Restaurant reviews: 2008 Archives

Abu Nader Grocery and Deli (St. Paul, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • November/December 2008

For the most part, if a restaurant doesn’t look like it’s thriving, we’re skeptical about it. Not every dusty storefront is worth checking out. But we’d heard enough about the counter at Abu Nader that we decided to give it a try.

There’s nothing fancy about the food here, but everything’s tasty and some things are superb.

Let’s start with the pita sandwiches. You can order shawarma, made from spiced beef and lamb, or chicken shawarma. Either one is great. You can order a falafel sandwich. All of these come with some combination of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumber sauce, and tahini; and all the ingredients are fresh and good. Our favorite was the Abu Nader special: ground beef mixed with onions, parsley, and spices and served in a pita with humus…

Marla's Caribbean Cuisine (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • September/October 2008

You longtime readers know we like spicy food. We don’t need a bowl of habanero squeezins to make us pay attention, but we do like food hot enough to make us notice the endorphin rush.

We have encountered food too spicy, though. Some authentically hot Thai dishes leave us struggling. And we’ve had jerk chicken we found inedible.

Marla’s Caribbean Cuisine
3761 Bloomington Ave. S.

Cuisine Type: Caribbean
Reservations: Not required
Diet Choices: The menu accommodates all manner of vegetarians.

Marla Jadoonanan, sister to local jerk-chicken legend Harry Singh, has also been in the restaurant game for a long time. These days, she’s concentrating her culinary skills on 38th and Bloomington. What with a reggae record shop up the block, this is the most Caribbean corner in Minneapolis…

Café Maude (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • July/August 2008

We’re waiting at the bar for our table, which would have been impossible to get without a reservation. Both the restaurant and the bar are noisy and crowded. With people sipping $9 cocktails. At 8:00 PM. On a Tuesday. At 54th and Penn, in South Minneapolis! What in the world is going on here?

Café Maude is going on here, a delightfully good neighborhood bistro that’s worth driving to.

There’s plenty to like here. We recommend almost everything on the “Small Plates” part of the menu, from the delicate and crunchy cumin chicken wings to the baked escargot with brioche to the seared ahi tuna with tomato, avocado, and tangy citrus. The lamb skewers were also tasty, but the couscous adds nothing to the plate…

Red Stag Supperclub (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • May/June 2008

We first became aware of the oddly bright, oddly harsh light of light-emitting diodes (LED) in flashlights and those new Christmas lights. We couldn’t imagine lighting a room with them. So of course we were curious when we heard that Kari and Kim Bartmann’s new supper- club is entirely lit with LEDs.

Frankly, we expected ugly. But the room gets light through its many windows while there’s daylight, and the LEDs themselves are filtered through colored glass that tempers their brightness. The lighting works: it’s perfectly pleasant.

The Red Stag is a salute to an old and venerated American dining experience, but it’s been given a 21st-century twist: it’s Minnesota’s first LEED-certified restaurant. LEED has nothing to do with food. “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” is a standard for green building design and operation: site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. Those LEDs use a tiny fraction of the power of an incandescent bulb. In an industry with tiny profit margins, cost savings like these can make or break a place…

Cue (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • March/April 2008

Apparently large enough to seat an entire Guthrie theater audience at once, the dining room at Cue is space-age cool, with glowing light pillars and silver accents seeming to float over a rich blue carpet. Forget the river view and go at night: it’s a stunning dining room.

806 S. 2nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Cuisine Type:
American, upscale
Reservations: Recommended
Diet Choices: The kitchen can cater to all dietary requirements.

This ultra-modern space is an odd juxtaposition to the homegrown flair with which the place opened in 2006. Lenny Russo, one of several area flag-bearers for the local food movement, was Cue’s original chef. And, indeed, the place garnered all sorts of awards and attention, local and national, that first year. Now that Russo has moved back to his kitchen at Heartland, the Cue kitchen turns out less inspired, but perfectly serviceable meals, with no particular emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, though they do strive to include them…

Brasa (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • January/February 2008

Cabin fever. Some fight it by getting outdoors to ski or skate, and these build up a good appetite. Some give in and nest, all the while craving the warm richness of comfort foods. Either way, we recommend visiting Brasa to get you through the long dark of winter.

Their Southern-heritage dishes evoke humid air and sunshine. Before long, you’ll be thinking of Carolina mountain air, steamy bayou evenings and the Gulf breeze playing over the surf.

Even better, these updated dishes have a fine modern flair and an eye toward top-notch, locally sourced ingredients. Alex Roberts, the chef at Café Alma, owns Brasa and brings his undeniable talent to this menu…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.