Restaurant Reviews Tagged "Star Tribune South"

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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. Portion control keeps food costs down. And the customers know what to expect every time they visit.

The downside is that too often the food is bland and uninspired. Even though they promise “non-chain-like food” at this chain restaurant, much of the Granite City menu failed to excite us…

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. A wine bar should be fun both for people who know wine, and those who just want to enjoy their wine. We expected it to be an opportunity to learn more about wine.

Unfortunately, Lamothe doesn’t go far enough. The wine list isn’t very extensive. Wine aficionados expect to see years listed for the wines, and novices need even more information. We liked that many bottles were $25 or less, but we wish this wine list explained a bit about the different wines. Tasting notes can be intimidating to the uninitiated, but a little information can go a long way…

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. Remember the “blackened” craze? There’s still a Cajun-seasoned burger on the menu at Harry’s. Wrap sandwiches made a big splash a few years ago, and Harry’s offers several. This is a sound strategy for a restaurant: offer plenty of likable, recognizable fare.

Harry’s does some things very well indeed. Often they’re at their best when adding their twist to dishes you already know you like. Take the simple club sandwich. Their Lakeville club is a tasty triple-decker sandwich served warm on hearty grilled bread, quixotically cut into three, not four, pieces. It’s a fine sandwich, and so big we couldn’t finish it…

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. But put those second thoughts out of your mind and order.

The pizza comes with either thick crust or thin, and we suggest the crispy, pliable perfection of Ted’s thin crust. Pizza is not about the crust, even one with homemade dough. The sauce is as good as can be; so are the various pizza toppings. We don’t believe in canned mushrooms on pizza, and neither does Ted’s. You can either select your own toppings, or order one of their specials. While the specials are a better deal than mixing and matching, we recommend you ask that they not add the extra cheese. There’s nothing wrong with the cheese, but too much of it overwhelms everything else on the pie…

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.

The Buffalo Tap’s wings come in orders of 6 or 12, and with your choice of one of ten sauces. The Garlic Parmesan is their house special and it’s got a good vinegar kick to balance the cheese flavor. They have a standard wing sauce in a variety of spice options. We were not the least bit intimidated by the Medium, but then we like hot and spicy food. We can also recommend the Caribbean Jerk, Honey-Mustard, and Thai Barbecue. You can get a bottle of the house special to take home; we’re putting it on everything…

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.

The dining areas are big, but given the clever design of the rooms you don’t feel crowded, even when nearly every seat is filled. But Enjoy! occupies a weird niche that we don’t quite understand. It’s as if they’re trying to compete with both the great downtown restaurants and the ubiquitous family dining chains at the same time. The dining areas are nicely decorated, with stone finishes, some not-bad art, and …

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. We get Brianno’s to go.

Brianno’s isn’t a restaurant. It’s a deli, a grocery, a take-out place.. And it’s the best Italian cooking in the South metro.

Start with the pizzas. We’re talking thin crust, with a real crisp bite all around the edges. The oven’s hot and the crust cooks hot and fast. No soggy doughy chain pizza here. The dough and sauce are home-made. Watch them run the dough through their counter-top machine. It’s almost as much fun as watching the guy throw the dough in the air. The Napoletana is their house specialty, a delicious combination of sausage, pepperoni, and onion, and Parmesan, Romano, Provolone, and Mozzarella cheeses…

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. We went to the Ideal Cafe in Northfield to remind ourselves of both.

The Ideal Cafe looks like a random nondescript 1960s coffeeshop. The restaurant doesn’t sparkle. It doesn’t have décor. There are six booths along the wall, and six tables in the middle. The kitchen is along the other wall, and there’s a place to order near the front…

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. The menu has so much to offer that dinner here is a virtual tour of Indian cooking.

Surabhi has all of the familiar Indian dishes like tandoor chicken and shrimp biryani. And these are good. They also serve kormas and masalas and vindaloos. Any of these can be made with lamb, chicken, shrimp or vegetables, but of course there’s no beef option…

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. The tomato salsa is tasty, but the white dip is not. Think ranch dressing with cumin, and not very good ranch dressing at that.

But don’t let that slight hiccup dissuade you. El Loro has an extensive menu, and a lot of it is good…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.