October 8, 2018

One Week Eating at “Home”: Twin Cities Go-To Restaurants

“How about nights a week do you eat out?”
We get that question a lot.
Our response: “Six to seven.”
“No, I didn’t mean when you’re traveling. When you’re home. In Minneapolis for a full week,” they clarify.
Our response: “Six to seven.”
“How is that possible?” is the next question.
First, it’s a bit rare for us to be in Minneapolis for a full week between traveling for business and pleasure, and weekends at the lake (mostly between May and October. Disclaimer: when we are at the lake house, we do cook).
When we’re at our loft in Minneapolis? Not so much.
How is that possible? Well, first, we live in the North Loop and have access to probably more than 20 really great places within walking distance. (That’s a bit dangerous.)
Here’s a one-week glance at what we ate, where we ate it, and why we go back.


Not a typical Sunday because of the Sting concert at the Armory.
Lunch was at Centro. (This is the only lunch noted, because while most of the rest of the week’s lunches are also at a restaurant, they’re chosen for convenience and location—lunch hour doesn’t always make for a culinary experience.) Don’t miss the chips and guac and the fried fish taco.
Dinner and drinks at Mercury, because both Eastside and McKinney Roe was closed. Side note: Our typical Sunday routine isn’t really a routine, and can range from Spoon & Stable to Bar La Grassa to JD Hoyt’s to 112 Eatery, or taking an Uber ride down to Lyn 65 or Martina.


Dinner at Borough. The king crab appetizer is amazing, as is the presentation. After-dinner drink at Parlour Bar downstairs, where every bar owner can learn a lesson about candlelight.


Fast dinner at Jun, the North Loop’s unsung hero for Szechuan food and great service. Follow-up drink at the Hewing Hotel rooftop for a great glimpse of the city. The upstairs bar was, unfortunately, littered with the drunk and loud, so it was worth braving the way-too-early cold weather to enjoy our cocktails outside. A stop at Edwards Dessert Kitchen for mango pie cream puff, and to check out how the nighttime dessert crowd was looking (we always have to check on our new openings repeatedly—and usually nag them about dimming their lighting).


Travel night. Uber to Grand Café, Minneapolis. The food is worth an Uber, and tonight was a splurge night: Chickpea panisse with Romesco sauce, sweet corn madeleines with honey butter, paté en croute, roast chicken.  Oh, and the carrot cake and pot de crème for dessert? The whole place drips in the perfectly quirky touches that only Jamie Malone can pull off. It’s where restaurant owners should go to learn how to infuse personality into a space (it’s something owners, not design firms, have to pull off).


Another unusual happening. It was Synergy Series at Spoon & Stable, so we actually sat at a table (gasp) and had a multi course meal with guest chef @chefludo, Ludo Lefebvre. We loved Petit Trois in LA, so we made sure to make this one. A stop at Edwards Dessert Kitchen following was to buy cookies for the office the next day, but we did enjoy an Amaro at the bar.
If we’re not on an airplane Thursdays, it usually becomes the random night which could include anything from Red Rabbit to Black Sheep to further afield to Bardo or Popol Vuh, or our newbie, Lat 14.


We always stick with a walk on Fridays, but it’s usually a longer walk. Since this is the beginning of two novice nights for going out, we have to choose carefully—we favor places where we can sneak into the bar fairly easily. (By “novice,” we mean encountering the throngs of people who only go out once or twice a week.)
This time, the combo of Eastside (now run by our fave, Jamie Malone, with the best tempura-fried prawns), followed by McKinney Roe (now helmed by another fave, Scott Pampuch) since we missed out last Sunday. Bardo is also a good Friday night choice on the rare weekend we’re home.


Since it was the second “novice” night, we went old-school, to the JD Hoyt’s bar, because the bartenders all know us and they’ll make sure we get bar seats. There is nothing like the comfort of a no-frills place with great service. And the guilty pleasures at Hoyt’s are out of this world, including an extreme strawberry shortcake made with homemade cornbread, or ordering a Grasshopper if you want to get under Junior’s skin (our favorite bartender—he, and probably every other bartender in the world, hates making these).

If there is a night we’ll stay in and cook, it will be Saturday because of the “novice night” label. But we usually find ourselves leaving to go get a drink at Hewing or Parlour later in the eve because we’re stir-crazy and want to check out the scene.  There’s lot to be learned about how lighting and atmosphere come into play on a busy night… Why are some places within the same three-block radius slammed, and others are only moderately full? If you walk around like us and look, it’s usually pretty easy to guess.
So that’s one week at a glance.
You’ll say, “This is impossible.”
It’s not, it was just this last week, and we have receipts.
You’ll say, “Who would spend so much money eating out?”
Well, our business is all about understanding consumers and spaces: how they react, what they like and don’t like, and where they eat out and spend money. The more we get out and observe, the better we are at our jobs. It’s research. (Most people then shake their heads at this explanation and say,
“Yeah, right.”)
You’ll say, “You must weigh a thousand pounds.”
Not a chance I’m sharing our weights, but we exercise (probably not enough), and have two key words crucial to maintaining our lifestyle (that don’t and will never apply at Grand Café): Portion Control.
The last thing you’ll say is, “Don’t you get tired of it?”
Nope. We get energized by it. We see, talk, taste, engage, meet, learn, and enjoy. So much more fulfilling than a night in front of the TV.