Restaurant reviews: 2010 Archives

Domacin Wine Bar (Stillwater, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier
  • The Mix
  • November/December 2010

Domacin Wine Bar is in Stillwater, and that’s the one imperfection that keeps us from being regulars. For us Minneapolitans, it seems like a bit of a drive, even for great food and wine, a smart and charming staff, and the sort of musical playlist that makes us happy just walking in the door. But they’re good enough to make your “must-try” list anyway.

Expect a seasonal Mediterranean menu with a lot of twists. You’ll find a list of small plates that work as appetizers, for a nibble with a glass of wine, or to combine to make a whole meal. The risotto cakes, made with mozzarella and basil and served with tomato jam, were tasty if a bit overcooked. The scallops were a slight miss. They looked good on the menu — green beans, hazelnuts, and a saffron-lemon aioli — but the sauce didn’t quite work with the perfectly cooked scallops. Crostini, with more chevre and marinated tomatoes, were crisp, rich little bites, ideal if you’re in the mood for tapas. So is The Wine Lover’s Plate, with olives, cheese, and artisan salami…

Haute Dish (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • September/October 2010

A new restaurant finally opens to high expectations: much buzz, top talent, a beautiful space, and convivial atmosphere. And we’re not reviewing it. We can’t be objective, since our son is one of those cooks, and we’re down at Haute Dish pretty often. But we can’t resist telling you how much we like the Dish. So, Chef Emery and his mom had a serious sit-down meal, and herewith: a meal report.

Emery chose a bunch of dishes, so we’d have a sampling of the current menu. There’s always change in the works at the Dish, with new ideas and the turning of the seasons…

St. Boni Bistro (St. Bonifacius, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • July/August 2010

There’s nothing quite as nice as a brand new bike trail. Good smooth asphalt flowing towards your wheel as you pedal along through woods and fields, enjoying surprising drafts of cool air and looking for turkeys and turtles. The new Dakota Rail Trail runs from Wayzata to St. Bonifacius, and by the end of 2010 will continue all the way out to New Germany, with a bridge over Highway 7. Now it’s about 14 miles, beginning along the Minnetonka shore, down the thin peninsulas that separate all the bays of the lake and give the little towns a place to anchor. Once you clear Mound, ride the fine Minnesota countryside all the way to St. Boni, the last little town in Hennepin County…

Chris and Rob's Chicago Taste Authority (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • May/June 2010

Notice the African bazaars, Asian markets and Mexican panaderias around town. The white-bread woebegone Minnesota fare is being replaced by new tastes from far-off lands. We think this is the best idea anybody’s had in a long time, and want to make sure that — in our brave new Exoticland — you don’t miss this particular foreign treat.

It’s just seven hours away, give or take a Wisconsin trooper, but Chicago might as well be the moon as far as street food goes. Yet on the civilized streets of South Minneapolis, we found a little bit of Chicago, like a cyclone dropped down from Wrigleyville. Chris and Rob’s has it all: the tough but friendly counter crew, the Chicago sports stuff on every wall, the softball team trophies in the windows. It’s a Formica place, with a few newspapers lying around to read, and ESPN blaring from the TV bolted to the wall. The menu hits all the Chicago buttons. They serve hot dogs. They serve thin-crust pizza. (Ignore the pizza.) And they serve Italian beef…

The Dining Cryptographer: XYZ and Kokkari Estiatorio (San Francisco, CA)

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Show Daily (2010 RSA Conference Newsletter)
  • March 5, 2010

XYZ is the restaurant in the W Hotel. I’ve been avoiding mentioning it these two years, but it’s across the street from Moscone, and I end up eating there more than any other restaurant in the area. Generally I’m there for lunch, and I usually order a sandwich: either the burger if I’m feeling like a big meal, or the tuna steak sandwich if I’m not. Their pizzas and salads are also good, and their eggs “chilaquiles” is what I generally get for breakfast. I’ve only had dinner there once, and it was quail. Nothing here is fantastic, but it’s all competent and you can’t beat the convenience — it’s either that or Chevy’s across the street. (181 3rd St, 415-817-7836, www.xyz-sf.com)…

The Dining Cryptographer: Pazzia and La Mar (San Francisco, CA)

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Show Daily (2010 RSA Conference Newsletter)
  • March 4, 2010

Three restaurants this time: the first two within walking distance, and the third a cab ride away.

Pazzia is an informal Italian restaurant with really great food at reasonable prices. The thin crust pizzas here are delicious, and far better than any other option near Moscone. Their lasagna is also delicious. So’s their shrimp fettuccini, and their beef carpaccio appetizer. I could go on and on. Service is kind of random, but the food and the prices make up for it. Pazzia is open for dinner, but think about this place for lunch. (337 3rd St, 415-512-1693)…

The Dining Cryptographer: RN74 and Quince (San Francisco, CA)

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Show Daily (2010 RSA Conference Newsletter)
  • March 3, 2010

As much as I appreciate receiving recommendations, all these reviews were written well in advance of this week. But if you’ve got a good tip — especially for good lunch restaurants within walking distance — let me know and I’ll consider it for next year.

RN74 is Michael Mina’s new restaurant. The room is pretty and elegant, and the food is good. My favorite thing on the menu is the clam and pork belly appetizer, but you’re safe trying anything. (The duck confit main dish is particularly good, as are the scallops.) And they have a good selection of wines by the glass, so you’re likely to be able to pair with anything you order. If you want something less formal — or a faster lunch meal — sit at the wine bar and order off that menu. The cheese fondue is both delicious and fun, the mushroom tempura is just delicious, and there are loads of great seafood choices. Plus, more good wine. (301 Mission St, 415-543-7474, www.michaelmina.net/rn74/)…

The Dining Cryptographer: Koh Samui & The Monkey and Ton Kiang (San Francisco, CA)

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Show Daily (2010 RSA Conference Newsletter)
  • March 2, 2010

Another day, another pair of restaurant reviews. As before, the first is within walking distance and the second requires a cab ride.

Koh Samui & The Monkey is probably the best Thai restaurant in San Francisco right now. And it’s cheap, too. The standard Thai dishes, like pad thai and the basic curries, are delicious, but my recommendation is to try something you’ve never had before. The salads are all different, and all really good; my favorite is the grilled beef crying tiger salad. The pumpkin curry is also delicious, as is the asparagus in garlic sauce. The dinner menu has more entrée-sized portions than the lunch menu: the fish dishes are all good, but the grilled meats aren’t all that special. If you go today, the special is soft-shell crab. Dessert isn’t the place’s strong suit; the coconut rice with mango is the best of what they have to offer. (415 Brannan St, 415- 369-0007, www.kohsamuiandthemonkey.com)…

Bradstreet Crafthouse (Minneapolis, MN)

  • Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
  • The Mix
  • March/April 2010

We have four requirements for a perfect evening out with friends: interesting cocktails, good food made for sharing, comfortable furniture, and an ambience quiet enough for conversation. It’s easy to find places with some of these — La Belle Vie, the Independent, Psycho Suzi’s, the Red White and F’ing Blue Bar, the Angry Gnome, Prohibition — but only Bradstreet Crafthouse excels in all four.

You want interesting cocktails? Bradstreet is a serious cocktail bar, with premium alcohols and housemade mixers. These people even have four different kinds of ice. The Juliet & Romeo is made with Plymouth gin, lime, mint, cucumber, and rose water added with an eye dropper. The Bradstreet Cocktail is Jim Beam rye, lemon, jasmine syrup, an egg white, and special bitters. Cooper’s Union is Prairie vodka, lemon, St. Germaine — that’s an elderflower liqueur — grapefruit, orange flower water, and sparkling wine. We could go on and on…

The Dining Cryptographer: Orson and Plant Cafe (San Francisco, CA)

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Show Daily (2010 RSA Conference Newsletter)
  • March 1, 2010

Welcome to the 2010 RSA Conference. San Francisco is a great food town, with good restaurants at every price range. In each issue, I’ll review two restaurants: one within walking distance and one further away. Don’t let distance dissuade you; taxis are cheap, especially if you’re sharing.

Orson — as in Welles — feels as if it’s trying a bit too hard with the movie theme, but if you ignore all that, you’re in for some really delicious food. Start with a foie gras truffle covered in cocoa. Then try the house-made burrata, grilled octopus, the braised short ribs, or anything else that catches your eye. The bar serves the full menu, but pay attention to the cocktail-friendly bar menu. The fries, cooked in duck fat and served with béarnaise sauce, should not be missed. Extra points for the interesting cocktail menu, and the eclectic and reasonably priced wine list. Orson hosts a hip crowd, so ditch your convention badge before you go — and try not to argue about math too loudly. (508 4th St, 415-777-1508, www.orsonsf.com)…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.