Photo by Caitlin Abrams
It's that glorious sub-freezing time of year! I know you feel trapped, I know you and your couch blanket have become perilously close, but maybe it's time to un-hunker and venture out in the name of affordable dining. That's right, it's Winter Restaurant Week next week, from Sunday, February 22 through Friday, February 27 and there are a RECORD 61 RESTOS on board. You know how I like to troll the menus and plan my meals, so here are the picks I'm feeling:
These are all RW first timers, so let's give them a lookee.
6 Smith has a new chef, so go check him out. There's a nice hunk of filet mignon as one of the $30 dinner choices, which you could pre-empt with the Bacon and Bourbon appetizer (house-smoked bacon with a shot of Maker's Mark 46, not bad.)
Acqua White Bear Lake is on board and I could easily see myself tucking into a classic bolognese with veal, pork, and pancetta or on the flip side, a bright zingy scampi with garlic, lemon, and white wine.
Bloomington ChopHouse has dinner that includes oysters, crab cakes, blackened catfish with corn grits, plus an intriguing dessert called the Sweet & Savory Sandwich: olive oil ice cream on black pepper water crackers. Also, beer and wine pairings for each dish are just a $10 bump.
Digby's by Rosedale is in for lunch and dinner. The $15 dinner is a deal, you can get fish tacos and a Kitchen burger (make your date get cheese curds and a pizza) and you can double down on the bacon doughnuts and still not spend more than $30.
David Fhima's Faces Mears Park has a DOOZY of lunch options to choose from, for just $10: Morroccan grilled cheese, grass-fed beef burger, a Hot Brown turkey sandwich, salad Nicoise, and more. And dinner for $30 includes two tagine dishes, Moroccan yellow chicken or cod and tomato, that would be right to try.
Uptown's Lake & Irving has joined up. I can totally get behind the duck confit arancini and the wild mushroom black garlic soup. Follow that with a crispy chicken thigh with gnocchi or steak frites with celery root fries for a twist.
Ling & Louie's is one of the new kids on Nicollet Mall, and its $15 dinner includes pot stickers, lettuce wraps, Mongolian beef to name a few. I might go in for the new wave shrimp pad Thai just to see what they do with it.
Very excited that moto-i is in for dinner, and yes the JFC (Japanese fried chicken) is an option for an appetizer! If it's me, I'm also getting the smoked pork shoulder ramen followed by Okinawan doughnuts. It's good to be me.
Public Kitchen & Bar is doing two dinner menus: one upstairs for $30, and one downstairs for $15. I'd zero in on the squash salad and rainbow trout with roasted carrot puree upstairs, and be happy with deviled eggs and brisket sliders in the lower lounge.
Stroll over to The Third Bird for some good wood-grill smoke smells. Undersung as a lunch spot, grab one for $10 next week and start with the French onion soup. Dinner features bison (with wood-grilled mushrooms and sauce soubise), which chef Lucas Almendinger handles very well.
The Shout House dinner could come with dueling pianos for fun with your $15 meal. They're singing a low-country song with Northern gumbo, Cajun burgers, and beignets for dessert.
Workshop at Union brings the pretty plates and creativity. I would choose the jicama and grapefruit salad with beautiful gnudi and the braised beef bavette. You end with a dessert called The Stewart Mystery Machine, and that sounds like all kinds of fun.
Who know how to rock the RW
There are more than a few things I'm excited about from the tiny 128 Cafe kitchen. Potato gnochhi poutine with smoked mozzarella, porcini farroto with walnuts and gorgonzola, grilled cornish game hen (when do you ever?) with duck fat potatoes all have my attention.
Check out the zuppa capesante on the Amore Victoria dinner menu, bay scallops with chopped clams in a soup with lemon, garlic, and white wine. That sounds yum.
Or pop across the street to Barbette for a dinner bit of lobster linguine and spinach with a truffle lemon buerre blanc (a shrimp version of that is available on the $10 lunch menu, btw).
Don't count out Basil's overlooking the IDS Crystal Court. Play Mary Tyler Moore and get a fork n' knife steak sandwich or truffle mac n' cheese (with real truffles) for your $20 lunch, or jumbalaya for dinner.
I know you're always drinking at Eat Street Social, so why not pull up a table for dinner and try the braised oxtail porridge, duck leg confit with tarbais beans and guanciale, or a ratatouille of winter root vegetables.
If you're down Burnsville way, Mediterranean Cruise Cafe has a $10 lunch buffet stacked with kabobs, hummus, falafel, and the like. Dinner brings some serious platters as one of your course options: Zorba the Greek has moussaka, gyros with spinach, grilled lamb rack, and rice. But do save room for the sweet coconut cake.
Haven't been to Northeast Social in a while? Dinner's looking good with a gruyere beignet, chicken gumbo, and baked tallegio agnolotti or short ribs with sweet potato pancakes and maple hollandaise (I can't decide).
Head over to Red Stag Stupperclub to see what JP Samuelson is up to. While you're there for your $10 lunch, don't miss the tater tot hotdish with Ukrainian garlic sausage and roasted root veggies.
Cassoulet is usually the darling of Winter RW, but have you tried the lamb version at Saffron? Sausage, confit, bacon, smoked ham, all from lamb with giant beans and oregano breadcrumbs. Game changed.
I usually get psyched by the giant stuffed meatball at Urban Eatery, but I'm happy to see a cauliflower steak with black olive relish and tomato sauce as an option.
Need more? There are a TON more menus to peruse and dishes to drool over on the RW page, so get at it!