf and turf."
Fast forward 40 years and head to Hwy. 13 in Eagan, and you'll find Jensen's Supper Club, a modern-day homage to this classic American dining experience.
In 1996, brothers and restaurant veterans Doron and Derek Jensen opened their dream restaurant. Their idea is that a supper club is a community institution, and here you'll find that idea works.
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.