Restaurant Reviews: 2005 Archives

Granite City Food & Brewery (Eagan, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • December 28, 2005

There's one thing you can say about chain restaurants: they have standards. Everything from how often the bathrooms get cleaned to how much salad dressing to put on a dinner salad is set down in some manual somewhere, so that the experience can be duplicated.

There are advantages to this. Uniform rules make it easier to train new waiters and cooks.

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Little Sushi on the Prairie (Eden Prairie, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • December 14, 2005

Eden Prairie is shaping up to be the west metro's best dining destination. One of the delights of the area is Little Sushi on the Prairie.

Even though Minnesota has a saltwater port, we cannot be said to be anywhere near the ocean. Happily, air freight from the coasts provides us with fresh fish on a daily basis, and sushi on the prairie isn't an incongruity at all.

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Panino's (North Oaks, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • December 7, 2005

If you like pizza, you'll like a panino. If you like wrap sandwiches, a panino is exactly what you want. Imagine a good, and very thin, pizza crust, baked with your choice of dozens of ingredients, then topped with those items best uncooked -- and the whole deal wrapped, cut, and served piping hot. Simple idea, delicious execution.

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Yangtze (St. Louis Park, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • November 16, 2005

We think dim sum is one of the best Chinese culinary traditions. It's a meal of bite-sized portions and small plates. When the Spanish do something similar, it's called tapas. Dim sum is eaten in the late morning and early afternoon, and some people claim that dim sum is the origin of brunch.

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Chateau Lamothe (Burnsville, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • November 9, 2005

We are the sort of people who think a perfect evening is one spent with friends over tasty food and good wine. The brand new wine bar, Chateau Lamothe in Burnsville, is well on its way to being the ideal spot for such a pleasant outing. We liked the quiet, comfortable surroundings with lots of menu choices.

Our complaint is that we want them to emphasize the wine more.

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Mongkok (Shoreview, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune North
  • November 8, 2005

Thai can be a deceptively simple cuisine. A single dish can be a perfect meal. It's so good you just tuck it away without much thought for how complex the flavors are or for how well they go together. The subtle perfect balance between spicy, salty, sweet, sour, and bitter flavors is what makes Thai food a standout.

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Great India (Brooklyn Center, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • November/December 2005

It's all about spice. The American palate, and even the famously timid Minnesota diner, has come a very long way in the last 15 years toward embracing flavorsome foods. We're happy to eat cinnamon on lamb, mysterious tastes like cardamom, and chili peppers on everything. Indian food is the perfect celebration of this great adventure, and it doesn't have to burn your tonsils.

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Harry's Cafe (Lakeville, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • October 19, 2005

There's a trickle-down effect in American dining. Some chef discovers something new, then it becomes trendy, and before long it's being served at every restaurant in town. The menu at Harry's Cafe feels like the final stop on that trickle-down chain. It has a little bit of everything.

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Punch (Eden Prairie, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • October 12, 2005

If we could ask one thing of you, it would be this: Stop eating bad pizza. Give up on dreadful bready crusts, pale red sauces, and cheap cheese. Treat yourselves. Go with the good stuff.

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Giuseppe's (New Brighton, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune North
  • October 12, 2005

The world is overrun with bad Italian food. Be it bland, inauthentic, salty, greasy, or just plain horrid, no cuisine can go bad so quickly as Italian. We're convinced the problem is one of interpretation, and we know the perfect solution. Head to Joe Cecere's kitchen, a wonderful restaurant called Giuseppe's.

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Canoe Bay (near Chetek, WI)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune
  • October 8, 2005

For us, romantic weekends always seemed to begin with an airplane ride -- until we found Canoe Bay. The secluded inn, just a two-hour drive from the Twin Cities near Chetek, Wis., offers quiet, gracious service and luxurious rooms -- but no telephones or in-room Internet hookup. Who needs the outside world when you're in a warm, woodsy room next to a quiet lake? Canoe Bay is the Midwest's only Relais & Chateaux, a collection of only the top 440 luxury hotels and restaurants in the world, so it's our area's own gem of a hideaway.

Why go now

Fall colors are peaking and the lakes are still open for canoeing.

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Kabobi (Eden Prairie, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • September 13, 2005

It's lunchtime on Wednesday, and we're sitting at Kabobi. We're enjoying wonderful kabobs fresh off the grill, perfectly grilled sweet corn, and a delicious chopped vegetable salad. Our meals arrived less than six minutes after we placed our order. Outside, the national chain restaurants overflow with hungry Eden Prairie officeworkers: Chipotle, Culver's, Ruby Tuesday.

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Lindey's Prime Steak House (Arden Hills, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune North
  • September 7, 2005

Time capsules are fascinating. They're messages from the past that show us what was important to those who came before us. Places can be time capsules, too: unchanging peeks into a world that now exists only in memory and other out-of-the-way places. If you want to visit a time capsule, eat at Lindey's.

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Rice Paper (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • September/October 2005

There's something really special about hole-in-the-wall restaurants. When we find a tiny place with a handful of tables and a tempting menu, we think we've stolen a march on the food scene. But in the case of Rice Paper, we want everybody to know how great the place is. This month, they're expanding from just eight tables into the storefront next door; we're not the only ones who've noticed that chef/owner An Nguyen is doing something very right indeed.

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Ted's Pizza (Farmington, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • August 17, 2005

Wouldn't it be great if your neighbors were really good cooks, and invited you over for dinner every single night of the week. And they served a lot of foods you and your family love, along with some unusual and delicious options? That's pretty much the case in Farmington, where exceptional homemade food awaits you at Ted's Pizza.

The restaurant is nothing to look at, and we're sure you'll have second thoughts about eating there.

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Big Buck Roadhouse (Minnetonka, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • August 10, 2005

Big Buck is a family restaurant with an upscale feel. The service is friendly but unpolished. There's a reasonably-priced wine list, and some fun cocktail specials. The menu has options for both conservative and adventurous diners, as well as more casual burgers and pizzas.

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Wing Joint (Blaine, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune North
  • August 3, 2005

Chicken wings entered the American consciousness, we think, with the wild popularity of buffalo wings. Since the hot-sauce-covered wings were invented in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, chicken wings have become a ubiquitous appetizer, snack, or light meal.

Which is why we were in Blaine, bellied up to the counter at the Wing Joint. It's a clever name, especially since the wings here are not disjointed drummies, but the full three-part appendage.

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Buffalo Tap (Savage, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • July 20, 2005

What's not to like about a biker bar with coloring placemats for kids? At the Buffalo Tap, you'll see folks on motorcycles as well as families in minivans. And why not? Everyone can enjoy their excellent chicken wings.

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Crossroads Delicatessen (Minnetonka, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • July 13, 2005

Oh, we miss the Lincoln Del. And Zaroff's. We're embarrassed to admit we haven't wandered the skyways to find the Brothers, and we haven't crossed the river to Cecil's in much too long. But we do like the Jewish soul food served in delicatessen restaurants. We, like most of you, don't even mind if it's Jewish without being kosher, the sort of food called "kosher style."

And so we go to Crossroads Deli. Serving soup and good sandwiches, breakfast any time, various entrees at dinner: it's a family restaurant with a kosher-style kick.

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NorthCoast (Wayzata, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • July/August 2005

We've got a great idea for escaping the workaday world. Pick a lovely summer evening, and watch the sun set over Wayzata Bay from the new Calypso Grill at NorthCoast. They've got palm trees, plenty of island décor, and some of the better calypso- and Caribbean-inspired cuisine around. Chef Ryan Aberle is serious about providing "a vacation away," and we can't think of much that's nicer than the relatively intimate space upstairs, outside and under the fine Minnesota summer sky.

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Fabian Seafood (Twin Cities, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune
  • June 23, 2005

We're a thousand miles from the ocean. It takes a certain amount of bravery to buy seafood from the back of a truck parked in a gas station, especially when the truck wasn't there yesterday and won't be there tomorrow. But every month, thousands of Twin Cities shoppers do exactly that.

"Their stuff is really, really fresh.

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Enjoy! (Apple Valley, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • June 15, 2005

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.

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Istanbul (Minnetonka, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • June 8, 2005

If we told you the best Turkish food in the Twin Cities is where the blue ball stallion used to be, we think a whole lot of you could drive straight to the place without directions.

But we'll make it easy on you. On the frontage road for 394, on the north side, just east of Wayzata, in the little strip mall called Westdale, there's a great Turkish restaurant called Istanbul.

Turkish cuisine is similar to what is served elsewhere around the Mediterranean, though naturally the dishes have Turkish names and so are perhaps unfamiliar.

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King Buffet (Coon Rapids, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune North
  • June 1, 2005

We come from the "Who doesn't like Chinese food?" school of dining out. When we go out with our vegan friends, or with fussy eaters, or picky kids, we know we can usually all find something we'll like at a Chinese restaurant. Even better, a Chinese buffet.

The buffet at King is so large pretty much everyone can have a good meal.

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Brianno's (Eagan, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • May 18, 2005

We're such fans of home-cooking that we don't mind if someone else does the cooking. Bring us fresh ingredients cooked simply. We like rich flavors and recipes handed down from our, or somebody else's, mother. And we adore Italian cooking.

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Tea House (Plymouth, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • May 18, 2005

What could be worse than heading out to your favorite restaurant, with your heart set on your favorite dish, and discovering that everybody else in town had the same idea and is standing in the lobby when you get there?

It's maddening, we say. And we avoid any such problem by heading to Tea House late on the weekends. Go early or get there around 8 PM, and you'll get seated pretty quickly.

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King's Fine Korean Cuisine (Fridley, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • May 18, 2005

Korean cuisine is some of the best spicy comfort food on the planet. At the end of winter, when it's hard to remember being truly warm, head to King's for their soul-warming, substantial delicacies.

Two of the appetizers are exceptional. They call haemul pajun a pancake, but it's far more interesting than that.

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Muffuletta (St. Paul, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • May/June 2005

American cuisine has been a long time coming. Our melting pot takes in ingredients from anywhere and everywhere. Combine that with a continental approach that makes dinner an event and the increasing sophistication of everyday diners, and you have the uniquely American restaurant we call an "American bistro:" the small, upscale, funky, limited-but-interesting-menu, wine-friendly, neighborhood restaurant.

Muffuletta exemplifies the trend.

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Ideal Cafe (Northfield, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • April 20, 2005

To us, the key to Guatemalan food is black beans. We ate them at least once a day during our weeks in Guatemala. It's an oversimplification to assume that black beans are Guatemalan and pinto beans are Mexican, but that's what we've observed.

Guatemalan food shares several similarities and some subtle differences with its prominent neighbor.

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Singapore Chinese Cuisine (Maplewood, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune North
  • March 23, 2005

Singapore Chinese Cuisine doesn't look like much from the outside. It's in a strip mall, and looks like a perfectly standard below-average American-style Chinese restaurant. The decor isn't inviting. But don't let that dissuade you; the restaurant makes some of the best Southeast Asian food in the Twin Cities.

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Roasted Pear (Burnsville, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • March 16, 2005

It's not that we hate chain restaurants. Some very good restaurants are owned by corporations. Small local chains seem to us like markers of success, not focus-group encroachment. But we resent how national chain restaurants set the public taste and squeeze the independent restaurants out of the business.

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Lone Spur Grill (Minnetonka, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • March 9, 2005

We have great affection for really fake-looking fake cactuses, adobe-like décor, and mariachi hats hung on the walls. These make an earnest and admirably corny dining experience. This stuff is so not-Minnesota, and that's what we adore.

Lone Spur Grill, in Minnetonka, serves a Texan and Mexican menu.

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Levain (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • March/April 2005

We're never going to get a bad meal at Levain. We walk in and a voice from the kitchen says, "Hi, Mom!" Our son is one of the chefs there. The star treatment is nice. We get a good table; we may get an extra little course or possibly even two.

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Surabhi Indian Cuisine (Bloomington, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • February 16, 2005

Interesting Indian restaurants used to be hard to find around town. There wasn't much of a local population to support the restaurants we did have, which tended to be hard to find and not very good. But times have changed, and the Twin Cities' Indian gets better and better. One of our favorites is Surabhi, in Bloomington just off the 98th street exit of 35W.

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Mojito (St. Louis Park, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • February 16, 2005

Know anyone on Atkins? Yup, so do we. Maybe that's why steakhouses are popping up everywhere. But instead of the same-old steakhouse scene, grab your protein-hungry friends and head to Mojito for some meat with panache.

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Thanh Do (St. Louis Park, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • January 26, 2005

Thanh Do has got to be the busiest take-out place in St. Louis Park. We arrived at seven on a weeknight, and the crowd for take-out orders was so big we didn't understand at first that we weren't in line for a table. And every table was occupied. Happily, we were seated in a few minutes, and away from the door at that. The stream of people coming in and out made it chilly near the front.

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El Loro (Savage, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • January 19, 2005

We think Mexican food makes a great winter meal. Not the simple and minimalist dishes developed in the Mexican climate, but the heartier Tex-Mex style with lots of sauce and side dishes. The platter completely covered with food: that's what will get you through a cold day.

At El Loro, your meal starts off with a bowl of fresh hot corn chips with dip.

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Udupi Cafe (Columbia Heights, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune North
  • January 5, 2005

On Central Avenue in Columbia Heights, inside a nondescript commercial building, is the best Indian restaurant in the Twin Cities. It's a vegetarian restaurant, but don't let that worry you. The food's so good that even dedicated carnivores will enjoy Udupi Cafe.

India is a huge country, and "Indian cuisine" is actually many different cuisines from many different cultures and traditions.

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Tanpopo Noodle Shop (St. Paul, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • January/February 2005

Japan's noodle shops tend to be tiny, crowded and noisy. Slurp up noodles with audible satisfaction while on your way to somewhere else: that's what noodle shops are for. Translate that to Minnesota, and you don't get the rush, the tiny space or the noisy slurping businessmen with neckties thrown over their shoulders. Instead, you get Tanpopo.

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Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of IBM Resilient.