Restaurant Reviews Tagged "Star Tribune West"

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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. It has several Irish beers on tap, as well as the local Finnegan’s Irish Amber. We wish it served Strongbow cider on tap, and not the much sweeter Woodchuck.

Quite a bit of Kip’s menu is fried, and most of it tastes like the fryer instead of whatever it is supposed to be. Think of State Fair fried foods, and you’ll know what we mean…

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.

And the sushi is the best thing on the menu. It’s all very fresh, and it’s all good. You can order both individual nigiri sushi and rolled sushi by the plate, or a variety of pieces served as a platter…

Best of India (St. Louis Park)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • December 13, 2006

Can we have a better term than “ethnic restaurant”?

We know what it means: immigrant food from someplace that it isn’t here. Italian was mainstreamed in the 1950s, and Mexican a couple of decades later, but we tend to lump every other cuisine into a broad category called “ethnic,” as if injera and pita and tortilla were similar enough to be interchangeable. They’re not, of course.

We especially like Indian food, because we can taste combinations we can’t get at Perkins or Chili’s. The spices are blended and complex, and intense flavor doesn’t necessarily mean it’s too hot. It’s interesting without being inaccessible…

Naar Grille (Eden Prairie, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • September 20, 2006

The best spinach salad we’ve ever had was at the Naar Grille in Eden Prairie.

We’ve been fooling around with vinaigrettes at home, trying to find the smooth but biting blend that makes a salad great. The dressing on the spinach salad at Naar was in every way ideal. The olive oil and lemon juice each stood out as individual flavors but supported each other as vinaigrette is meant to. The spinach leaves were tender and fresh. It was simple food done perfectly. We encountered this marvel on the shrimp and scallops entree. It’s also available as a side dish…

Al & Alma's Supper Club (Mound, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • August 9, 2006

Talented hands using fresh ingredients are the focus of today’s restaurant menu. And the speed with which trends boomerang through the industry turns every new idea into everybody’s new idea in a matter of weeks. Or so it seems.

Dining out has never been so good. Nevertheless, yesterday’s typical restaurants can still be found; places that, with their very name, strike fear into the heart of the modern gourmand. There still exists the “Supper Club.”

Our wondering whether there was any room in today’s market for such a seeming anachronism, and curiosity over the state of dining on the Upper Lake, took us to Al & Alma’s Supper Club on the shores of Lake Minnetonka in Mound…

Pastrami Jack's (Minnetonka, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • June 21, 2006

A deli stands or falls on its corned beef and pastrami. Pastrami Jack’s versions are either good or mediocre, depending on what kind of deli meats you’re used to. If you’re used to supermarket versions of these, Pastrami Jack’s will impress you. But if you’re familiar with the housemade meats of the great New York delis, you’ll remember that you’re not in New York. Neither had the richness and depth of flavor we would have liked.

There are good things on the menu, though. The roast beef is tasty, and the brisket is tender and flavorful.

The tongue sandwich is delicious. If you can get over the fact that you’re eating a cow’s tongue, you’re in for a treat. We recommend ordering it hot on rye, with coleslaw and horseradish sauce…

Claddagh (Maple Grove, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • May 10, 2006

Any of half a dozen companies in Ireland will build an Irish pub to suit your space, ship it and install it. They’ll provide you with faux decor and advise you in the finer points of Irish conviviality.

Several of these pubs have popped up around the Twin Cities, including Claddagh, an outpost of an Ohio chain now anchoring a corner of the new Main Street in Maple Grove.

Once you get past the too-perfect fakery of it all, Claddagh is a nice place. It has cozy corners offering a little quiet and privacy and a bustling bar area for a livelier time…

The Marsh (Minnetonka, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • April 5, 2006

Spa cuisine. Makes you think of dry toast and spirulina, doesn’t it?

Thankfully, the restaurant at The Marsh, a full-service spa, inn and conference center, takes a different tack. Much of the menu is lighter fare: appetizers, salads and sandwiches. But there are full entrees on the menu, too. Beef. And beer and wine.

The focus is less on stereotypical “health” food and more on real food, locally grown when possible, organic and fresh. The message is that real food, not supplements and flavor enhancers, feeds our bodies.

The quesadilla made with butternut squash and smoked Gouda was quite good, as was its beet and lemon garnish…

Hazellewood Grill and Tap Room (Tonka Bay, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • February 8, 2006

We like neighborhood restaurants so good that we wish we lived in the neighborhood. The pretty Hazellewood Grill and Tap Room, out in Tonka Bay, is just such a place.

They’ve got a fun, and unusual, twist in the individual beer taps in some booths in the bar. You can pour your own if you happen to get a booth serving what you like to drink.

But attractive, fun surroundings only go so far. It’s wonderful food that keeps our attention.

Start with the bread basket, here served as hot popovers, but don’t fill up. You’ll want the beef tenderloin and bleu cheese fondue. You’ll get a platter of beef chunks done to about medium, cubes of chewy sourdough, a pile of roasted tomatoes, and a crock of Maytag bleu cheese fondue. Rich and fabulous, split this among three or four people…

Grand City Buffet (St. Louis Park, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • January 11, 2006

The Grand City Buffet is impressively large. You won’t see everything on your first trip to the food. You’ll get back to your table, look at your dinner companion’s choices, and say something like: “I didn’t see the roast duck,” or “What do you mean, they serve sushi?”

There are seven tables of food (both hot and cold): salads, main dishes, and desserts. They promise over 180 different items, but since different preparations rotate in and out, you can expect something new all the time. We can’t even begin to list the many dishes that are available, but we’ve made some observations to get you started…

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.