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Posts Tagged ‘Restaurant Week’

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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Rinata
2451 Hennepin Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55417
(612) 374-8998
http://www.rinatarestaurant.com/

Our three hour dining experience at Rinata reminded us of something — a genuine smile goes a long way. All too often restaurant dining turns into an experience where you simply get in and out, barely making eye contact with those around you. The fault does not lie with the establishment or the diner, but with circumstances of busy restaurants and even busier lives. Our young but wise server at Rinata seemed to recognize this risk and gave us numerous cues that kindly said, “stay awhile.” So we did.

Restaurant Week Menu

Antipasti:
Eggplant Involtini enjoyed by Ann
p_00018I started with the Eggplant Involtini. Such a fancy word, fancy words scare me sometimes. But with a smile, the waiter happily explained… it is a thinly sliced piece of eggplant, with goat cheese and pine nuts wrapped inside. Yum. Oh, something you should know – I am the vegetarian that doesn’t really care for vegetables. Eggplant is one of them. So when I was doing a pre-review of Rinata, I was worried. Eggplant was a huge feature on its restaurant week menu. However, the eggplant involtini was perfect – the eggplant wasn’t mushy and wasn’t undercooked. Meaning it acted just as it was supposed to – as a wrap for the goat cheese. And of course goat cheese is going to be the overpowering winner in that food tasting contest. The involtini also had a scoop of the house red sauce (vegetarian) which was really good!

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Bruschetta devoured by Jen
BruschettaThis was my favorite part of our meal at Rinata. The photo does not do it justice, but this antipasti featured perfectly cooked white beans, sweet caramelized onions and mushrooms which soaked up the flavors of both. I don’t know if the Italians like their bruschetta bread hard or soft, but the bread in this dish was perfect. Not so hard that the toppings fell off upon first bite, but not soaking wet either! Another bonus–I got two huge pieces.

Entree:
Spaghetti and Meatballs chomped by Jen
Spaghetti and Meatballs Spaghetti is something I would never order off a menu. It’s boring. Also, I am a girl who likes to chew my pasta, so farfalle, ravioli or rotini are my shapes of choice. The homemade spaghetti noodles in this dish surprised me. They were (to my delight) chewy, and instead of sliding off my fork, clumps of noodles stuck together in a very satisfying way. The meatballs at Rinata were good. They reminded me of the meatballs my dad used to always get at Sbarro. Sweet and salty at the same time. Smooth and easy to cut with the side of my fork. The best part of this dish was the homemade tomato sauce or sugo as they called it. It was obviously made with very fresh spices.

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Ravioli with eggplant noshed by Ann
Eggplant RavioliAgain, eggplant. Wow the dish was delish though. Ricotta cheese with small pieces of eggplant. Small enough where I didn’t notice them, there was only one big chunk that I had to really chew through, but other than that it tasted like tasty pillows of goodness. The pasta itself (they really take pride in making the pasta in-house, fresh daily) was noticeably homemade, you could actually taste and appreciate the ingredients that make up pasta (which are not much: eggs, flour, water).

Dessert:
House made gelato slurped by Ann
A scoop of vanilla and a scoop of pistachio was a cool way to end this introduction to Rinata and all it has to offer. I also got a bite or two of the tiramisu. I was a little leery of the coffee taking over (since I am not a coffee fan), but the mascarpone was the true star in this. It was creamy and moist, a great sweet dessert!
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Tiramisu tolerated by Jen
Not a big fan, but as far as tiramisu goes, this one was fine. I was more interested in Ann’s pistachio ice cream!

Wine:
What a bargain this evening out was! The restaurant week dinner menu (price: $15) was nearly the same price of a single entree on the menu – so essentially we each got a free dessert and appetizer. Then when we arrived, on a Tuesday evening, we were informed that Mondays and Tuesdaysare half priced bottles of wine! Half priced bottles means you can buy that $50 bottle of wine on a menu and not feel all that poor when the bill comes. It is a great time to try that bottle that is usually immediately eliminated! We selected the Pasqua le Soraie (price: $48). A blend of 3 grapes: Merlot, Corvina and Cabernet Sauvignon. We both found it to be a good, full-bodied wine with a nice, smooth finish.

With dessert, we each ordered a glass of the Lunetta Presecco (price per glass: $8). It was a nice Presecco – sweet but crisp. With endless bubbles.

Good stuff:
1. Our server could remember the order – correctly and without a pen.
2. Our server poured the wine refills from the bottle for us.
3. A new silverware setting arrived – without us asking.

Stuff to improve on:
1. The wall our table was next to was a bit dirty.
2. Move the location to my backyard. Ok, we ran out of “stuff to improve on” because we were quite impressed!

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