Restaurant Reviews Tagged "Star Tribune West"

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Roasted Pear (Burnsville, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • March 16, 2005

It’s not that we hate chain restaurants. Some very good restaurants are owned by corporations. Small local chains seem to us like markers of success, not focus-group encroachment. But we resent how national chain restaurants set the public taste and squeeze the independent restaurants out of the business.

We say this because Burnsville’s Roasted Pear looks incredibly like a chain restaurant. The muted earth tone color scheme, good wood tables, and open kitchen all impressed us as a corporate store. It’s not; Roasted Pear is an independent restaurant, and the family works there. It’s more expensive than we’d like, and the menu is more variable than it should be, but……

Lone Spur Grill (Minnetonka, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • March 9, 2005

We have great affection for really fake-looking fake cactuses, adobe-like décor, and mariachi hats hung on the walls. These make an earnest and admirably corny dining experience. This stuff is so not-Minnesota, and that’s what we adore.

Lone Spur Grill, in Minnetonka, serves a Texan and Mexican menu. You can get standards like enchiladas on a platter with rice and refried beans. They serve a nice chicken quesadilla appetizer: not at all greasy and with a large salad on the side.

The fajitas are quite good, as long as the server gets that sizzling platter to you promptly. You’ll roll your own with a huge plate of fixings like cheese, lettuce, beans, guacamole, and rice. We liked the tuna, a nice change from the usual chicken or steak. Vegetarians will like the sautéed vegetable fajitas…

Mojito (St. Louis Park, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • February 16, 2005

Know anyone on Atkins? Yup, so do we. Maybe that’s why steakhouses are popping up everywhere. But instead of the same-old steakhouse scene, grab your protein-hungry friends and head to Mojito for some meat with panache.

Mojito has style. Open, airy, and colorful, the dining room is quite perfectly done. Its postmodern swank suggests booze, beef, and the hard road home, while at the same time being a place you can bring your family. The hip bar is to one side, and on the other is the open kitchen where you can watch the cooking take place.

There’s only one thing you should order here: the rodizio dinner. Mojito is a …

Thanh Do (St. Louis Park, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • January 26, 2005

Thanh Do has got to be the busiest take-out place in St. Louis Park. We arrived at seven on a weeknight, and the crowd for take-out orders was so big we didn’t understand at first that we weren’t in line for a table. And every table was occupied. Happily, we were seated in a few minutes, and away from the door at that. The stream of people coming in and out made it chilly near the front.

Thanh Do is in a strip mall, as suburban restaurants tend to be. (The other notable tendency is for new restaurants to move into free-standing buildings once the Country Kitchens and Big Boys have been run out of town by changing customer tastes. We think such re-purposing is a good thing, all in all.) The dining room here is spare, but with enough interesting accents to make you think this might be better than your average strip-mall joint…

Origami West (Minnetonka, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • December 15, 2004

Let’s be upfront about this: Japan is arguably the world’s most expensive country, and their cuisine is delicate and fussy. Thus, even in America, Japanese food is expensive. We were never able to get out of Origami West for less than $40.

But there are times when sushi is just exactly what you want. And, with the opening of Origami West in Ridgedale, good sushi doesn’t mean a trip to the city.

Raw fish is a Japanese staple, and at Origami the fish is fresh and well-prepared. You can order sushi individually, or together with soup and salad as a dinner. Nigiri sushi are pieces of raw fish on pillows of rice. The rolled sushi (maki) is often better for the squeamish, and best for sharing among friends. Even the kids at our table liked California rolls…

Lions Tap (Eden Prairie, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • November 17, 2004

Hamburgers are a nearly perfect invention. Juicy and hot, easy to hold, easy to chew, the hamburger has universal appeal. It’s easy to make the case that hamburgers are America’s great export to the world. But recent books and films have pointed out the dark downside of that global influence. And it’s true that lots of people don’t eat meat.

It can be a guilty pleasure, then, to have a burger. And if you’re going to suffer the guilt, the pleasure should balance. It should be a really good hamburger.

Lions Tap, out on Flying Cloud Drive in Eden Prairie, is both lauded and vilified by the local food press. Websites publish conflicting reviews. Meanwhile, it wins all sorts of “readers’ best” awards. Given that, we ran a little comparison: How does a Lions Tap burger stack up next to a quarter-pounder from an internationally known hamburger McChain?…

Woody's (Rockford, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • September 15, 2004

There’s no rule that says a summer getaway must involve hours of travel. There’s lots to do right here in Hennepin County. Make a day of it at Lake Rebecca, or camp at Baker Park. Borrow a canoe and run the Crow River. And while you’re out that way, drop by Woody’s on Main just off Hwy 55 in Rockford. This is one of the better small-town taverns we’ve found in quite some time.

Grab a booth and order a round. They’ve got several beers on tap — Labatt’s Blue, Summit Pale Ale, Leinie’s Honey Weiss — plus the usual mass market bottles and cans. Best of all, they’ve got 1919 Root Beer on tap. Order onion rings while you look the menu over. These are thick rings, perfectly done, tender, and not overcooked to the point where they turn into strings that pull out of the batter. There’s nothing more discouraging than an empty ring with no onion in it…

Cam Ranh Bay (Eden Prairie, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • August 8, 2004

Vietnamese cuisine only resembles Chinese cuisine on the surface. It commonly has much less sauce than Chinese dishes. Vietnamese is more like Thai, with lots of aromatic ingredients like cilantro, mint, and basil. And chilis, of course. And because the French occupied the country, interesting French influences crept into the cooking. Vietnamese cuisine is light and fresh; perfect for a hot summer day.

The Twin Cities are home to many, many good Vietnamese restaurants. You’ll find our best along University Avenue or East Street, but Cam Ranh Bay in Eden Prairie is worth a stop…

Blue Point (Wayzata, MN)

  • Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
  • Star Tribune West
  • May 26, 2004

Blue Point is one of Wayzata’s nicest restaurants. It offers a spare, attractive dining room with smooth walls and rippled glass accents. It has white-jacketed waiters who bustle about attentively. It’s got fresh oysters.

In the jet age, maybe it’s not so impressive to serve oysters a thousand miles from an ocean. After all, one could dine on fresh oysters in towns along the railroad tracks more than 100 years ago. James J. Hill himself probably brought oysters to Wayzata in the 1870s. Nevertheless, good fresh fish is always, still, a treat…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.