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sole food: town talk diner

date: 1/2/07
location: minneapolis

grade:
b+

since i made no particularly specific resolutions this year, i was down with the deep fried goodness.

and since i had scanned the dinner menu earlier in the day, i sat down and ordered frickles, aka deep fried pickles, and managed to consume most of them.

unlike most people north of the mason-dixon line, i've had fried pickles before. they were more of a traditional breading on smallish dills. these were smaller and lighter. it's a sliced, house-made vinegary but not sour pickle in a tempura-like batter, served with a dill mustard sauce. quite good. everyone liked 'em, though i think i like the dill version better, mostly as dills are my favorite pickle (note- don't go there. just don't.).

for the next deep fried course, cheese curds were shared around the table. now, don't think state fair on this, this is so much more. for one, they start with a carr valley cheddar (carr valley's won several cheese awards), not off the rack cheddar. in the light batter are green onions, capers and miller high life (per the strib's review). it comes with a house-made ketsup, which didn't have the slightly odd aftertaste some house-made ones do. they're not heavy and such as most are. (though hey, i still like the fair's version too).

two people went for the soup of the day, butternut squash, which was reportedly quite delicious. though it was the only soup. (they also don't have a side salad, for that matter, it seems like a good place to mention that). the forest mushroom tart was another appetizer was another popular choice- roasted mushrooms, carmelized onions, and fontina (somehow gruyere seems like a more logical choice for some reason) with an onion soubise.

(random side note- i know how to spell soubise without look it up, which is one many things i wonder... how the hell do i know that? it's not like i've made a soubise.... though i probably read about it in a cookbook... it's bechamel with onions in it, more or less, by the way.... now back to our regularly scheduled program.)

we had to ask, though, what the soubise is, because the tart was served without explanation. most things were, which was odd considered the server knew quite a lot about the dishes on the menu. but when they hit the table, nada. being that the menu is not very wordy in places, it would be handy to know that you're getting an aged goat cheese with the classic beet plate, as classic implies a young goat cheese. but the menu just has 'goat cheese' on it. not literally. just the letters spelling it.

sorry, i really wish i could stop that. then again, when i was asked by the server 'will you be four tonight?' i said something along the lines of , 'i'll be one, since i'm not cloned, and three others will join me.' so there you go (they appeared amused btw).

ok then. back to the actual dinner. beet salad. yeah. ok. major presentation points, that's for sure. and the pomegranite vinaigrette was a nice color, too (though not classic, to harken back to that). the aged goat cheese was a bit sour for the dish, though, what with said vinaigrette. there's a reason why the younger one is usually served.

the onion rings were served stacked like a kid's ring stack, though the intention is swedish wedding cake. these were unlike onion rings i've tasted, they were sweet and light. good, but i prefer the crunchy kind, and in smaller pieces. the inch-thick rings were hard to manage.

so my dinner. like most things here, it was pretty good, but some details were off. i did like the fries. they were more frites style, salty and good. a solid b on the fryquest scale. however, the grilled cheese was not quite done enough to get it to the melty stage. it was almost done. but it went quite well with the rest of the ketsup. oddly, the fries and onion rings were served with plain old ketsup from a bottle. apparently only certain things get the special ketsup.

the check came with buckeyes (peanut butter and rice krispies covered in melted chocolate. a nice touch.

i will say that the bar is dinery in a good way (it was the original diner), but the dining area has less personality and is a bit dark for early winter evenings (and cold by the windows). it was loud there, but you could still hear the table. service, except for the lack of explanation, was quite good, especially on the water. the restrooms are strangely large for one person.

the menu here accomodates a wide range of tastes and preferences, you can get a beer and a burger or a bottle of very reasonably priced wine (one of the most reasonably priced perhaps that i've seen) or a vegetarian multi-course meal or a deep fried-fest like myself.

most prices are reaonsable on the menu (some apps are a bit spendy, but still... with one exception. though the idea of the adult malt, particularly in a pumpkin pie flavor, was tempting, but today i wasn't in a 'spend as much on my drink as the whole meal' mood ($9 for one of those). and with some reasonable prices come some smaller than you expect portions. both the frickles and cheese curds came in an amount that make a generous app for two, or a skimpy portion for four.

it'd be nice to try a brunch here, someone mentioned it was well worth it, especially the bananas foster french toast. if i lived closer (and if the global market weren't so close by) it'd be back a lot more.

 

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