5th- the scoreboard, minnetonka
6th- perron's sul lago, prior lake
18th- solera, minneapolis
20th- big 10, hopkins
26th- lone spur, minnetonka
5th- the scoreboard, minnetonka (a-)
mexi-cheese soup. best cheese soup i've had in ages. it wasn't even on the buffet i ordered, but they still got me some. mmmm, cheese soup. (note: i'm on painkillers!)
6th- perron's sul lago, prior lake (c)
sul lago is "on the lake" in italian. get it? anyway. maybe i'm spoiled or something, but the best i can muster here is... 'well, if you're in prior lake and want bistro, maybe go here if you don't feel like driving, plus the view from the dining room is nice and the place itself it also well decorated.' not exactly a ringing endorsement. but it is a bit hard to locate, plus it's attached to some weird condo/shopping development thing and looks a bit out of place.
maybe the chef was off tonight, maybe they weren't prepared for the onslaught of whatever was happening that made parking around there impossible, maybe they were expecting more people in the near-empty dining area and fewer in the packed bar, or something, but i was disappointed in the whole experience. and i say this even as i was there during happy hour and had half off the two appetizers i ordered.
i got a plateful of mussels (usually $12) in an odd cream, tomatoes, roasted garlic and onion sauce (the sauce would've been good on pasta but it was a bit odd on mussels- it was too complicated and too creamy), and polenta cakes (usually $8) with supposedly parmigiano-reggiano cheese (couldn't taste it at all) drowning in too much of a decent enough house red sauce and a wee dab of fresh ricotta with some basil sprinkled randomly over the top, which was as a whole lacking flavor. it needed seasoning.
taken as a whole, the food was not horrible, but not great. good enough probably, but if i weren't paying half price my disappointment would be magnified. it was probably worth the $10 it cost. it would not have been worth the regular price at all.
during my meal i overheard they were low on bread, so the allotment for the meal was sparse, which was a drag. they were understaffed- it took five minutes for the person at the bar in front of me to get water after they said right away, but then again there was also quite a bit of chatting with the regulars the servers seem to do at the expense of others. the service was underwhelming in general and slow. so if you're a regular, great, if not, well... too bad.
with all that being said, their regular menu looks vagely interesting, but not in a way that i would drive to prior lake for. especially for a $20 entree. for a classier than usually happy hour, i would maybe go back for a cocktail and some of the simpler apps if i happened to be in the hood, but the bakery cafe i went to last time in prior lake was more worth the experience.
18th- solera, minneapolis (c)
so after the first few times i was there (april and may 04), things were great... service, food, atmosphere, the whole package. grade a, etc.
the next time, in february of 05, things had taken a bit of a downturn, into b- territory, mostly because of the crap service.
april of that year saw worse service and a c+.
i thought i would give this place another chance. but alas...
service remains crap. that's most of the reason for the grade, more on that below.
some of the food was quite good, some less so, but we had no idea what we were eating exactly a lot of the time because:
(a) the menu is not that into covering all ingredients in a dish (we had one at the table the whole time so we did check)
(b ) the dishes may or may not appear on the menu as stated
(c) the server may tell you one thing about the dish but have completely different ingredients be in it when served
(d) there was no one to ask if you had questions about anything
there were things i had here before, and they messed with them and made them worse. the chicken in mojo verde, as stated on the menu, seems like it should be two things. chicken... and mojo verde. they also had grilled tomatoes on the plate. fine, good. these are all things that are tasty. however, there was also an alioli on the plate, piles of it, instead of the piles of mojo verde. i was looking forward to the mojo verde, and there was a wee little thing line of it around the vast puddle of alioli (which i believe is how they spelled it). that covers (a)
the duck supposedly came with button mushrooms, one of us were told. nope, it came with a few shiitake and a pile of red cabbage. less cabbge, please, it wasn't all that good. none, actually, would be about right. that's (b) and (c) in one go.
(d) was pretty much all else. not that it was all bad... the endive with blue cheese was good, the cheese plate good but mysterious (could've been the same as before, maybe not), the beet salad with goat cheese ok, and the deviled eggs with smoked salmon and roe divine with a hint of cumin. that'd be a good brunch recipe. though the salmon and roe were on top, maybe mix them in to see how that would work. those were kickass.
dessert was a goat cheese cheesecake with cherry sorbet (a bit on the tart side), and house-made ice cream, an almond, a honey, and a pb, a tiny scoop of each. both were good, but way overpriced at $9.50 and $6 respectively. many of the items seemed overpriced, actually, for the quality and quantity.
back to service, now.... it took roughly 10 minutes from placing the water glass on the edge of the table (the symbol for 'please fill this glass') to it getting filled... about a bit over halfway. this was only 3-4 minutes after we had both glasses on the edge. servers and runners had passed the table several times in that period. the second time it was drained, the table next to us got water, they didn't bother checking ours. not surprisingly, they also never noticed we didn't have enough fresh plates. and bread requested (by the other person, what with the whole passover thing still on right now) never appeared.
since you don't get a spoon with dinner (and they have them, we got them with dessert), you should get bread. one or the other. are they short on spoons? did people steal them so they won't put them out as a matter of course?
our server seemed to disappear for long periods of time, and now and then we'd get the runner in the server's place. out of the first 6 dishes we ordered, 4 came within minutes of each other, then there was a long pause before the rest. weird pacing for tapas.
as for the host, i'm standing at the podium, cane visible, and when i was shown to the table, they took off at a brisk trot. after they got through the first room, they noticed the large distance between ground covered between my slow limping pace and the horse race they were in and deigned to slow down a bit. meanwhile i was thinking... there's more than half a chance that they won't notice i'm not there until they get to the table.
sadly, the only thing they improved since my last visit was a tiny thing... they added a wastebasket by the door in the restroom. (before if you were a person who really doesn't like handling restroom door handles with the people not washing your hands, you had to take the paper towel with you and put it... someplace else... it must've been more than just me doing this...).
i don't think i'll be back. no reason to, really. between this and the whole la belle vie disappointment, thoma and mc kee seem far from the food gods they were.
20th- big 10, hopkins (b)
so almost the usual, as i did have the half-turkey sub (which was a bit better than the hopkins version usually is), but got it with onion rings instead of fries (as i could eat bread today, what with the whole holiday being over, i wanted to maxmize the impact... plus really i think i had enough on saturday to last me the week or so... at least my own, i did poach some of mrs. brk's, as mr, brk really likes onion rings so i wanted to leave him some in the doggie bag.... tmi!). the rings weren't a lot to get excited about, nor were the fries. mrs. brk's reuben sandwich was above average. ditto service.
26th- lone spur, minnetonka (b)
half-chicken dinner (i took a quarter home) with beer cheese soup and steak fries. pretty much the same as i thought of the quarter chicken last time i had it and the soup a bit improved, but the toast was more bread than toast. mrs. brk thought the cole slaw was odd still and the portion a bit small, and thought the ribs should be cut individually instead of in a slab, but thought those and the steak fries were tasty.
the server found us amusing, apparently, or they laugh randomly at things people say. major points for dropping off fresh iced tea every time they passed the table (i ended up with five glasses total, but they were small and 3/4ths full of ice, so it was gone it two drinks). they thought i was kidding when i said a pitcher would be easier. though i wouldn't order it there again, it was weak.
© The bent sun as risen