Restaurant Reviews: 2007 Archives

Jay's Café (St. Paul, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • The Mix
  • November/December 2007

We chanced upon a gem of a café about a year ago, near Raymond and University, in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood. It's the sort of place you want to keep secret since it's fabulous, but the space is tiny and often full. But we're good guys, and we'll share what we know about the delightful Jay's Café.

Jay is Jay Randolph, owner and the café's original chef.

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Namaste Café (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • September/October 2007

A short-hand description for Nepali cuisine: "It's like Indian." Unfortunately, that's horribly wrong. There's no such thing as Indian cuisine -- India is a large, diverse country consisting of many different cultures and traditions -- and Nepali cuisine is unique in its own right. But the curries, lentils and spices used are similar to Indian cookery.

Namaste Café
2512 Hennepin Ave. S.
Minneapolis
(612) 827-2496
www.namastechai.com
Cuisine Type: Nepali
Reservations: Recommended for large parties
Diet Choices: The menu is varied enough to accommodate everyone.

Namaste serves traditional Nepali dishes, Indian dishes, and some modern dishes influenced by Nepali spices and preparations.

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Happy Gnome (St. Paul, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • July/August 2007

Beer is the new wine. Wine has always exhibited a classy mystique, while beer has been the low-rent cousin from across the tracks. These days, what are called craft beers are in the spotlight, as American beer drinkers rediscover dozens of different brewing styles from around the world. Regular guys compare porters and stouts with authority, and discuss their favorite small breweries just like the wine geeks compare appellations and grape varietals.

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Chambers Kitchen (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • May/June 2007

Individual chocolate cakes with molten centers: one could have a worse legacy in the culinary landscape of America. This singular inspiration from Jean-Georges Vongerichten has been released into the wild, resulting in over 20,000 Google hits for the recipe and frozen cakes to microwave at home.

Jean-Georges is a master chef. His namesake restaurant in New York is a foodie pilgrimage.

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Kip's Pub (St. Louis Park, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • April 25, 2007

The Irish pub, a worldwide export of the Emerald Isle, has been carpet-bombing the Twin Cities. Pubs pop up everywhere, with dark wood, good beers and Irish food on the menu. They serve basic bar food and Irish staples such as fish and chips, lamb stew and pot pies.

Kip's Pub in St. Louis Park has the bar part mostly right.

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Taiko (Mounds View, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune North
  • April 18, 2007

Enough with the jokes about bait. We mostly hear such from people who are so sure they dislike sushi that they won't try it. But once a skeptic tries sushi, we hear things like, "It's not bad," "It's not fishy," or "Hey, I like this!"

Don't think of it as raw fish, think of it as top-quality protein.

Sushi is the best thing at Taiko.

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El Patio Cantina and Grill (Lakeville, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • April 11, 2007

We found the best Mexican food in the south metro.

The food isn't like the Mexican food you'll find on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Most of El Patio's dishes aren't overly spicy and generally don't include traditional seasonings such as cilantro. But the food is well made, the flavors are complex, and a lot of it is delicious.

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Willie's Wine Bar & Cuisine (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • March/April 2007

We don't like the name "Willie's Wine Bar" because we worry that you'll think it's just a bar and not go there. First and foremost, Willie's is a restaurant, one with a great wine list. It's a pretty space, great for dates or convivial meals with friends. You should go for the food.

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Mekong River Thai Cuisine (Burnsville, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune South
  • February 14, 2007

We have no fear of spicy food; we go for the endorphin rush every time. And we each have our own remedies for the burn of too-hot food: Karen likes a beer, while Bruce will bite a lime or lemon. But that doesn't mean that we down habanero peppers like a handful of jelly beans. Spicy for the sake of the heat alone is a macho game we don't play; we're there for the flavor.

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Yumi's Sushi Bar (Excelsior, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • January 24, 2007

We're sure it's a remark they've heard before, like asking the price of something in a dollar store. But, no: the fish served at Yumi's Sushi Bar -- "your quaint little sushi bar by the lake" -- doesn't come from Lake Minnetonka. Raw-fish sushi is not made with freshwater fish because of the risk of parasites. This is seafood, flown in fresh from the coasts.

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Bella (Blaine, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune North
  • January 24, 2007

"Fine dining" used to be the pinnacle of the American restaurant scene, when steak was king and wine with dinner meant you were having a fancy meal out. Whole books have been written on how much American dining has changed in the past 20 years or so, how new ingredients, preparations and attitudes have revolutionized the industry.

Meanwhile, we still have a lot of affection for classic fine dining. And we've found it in the northern suburbs, where Bella serves mostly unpretentious Italian fare in a modern, elegant dining room.

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Highland Grill (St. Paul, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • January/February 2007

The Blue Plate Restaurant Company operates four neighborhood restaurants around the Twin Cities: Highland Grill, Edina Grill, Longfellow Grill and Groveland Tap. They are all neighborhood restaurants, similar to one another but each with a different style. It's a good concept, and every neighborhood is improved by a decent drop-in restaurant.

Highland Grill is a family diner with an upscale kick. They've certainly got that fine informal style, right down to the kitchen towels that serve as napkins.

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Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

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