Restaurant Reviews: 2004 Archives
Let's be upfront about this: Japan is arguably the world's most expensive country, and their cuisine is delicate and fussy. Thus, even in America, Japanese food is expensive. We were never able to get out of Origami West for less than $40.
But there are times when sushi is just exactly what you want.
When a guy wants to make and sell lots of beer, he might be able to find a better place for it than an old fast food joint, but John Moore didn't think so. At the busy intersection of County D and Old Highway 8 in New Brighton, you'll find Barley John's, a small brewpub with lively acoustics, good food, and serious beer. The beer is brewed on-site, and every beer drinker will find something he or she likes.
Look for these brews on tap all the time.
Hamburgers are a nearly perfect invention. Juicy and hot, easy to hold, easy to chew, the hamburger has universal appeal. It's easy to make the case that hamburgers are America's great export to the world. But recent books and films have pointed out the dark downside of that global influence.
There's no rule that says a summer getaway must involve hours of travel. There's lots to do right here in Hennepin County. Make a day of it at Lake Rebecca, or camp at Baker Park. Borrow a canoe and run the Crow River. And while you're out that way, drop by Woody's on Main just off Hwy 55 in Rockford.
Indian menus can be formidable, especially to Minnesotans timid about spicy food. The different dishes start to sound alike, and dire warnings about spiciness echo in our heads. But there's no reason to fear. Indian food can be flavorful and delicious, and much of it is traditionally not spicy.
Blue Point is a nice restaurant, but it isn't cheap. Appetizers range from $9 to $12, and entrees are twice that. A Maine lobster will set you back $27 to $82, depending on size. For those prices, we expected consistent excellence: fresh fish in good preparations.
South 34th Avenue, just north of Crosstown highway, doesn't seem like much of a restaurant location. And to be sure, the building has been the home of a string of mediocre -- and worse -- restaurants for as long as we can remember. But this time the restaurant is a winner, so good it's worth a drive to eat there.
There are two basic styles of Mexican restaurant.
One is the more traditional variety. Think of small perfect tacos consisting of nothing but grilled pork and cilantro folded into a corn tortilla.
The other style is sometimes called Tex-Mex: tacos filled with plenty of meat and cheese, served with rice and beans and sour cream and some iceberg lettuce.
It's amazing how well Midori's fits. The narrow shop, bead board wainscoting, and high ceiling are perfect in a neighborhood that bills itself as a bungalow community. The menu presents a range of Japanese dishes that, not long ago, were exotic to Midwestern palates, but now seem fresh and modern. This is the wave of the future in city neighborhoods, and we applaud it.
Strip malls don't work in Minnesota, and here's why: When it's 10 degrees below zero, you really need a second door between the bitter weather and the store. But once you've entered Junior's and found a seat away from the icy blasts coming from the door, fill up and warm up with the kind of basic grill cooking you used to find all over America before the rise of fast food.
What we like best about Junior's Cafe and Grill in Eagan is the friendly, family-run atmosphere. No, we like the tender tasty pot roast.
Escaping the manufactured surroundings of corporate restaurants is, to us, a major advantage of world travel. We love the family-owned taverns and bistros in Europe, the comedores of Guatemala. Give us a personal vision, and we're sympathetic. Give us a meal made from the heart, and we'll be friends forever.
January is the perfect time of year to enliven your taste buds and warm up with the light, flavorful and exotic cuisine of Thailand.
Central to Thai cooking is a complex union of flavor provided by ginger, lemongrass, garlic, cumin, basil, mint, lime, tumeric and more. And don't forget the chilies. Thai chefs have produced some of the most astoundingly hot foods we have ever tried (and failed) to eat.
Notice the African bazaars, Asian markets, and Mexican panaderías around the area. Even in the far-flung suburbs, the white-bread woebegone Minnesota facade is being replaced by wild new tastes from far-off lands. Well, Chicago, anyway.
Chicago Johnny's in Lakeville serves hot dogs.
The best news in local dining is the creativity and proximity of the new American bistros. These are small, slightly upscale, quirky, wine-friendly neighborhood restaurants with constantly changing menus, and the Twin Cities are sprinkled with examples: think Bakery on Grand, Mildred Pierce Cafe or First Course. Our neighborhood hot spot is the NE Thyme Cafe.
NE Thyme is two years old.
Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.
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