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Don’t Panic! The No-Reservation Guide to Valentine’s Day
By: Stephanie March | Posted: 07/21/2014
It's the tastiest week of the year! There's no secret that I love Summer Restaurant Week above all (don't tell the other weeks), and this year is no exception. It seems to me that the chefs have been inspired to dial it up. Here's what I'd be ordering if I were at your table.
At cute little 128 Cafe there's a Farmers Market gazpacho with 12 veggies, a NOLA burger with crawfish remoulade (make it a steak for $5 more), and walleye shore lunch with good ol' Minnesota potato salad. Hit that with Twang, the house hot-sauce for the win.
Boca Chica is NEW to the game. I'd say go with the mole poblano entree, because that mole sauce is house-made with the secret family recipe. Also, churros!
Burrata with all the pretty things at Borough for your appetizer choice, and then poached sturgeon with corn and chanterelles for a summery night out on that loading dock patio.
Brasserie Zentral is also NEW to our show. Lunchers should not pass up the local duck bolognese and dinner eaters should definitely start with some spaetzle (because how often can you do that) and then wrestle between the pork cheeks braised in Maibock beer or the Kavalierspitz braised beef should which would keep you happy for days.
Lurcat has a super Summery menu: Berkshire pork with pickled rhubarb and beans, halibut with sweet corn and smoked tomato butter, and a lime Bavarian cream with huckleberry gelee and blueberries.
Sometimes you have to heat up your insides to cool down your outsides, and Chiang Mai Thai's dinner deal, for a measly $15 yo, includes Cat on Fire: marinated cat fish tossed with hot peppers in a blazing sauce. Meow.
The current darling of Eat Street, The Copper Hen is NEW this year. You $10 lunch is soup and half sandwiches, but the $15 dinner is a steal when you order the big bowl of fettuccine with smoked salmon in red pepper cream sauce (had it, loved it) or the butter poached rabbit loin on red quinoa. And there's a cupcake that comes with its own boozy de leche shot.
These guys are likely already stacked with reservations, but Corner Table's crispy confit pork belly is an appetizer choice you must have, only to be followed by the smoked and braised brisket on white cheddar hominy grits.
Coup d'Etat is NEW and bringing game with roasted beets that have arugula and feta, pork tenderloin with white beans and fava beans, and a chocolate cake with popcorn pudding and salted caramel ice cream. Plus dead-on cocktails for your pleasure.
NEW to us, Figlio is putting up some old time vibes for RW: pollo mattone is that garlic and buttery chicken dish sometimes referred to as "brick chicken" as it has been pressed under a brick and flattened. So buttery, so buttery.
Again, it's worth mentioning that Firelake MOA has added breakfast to their RW roster! Prosciutto, egg, fontina, bacon croissant panini says Good Morning Starshine!
Haute Dish is doing four courses for your $30 dinner, and might I say that the Cool Ranch gnocchi and Chicken and Biscuit plates are already on my list.
Jimmy's Food and Cocktails is doing something special this year. They've got a First Seating Special for diners before 5:45pm for $25 which offers the same options as their $30 meal later.
Kyatchi is NEW, and I can't recommend enough that you pop in and give them a try. The sashimi is super fresh, and the kimchi hot dog with Japanese potato salad is a crowd pleaser.
Louie's Wine Dive is NEW to the week, and new to the area. Lunch seems to have a notable amount of gluten-free options. Dinner I'd start lighter with some moules frites, because how do you not choose the four pork gnocchi?
Luci Ancora is one of those places that I wish I'd get back to more often. Another NEW one, these guys are offering eight choices of entree for lunch which makes it a no-brainer for a group of people who like to pass. For dinner you'd be hard pressed to pass on the lobster papardelle, but you might have to for the aged duroc pork loin.
Also NEW is Mediterranean Cruise Cafe down in Burnsville. They've got an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch for $10. Dinner choices are also generous: Lamb shank, moussaka, kebabs (oh my).
And there's a $10 pizza buffet lunch at NEW Red's Savoy in Edina! Love that sauce.
Saffron is all about the season, what with starter courses like watermelon & feta salad, zucchini & spinach soup, and an optional add-on of crispy soft-shell crab with tomato, basil, and curry.
Sanctuary offers a great vegetarian option with a kick that includes kimchi, tofu, baby bok choy, patty pan summer squash, and Korean barbecue sauce.
Lunch at Smack Shack seems like a lot of good stuff for the $20, here's how I would do it: start with calamari, tuck into the 1/2 lobster roll and cuppa chowdah, side with coastal slaw or baked beans, finishing with a strawberry cheesecake. Boom.
Spill the Wine is NEW and maybe no one told them, but they have FIVE courses for your $30 dinner. The shaved zucchini salad with pine nuts alone was a refreshing mountain of food, let alone the healthy dollop of pork rillete for the first round, and bit of beef ribeye for the third. Thank you new chef Brian Hauke. Go!
You can sneaky check out the new Stewart Woodman menu at Union Rooftop, which is NEW for us this year. I'm intrigued by the idea of Pok Pok chicken wings, rigatoni with sausage and smoked tomato fondue, and the idea of a blueberry buckle is pleasing to me.
I know it's not very Summery, but there's something that's calling me to Urban Eatery's meatball stuffed with mozzarella on angel hair pasta. I dunno.
And then there's basically nothing I don't want to devour on Vincent's menu: hello, Provencal Barbajuan fried ravioli, lamb croquette with couscous, steelhead trout with tomato confit and zucchini. Just stop it.
Stephanie March is Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s food and dining editor. See bio
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