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Jamie Malone: A Chef’s Tour of the Twin Cities
By: | Posted: 02/21/2006
I’ve been a bachelor this last holiday weekend, with my wife and son visiting grandparents and eating stone crab in hot and sunny southern Florida. Ensconced in a beachfront condo at The Colony, they’ve kept busy by dining at some of our favorite Sarasota restaurants—Pattigeorge’s and Michael’s On East—shelling on the beach, and swimming in the pool. My life has been less glamorous since they’ve been gone, but I’ve managed to cram in plenty of new experiences over the last few days.
Copper Bleu in Lakeville and Nicollet Island Inn are two restaurants that I checked out this last week, both worth the trip for differing reasons. Copper Bleu is a decent Kincaid’s-style chophouse (if you can get past the awful name), with a stunning interior. For anyone in the southeast metro out near Apple Valley it’s a great alternative to the Chili’s/Applebee’s syndrome plaguing our developing ’burbs. The menu is filled with hokey gimmicks, but the food is tasty for the most part and everyone but me loves the strolling mashed potato cart that hums around the restaurant.
Nicollet Island Inn has a new chef, Eric Harcie, who is trying to do some serious food but seems to be lacking the firepower in the kitchen to execute so many ambitious plates with so many disparate elements on each one. Everything we ate had one or two superfluous ingredients, and the end result was food that was lukewarm, and while it looked pretty, the overall effect was less impressive than the sum of its parts. The views from the dining room are gorgeous, and if NII’s new owner, Larry Abdo, would redecorate the first floor, and Harcie can dial back the food a notch and make a menu that his staff is capable of executing instead of one that reads like a Beard House tasting menu, they’ll really have a hit on their hands. In fairness, if you are looking for a romantic meal with some interesting food that should get better with each passing week, go check it out.
Last week I forgot to voice my annoyance with Neal Karlen’s New York Times piece about visiting Minneapolis. This guy has clearly lost it if the only two restaurants worth recommending to NYT readers are Masa and Mission American Kitchen. These types of nonsensical recommendations are shocking to me. Masa is brand new, and I love its high-style take on classic Mexican regional foods. Mission is a great lunch spot, with an addictive fried chicken salad. BUT. . . there are a dozen other great restaurants in downtown Minneapolis and singling out those two while excluding so many other great joints just doesn’t make sense to me at all. Mission isn’t new or all that noteworthy. Masa is, but belongs on a list of best bets, alongside 20.21, La Belle Vie, 112 Eatery, Cosmos, D’Amico Cucina, Oceanaire, etc. . . and any visitor to Minneapolis should take a cab to Alma and Levain as well—two of the best meals to be found anywhere in the upper Midwest.
Andrew Zimmern is a columnist for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and the host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.See bio
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