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Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota Monthly’

Before robins and tulips, the first signs of Spring for me are:
1. A sighting of someone wearing shorts, while the snow is still on the ground,
2. A motorcyclist all bundled just to be the first on the streets and
3. Minnesota Monthly Restaurant Week!!

Last week, I got to visit 2 restaurants that were offering special tasting menus: Kafe 421 and Ginger Hop

Kafe 421
421 14th Avenue Southeast
Minneapolis, MN 55414-2005
(612) 623-4900
www.kafe421.com

$15 Dinner Menu

Starter: Greek Salad—Romaine hearts, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, green peppers, feta cheese, kalamata olives and oregano vinaigrette
This was a just fine Greek salad. Nice crisp lettuce, with cheese and kalamata olives. Always a good way to start dinner and get that stomach ready for more!

Entrée: Vegetarian Moussaka—Layers of potato, eggplant, zucchini and tomato topped with a thick béchamel and parmesan crust served with pomodoro
This was so good and I didn’t see it on their regular menu so this was a treat! The sauce was much more tomato than bechamel (a white sauce of milk, butter, flour), but lovely and rich.

Dessert: Ouzo scented crème brulee Baklava a la mode
Well the dessert was suppose to be the crème brulee, however the server told us they just ran out and will have to substitute with the baklava (a la mode!). I may have been too excited upon that news! I am not a crème brulee fan, but baklava? Stand back!

Overall: I wish I would remember to go here more! Good wine list, good food and the parking lot off 5th St SE validates (so I only had to pay $2). They also have a meal deal on Tuesdays and Sundays – check out the website for more info.

Ginger Hop
201 East Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 746-0305
www.gingerhop.com

$15 Dinner Menu

Starter: Three cream cheese -OR – cream cheese and onion wontons
I picked the three cream cheese and it didn’t disappoint! There was just the right amount of cream cheese so I wasn’t left with a pile of fried dough with no cream cheese to eat with it.

Entrée: Sweet Green Curry -OR- Thai Fried Rice
This was a tough choice, I am not sure how much I like Thai curry, but this was the night to try! So I ordered the Sweet Green Curry. It is not sweet! It is the spiciest thing I had in a long time, in fact I was pretty surprised how spicy it was without giving a person any warning. However, I can say I like curry when it is a coconut curry dish like this was! The crisp, fried tofu blended in wonderfully along with the red pepper, peas and eggplant.

Dessert: Ginger ice cream with a ginger snap cookie
Lovely finish, a nice creamy ice cream with a soft delicious gingersnap cookie

Overall: The service was pretty lacking this night and I wish they took reservation instead of just call ahead. The sweet green curry is real spicy, with no warning, hoping that next time I can order with a reduced spice level. However, I learned that if I see coconut curry on the menu, I will ordering it again and again!

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Red Stag
509 1st Avenue NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
612-767-7766
http://www.redstagsupperclub.com/

Did you know Minnesota Monthly Wine Week was October 4-10, 2009? I didn’t. My fellow co-blogger, Jen, had to tell me, for shame – I usually like being the one to know these things. The menus and restaurants participating were on a wide spectrum. We settled on Red Stag, mainly because it was the best deal. 2 entrees, 2 desserts, 1 bottle of wine for $50 (and don’t forget your free Riedel crystal wine glass for registering on Wine Week’s site, they are worth $10.95 a piece!).

When I arrived at Red Stag, I sat down to get a lesson in the coasters. I guess white side up means you want filtered water and black side means you want sparkling water. Nice they had the option (and didn’t charge for sparkling!). Next came the flat-bread and rolls, served with a white butter bean puree. I would prefer butter over the bland butter bean, but I appreciate places that try alternative spreads/dips.

The wine was Mountain View Central Coast Cabernet. We found it very yummy. Oaky and full bodied, smooth to drink.

Butternut Squash Risotto
Red Stag veggie entree The butternut squash risotto did not win me over on my first trip to Red Stag. The chestnuts were large and too much to chew through – wish they would have been a little crunchy instead of mush. In addition to cubes of butternut squash, the dish also included spaghetti squash. I actually found the stringy squash unappetizing. This dish is normally served on the dinner menu, but I don’t think I will seek it out again.

Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Semifreddo
Red Stag dessert Now the dessert, it was wonderful. Semifreddo means “semi-frozen” and I found it to be a bit of a struggle to eat it. After one bite, I wasn’t about to sit patiently and wait for it to soften up more. I needed to eat more – as soon as I could. Some may have been flung across the table as I tried to slice a bit off. The dark chocolate ganache coated a fluffy inner center of chocolate. Kind of like a frozen 3 Musketeer bar. Topped with a sprinkle of sea salt and a side of apricot, orange preserve.

Even though I wasn’t that excited about my dinner the first time here, I returned 2 weeks later to try out the “Cheap Date Night Tuesdays”. For $32 you get 2 entrees, 2 desserts and 1 bottle of wine. For the entrees you can pick from a meat dish or a vegetarian dish (but they must be the same so hopefully you and your “date” agree). The wine was a choice between a Chardonnay or Cab. It was the same Cab from Wine Week, which I was extremely happy about cuz that was a nice Cab.

Grilled halloumi on root vegetables
Um, do you know what halloumi is? Cheese. They grilled a brick of cheese and place it over a bed of roasted root vegetables. Oh. Wow. The char on the cheese was fantastic and the flavor on the root vegetables was so enjoyable. It was also served with a side of parsley with lemon. I didn’t see this on the regular dinner menu, which is a shame because I am going to be craving this brick of cheese again, very soon. If you are interested, you can read more about halloumi here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloumi

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bread Pudding
I am not a fan of bread pudding, but with no choice on dessert I was going to be eating it! Thankfully it wasn’t a sloppy mess of bread pudding, but a nice, firm, biscuit size of pudding. I was surprised that I actually thought the bread pudding was dry – I was worried that it was going to be drippy and mushy. It was served on top of a spread of some fruit (strawberry?) preserve. Normally I am all about mixing fruit and sweet dessert, but this didn’t work for me. But like any dessert, I will be the first to finish it!

I finished the evening with a glass of Cristalino Brut Cava ($6). A nice way to finish the dining experience – good conversation with a good friend and a glass of crisp, bubbly in hand.

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